Use Architectural Elements to Upsell Orchid Plants

“Back in the 1980's a phalaenopsis orchid was a treasured item and a high-end order,” says Lisa Belisle AIFD. “Today you can often buy one in a big box store for $20. Our industry needs to step up our game and sell design, not just a plant in a pot.” With that goal in mind, Lisa planned her orchid upgrades demonstration for Art in the Elements at Cranbrook Gardens, in Michigan. She wanted to introduce a new look that could help to upsell orchid plants in the flower shop. Lisa decided to offer her orchids as unique plants by adding architectural elements. “This is our opportunity to sell an upgraded look,” she explains. She enjoyed designing one accessorized plant so much she wanted to share the idea. She submitted it to the 2018 INSPIRE Design Showcase, where it was selected as the Most Inspirational Valentine’s Day design and is being featured in print marketing materials. Lisa is a floral buyer for one of the largest event companies in Chicago and the owner and floral design instructor of her own company, Flora Elements. She actively participates in Wisconsin Upper Michigan Floral Association events in leadership positions and enjoys sharing floral information with others.

Inspiring impulse buys

Like many florists, Lisa finds that her customers are always looking for something new and different. To inspire impulse buys, she introduces unique designs by placing them near the register for customers to admire. Lisa has discovered that while it might take a few months, before too long orders start to come in requesting the new styles on display. Lisa found her Scroll no More design was popular and considers it a great way to upgrade a traditional orchid plant for Valentine's Day. The architectural flair of the scrollwork creates a bit of mystery as to how the scrolls are stacked and floating on top of each other. This look can easily catch the eye of consumers who love intricate detail. To price the design for consumers, florists should factor in the additional retail cost of materials for constructing the wire structure: hardgoods plus labor along with the retail cost of the plant.

Lisa’s how-to steps

  • Curl one end of the 1" black flat wire using jewelry pliers.
  • Use a 1/2" dowel piece to form the scrolls. Pull the flat wire back-and-forth over the dowel to warm the wire, making it more flexible for forming a smooth, curving S.
  • Next, curl the wire over and close the ends of the S with the jewelry pliers, for a smoother finish.
  • Repeat the previous steps using 1/2" flat wire to create scrolls that fit in between the large scrolls.
  • Paint the wire forms Uber matte black. When dry, place them flat on the table and stack the scrolls to form a pattern.
Start by placing the scrolls from the bottom up, using ½ pieces of UGLU dashes so that the glue edges do not show. Cut your dashes in half with Teflon scissors or wet your scissor blades with water to help prevent the UGLU from sticking as you cut. Place as many strips of UGLU on the stake where the Scroll touches as it takes to create a stable base. Bullion wire can be used to secure a few strategic points in the structure for extra stability while being handled. Keep stacking and manipulating the scrolls to fit together like a stackable puzzle, keeping in mind proportion and stability. Gently place the wire stack into the design using bind wire to secure the structure to the curve of the orchid. Select a decorative container to showcases your plant. Add moss, wood chips, or aquarium gravel at the base of the plant to accent the wire color you’ve chosen to work with.

A study of contrasts

In keeping with Lisa’s signature modern style, the juxtaposition of hard masculine lines and soft feminine lines adds tension – opposition; implying a sense of energy to the design. The strong black metal lines contrast the delicate white phalaenopsis orchids that seem to be floating above the scrolls. [rev_slider alias="upsell-orchid"] What other designs can utilize this decorative wire technique? Smithers-Oasis Design Director Laura Daluga offered some suggestions in these photos for using this wire accent in fresh flower arrangements as well.


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