How to Buy and Arrange with Hydrangeas
by Casey Schwartz
Mop Heads Should Feel Like Basketballs
How do you know when to buy? Are they done or are they entering the antiquing stage? Why are they blue on one side of the bush and pink on the other? Will they last in a bouquet?
Hydrangeas can be loosely translated to mean “water barrel.” And, yes, they need tons of water. This is true for when they are growing and also once they are cut and used in floral arrangements.
I have been watching this hydrangea bush across the street for the last 2-3 months and it is a daily show. I chatted with the neighbor and he is equally amazed at the prolific blooms and how much they look and feel like basketballs. A good test of really healthy hydrangea bloom is when you palm it like a basketball, it should feel really firm. It should not give way or be limp.
About Hydrangea Colors
There are some blooms that have been on the bush for a while and are just plain done and should be dead-headed (removed). There are some that are turning a spotty pink with a green tinge which is what we call “antique status” and do wonderfully as cut flowers for bouquets.
Then there are some that are fresh and flawless and finally there are still buds yet to reveal their color. The range of colors is pink, lavender and blue all on the same bush. How is that possible? The soil the roots sit in determines the color of the blooms. The aluminum and pH levels dictate the colors. Here is a link on hydrangea color changes that shares advice as to how to play with the soil to achieve the look you want.
White hydrangeas stay white on the bush until they start to antique with age, then they turn green.
How to Care for Cut Hydrangea Blooms
It is hard to wait to cut them once they have finally bloomed and they will wilt before you can say, “Hydrangea-hydrangea.” It’s best to wait two more weeks and then cut the blooms. When you do cut them, do so in the early morning, as they’ve been gaining strength all night, cooled off and gathered some morning dew. They will do best with a fresh cut, greenery removed (as they need a lot of water, too) and a plunge into water with floral food. Let them sit for a bit before you start arranging,
One of our students, Andria, owner of Divine Blooms and Designs, has recently had victory working with a massive amount of hydrangeas. For the wedding she worked with close to 200 stems of hydrangea. She had been testing some techniques and in the end and successfully let the hydrangea stems drink for about 24 hours and misted them with a spray bottle a few times during that period. She ensured the foam was completely soaked by leaving them in water overnight. Here is an image of two of her creations. She made 12 of these beauties.
Hydrangea Stem Wholesale Pricing
Pictured here is design we did a few weeks ago with lavender and white hydrangeas. Wholesale pricing for hydrangeas is pretty standard. The white hydrangea are pretty reasonable throughout the year and most often available. The price sits usually around $1.50 a stem, and can go as low as $1.25 a stem. The nice thing is that you can paint them pink, blue or purple.
This summer of 2011, the domestically grown blue stems are around $1.50 a stem, but when they are imported they can get as high as $4.00-$6.00 a stem. Pinks and purples also can get that high and most likely drop to $2.50 a stem during the height of the summer season!
Have fun with hydrangeas. Water them well and treat them well and they will give you joy.
By August, your herb garden should be in full bloom. If you have not planted an herb garden, it’s never too late to plant a few herbs to have for cooking or floral design. Good choices that are easy to maintain in pots and smell wonderful are mint, lavender, rosemary, and basil. Whether you have herbs growing or not, this is a great time of year to make an herb wreath to decorate your table for your next dinner party.
NOTE: When working with floral foam, it’s best not to eat any of the herbs that are in the arrangement. Floral foam is not good to eat!
Supplies Needed for an Herb Wreath
- 8 inch Oasis Floral Foam Wreath Form
- 9 stems echinacea seed pods
- 3-6 stems orange or green hypericum berries
- 6 stems mint
- 12 stems lavender
- 2 -3 stems rosemary
- 4 stems green button mums
Step 1- Soak the floral foam in water and floral food. Pictured below are leather fern, mixed herbs, mums, sea thistle and statice.
Step 2 – Decide if you are going to “color-block” the herbs in groups in the design or do an all-round design. Below is a color block design.
Step 3 – Cut stems just before placing them into the foam. This is so the stem does not seal up before you design. Pictured is a detail of an echinacea seed pod and sea thistle.
Step 4 – Complete the design by filling the entire foam wreath. Be sure to cover the inside of the form as well. Add a candle in the middle!
TIP: When working with mint or lavender, keep the stems in a vase of water until you are just about to design. These herbs wilt easily out of water.
by Kit Wertz
Greenery Saves Money in Floral Design
This is the second in a series we are writing on greenery for floral designs. Use greenery to fill holes in designs, as architecture for stems of other flowers when building in a vase, and to accent wired designs like corsages and boutonnières.
Greenery Type: Variegated Pittosporum (also called mock orange)
Expense Factor: $5-8 per bunch wholesale
Vase Life: 8-14 days
Variegated pittosporum is a rounded light green leaf with white accents. (Variegated means two colors.)
Called “Pitt” for short in the floral industry, this greenery works well as a whole stem in long centerpiece designs or tall vases, but it really shines in smaller centerpieces as a filler or used as a collar. It works espcecially well for weddings in floral sprays and for arch decoration. The light green color goes with a lot of different colored flowers and the white parts of the leaves help highlight the design and make it pop.
NOTE: Another good choice is regular Pittosporum that just has green leaves without the white accents.
From Storey Publishers who bring us an ongoing series on herbs, Homegrown Herbs can help you save some money by learning how to grow your own herbs for floral designs, cooking and fun personal care herbal preparations. Ms. Hartung covers all the bases from designing different types of herb gardens, to soil preparation and propagation methods. Did you know you can create new plants from the cuttings of thyme?
The book also includes dealing with common garden pests, how to harvest herbs and how to dry them for later use. She covers how each herb has a medicinal use and what to expect from it in the garden.
My favorite parts of the book are the chapters on herbal preparations for medicinal use and personal care and of course, the cooking recipes. Ms. Hartung explains in an easy conversational text how to create handy items like homemade insect repellent, sunburn relief sprays and fragrant body creams.
In the cooking section, she has wonderful recipes which include a “Flower Power Salad” that would look as good as it would taste and includes pretty flowers like violets and nasturtiums.
So, grow your own herbs, have some fun in the kitchen and feel healthy with Homegrown Herbs!
Get just the right color
You may have found the perfect vase or container, but it’s not the right color. Paint it!
Flowers are just not pink enough for your upcoming wedding. Go ahead and paint them.
One company has all the tools you need. Design Master has paint for glass, ceramic, baskets and for fresh and silk flowers. Flower Duet wants to ensure that our clients are pleased with the right colors to match the theme of their events and when we needed milk chocolate-colored cube vases, we found just the right size in black and easily painted 40 of them brown. It took three cans and one cool, dry day. For glass containers, use a primer first for best results.
If you don’t have access to Design Master, you can use any spray paint for ceramic and baskets, but if you need to paint flowers you will need to use their “Just for Flowers” Translucent Spray. Can you spy the flowers that have been painted in this floral spray or centerpiece?