Photo: Sharon McGukin for Texas Floral Showcase
Macaroni and cheese. Bed and breakfast. Chocolate and peanut butter (and almost anything).
What are these? Individually popular items that together create something so magical they become their own thing.
Just like what happens when you combine garden and tropical flowers in the same arrangement.
Temperates and tropicals together
Floral designers used to hesitate to mix the casual and rounded shapes of garden flowers with the dramatic and angular forms of tropicals. Garden flowers, known as temperates for the climate where they grow, are often softer and more delicate than the hard-polished exterior of many tropical flowers. Both were popular but separate—even opposite—styles.
The hesitation is over. Floral trendsetters are embracing this textural new mix in garden design.
Temps and trops are in.
Solving two challenges
Local customers can be reluctant to pay a premium for something they can grow themselves. So whether you are planning wedding bouquets or an everyday centerpiece, it can be challenging to sell only the flowers native to your climate zone.
Plants, flowers, pods and vines grown in another zone can be more intriguing to consumers. But shipping them long distances is expensive. The higher costs of tropicals can make them cost-prohibitive for your customer.
And what’s local and exotic depends on where you are.
Here in the south, temperate garden flowers such as Gerbera daisies, tulips and Queen Anne’s Lace grow naturally. Tropicals such as orchids, anthurium and protea are exotic and more costly.
My floral friends in Hawaii have exactly the opposite issue. Tropical flowers such as ginger and heliconia grow naturally there. So of course their clients prefer garden flowers imported from California. These mainland flowers must be flown in, which adds cost.
How to balance price versus preference
Fortunately for florists, opposites attract.
contrasts between elements of color and texture—creates tension,
a dynamic sense of energy that heightens visual interest.
“The contrast of feminine, soft-textured garden flowers blended with the masculine, strong lines of tropicals creates an exotic, yin and yang blend of design,” says Eric Tanouye of Green Point Nurseries in Hilo, Hawaii.
“Fluffy alone is fluffy. Bold alone is bold. Combined together these contrasts complement each other in a way that creates unexpected beauty.”
A positive of result of this new mix of flowers is its on-trend vibe reflecting natural and global themes.
Similar to the way communities function with people of many cultures thriving together, flowers from diverse markets add creative unity in a composition that can appeal to a broader range of customers.
Here’s the challenge
When mixing the two types of product, keep the flowers you choose in proportion
Proportion is the size relationship of elements in a design to each other including the container. Scale is the size relationship of a composition to the environment where the arrangement or bouquet is displayed.
Tropical flowers can range from six inches high, like the somewhat flat anthurium, to the six-foot hanging heliconia. Likewise, garden flowers can range from a mass of tiny florets on a single hydrangea bloom to the five-foot-tall spike of a gladiolus.
Mixing flowers that aren’t proportionate can cause an arrangement to look unbalanced.
Sometimes proportion is best achieved by juxtaposing groupings of identical materials together in a concise area. For instance, a grouping of smaller blooms against areas of larger flowers creates a visual balance.
At times, using just a bloom or a shorter portion of a larger flower stem is preferable.
Just as blooms come in different shapes and sizes in both groups, the variety of stems varies greatly as well. This can be a challenge when arranging different forms together.
Temperates often have tender stems
Flowers grown in temperate zones often have shorter and more tender stems than tropical flowers.
Always give a sharp angular cut to these flower stems with a floral knife
. The angled cut opens interior waterways. The pointed stem helps hold flowers more securely in the foam.
Spring bulb flowers like tulips and daffodils often have soft hollow stems that can be hard to insert into even a less dense floral foam like Springtime
A toothpick or a small Cowee wood pick can be inserted into the hollow flower stem to help hold it in the foam. Be sure the stem connects with the wet foam for water absorption. The wood picks will swell in the water and help to support the stem in the foam.
You can make it easier to insert a weaker stem like a mini calla into wet floral foam by first pushing a pencil into the foam surface to create an indention.
Tropicals typically have sturdier stems
Tropicals typically have more fibrous stems. These sturdy flowers often need a good sharp cut to the end of the stem from either direction to create a pointed arrow to slide into the foam.
This allows the heavier stem to connect securely into a denser floral foam like Deluxe
. A large stem with a straight-across cut can create a larger hole in the foam, causing the flower to be less stable.
If mixing the two flower types, consider a foam like Instant Deluxe
with instant hydration for the softer and thirstier flowers and density strength for the stronger stems.