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Best foliages & fillers
It's the heart and foundation of all amazing bouquets and spectacular installations. Without it, us florists, wouldn't be able to create the beautiful arrangement that we do for our customers. Let's talk about foliage..
Different foliage for different use
Foliage helps us to set the shape and size of an arrangement, as well as adding an extra gorgeous layer of texture. Whether you are making a larger arrangement, or arranging flowers in a vase for your kitchen table, foliage always helps to give it that little extra.
Which foliage to choose depends on which flowers and colours you are using for your arrangement. Even though most foliage is green, some types lean towards cold tones and others toward warm ones.
So, you need to figure out what colour palette you want for your vase, and then pick your foliage. To help you out a bit, we're sharing our absolute favourite foliage and foliage-like fillers as well as tips on which month they're ready to be cut.
1. Bells of Ireland
Bells of Ireland is a garden cutting staple, and one of the finest annual foliage plants you can grow for mixed bouquets. The plants are heavily branched, producing tall, lime green spires with bell-shaped blooms. They have a lovely, subtle, springlike scent.
Harvest these once the green bells start to form along the stem. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the stem as these ten to turn yellow. You can expect a vase life of up to two weeks with the use of flower food.
Bupleurum has bright green blooms, and is an easy to grow flower. It adds sparkle and interest to early summer arrangements, and acts as a foliage, filler and flower all in one. For an extended harvest, sow seeds every two to three weeks. In mild areas, seeds can be sown directly into the garden in fall. Everywhere else, plant seeds directly into the garden six weeks before the last frost. Harvest when the flowers are fully open, otherwise they have a tendency to wilt. These flowers last a long time in a vase; about seven to ten days, with or without flower food.
Euphorbia is definitely one of the most versatile and productive early season foliage plants you can grow. Its bright green umbels combine with nearly every colour palette, and are perfect for mixed bouquets. A must-grow.
Harvest when flowers are fully coloured but not completely open. Put the stem ends in boiling water for seven to ten seconds. Use caution and wear gloves when harvesting, as the sap is irritating to the skin and eyes. You can expect a vase life of about seven days.
4. Queen Anne's Lace
Queen Anne's Lace. This beautiful hardy annual filler is one of the most productive and versatile plants you can grow from seed. The lacy flower heads mix beautifully with other flowers, and provide an invaluable backbone for late spring/early summer bouquets.
These plants get large, so space them 18 inches apart, and be sure to stake them early so that they don't topple over in heavy spring rains. To extend the harvest, succession sow every two weeks.
5. Senecio Cineraria
One of our favourite foliage to use for wedding arrangements are the Dusty Miller (Senecio Cineraria), especially the new fresh variety "New Look". They feature tall thick stems with large, smooth silver grey leaves. Almost silk-like. The more you pick it, the more stems it produces. Ready to cut just four months from sowing, this hardworking plant will reward you with buckets of fuzzy, silvery foliage all season long. Cut foliage is prone to wilting in the heat, so harvest during the coolest part of the day and place directly into water to rest for a few hours before arranging. Stems will last to up to ten days in a vase.
Dill is a plant that many people are surprised to hear produce flowers. It's an early-maturing variety with tell stems loaded with large umbels. This plant is super versatile and makes a wonderful addition to summer bouquets plus who doesn't love dill's nostalgic scent?
Harvest when umbels are fully open and bright yellow-green, and remove some the ferny foliage along the lower part of the stem. Except a vase life of ten days.
7. Red-Leaf Hibiscus
Red-Leaf Hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) has got dramatic deep burgundy foliage that resembles Japanese maple leaves. Hibiscus only flowers indoors in temperature regions. The more you cut this heat-and drought-tolerant plant, the more it produces. Best time to harvest this plant is during the coolest part of the day once the foliage is mature and leathery and when the tips are no longer floppy. Strip the leaves of the lower half of the stem and soak the stem ends in boiling water for five to seven seconds. Expect a vase life of seven days or more.
8. Eucalyptus Gunnii
Eucalyptus Gunnii is another all time favourite, that is used a lot by florist for weddings. Its blue-green and silvery hues works beautifully with both cool and warm floral palettes, and everyone seems to adore its distinctive menthol fragrance. And it's very useful as it can be dried and used over and over again. Perfect in autumn or Christmas wreaths. Although eucalyptus is actually a tree, it can be grown as an annual from seeds if started early indoors. Eucalyptus is a long-lasting foliage, often two whole weeks in a vase. Harvest once foliage is mature and the tips are no longer droopy.
Ruscus is another foliage that's very popular to use when making hand tied bouquets, as well as letterbox flowers. It has a darker green tone and often comes in long, elegant stems. Ruscus is also perfect to use for weddings and events and we often place it trailing down the middle of the tables as rustic centerpiece decorations. It is long lasting and can last 2-3 weeks in a vase.