Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Want long-lasting cut flowers? Choose award-winning varieties. These have
received honors from various organizations.
Recently the Society of American Florists’ handed out honors at their 118th annual convention.
Black Out Asiatic lily received the coveted Best in Show award. Its large blossoms are an unusual color, burnt-red. Floral designers will appreciate its long vase life. Each stem usually has three buds. Black Out is versatile, and easy to work with, since the stems aren’t entirely upright.
Other flowers honored at the show included the following. Balance alstroemeria received the Best in Class. Kula Vista protea was selected as Best in Class for Other Cut Flowers. Best in Class Decorative Foliage was awarded to Red Mikado rose.
Each year the Association of Cut Flower Growers chooses a Cut Flower of the Year. For 2003 they selected Blue Horizon ageratum. This was also a top performer at North Dakota State University plant trials.
Blue Horizon blossoms are in the mid-blue range. Some describe them as periwinkle blue. Blue can work magic in an arrangement. It helps to blend the different flower colors together very nicely. Blue Horizon adds a fuzzy, old-fashioned look to a bouquet. They combine well with apricot or yellow blooms. For foliage in such an arrangement, try silver or gray.
In Latin the name ageratum refers to the fact that the flowers are very long lasting. They keep their color very well, much appreciated by floral designers.
For those wishing to grow their own Blue Horizon plants, give them a spot in sun to partial shade in average to rich soil. The vigorous plants are weather-proof, and produce abundant blossoms. This annual flower is also known as floss flower due to the fuzzy blooms.
Cutting the flowers encourages the plant to produce more. So cut as often as you like.
The association also selected a Dried Flower of the Year, the panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata). Hardy from USDA zones 2-8, this has large clusters of white flowers that gradually change to purplish pink. They begin opening in mid-July as clusters on eight-inch-long stems. These can be left to dry on the plant.
This shrub can be fifteen feet tall in height with a spread of ten feet or