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Hydrangea Availability For Wedding Flowers

Ask the Expert: November/December flowers
I’d really like a bouquet with blue hydrangea and a couple white cabbage roses mixed in, but I think hydrangea will be out of season in late Nov, early Dec. Is there another blue flower I could substitute?

Thank you!


Plant Expert Reply:

You’ll be glad to know hydrangeas are available to florists year round.  So you won’t need to subsititue another flower for hydrangea blooms in your wedding bouquet.

Although hydrangeas are used mostly in spring (March, April, May) and summer (June, July, August), we are seeing a rise in hydrangeas use in fall weddings (September, October, November).  Winter brides (December, January, February) often use hydrangea blooms when they want a large white bloom.  This beautiful bloom is a wonderful wedding flower choice.

If you still need ideas for blue wedding flowers let me know.

Hydrangea and Floral Foam

Ask the Expert: hydrangea in foam arrangement
Hydrangea does better in water but there is a time when you need to use foam for a design, I have been  putting them in tubes and then in foam should i be putting them directly into the foam, the few times that we used them in my design school they were put in tubes. Did a wedding shower very pretty hat box design nice brown and blue grogain ribbon on a inverted clear cylinder bride loved them look great for the  occassion but I am worried about them when the guest took them home please advise me
thank you jeanne

Expert Reply:

On the whole it is best not to use hydrangeas in floral foam.  However if you have no other choice, initial preparation of the hydrangea is essential.

Since hydrangeas are susceptible to water deprivation, you want to make sure you prep them carefully when they arrive.  Most commercial growers will send hydrangeas with a water source.  Carefully remove the water source.  Submerge the hydrangea heads under tepid water for 2 minutes and gently shake before you cut them.  Cut them about 2″ from the tip at a 45degree angle – because of the thickness of the stem you may need to make two cut on opposite sides.  You will now have a end that looks like an arrow.  Take your knife and gently make a cut up the center of this arrow –  this will create more area for hydration.  Now dip the stem in quick dip and then place in a vase with warm water and flower food.  You can also spray the heads with crown and glory. This will give the hydrangeas the best start for any type of design use.

For foam go through the same process of dipping the head in water, dipping the stem in quick dip and then you can place them in the floral foam.  FYI: you can soak your floral foam in a water and flower food solution – this will help extend the life of the flowers.  Try not to move the hydrangea stem once you have placed it in the foam.  If the hydrangea is not properly placed, take it out of the foam and repeat the process before you reinsert the stem into the foam.

Be sure to you send packets of flower food with the arrangements and encourage the recipients to use it when adding water to the arrangements.

Please keep me posted and let me know how these suggestion work for you.

Got The Blues? Check Out These Blue Flowers

Himalyan Blue Poppy courtesy of istock photo

courtesy of istock photo

Adding cool blue to your garden lends a feeling of calmness and restfulness. Because there are so few flowers that are truly blue, this color is most coveted by gardeners. One of the most beautiful blue flowers in the world is the Blue Himalayan poppy (Meconopsis betonicifolia). I haven’t tried to grow them because they are temperamental and quite a challenge to grow in hotter areas, such as my Zone 7. The sight of a cluster of Blue Himalayan poppies blowing in the breeze will make you sigh.


Introduce lovely old-fashioned ‘Nikko Blue’ or ‘Blue Wave’ hydrangea to your garden as a foundation plant. Hydrangeas have the ability to change color based on the alkalinity of the soil. That means even the lovely ‘Nikko Blue’ has a chance at blooming pink instead of blue! The bloom colors will be pink in alkaline soil. In more acidic soil (5.2-5.5ph), the bloom colors are blue. To ensure that stunning blue hue, you need to manipulate your soil’s pH level and mineral content. This must be done several times during the growing season. You can lower the pH by watering with 2 tbsp of aluminum sulfate per gallon of water. The results are well worth the extra effort!

delphiniumConsider the enchanting Delphinium (also known as Larkspur). Delphinium derives its genus’ name from the Greek word for “dolphin” and is suggested by the shape of a gland in the blossoms that secretes nectar.  Delphiniums make wonderful long-lasting cut flowers and bloom in red, blue and yellow, as well as blended varieties. They prefer cool, moist places and bloom in late spring. Often growing six to eight feet tall, there are some dwarf varieties that top out at just two feet in height. They grow best in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade, and need staking to keep the stems upright. Keep the soil moist to feed quick growth and add a general purpose fertilizer once a month until they have bloomed.

loveinamistThe ethereal, light and airy Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena) is a beautiful Victorian garden annual blooming in soft shades of blue, pink, white, and lavender. This annual herbaceous plant is in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae), readily self-seeds, and is common in old-fashioned cottage gardens. It grows in full sun to partial shade and blooms from late spring through fall. Nigella is short-lived, so for continuous bloom, repeat sowing every four weeks. You can cut and deadhead this plant to keep it flowering longer.

grape-hyacinthIt just wouldn’t be spring without masses of tiny Grape Hyacinths (Muscari) planted as bulbs in swaths throughout your garden. Growing no more than 10 inches tall, the tight conical heads of tiny round flowers do look like clusters of grapes. Blue is a predominant color but they also come in pale ice blue, white and yellow. Muscari, a member of the Lily family, are quite prolific, making them perfect for naturalizing. Look for the popular ‘Heavenly Blue’, bright blue ‘Dark Eyes’, mid-blue ‘Cote d’Azur’,  sky blue ‘Valerie Finnis’, and the frosty ‘Blue Spike’.  I  have the double-flowered ‘Fantasy Creation’ variety in my garden—their flower heads look like clusters of blue broccoli! Easy to grow in full sun to part shade in zones 3-9 and low-maintenance—what’s not to love about these little blue jewels?

spring-starflowerStar-shaped, pale blue Spring Starflower (Ipheion uniflorum), with grass-like foliage is a spring perennial grown from bulbs and is very long-blooming (3-5 weeks). This plant naturalizes very swiftly, spreading by self-seeding and from bulb offsets. Often used in rock gardens and woodland gardens, they grow just 4-5 inches tall, and are perennials in Zones 6 to 7 (with mulching to protect from frost) and in Zones 8 to 9 without mulching. They can be grown in full sun to part shade, require medium watering, and are low maintenance.

morning-glory-1In my humble opinion, a garden without ‘Heavenly Blue’ Morning Glories (Ipomoea tricolor) is incomplete. Their fleeting beauty will take your breath away. These vigorous climbers are grown from seed and will cover a trellis or wall in just one season- growing up to 20 feet and blooming prolifically. One year, I counted over 300 blooms on the vines that covered my front wall! An herbaceous annual twining vine, it will reach out in a clockwise direction and take hold of anything near it. The 4-5″ trumphet-shaped flowers come in a variety of other colors, including reds, pinks and purples—but there’s nothing more heavenly than the classic  ‘Heavenly Blue’ variety.

bluebellsThe buds of the herbaceous perennial Virginia Bluebell (Mertensia virginica), a member of the Borage family, begin as a pinkish shade and transform into pale blue-violet colored, trumphet-shaped flowers as they mature. Blooming in mid-to-late spring, they can be found growing en masse in moist woodland areas in partial to full shade. Plant them with hostas and ferns as companion plants.

blue-eyed-grassBest planted in large groups for maximum visual impact, Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium), a member of the Iris family, is a late spring-blooming perennial with very tiny (less than 1/2 inch!) iris-like blue flowers with yellow centers. Blue-eyed Grass does well in moist areas with some sun, and if happy in its spot, will spread to form stands. Its diminutive size makes it great for adding a grasslike addition to a small garden where ornamental grass would be overwhelming.

brookside-blue-hardy-geraniumThis Hardy Geranium (Geranium ‘Brookside’ cultivar), also known as Cranesbill, is a deciduous, herbaceous perennial that forms a neat mound that is about 18″ high and wide. Flowering begins in spring. If you cut it back after flowering, it should bloom again in the summer. It makes a great filler for mixed borders or full-sun perennial beds and grows well in containers. It prefers full sun but can tolerate part shade for half of the day. It does best in moist, well-drained soil. Hardy in zones 5-8.

Salvias also provide that saturated blue color that gardeners seek. Look for Mealycup Sage (Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria Blue’), a member of the mint family. This herbaceous perennial is commonly grown as an annual in cold areas. Striped Squill (Puschkinia libanotica) is a beautiful spring bulb flower growing just 4-5 inches tall, with pale white-blue petals with darker blue center stripes. If you’re an Iris fan, look for the lovely blossoms of the Giant Blue Flag Louisiana Iris (Iris giganticaerulea) with its four foot stems; or ‘Sky Beauty’ Dutch Iris with its combination of white and french blue petals with a single lemon yellow blotch. Agapanthus, or ‘Lily of the Nile’, with its blue ball-shaped clusters and funnel-shaped flowers on four foot stems, is a showy addition to any garden.

forgetmenotsAnd finally, we can’t forget the diminutive Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis alpestris)! This perennial grows 5-12 inches high in alpine meadows (or your garden!). Each dainty flower is a mere 1/3 inch wide, with sky blue petals, a white inner ring, and a tiny yellow center. Blooming in May and June, hardy Forget-Me-Nots prefer partial shade and spread by reseeding. These charming old fashioned flowers can help fill in the blanks in your garden!

If you don’t have the blues, you certainly should – for your garden, that is!

Don’t keep the blues to yourself.  Did you know that local florists use many of these blue flowers, Hydrangea, Delphinium, Niegella, Grape Hyacinths, Iris, Agapanthus, and Forget-me-nots, in flower arrangements? So even if you don’t have a garden full of blue flowers, you can share a beautiful blue bouquet with a friend.

Cindy Dyer is a freelance graphic designer and photographer in Alexandria, Virginia. Visit her blog at www.cindydyer.wordpress.com and her botanical gallery at www.cindydyer.zenfolio.com. She can reached at dyerdesign@aol.com. All photos © Cindy Dyer, unless specified otherwise.

Know Someone Needing A Boost? Send These Flowers

Flower Meanings of Hydrangea & Stargazer Lilies

"Glorious Magenta" Hydrangeas & Peonies

"Glorious Magenta" Hydrangeas & Peonies

Many trials face us in life, but thankfully we have friends and family to encourage us through them. I know from personal experience what it is like to need encouragement or a dose of happy but have nowhere to turn. It’s remember these moments that make me love the flower meanings of stargazer lilies and hydrangeas. These are the absolute perfect gifts for someone needing a boost.

The hydrangea flower meaning is “perseverance.” Know someone struggling to get through their next big trial? Perhaps it’s something as simple as passing a difficult exam or getting through the night at a job that they dislike. Maybe your loved one was recently given a poor diagnosis at their physical exam. Whatever the issue, these times call for encouragement. If we can’t get it from friends, where can we turn? When you know someone facing a situation that calls for perseverance, embolden them with the gift of hydrangeas.

"Stunning Stargazers" Arrangement of Lilies

"Stunning Stargazers" Arrangement of Lilies

Stargazer lilies also have a particular flower meaning that caught my eye. These lovely flowers mean “ambition.” The drive to succeed is inbred within all of us. We all want to make more of our lives than futility. Someone facing a situation that calls for them to use their ambition will appreciate the flower meaning of sunflowers.

Perhaps you have a friend that is moving to another city for the first time. Maybe a friend is starting college or a new job. These are excellent opportunities to share in the richness of ambition. Send flower arrangements with stargazer lilies and watch the richness unfold.

Making Hydrangeas Bloom

Ask the Expert: What fertilizer is used for non-flowering Hydrangea
What fertilizer is used for non-flowering Hydrangea? Jen

The primary nutrient for bloom production is phosphorous. You can apply super phosphate 0-18-0 or triple phosphate 0-45-0 a few months prior to blooming. However, lack of nutrients may not be the reason your hydrangeas are not blooming.

There are three main causes that can contribute to lack of hydrangea blooms.

1. Too Much Shade. If hydrangeas do not get enough sunlight, they will not produce blooms. The foliage will be healthy and beautiful but the blooms won’t appear. Although they like a little shade from intense heat, they will need at least half a day sun to produce blooms.

2. Improper Pruning. In the winter, you can remove about a third of the old stems to create a fuller and healthier plant in all hydrangea types. However, the proper time for height control and deadheading will differ based on the type of hydrangea and how it blooms. Big leaf and Oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on last year’s growth. In this instance, the hydrangea must be pruned shortly after they have finished blooming – usually within a month. Pruning anytime after that will essential destroy the next year’s blooms. Panicle and smooth hydrangeas bloom on new growth and should be pruned in the spring before they put on their new leaves.

3. Unfavorable Weather. If at anytime the hydrangeas break dormancy and then the temperatures drop, the blooms will be damaged. This usually occurs in place where the weather see-saws from cold to warm and then to cold again.

To ensure that your hydrangea blooms next year try the following:
1. Prune it correctly.
2. Make sure it gets enough light.
3. Fertilize it with triple phosphate, super phosphate or a balanced fertilizer that is high in phosphorous like Fertilome’s Azalea, Camellia, Rhododendron Food 9-15-13.

10 Houseplants Poisonous To Dogs, Cats, or Children

Ask the Expert: what are the names of plants and flowers that are poisonous.
I work as a floral designer and I am asked all the time what plants and flowers are poison to animals and humans. Kelly



First I want to clarify the difference between “poisonous as in deadly” and “poisonous as an irritant”. Many plants listed as poisonous are not deadly or really toxic, but rather cause an irritation to the mouth, stomach, skin or respiratory system. Why is this important? Because the classification of plants being poisonous is matter of interpretation and myths. For example, poinsettias are considered poisonous which is not all together true. There is no documented case where someone has died from ingesting a poinsettia. Secondly, the amount one a would have to ingest in order to accumulate the toxin level for death would be immense. However, poinsettias can cause great irritation to the skin or mouth.

When we discuss poisonous houseplants, we should take the approach that the American Animal Hospital Association takes on its Healthypet.com site with regards to its guide to toxic plants and foods. They state, “If you have these plants or foods, you need not dispose of them-just keep them away from pets and children.” Of course, plants that are deadly may not need to be in the home of small children or young pets. However, plants that can cause irritation or stomach upset may only need to be placed somewhere pets and children can’t reach them.

Here is a quick top 10 guide to plant toxicity for florists (note there may be plants that are carried by florists that are not listed. In these cases you will have to research that specific plant or email me and I will find out and add it to the list).

Houseplants with High Poison Plant Classification

Dwarf Schefflera

Dwarf Schefflera

Green Schefflera

Green Schefflera

Variegated Dwf Schefflera

Variegated Dwf Schefflera

Dumb Cane

Dumb Cane





Heartleaf Philodendron

Heartleaf Philodendron

Tree Philodendron

Tree Philodendron

Red Princess Phildendron

Red Princess Phildendron



According to many sources these ten houseplants are highly toxic to dogs, cats or children. The toxicity resides in ingesting the plants. So it is important to keep these away from dogs, cats or children who might chew on them. They are all wonderful plants and should not be excluded from our lives as long as we keep them under appropriate supervision.

Flowers that are considered highly poisonous are: Foxglove (Digitalis), Amaryllis bulb, Bleeding heart, Lily-of-the-valley, Delphinium, Larkspur, Monkshood, Anthurium, lilies and Calla lily. Many times with flowers it is the bulb from which they come that is toxic if eaten by a dog or a cat.

There are other houseplants and flowers that are considered a mild or moderate risk. Although not a complete list by any means, this is a short break down of plants or flowers that cause a mild or moderate irritation or toxicity in dogs, cats or children:

Peace lily, Chinese evergreen, Benjamin fig, Corn Plant, Dracaenas, Nephthytis, rubber plant, Pothos,
English Ivy, Mother-in-law tongue, Azlaea, Croton, Easter Lily, Hyacinth, Daffodils, Chrysanthemum, Bird of Paradise, iris, lupine.

You can find more information on the Healthypet.com prevent poisonings page or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Page.

Hopefully this information will help you and your customers select the appropriate houseplants and flowers for their specific situation.

I have had many of these plants and flowers in my home. Fortunately for me my puppies found that these plants were not interesting and did not taste good. I don’t worry about having “poisonous” plants in my home or yard. I do make a mental note of plants that can be harmful in case my vet needs to know my dogs have been exposed to.

Click on the button below to find the right house plant for your home. Flowering house plants keep us smiling and cheery; green house plants ease our minds and provide comfort, while tropical house plants make us feel composed and sophisticated.

If you don’t see a particular plant on the lists above. Contact me for a more comprehensive list.

Order a House Plant

Why No Blooms on Camellias and Hydrangeas?

Ask the Expert: Camelias and hydrangeas don’t bloom
All the plants are 2 years old. They all look very healthy. They received fertilizer in the spring (10-10-10)and this summer I was able to give home made compost to all of them. We live in the North Georgia mountains, have clay soil, and they all receive only part sun/or shade. When I planted them 2 years ago I mixed in a mixture of mushroom compost or cow manure compost with planting soil. What am I doing wrong? Thank you so much for your help.  Inge

High Fun and High Design With Hydrangeas

Baby Pink Hydrangea Bridal Bouquet

Pink Hydrangea Bridal Bouquet

Hydrangeas are the true definition of mass flowers. It’s easy to see why hydrangeas have received such a recent boost in popularity. These versatile blooms appear to be bursting at the stems with colorful blossoms that can appear in purple, hot pink, green, blue, white, multicolored and more.

This very full appearance makes hydrangeas the first choice of many floral designers looking to add mass and dimension but lack the time or budget to use many stems. Because of this, a single stem can easily take the place of many other focal flowers. Who doesn’t want more bang for their buck?

Tony Medlock of PJ’s Flowers and Gifts knows this design tip well. One of the talented florists in Phoenix, Arizona, Tony understands that hydrangeas are the star of the show and need little extra for a beautiful flower arrangement. Many of his creative hydrangea arrangements focus on the dynamic presence of the hydrangeas. This larger-than-life quality coupled with simple floral accessories gives the hydrangea arrangements an architectural significance matched by few other flowers.

Blue Hydrangea Blooms

Blue Hydrangea Blooms

Hydrangeas also are such a quality mass flower that the attention is easily diverted to the flower itself regardless of how ornate or simple the adorning decorations appear. A simple cluster of hydrangea stems can easily be carried as a beautiful wedding bouquet, used as a quick and simple table centerpiece, or accented by peonies or roses for a large, decorative flower arrangement.

Stems of hydrangeas can also be purchased from local florists for a wide variety of creative uses around the home such as decorating around a Jacuzzi tub for a romantic anniversary celebration. Whatever the use, hydrangeas offer the perfect balance of beauty and boldness for every occasion.

Why Are My Hydrangea Blooms Green?

Ask the Expert: Hydrangea bloomed but flowers are green

i purchased my hydrangea last early summer when it was already in bloom and the flowers were pink and stayed pink all season
This year it is blooming a lot of flowers but they staying green

the only thing I did different this season is use HollyTone which is a fertilizer for acid loving plants.  Donna

Home Grown Hydrangeas For Wedding Bouquets

Ask the Expert: What is the best Blue Hydrangea for bouquets?

Could you give me info about what type of blue hydrangea works best for a hand tied wedding bouquet and tips for timing & using the fresh cut blooms from my yard..thanks! Jen