Tropical South

May, 2004
Regional Report

Plant What You Will Use

Aunt Joan had rows of special colors to match the decor of special rooms. I have a list of those that bloom most, last longest, or make the biggest show, including amaryllis, pentas, shrimp plant, pinecone ginger, aloe, nasturtiums, kalanchoe, and salvias, plus cordyline and silver dollar eucalyptus for foliage.

Condition Flowers for Longest Vase Life

Picking the flowers and foliage ahead of time and conditioning them in deep, tepid water for several hours or overnight enables them to take up plenty of moisture so they last much longer in the vase. A few, such as roses, condition better in warm water; and some foliage plants -- like silver king artemisia -- that will wilt otherwise, hold up fine if you submerge them completely for a few hours.

Use It and Lose It

If you are looking for foliage for your bouquet, try some of the unwanted seedling trees and shrubs that come up in your yard whether you want them or not. If they don't hold up in the
bouquet, at least you've got them out of the garden.

Be Prepared to Transport Fresh Flowers

I buy vases or baskets at garage sales or flea markets and paper or inexpensive plastic cups at the grocery that will fit in my expanding cup holders in the car for transport. That way I always have a container in the car ready for freshly cut flowers and I don't have to worry about it falling over at each turn. Be sure there is something fragrant in every bouquet. If the flowers are not, add foliage of mint, pineapple sage, or eucalyptus. When you stop at a light, rub the foliage and enjoy the fragrance. It makes a trip more pleasant and is a gift always appreciated.

Make the Most of Everlastings

If you want arrangements that will last indefinitely, grow, buy, gather on the roadside, or save from florist bouquets the dried flowers, such as grasses, cattails, statice, strawflowers, globe amaranth, baby's breath, and hydrangeas. Many of these will dry in the vast and last for months or years or until you get tired of them.

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