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Personalize Your Christmas With A Wreath

December – the season of snow, gift giving, seasons greetings yuletide and all that jazz. It is also the time to hang your Christmas wreath. One of the most festive and personalizing displays at Christmas time is the holiday wreath. Basically, there is only one way you can do the nativity scene (it’s not like you can leave out the three wise men or place baby Jesus in a majestic Victorian cradle). However, a Christmas wreath has endless possibilities for personalization. Look at the houses down your street; no two holiday wreaths look the same.

Think about all your options: masculine, feminine, natural, contemporary, traditional, glitzy and many others. If you like an old-fashioned feminine look, try a Victorian wreath with soft pinks and ivories intertwined with pearl ribbon. Want a rustic look? Achieve the rustic look with pheasant feathers, natural fiber ribbon and feather covered balls incorporated in a grapevine wreath. Use your imagination when creating a Christmas wreath. Remember the seventies and the tinsel tree with it’s light and rotating color wheel. Retro is in; borrow the seventies concept by making a tinsel wreath using colorful ornaments and little sparkling lights.

Fashion Is My Thing Christmas Wreath

Fashion Is My Thing Christmas Wreath

“Babes in Toyland” is a movie shown around the holidays. With this in mind, a novel idea would be to take components of that movie and integrate them into a Christmas wreath. Work a toy soldier, a teddy bear, a jack in the box and other toys around a

wreath so they appear like they are matching in step one after the other. If you enjoyed the Williamsburg Christmas in our November 2002 newsletter, then the placement of fruit on your wreath can give you the right effect. The possibilities for a Christmas wreath are endless and a great way to present your personality to the world, or at least to your neighborhood.

Another distinct but somewhat different type of Christmas wreath is the Advent wreath. The Advent wreath is a marvelous indoor display of tradition and simplified beauty. Yet, because it is trimmed in long-lasting greenery it still lends itself to some personalization. For those stimulated by their olfactory sense, choose an Advent wreath with fragrant eucalyptus or cypress. You will achieve both an amazing aromatic quality, and a astounding textural effect with these greenery options. For the visually stimulated person, a glossy leaf holly with red berries will highlight your Advent wreath with its contrasting red and green. Adventurous at heart, discuss unusual greenery with your local florist and develop you own greenery options. The key is to remember tradition can be accomplished without losing your own personality.

It seems like Christmas is the only time we think about using a wreath. We dress our front door elaborately for the Christmas holiday just to strip it of all its glory the minute the holiday is over. Why? We can and should dress our door all year long. A holiday wreath could be used for the other numerous holidays throughout the year.

Make your Valentine’s Day more romantic with a wreath draped in beautiful red velvet ribbon and opaque pearl hearts. Greenery such as ivy and shamrocks, a leprechaun, and a pot of gold tucked in to a grapevine wreath will make St. Patty proud. A wreath with colorful eggs and bunnies made by your children will be a whimsical Easter display and a sentimental keepsake. Placement of a dried hot pepper wreath on your door will spice up your celebration of Cinco de Mayo. The ability to place a wreath on your door every holiday is only limited by your imagination. So let your hair down and be creative.

A door wreath can be more than a holiday accoutrement. The floral wreath can be a great bridge between the holiday wreaths. A remarkable quality of the floral wreath is the use of permanent flowers. The worry of “what is in season” is eliminated with the use of permanent flowers. You can personalize your floral wreath with your signature flower. If hydrangeas are your thing, make a dried hydrangea wreath. The culinary master might want a floral wreath containing dried herbs or fruits. For the sentimental bride, have your bridal bouquet flowers dried and incorporated into a wreath for your newlywed home.

The possibilities are never-ending when it comes to creating a wreath. You can change your wreath seasonally, use it only on holidays, or create special celebration wreaths like a baby wreath announcing the birth of a child. Just remember to always add your personal touch.

There is always a way to personalize your wreath. So drop in on your local profession florist and discuss your ideas. Whether the florist creates your wreath or supplies you with the tools needed to create a wreath, you can be sure that you will have a wreath with style and personalization.

Click here to find a florist to create one of the wreaths mentioned above.

For more Christmas ideas read:
Yuletide Berries, Holly & Mistletoe.
Deck the Halls
A Night Before Christmas.
Christmas Decorating Ideas.
Christmas Cactus, Paperwhites, Narcissus, & other Holiday Plants.

Author: Jamie Jamison Adams

Mum’s the Word or Maybe it is Chrysanthemum

Orange Chrysanthemum

Fall Chrysantemum

This fall, “Mum’s” the word; or maybe it is chrysanthemum, either way it is that time of year. The night air is cool and crisp and the fall foliage abounds with an array of deep golden yellows, intense warm oranges and brilliant reds. For many, thoughts are focused on the Friday night football games and chrysanthemums which are the quintessential fall flower.

They represent so many aspects of fall, yet one of the most memorable would be the use of mums in our football homecoming celebrations. At the game, the homecoming mum can be seen everywhere from the queen and her maids to the cheering fans. A fully double spherical chrysanthemum draped with ribbons representing their school colors are often carried by the homecoming maids. Many students at homecoming sport a mum wrist corsage. Mum decorations make their mark at the royalty platform with their mass display at the base. Look back at your homecoming dance picture; it probably contains a garden mum as part of the backdrop. It is hard to picture a football homecoming without chrysanthemums. But that is not the only place you will find the chrysanthemum flower.

Halloween is the first truly fall celebration. Nothing goes better with your corn stalks and hay bales than a few strategically placed chrysanthemums. A wonderful use of the fall mum flower is a small vase of cushion mums on your candy table. You can dress up the food table at your Halloween party with a table arrangement of chrysanthemums and jack-o-lanterns.

As you leave October and jump into November, think about extending the use of this wonderful fall flower. Dress your drab porch with a stunning display of potted chrysanthemums by placing them on your steps or around your front door. At Thanksgiving consider a striking table arrangement that incorporates fall leaves, button chrysanthemums and chrysanthemum daisies in a rust-colored bowl. For elegance during the Christmas holiday, use red roses, white spider mums, silver ting and ornaments. A short profile vase with stems of Red Rover chrysanthemums would be a delight on your entry table as you greet guests for Christmas dinner.

Because of its long-lasting quality and diversity, the chrysanthemum flower is a florist staple. Most mixed vase arrangements contain some form of a chrysanthemum, although we may not recognize them. When we hear the word chrysanthemum, a picture of a garden mum comes to mind. Though they may have many of the same attributes; there are differences in a florist-quality chrysanthemum and a garden mum. The pompon, cushion, spoonbill and chrysanthemum daisy are found both in the florist mum and the garden mum. Varying slightly are the use and growing cycle of the florist-quality and garden mum. The florist-quality chrysanthemum is grown to bloom throughout the year and mainly for the beauty of the flower.

A garden mum is a perennial plant geared for fall blooming; the foliage and plant shape are as important as the bloom. When the spring and summer flowers start to look tired and worn out, the garden mum is a breath of fresh air. This wonderful flower with its wide array of fall colors (golden yellow, warm oranges, burgundies, and brilliant reds) enhances your garden as your spring and summer perennials fade away. However, fall colors are not the only option; you can choose a pink chrysanthemum or a purple chrysanthemum. Bi-color mums can also add a splash of color to your flower arrangements or garden.

It is easy to see why the chrysanthemum is a florist staple, yet it is more than just a pretty thing. It has a long and rich history. As early as the 15th century B.C., it was cultivated by the Chinese. Chrysanthemum herbal tea was used as a special treat in China during their festivals. Chinese eat salads containing the young sprouts and petals of the chrysanthemum plant. Around the 8th century A.D., the Japanese became so enamored with the chrysanthemum flower they adopted it as their emperor’s crest and official seal.

Cornucopia with mixed fall flowers and mums
Since colonial times, Americans have embraced the chrysanthemum. It has become our fall flower of choice for decorating or gift giving. This is a flower with many different meanings and uses depending on the nationality of the user. Europeans use the chrysanthemum as a sympathy flower. Pallbearers wear mum flower boutonnières. Casket sprays contain a selection of chrysanthemums. The graves of loved ones in Belgium and Austria are adorned with chrysanthemums.

Remember this unsung hero of the flower world and embrace its diversity and availability. The next time you need a house-warming gift, call your local florist and send a beautiful potted mum. Cheer up a friend with a mixed flower arrangement containing unique spider mums. Chat with your local florist about your chrysanthemum options and use it to its fullest potential.
Fasinated by chrysanthemums, find out more by visiting The National Chrysanthemum Society.

Did you like the Cornucopia arrangement? To learn more visit Cornucopia – The Horn of Plenty.

Planning a Fall Wedding? Check out Fall in Love with Fall Wedding Flowers or Autumn Wedding Bouquet Flowers.

For more Fall flowers ideas, read Autumn in the Pumpkin Patch or Celebrate Grandparents Day with Flowers .

Gerbera: A Flower for All Seasons

“A man for all seasons” a reference to many a man, but what about a flower for all seasons? Commonly referred to as the Gerbera, the Baberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) is just such a creature.

One of the most amazing aspects of the gerbera is the color palette; which contains a wide array of pinks, reds, oranges, yellows, and whites. Gerbera daisies with dusky oranges, reds with an orange undertone, and intense yellows create a cornucopia of fall colors. As the Christmas season approaches its snowy whites and deep reds give a sense of long ago traditions.

During the cold and blustery winter months, lovely rose and salmon colored gerberas give a hint that spring is just around the corner. The multitudes of red shades make a wonderful selection for Valentine’s Day. Spring is renewed with a celebration of vibrant orange, pink, yellow and red gerbera daisies. Sizzling yellows, oranges, and hot pinks jump right into the summer season.

Color is not the only facet of the gerbera that makes it a flower for all seasons. Versatility is a fantastic characteristic of the gerbera. This flower with its large daisy blooms is strong enough to stand alone in any simple or elegant container, yet it is a great companion to a multitude of other flowers. Combine gerberas with mums and a few fall leaves for a beautiful Thanksgiving arrangement. A festive display for the holiday season would be to highlight Christmas greenery with deep red gerbera daisies. Transform any ordinary mixed flower arrangement into a spectacular one by tucking in a few gerberas. Gerbera daisies are like a wonderful friend — on their own they shine, yet they enhance the beauty of others.

This amazing flower avails itself to a multitude of uses. Birthday arrangements are one such use. Whether the birthday person is nine or ninety, a beautiful arrangement of gerbera daisies is sure to be a hit. A novel idea for dinner parties is the use of a different color gerbera at each place setting instead of a place card. Carry the gerbera theme through out the party with a lovely vase of gerberas on the hors d’oeuvre table and with a centerpiece arrangement on the dining table.

Orange Gerbera DaisyWeddings are a wonderful place to use gerbera daisies. To make an outstanding statement of beauty the trendsetting brides could carry a gerbera daisy wedding bouquet. At the reception, gerbera daisies could be used in the table arrangements, bride’s book, and even on the cake.

This attractive flower is a great bridge between the genders. A gerbera can be soft and feminine in one setting, yet bold and masculine in another. Many men would love to receive a flower arrangement, but many of us are reluctant to send them one because many flowers seem too feminine. Not the Gerbera daisy, it can show off its beauty in a very masculine manner. Send that duck hunter a bouquet of orange gerbera daisies with a strategically placed duck call. If Dad is a veteran, then send him a vase of red and white gerberas mixed with blue delphinium. Support your favorite team on Super Bowl Sunday by placing a gerbera table arrangement with your team’s colors on the food table.

Using a gerbera daisy as a cut flower is only one aspect of its being. This superb flower can also be a wonderful potted plant. The decorative daisy blooms stand proud on bare stems shooting out of deeply lobed, lanced-shaped leaves, a display which is magnificent as a potted plant. The Gerbera as a potted plant opens a completely new genre. Gerbera daisy pots can be used as indoor or outdoor table arrangements, gifts, or for decoration in a sunroom or a patio. During a Fourth of July picnic, red and white gerberas in blue pot make wonderful table arrangements. The sunroom is a superb place for gerbera daisies. On a cold, sunny winter day, strategically place gerbera daisy pots in your sunroom to give you the feeling of outdoors without having to go outside.

There is a recent trend occurring through the nation; extending the living area to the outside. The traditional patio with only a grill and a set of table and chairs is replaced with a new patio design. We now have not only the table, chairs, and a grill, but also loveseats, outdoor coffee tables, fire pits, and lounges. Our patio is now a room and therefore must be decorated. Here is a great opportunity for our flower for all seasons. Growing gerbera daisies in this setting is easy because they require little care. A gerbera daisy can be potted in a colorful container enhancing the color scheme of the new outdoor room, or planted in the ground around the patio. For those outdoor dining parties, you can snip a few of your potted gerbera blooms and bang, you have a table arrangement.

As you can see, the gerbera daisy, as a cut or potted flower is truly a flower for all seasons. So, for your next special occasion have your local professional florist send your loved one a vase of gerbera daisies. Whether you are the creative type or not, you can pick up some gerberas and with little effort, decorate for a party or enhance a room. Because of its versatility, the gerbera daisy is boundless in its uses. Remember, gerbera daisies are great for every occasion and easily found at your local florist.

Want to know how to keep those gerberas fresh; then read Keeping Fresh Flowers Fresh.

Top Ten Reasons to Order from a Real Local Florist

Chances are, you know where the flower shop is located in your neighborhood. Perhaps there are several nearby florists for you to choose from. In fact, there are flower shops in practically every city, town, village, and parish, and it’s nice to be able to walk in or call and select just the right flowers, plants, or other gifts to send to your friends and loved ones.

What if you want to send flowers to a place where you don’t know the local florist? You might open the telephone book to find one that can fill your order. Or you may look on-line and see ads for some of the big names in sending flowers nationally or the so-called “wire services”. Easy enough.

But let the buyer beware… these may not be your best options.

Quite often, the largest ad in the phone book isn’t even from a real local florist! Instead, the ad may belong to an “order gatherer”. Order gatherers masquerade as real florists, making their money by collecting floral orders from consumers, charging hefty service fees, and then sending the orders out to real florists for fulfillment. When you call an order gatherer, you may wind up speaking to a person who has never even been inside a flower shop; a person who surely does not know what the delivering florist has in stock that day, or what looks most fresh and appealing. The same is true of the big “1-800” companies and national wire services, who will charge the sending customer a service fee and then collect a sales commission from the delivering florist at the other end.

You can usually tell whether a florist is truly local if their address appears in their phone book ad. If it doesn’t, they are probably an order gatherer operating from somewhere far away, even if they have a local phone number. If you’re not sure, and you choose to call them anyway, ask the person who answers the phone where they are located. Incidentally, several states have passed laws which prohibit order gathering through misleading advertising, and others have legislation pending.

So what’s the best way to send flowers to someone out of town? Visit or call www.FlowerShopNetwork.com where you will be directed to a florist that’s local to the area. With a credit or debit card handy, you can easily search online for a local florist by city, state or zip/postal code. Then, either phone the florist (the majority have toll-free numbers) to place your order during business hours, or, if online ordering is available, enter your order directly on the florist’s website, 24 hours a day.

Top Ten Reasons to Order from a “Real” Local Florist

1. Ensure Maximum Value

  • Save on extra service fees by cutting out the middleman.

2. Speak Directly To The Florist Who Is Filling Your Order

  • Find out what flowers and plants are in stock, what looks particularly good, or whether any blooming plants may be planted outdoors later.

3. Communicate Special Requests Directly

  • Does the recipient have any favorite flowers? Any dislikes?
  • Should the recipient be called prior to delivery?
  • Is the recipient hard of hearing, or slow answering the door?
  • Is one entrance better than another?

4. Select Additional Gift Items

  • Many flower shops also carry unique gift lines, such as candy, potpourri, figurines, plush animals or candles, which can be added to your order or sent independently.
  • 5. Get Same-Day Delivery – If Possible
  • By phoning the local florist directly, find out if same-day delivery is possible. Calling early improves the chances.

6. Pay Accurate and Appropriate Delivery Charges – No More, No Less

  • Pay the right local delivery fee without having it deducted from the value of your order.
  • A delivery to a location close to the shop may not cost as much as one farther away. Only the local florist knows.
  • Some locations, such as gated communities or certain businesses may require an additional charge.

7. Familiarity With Local Delivery Regulations

  • Hospitals, funeral homes, schools and businesses may have delivery cut-off times or size limitations.
  • Hospitals in particular often limit the size, quantity, or types of balloons that can be delivered.

8. Familiarity With Local Funeral Customs

  • In some areas a standing spray of flowers is customary, while in others a basket of flowers is most appropriate.
  • In smaller towns, a local florist may know what has already been ordered or sent to the funeral, and can then help you choose something different.

9. Establish A Relationship With The Flower Shop For Future Orders

  • Join a mailing list for email newsletters or seasonal offers.
  • Many shops offer a reminder service for sending flowers at special occasions.

Only nine reasons, you ask? The tenth is simple and universal:

10. Everyone Loves To Receive Flowers!

Research conducted by Rutgers University and the Society of American Florists indicates that flowers have an immediate impact on the happiness of the recipient, have a long-term positive effect on people’s moods, and increase the connections among family and friends. Not only that, but a study by researchers at Texas A & M University shows that flowers and plants improve productivity, innovation, and creativity in the workplace.

Don’t take the chance of paying more than you need to and getting less than you expected when sending flowers out of town. Communicate directly with the florist in the place where the flowers are to be delivered. To see a comprehensive directory of flower shops all over North America, visit www.FlowerShopNetwork.com and let the smiles begin!

Candles Create The Right Mood

Isn’t it interesting how candles can create just the right mood?

Have you ever entered a room and been greeted by the scent of candles?

Do you remember the fabulous party where the flickering candlelight, elegant floral arrangements and striking decorations produced such dramatic effects?

Candles serve many purposes and are available in many different product lines. A full service florist can help you select from a wide variety of scented candles, decorative candles, ceremonial, wedding and unity candles along with aromatherapy candles, household odor control candles and outdoor citronella candles.


Removing Candle Wax From Carpeting
To remove candle wax from carpeting, try using an iron and some paper towels.
1. Select the ‘warm’ setting on the iron.
2. Place two or three paper towels over the hardened candle wax.
3. Place towels around the spill so as not to directly touch the carpet with the iron.
4. Gently iron the paper towels that are covering the hardened wax.
5. The wax will begin to melt and be absorbed by the paper towels.
There are some commercial candle wax removers on the market. Check with a professional florist concerning product recommendations.
Dining By Candle Light Scented or unscented – that is the question.
If using candles when dining, consider the scent of the candles and the aroma of the food. Oftentimes the scent of the candle will be incompatible with the aroma of the food. Under these circumstances it is best to use unscented candles.
Selling A House
It has been found that when selling a house, many home buyers react strongly to household smells. Odor control candles can help to neutralize or eliminate unpleasant scents. Scented candles can help promote a pleasant atmosphere.
The smell of a house can have a positive or negative effect on home buyers.

SCENTED CANDLES You can choose from the richly scented patchouli to the crisp scent of citrus, or even a delicate floral. Scented candles can evoke pleasant memories or let you wax nostalgic. Scents such as freshly baked apple pie or cinnamon buns create flavorful fragrances and the recently created environmental scents call to mind newly mowed grass, fresh hay or even a spring meadow.

HOME DIFFUSERS This fragrance product is gaining in popularity because of its’ intriguing and long lasting scent. Home Diffusers can be used alone or even combined with candles for the sophisticated layering of fragrances.

AROMATHERAPY CANDLES Aromatherapy has been found to help in the feeling of well being. Scents can be calming, soothing, relaxing, stimulating, uplifting or exhilarating. Aromatherapy products can be found in scented candles, home diffusers, bath oils, shower gels, soaps, lotions and potpourri. Why not give a customized Spa Gift Basket? This scented gift is sure to please.

ODOR CONTROL Speaking of scents, we’ve all encountered the unpleasant odors of stale tobacco smoke, household smells or pet odors. Don’t let these bad odors put you in a bad mood. Odor Control candles are a great way to either neutralize or eliminate problem smells.

DECORATIVE CANDLES Candles are great for parties, weddings and dining. Using pillar, column, colonial or taper candles can make a bold decorating statement. Or, on the other hand, votive candles placed in votive holders can lend a soft, almost magical lighting effect. Floating candles can be used indoors or outside. Whether placed in bowls filled with water or drifting in a pool or fountain, the flickering candlelight can produce shimmering effects. All of these candles can be used alone or with other decorations and floral arrangements. The possibilities are endless. Your professional florist can help with your selection of candles and decorations for your next party.

OUTDOOR CANDLES It’s easy to change the look of the outdoors, and create a beautiful atmosphere, with the help of outdoor candles. Illuminate entrances and walkways. Use citronella candles to keep away mosquitoes. Cluster other candles such as tea lights and votives, along with floating candles, candle lanterns, and hurricane lamps to transform an ordinary night to an enchanted evening.

HOLIDAY CANDLES No matter if ‘You’re Home for the Holidays’ or just starting your own home, holiday candles make the holidays brighter. If you are only thinking of red and green Christmas candles, think again. There are candles for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Valentine’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, Easter and The Fourth of July. Getting in the holiday sprit is easier with the special look and scent of holiday candles. Don’t forget friends and family. Holiday candles make great gifts to celebrate any occasion.

WEDDING AND UNITY CANDLES Through the ages the wedding ceremony and the glow of candles have been associated with joy and happiness. Wedding and unity candles can range from the traditional white taper to a wide variety of colors and different designs. The Unity Candle symbolizes the joining of two people who are beginning their life together. Wedding candles are no longer just for the ceremony. Candles may be given to guests after the ceremony as keepsakes or wedding favors. Make an appointment with a professional florist to discuss plans for a memorable wedding.

Now to answer the burning question: Why do some candles burn differently than others?

CANDLE INGREDIENTS The answer, different types of candles are made from different types of materials. Most candle ingredients are beeswax, paraffin, stearin, palm oil, or soy. Beeswax candles produce a honey scent and are long burning, dripless, and smokeless. Candles that are 100% beeswax and are made with pure plant fibers are non-toxic and non-allergenic. The new soy candles are less expensive than beeswax candles and are also clean burning and dripless. Soy candles last longer than paraffin candles, because soy burns at a lower temperature than paraffin. Paraffin, a by-product of petroleum, often produces soot when burned. Since soy wax is softer than paraffin wax, soy candles are usually poured into a glass jar or other heatproof container and are often identified as poured candles, jar candles, and container candles. However, candles that need to retain their shape such as pillar, taper, and colonial candles, are made with stearin, a derivative of palm oil.

CANDLE HOLDERS Candles and candle holders can enhance a room. Taper and colonial candles look elegant when placed in wall sconces. Votive candles can blend in or stand out when placed in any number of interesting votive candle holders and pillar candles shine in either candle lanterns or hurricane lamps.

CHOOSE WITH CONFIDENCE It doesn’t matter if your taste in music is “Candle In The Wind” or “Come On Baby Light My Fire.” Candles can set the mood for a tranquil evening, a fantastic party, an elegant outdoor event, or a romantic dinner for two. Whether selecting candles to create the right mood or to give as a gift, choosing from the wide variety and different product lines, makes it easy to see why candles are so “hot.”

Let a full service florist serve you

House Plant Propagation

Sooner or later, most of us who grow house plants become interested in the propagation of those plants; in other words, taking cuttings to produce more plants. It’s only natural. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys nurturing living, growing things, like plants, chances are you’ll want to take that next step – propagation – so you can share your happy plants with friends or family members, or simply to see whether or not you can actually do it. Perhaps you’ve got a vigorous philodendron plant that threatens to obliterate the light from a window, or a healthy dracaena plant that’s about to grow through the ceiling. You can’t bear the thought of cutting it back and throwing away any part of a healthy living plant, one that you’ve taken such good care of. So vegetative propagation of the plant is your likely impulse.

“Vegetative propagation?” you may ask. Vegetative, in this case, simply means ‘non-sexual’. Sexual propagation is propagation by means of seeds. A flower is pollinated, a seed is formed (perhaps inside a fruit), the seed germinates and a new plant is born. It’s nature’s usual mechanism for reproduction of the species. Vegetative, or asexual, propagation is reproduction by any other means, such as by layering or cuttings, used to create new individual and self-sufficient plants. Vegetative propagation generates new and relatively mature plants without waiting for seeds to sprout and seedlings to grow. It’s also useful for reducing the size of overgrown specimens. For house plants, there are several effective methods of propagation that may be used, depending on the type and the physical form of the plant to be propagated.

The easiest and probably the most common way of propagating house plants is by cuttings. There are several types of cuttings that work well, again depending on the type of plant in question. Stem cuttings are good for plants that grow on vines, such as philodendrons, pothos, hoyas, ivies, and similar plants. Using a sharp knife or bypass-style pruning shears, cut a section of the vine or stem that includes at least 4 to 6 nodes (the nodes are the places on the stem at which the leaves are attached). Cuttings may be taken from the growing end of the stem or from anywhere along it. Strip the leaves away from the bottom node or two. In most cases, new roots will emerge from the nodes.

Stem cuttings may be rooted in either water or a sterilized potting medium. Cuttings with fairly slender stems will root easily in plain water. Use tap water that has been left to sit out for 24 hours or more to allow chlorine and fluorine gasses to dissipate. Place the fresh cuttings into a glass or jar of the water, submerging the exposed nodes but not allowing any foliage to be in the water. It can be helpful to drop a clear plastic bag over the cuttings and the glass to increase humidity while the stems are rooting. Don’t seal the bag, however, as air circulation must be present to avoid rotting. The bag can be supported over the cuttings with wood plant stakes or dowels, so air can circulate from underneath. Place the cuttings in bright, indirect light away from full sun while they are rooting. Change the water as necessary to keep it clear and oxygenated, and add water to replace any that has evaporated or been used by the plants. In most cases, roots should start to appear within 3 to 4 weeks.

Roots formed in water may appear sooner than those formed in soil, but they may not be as sturdy and may have a more difficult time adjusting to being transplanted. Therefore, many growers prefer to propagate cuttings by rooting them in a sterile potting medium or soil mix. Sterilized growing mixes can usually be purchased at a garden center. Otherwise, a mixture of half sand and half peat moss is good for rooting most cuttings. Sterilize it by putting it into a 300-degree oven for an hour. Then moisten it before using. Stem cuttings should be dipped into a powder containing a rooting hormone and a fungicide (available from a garden center) before inserting into the growing medium. Insert the stem deeply enough so that the exposed nodes are covered. Keep the medium moist but never soggy. Maintain high humidity, perhaps by using a plastic bag as above or by frequent misting with water. Place the cuttings in bright, indirect light. After 5 or 6 weeks, cuttings should be ready for transplanting.

After cuttings have rooted, they must be planted into a regular soil mix. Remember that their propagation media have had no nutritional value, so the new potting soil should be one that contains some amount of organic matter to provide nutrients. Once the cuttings are established in their new pots, after a couple of months or so, begin fertilizing with an ordinary house plant food at one-half the normal dilution rate.

Larger plants with heavier stems, such as dieffenbachias, Chinese evergreens, larger philodendrons, some dracaenas, etc., may also be propagated by stem cuttings. In this case, cut the stem with about 6 or 7 leaves from the top of the plant. You can also cut similar sections of stem from further down. As before, remove 2 or 3 leaves from the bottom of the cutting, exposing the nodes. Cut the upper half away from each remaining leaf blade so as to reduce moisture loss during propagation. Dip the bottom end of the cutting into rooting powder. Then set the cutting aside for a week or so, in a bright but shaded spot, allowing the cut end to callus (similar to forming a scab) to keep the cutting from drying out too much and from rotting as it takes root. Once the callus has formed, insert the stem cuttings into a sterile potting medium as mentioned before until they’ve rooted.

Another, perhaps simpler way of propagating vining plants is by layering. In this process, a section of the long stem of the plant is simply pinned to the soil, without separating it from the original plant, until it grows roots. Using a U-shaped or hairpin-like wire, pin one or more nodes of the original vine to the surface of the potting soil, which is kept constantly moist but not soggy. You can pin the vine back into the original pot or onto the moist soil in a new, nearby separate pot. Once the layered stems have taken root, simply cut the stem behind the freshly rooted nodes and pot the cuttings separately. If you have enough vines and they’re long enough, you may be able to pin several stems together into a new pot and create a whole new plant all at once.

Some house plants may be propagated by leaf cuttings. These include African violets, begonias, peperomias, and most succulent plants, such as aloe vera, jade plant, kalanchoe and sansevieria. Using a sharp, clean knife, cut the leaf including any stem (the leaf petiole) from the main plant. Dip the cut end in rooting powder. For soft or slender stems like begonias and peperomias, insert the petiole immediately into the rooting medium, nearly up to the base of the leaf without touching it. For thicker leaves, like African violets, allow the cut end to callus for 2 or 3 days before inserting. Succulent leaves, including jade plant, aloe, and similar plants, should callus at least a week before propagation; otherwise the cuttings will tend to rot. Do not supply any extra humidity for succulents, again to avoid rotting from too much moisture.

For very heavy or woody-stemmed plants, such as rubber trees, dracaenas, and large dieffenbachias, a propagation technique called ‘air layering’ is best. Air layering allows a large cutting to take root before being separated from its mother plant, ensuring against loss of the cutting before it’s rooted. Using a sharp knife, cut a narrow, V-shaped notch halfway into the stem at the point where you want roots to form. This should be immediately below a node from which the leaf (or several leaves) has been removed. Brace the notch open with a pebble, a short stick or a piece of toothpick to prevent it from healing closed. Dust the cut with rooting powder. Wrap the area in and around the notch, all the way around the stem, with damp sphagnum moss. Depending on the size of the plant, you should wind up with a ball of sphagnum moss approximately the size of your clenched fist. Wrap the damp moss with clear Saran or similar plastic wrap. Secure the wrapping above and below the wad of moss with twist-ties. The moss should stay damp throughout the rooting process (from 4 to 8 weeks). If it tends to dry out, gently add water from the top to re-dampen the moss. When vigorous roots are visible through the plastic wrap, cut the new plant below the roots, remove the wrap and plant the cutting in its own pot. The original plant will send out one or more new shoots from below the point where the cutting was removed.

Air layering is an excellent propagation technique to use when the original plant has become tall and leggy. The layering can be done at two or three points along the stem, and when all have rooted, they may be planted together, along with the original if desired, to create a new and much fuller plant. It’s best to begin this process in the spring when growth is more active.

We hope this column has answered some of your questions regarding house plant propagation. Remember to consult your local professional florist for more details about these and other techniques, and how best to apply them with specific kinds of plants. It’s fun to grow more house plants from the ones you already have! In the immortal words of this well-known phrase, “Go forth and multiply!”

Heavenly Hydrangeas

If heaven is landscaped with our most favorite flowers (and surely it is), there must be plenty of room among the clouds that’s been allocated for hydrangeas – those big, round, luxuriously fluffy flowers that almost beg you to stick your face into them so you can feel their softness on your cheeks. For some folks, hydrangeas conjure up nostalgic memories of the big, pink or blue, ball-shaped blossoms in their grandmother’s garden. In today’s market, hydrangeas have become explosively popular as cut flowers, especially when used in wedding work. The massed, spherical form and supple texture of hydrangea blooms makes them a preferred choice in upscale floral arrangements. Rare indeed is the ‘home interior’ magazine these days that doesn’t show a picture or two of a bouquet of hydrangeas among its pages.

Blooming Hydrangea Plant
click to view large image

Hydrangeas come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors, from climbing vines to small trees. The potted hydrangea plants most likely to be found in flower shops at this time of year are the shrubby Bigleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla), which are sometimes also known as Mophead Hydrangeas. For decades, these have been the most popular hydrangeas for growing in gardens and home landscapes. Bigleaf Hydrangeas are beloved for their large, rounded flower heads, which are actually composed of dozens of tightly clustered individual florets. The showy flowers occur in a range of colors, from the common pinks and blues to more vivid purple, amethyst, and nearly red hues. These flowers also come in white, which is exceedingly popular in hydrangea bridal bouquets and other wedding decorations.

An attractive variant of the Bigleaf Hydrangea is the Lacecap Hydrangea. The inflorescence of the Lacecap Hydrangea has a flattened center composed of tiny, bead-like, unopened flower buds situated very closely together. This compact center is surrounded by a delicate ring of open florets, which seem to hover weightlessly at the perimeter of the bloom.

Among hardy hydrangeas for the landscape, the Oakleaf Hydrangea is the standout favorite. Easy to care for, the Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) is one of the few hydrangeas that are native to the United States, the others hailing from China and Japan. The Oakleaf Hydrangea is a dramatic, white-flowering, deciduous shrub with four seasons of interest. Its elongated panicles of florets are persistent through the summer; its large, deeply lobed leaves turn several shades of orange and red in the fall, and the peeling bark on its stems provides great winter texture. It blooms best in areas where summers are somewhat hot, but the Oakleaf Hydrangea is winter hardy further north than the Bigleaf Hydrangea. A tremendous advantage of the Oakleaf Hydrangea is that it can thrive in much drier locations than its cousins (in fact, the word “hydrangea” is Greek, meaning “water vessel” – a reference to the majority of the species’ extreme need for water).

Hydrangea care is fairly easy. The most important thing to remember is that hydrangeas love water (as their name implies). Keep the soil of a potted hydrangea moist at all times, without permitting it to become waterlogged. Place the plant in a bright location away from strong, direct sunlight. Keep the hydrangea in as cool a location as possible, especially at night, to prolong blooming. When blooms have faded, and after any danger of frost, the hydrangea may be planted outside. Cut the plants back, removing the spent blossoms. Plant hydrangeas in a rich, loamy soil in a semi-shaded location that gets plenty of moisture. Florist hydrangeas are generally hardy to USDA Climate Zone 6, but may need protection from winter freezing that far north. Bigleaf Hydrangea plants bloom on the previous summer’s growth, so in order to preserve the next season’s flower buds, prune immediately after flowering, if necessary. Care must be taken never to prune them during winter or spring.

With extra care, it is sometimes possible to change the flower color on the Bigleaf Hydrangea. It has to do with the acidity level of the soil and the presence of available aluminum. To maintain or change a hydrangea’s flowers to pink, keep the soil pH level around 6.0 to 6.2 or higher (hydrangeas cannot assimilate aluminum at higher pH levels). Add dolomitic lime to the soil several times a year to raise the pH. Fertilize using a plant food that is relatively high in phosphorous (the middle number in the three-number ratio on the package), which also prevents aluminum uptake.

To change the hydrangea’s flower color to blue (or to keep it that color), aluminum must be present in the soil. Authorities recommend that a solution of ½ oz. (or 1 tbsp.) aluminum sulfate per gallon of water be applied to plants (which are at least 2-3 years old) throughout the growing season. The pH of the soil should be around 5.25 to 5.5 so as to make the aluminum available to the plant. The soil should also contain plenty of organic matter, such as peat moss, which will tend to naturally acidify the soil. Fertilize with a plant food that is relatively low in phosphorus and high in potassium (the last number in the analysis). In some native soils, however, it may never be possible to change a hydrangea’s color to blue if the soil is highly alkaline (chalky). Similarly, take care not to plant them next to a concrete foundation or driveway since lime gradually leaching from the concrete will make the soil artificially high in pH. In that case, it may be better to grow your blue hydrangeas in big pots where you can have better control over their care and the soil makeup.

White Hydrangea
White Hydrangea
Wedding Bouquet
click to view large image

As we noted earlier, hydrangeas have become very popular for use in wedding work. The soft texture and the voluptuous rounded form of the hydrangea flower heads gives them a romantic, feminine appeal that works well in wedding centerpieces. Their grand size makes them appropriate for altar arrangements at the wedding ceremony. A single, large hydrangea bloom can even become the basis of a bridal bouquet, with smaller flowers like roses or freesias arranged around and through it.

Hydrangeas are among America’s most favorite flowers. They have a commanding presence in a summer garden. They’re lovely as cut flowers all year long. For weddings, they can’t be beat. And in spring, long-lasting potted hydrangea plants are especially nice as Mother’s Day gifts! Your local florist can arrange to have a big, beautiful, blooming hydrangea plant delivered to your Mom, whether she lives locally or out of town. Phone or stop in to place your order, being sure to allow several days’ notice for best selection and timely delivery. With those big, fluffy, cloud-like blossoms, hydrangeas might just be a little bit of heaven on earth!

Planning Wedding Flowers

Planning a wedding is not without its share of stresses. There are so many choices and decisions to be made, from the wedding date and location to the invitations, to the wedding dress, to the photographer, to the wedding cake, to the music, and on and on. The planning seems almost endless. There is, however, at least one area of wedding planning that should be joyful and uncomplicated: the wedding flowers. In this edition of the newsletter we’ll explore some of the ways to make planning the wedding flowers an easy and stress-free experience.

Wedding Ceremony
Wedding Ceremony

The first step in planning the wedding flowers is to arrange an appointment with your favorite professional florist for a wedding consultation. This is best done at least six months prior to the wedding date. Most consultations for wedding flowers take between one and two hours, so be sure to allow enough time in your schedule. Prepare for the consultation by gathering pictures from bridal magazines of wedding flowers that appeal to you. Have a list of some of your favorite flowers as well as some that you don’t especially care for. This will make your florist’s job easier when suggesting bouquets and other floral decorations. Bring pictures of the bridal gown and the bridesmaids’ dresses, as well as a sample of the fabrics being used in those dresses. In many cases, it is the color of the bridesmaids’ dresses that determines the palette of colors to be used in the wedding flowers. Also, bring along a picture of the wedding cake if possible. This will help in planning flowers or other decorations for the cake and the wedding cake table.

Make a list of the members of the wedding party and the other people who will be participating in the wedding. Besides the bride and groom, this list should include the maid of honor, the other bridesmaids, the best man and the other groomsmen, the flower girl and the ring bearer, if any. Also list the parents, the grandparents, and any step-parents of both the bride and the groom, as well as any special honored guests, such as a great aunt or a childhood nanny. Include any additional ushers and anyone who may be singing or reading at the wedding ceremony. List any volunteer hostesses, such as guest book attendants, cake servers, etc. These are all people for whom corsages or boutonnieres should be provided (remember to ask mothers and grandmothers what style of corsage they prefer – pinned to the shoulder, worn as a wristlet, attached to a clutch or carried as a fingertip nosegay). To discover some of the trends in personal flowers, read “Wedding Accessories,” our prior newsletter on the subject. And finally, have an estimate of the number of guests that will be attending the wedding.

Wedding Reception
Wedding Reception


Quite often, your local florist will be familiar with the venue for the wedding, having worked there previously. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to have a floor plan of the site for both the wedding ceremony and the wedding reception. Make note of any unique architectural features, as well as colors and style of décor. Know what kinds of banquet equipment, such as tables and linens, are available at the wedding reception facility, and have the names of the staff people with whom you’ve spoken. Bring with you a copy of the wedding policies for each venue, if necessary.

At the wedding flower consultation, begin by telling your florist what feeling or mood you would like to create for the ceremony and the reception. Shall it be dramatic and sophisticated? Elegant and romantic? Casual and upbeat? Should the wedding reception have the same feeling as the ceremony? Will any part of the wedding take place outdoors? If you have a particular budget in mind, let your florist know that, too. All of this information will guide your florist in making suggestions for the wedding flowers.

As was mentioned earlier, the color of the bridesmaids’ dresses is very often a starting point in planning the color harmonies for the wedding flowers, and your florist will have several suggestions as to how the color may be best utilized. For example, the dress color may be repeated in the bridesmaids’ bouquets. Or, it may be the basis of a contrasting, complementary color harmony. Whatever bouquet colors are selected, they should look good against the backdrop of the dresses as well as inside the church, synagogue or other venue where the wedding is taking place. For more ideas about wedding bouquets, read our earlier newsletter, “Trends in Wedding Bouquets.”

In planning the decorations for the wedding ceremony location, consider all the areas that may be enhanced with flowers, including:

  • the altar
  • columns and candelabra flanking the altar or creating a backdrop for the ceremony
  • an archway or canopy
  • the podium or lectern
  • for Jewish weddings, the chuppah
  • the ends of the pews or the aisle itself
  • communion rails
  • window ledges
  • the entry vestibule
  • the guest book table
  • doors leading into the sanctuary
  • stair rails outside the entrance

The wedding reception may be decorated in a style similar to that of the ceremony, or it may be completely different. For example, many brides choose all white flowers for the wedding ceremony and switch to a more colorful scheme for the reception. In planning the reception flowers, let your florist know what kind of food will be served and how it will be presented. Is it a stand-up buffet of finger foods or a seated banquet with a plated meal? Cake and punch only, a cocktail party, or a complete dinner? Will there be a dance floor? Entertainment?

Some other considerations in planning the wedding reception flowers include:

  • the entry area
  • place card table
  • buffet table centerpieces
  • guest seating table arrangements
  • head table design
  • free-standing decorations and foliage rental
  • table linens
  • candles
  • stage décor
  • wedding cake and cake table
  • restrooms

Read “Decorating Ideas for a Wedding Reception,” our previous newsletter on the subject, for more thoughts on wedding reception flowers.

As you can see, planning the flowers for a wedding is no simple undertaking. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. With adequate preparation and a little forethought, combined with the expertise of a talented professional florist, the planning process can be as smooth as a silk wedding dress and you will have created the kind of beautiful memories that last a lifetime.

More wedding related articles:
Fall in Love with Fall Flowers
Roses and More Roses
Beautiful Wedding Flower Pictures

Decorating ideas for a Wedding Reception
The Perfect Wedding
Fabulous Wedding Flowers

Roses as Wedding Bouquet Flowers
Autumn Wedding Bouquet Flowers

Wedding Day Wishes

Plan your wedding with the help of Wedding and Party Network.

Flowers And The Color Purple

Purple Stock
Purple Stock

Purple has always been a magical color. It is the color of mystery, royalty, passion and spirituality. Spectrally situated midway between the warm reds and the cool blues, purple can suggest either or both experiences. It has the ability to complement and enliven nearly any color scheme – a fact that floral designers have long realized. Purple is also a stylish hue that is appearing as an accent color in many contemporary interior design schemes. Fortunately, Mother Nature has provided a garden full of purple flowers, such as statice, tulips, liatris, iris, stock and more, from which a floral designer may choose. And what nature hasn’t produced, flower hybridizers have attempted to supply in the form of purple roses, carnations, callas and other flowers.

One blossom that has been gaining in popularity lately and which looks especially scrumptious in purple is the lisianthus. Though you may not be too familiar with it yet, lisianthus has been turning up in some of the most elegant flower arrangements.

Known botanically as Eustoma grandiflorum, lisianthus is valued for its broadly cup-shaped blossoms and delicate ruffled petals. They can look like open tulips or poppies. Double- and even triple-flowered lisianthus hybrids have resulted in luxurious blooms that resemble fully opened roses or peonies. Lisianthus buds are enchanting too, with the spirally twisted petals of the unopened flowers positioned at the ends of slender, graceful stems. They can add a wonderful sense of movement to a floral design, and their greenish color creates spectacular contrast against the more mature blossoms. Fortunately, lisianthus blooms are quite durable as cut flowers, provided they are well taken care of.

Lisianthus occurs in a variety of colors, including pink, white, ivory, lavender, pale green, buttercream yellow, and of course, purple. There are even bi-color varieties of lisianthus that have a band of color at the edge of the otherwise white petals. The deep, dark, eggplant hue of the true purple lisianthus exhibits a velvety sheen that almost begs to be touched. It’s a mysterious blackish-purple that seems almost unreal, like that of petunias (which don’t hold up well as cut flowers).

A deep purple color is also displayed by certain tulips. “Queen of the Night” is the tulip hybrid that has the darkest shade of purple. It’s been popular in gardens for decades. Another purple tulip is called “Negrita”. Though not quite as dark as the former, this tulip is more available to florists as it has a longer flowering season and can be forced into bloom more readily. Still another purple variety is “Purple Prince”, which is a slight shade paler than the others. Though available year round, tulips are especially plentiful during the spring season. Tulips are one of the few flowers that continue to elongate after they have been cut, often stretching toward a light source or opposite the force of gravity. A simple vase of tulips, accented with a delicate filler such as waxflower, makes a lovely gift – a spontaneous harbinger of spring that is constantly changing. To read more about tulips, click here to see our previous newsletter on the topic.

Other familiar spring flowers that occur in the color purple include iris, hyacinth, freesia, anemones, lilac and sweet peas.

Purple statice has long been a favorite filler flower in floral arrangements. It seems to last forever as a cut flower and it dries easily, meaning that its bright purple color can be enjoyed for years to come. Although it is available in other hues, such as pink, yellow, peach, blue and white, statice is most associated with the color purple. Ironically, the purple parts of the inflorescence are not really flowers at all. Rather, they are known botanically as “bracts”: modified leaf forms that serve to call attention to the insignificant “true” flowers. If you’ve kept fresh purple statice in a vase long enough, you may have noticed the little white true flowers eventually appearing amid the purple bracts.

One flower which is almost always seen in its purple form (although a white form also exists) is liatris. Commonly called “gayfeather”, liatris is a wildflower of the North American prairies. Liatris is valued in floral design for its strong, straight linear quality and for its vivid purple hue. It’s also very long-lasting as a cut flower. Liatris is unique among other so-called “line” flowers in that its florets open from the top down, as opposed to a flower like the gladiolus in which the lower florets open before the upper ones do. By pinching out the top florets as they die and re-cutting the bottom of the stem every few days, liatris can remain attractive in a vase for up to two weeks.

Dark purple callas have captivated the attention of floral designers lately. The variety known as “Schwarzwalder” is such a deep, dark burgundy-purple in color that it appears almost black. A brand new purple calla hybrid recently created in New Zealand is called “Hot Chocolate”. It’s even darker than the former, and has dark purple-black stems as well. Purple callas like these are now being carried by style-conscious brides in their wedding bouquets.

The summer perennial garden offers an abundance of purple blossoms which are suitable for cut flower arrangements. Included among them are larkspur, monkshood, hydrangea, trachelium, asters, veronica, alliums, phlox and stock.

Despite the fact that the carnation is such a common and popular flower for floral designers, it was not until quite recently that it was available in a true purple color. Reds, pinks, yellows, oranges, burgundies, whites and even greens are plentiful and have been extensively hybridized. But the color purple has never been produced by conventional breeding methods. It simply is not in the flower’s genetic code.

However, through the science of genetic engineering, we now have true purple carnations on the market. Gene splicers were able to extract the gene that generates the color purple from the petunia and insert it into the carnation, resulting in a series of four different shades of purple, ranging from a soft, pale lavender (named “Moonaqua”) to a deep, rich aubergine (“Moonvista”).

Romantic vase of Bluebird Roses
Romantic Vase
of Bluebird Roses

A similar program is underway in the development of a purple rose. Although there are now several good lavender-colored roses, such as “Sterling Silver” and “Blue Bird”, we have yet to see a truly purple rose. Since the rose is America’s number one favorite flower, it would seem that a really purple one would be quite popular. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of purple flowers available to your neighborhood florist, no matter what season of the year. Why not order a passionate arrangement of purple flowers today? Enjoy them in your own home, or have them delivered to someone special, either locally or out of town. Your professional florist has the skill to arrange your purple flowers in the most artistic way, and also knows how best to treat them to assure maximum vase life. Let the mysterious color purple work its magic for you today.

More intersting artilces:
Roses and More Roses
Daffodils, Hyacinths, Freesias and Tulips in Bloom
African Violets for One & All

Dracaenas and Bromeliads: Striking Houseplants for Interior Spaces

Dracaenas and Bromeliads: Striking Houseplants for Interior Spaces
red-margined dracaena
(Dracaena marginata)

If you’re looking for a house plant that makes a bold statement indoors, consider a member of the Dracaena family or a specimen from the Bromeliad tribe. Being tropical in origin, plants in either group are well-adapted to our interior environments, and each of them has its own unique character that can command attention as a decorative accent to almost any room. Bromeliads are mostly small to medium-sized plants that are comfortable in a 6″ or 8″ pot, relying on their long-lasting, colorful blooms and interesting patterned foliage to make an impression. Many dracaenas, however, can reach tree-like proportions, achieving the status of living, indoor sculpture.

Dracaenas and Bromeliads: Striking Houseplants for Interior Spaces
red-margined dracaena
(Dracaena marginata)

The name ‘dracaena’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘female dragon’, perhaps in reference to the sharply spiked foliage of some of the species. Dracaenas are among the most durable of houseplants, and are tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions. Many forms exist, but nearly all dracaenas are characterized by having linear foliage that grows in a whorl from the stem. One well-known variety of dracaena is the so-called ‘corn plant’ (Dracaena massangeana fragrans), which bears relatively broad, floppy, green leaves with longitudinal yellow stripes. Corn plant dracaenas are often sold as tall, potted, woody ‘canes’ with fountains of foliage sprouting from their tops. The large ones — sometimes six feet or more in height — create a striking presence in any interior space.

Another popular variety is the red-margined dracaena (Dracaena marginata). This one has long, narrow, pointed, dark green leaves with thin red margins at the edges. As the plant grows, the lower leaves are gradually lost as new ones emerge from the top, eventually resulting in a slender, ridged, grayish stem with a tuft of foliage at the top. When several of these dracaenas are potted together, the stems can exhibit a very sculptural appearance. In fact, commercial nurseries sometimes grow Dracaena marginata plants lying on their sides for long periods at a time, rotating the pots every so often, which causes the stems to curve and grow upward, giving the plant an artistic character.

The striped dracaena, Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckei’, is another favorite species. The leaves are wider than those of the red-margined dracaena, and normally have narrow white lines running the length of each dark green, pointed blade. In the cultivar ‘Lemon Lime’, the narrow white lines are replaced by broad, chartreuse stripes. Dramatic indeed! Striped dracaenas are typically grown as bushy shrubs, owing to the plant’s tendency to retain its lower leaves as it slowly grows taller. They are a good choice for filling a bare interior corner.

Dracaenas will survive a long time in a fairly shaded environment, but they will look their best and their leaf color will be brighter if they are given a bit more light. Allow the soil in a dracaena plant’s pot to become somewhat dry between thorough waterings. A dracaena growing in dim light will require less water than one in a bright location. Fertilize monthly spring and summer with a balanced house plant food, mixed at one-half the recommended dilution. Dracaenas can sometimes develop brown edges along their leaves. This may be caused by any number of situations, including dry air, allowing the soil to become too dry, a buildup of fertilizer salts in the soil, or heavily chlorinated or fluoridated water. Regular dusting of the leaves is important and misting with water is also beneficial. See our prior newsletter “House Plants For Interiors” for more care instructions.

Bromeliads comprise a large class of tropical plants that occur in many different forms. But the one characteristic that unites nearly all of the bromeliad family is the fact that, in nature, they live in the trees. Botanically, plants that grow like this are known as ‘epiphytes’. Bromeliads, like all epiphytes, use the tree branches to support them up in the brighter light and the fresh, moving air that isn’t available on the forest floor. They do not hurt the host plants or draw any nourishment directly from them. Instead, most bromeliads are able to collect rainwater in their center ‘vases’. They also accumulate plant debris and animal wastes that happen to fall in, which gradually decompose and nourish the plants. Epiphytic bromeliads are an important part of tropical ecosystems. Larger ones, sometimes called ‘tank bromeliads’ hold enough water in their centers to support many forms of life, providing a drink to a thirsty bird and allowing frogs and insects to complete their entire life cycles within their leaves.

Fortunately, many bromeliads (pronounced “bro-MILL-ee-ad”) are durable and dramatic houseplants. One commonly available bromeliad is called ‘Silver Vase’ (Aechmea fasciata). Its leaves are a silvery-gray in color and patterned in dusty silver markings that give it a shimmering appearance. It produces an exotic-looking, spikey, pink inflorescence from the center. But beware; the leaves are edged with sharp spines. Another favorite kind is the ‘Flaming Sword’ bromeliad (Vriesea splendens), with rigid, strap-like leaves marked in irregular horizontal bands of dark green and black, and blooming with a bright orange, spear-shaped spike from which vivid yellow flowers emerge. Many other species exist, but the most well-known bromeliad of all, the pineapple, is also among the most unusual in that it is terrestrial (lives on the ground) and it produces edible fruit.
Dracaenas and Bromeliads: Striking Houseplants for Interior Spaces
proper bromeliad watering

Dracaenas and Bromeliads: Striking Houseplants for Interior Spaces
proper bromeliad watering

The distressing truth about bromeliads is that the individual plant very slowly begins to die after flowering and nothing can be done to stop it. However, before it goes, it replaces itself with one or more pups, or offsets, that may be separated from the mother plant and grown independently until they themselves bloom. Because they derive most of their moisture from their centers, the bromeliad ‘vase’ must be kept full of water. You may even put a very small amount of dilute fertilizer into the center vase every so often. Bromeliads are usually potted in a coarse, barky mixture that drains fairly rapidly. Keep the potting medium moist, but not saturated. The light requirements of bromeliads vary; the ‘Silver Vase’ prefers a very bright location, but out of direct sun. The ‘Flaming Sword’ can tolerate more shade.

Visit our Gallery of House Plants to see pictures of more dracaenas and other plants. Contact your local professional florist about these and other varieties of bromeliads and dracaenas that may be suitable for your growing conditions, and bring a touch of the tropical into your home or office. Or, have a plant sent to someone else as a token of appreciation or affection. The fresh, visual appeal of any of these living works of sculptural art is sure to delight anyone who sees them.

For more interest articles read

House Plant Propagation
Orchid and Orchid Care.

Ficus and Philodendron: Favorite House Plants for Fathers Day.
African Violets for One & All.
Favorite herbs – Basil, Rosemary, Mint and Oregano.
The Art of Bonsai.
Caring for Your Peace Lily.
Caring for Your Azalea.
Caring for Your Lucky Bamboo.
Houseplant Identification.
Houseplant Chase away the Winter Blues.