A glossary of all things garden for you to refer to when the flowers get confusing and a picture will make more sense than name for a flower.
Also known as Agapanthus, I like these lilies because you can rarely find a big statement flower in blue, but this is one of very few. The blooms grow on short stems with a longer bud stem that is covered with many smaller flowers. It comes in other colors than the blue, like white, and some variegated varieties, but the blue blossoms are what it’s all about.
Allium are the original blooming onion, not the kind you find at Outback Steakhouse though. They are a herbaceous perennial, and bloom with pretty purple, white globe shaped flowers on long stems (called scapes) that may have an onion-y scent.
Many people around the world eat amaranth as a leaf vegetable or a cereal, but I prefer to use these cool super droopy flowers in arrangements where I want a strong down line. Their strong colors, in the darker reds are a big bonus to a fall arrangement.
A flowering bulb, super popular around the Christmas holidays for its easy to grow, large and colorful blooms. These bulbs are a big bang for the buck, as they make quite a statement for as little as under $10 a bulb and they are long lasting.
In fact, talented gardeners who are gifted at following directions can bring them back year after year to spectacular results.
Size varies in height, and size of blooms. Super tall (30” stems) or somewhat shorter (12”) stems are available.
A fun fact, adding a little vodka to the water when you first start the bulb stunts the growth, helping them to not get so tall that they tip over with the weight of the blooms. Try it, it worked for me!
These beauties are grown indoors, and in pots in my area, it’s too cold for them to survive the winters, but in more temperate climates, they can go right in the dirt, and have a long healthy life blooming and making amaryllis babies.
Common colors are vivid reds, bright whites, pinks and variegated versions of all those colors.
A commonly used tropical flower in arrangements, these plants also are often seen sold as house plants. Their shiny evergreen leaves, and distinctive (phallic) blossom are long blooming, and require minimum care. I have to be honest; I am not a huge fan of these blooms.
Aster means Star in ancient Greek, and it is an accurate description of these sweet little flowers shape. My favorite, the fall blooming bright purple asters, are a great filler flower in fall arrangements. These flowers come in many different colors, often resembling little miniature versions of the popular flower known as a daisy.
Flowering shrubs that bloom in Spring. Wide variety of colors and bloom, shrub size. Shrub is evergreen, blooms last for about a week. Understory shrubs that like the shade and growing under trees.
Also known as gypsophila. A stem holds a lot of small cloud like flowers, often white and is commonly used in flower arranging. Baby’s breath, an annual that comes in many varieties. My favorite is Million Stars, because the blooms are bigger and very pretty.
or Sweet Basil, is a go to ingredient in the heat of the summer for dishes that include freshly cut tomatoes. They are natural partners. In flower arrangements, I appreciate the bright green color of the shiny large leaves. They are a great filler, and an aromatic compliment to a summer flower arrangement.
A large aromatic evergreen tree or shrub with green glossy leaves. Need I say more? What arrangement can’t benefit from a green glossy leaf? These plants tend to grow better and faster in warmer areas, think Mediterranean climates. Personal experience has shown that these slow growers are very hard to keep alive in colder conditions as house plants.
Also called Lily Bear Grass, these narrow long stemmed greenery act as great filler flowers and interesting accent pieces within arrangements. The stems are super flexible, so you can loop and bend them in and around your piece for a contemporary look.
Bird of Paradise
A tropical wonder flower, native to South Africa, I was astounded to learn a friend was able to grow them indoors here in the DC area. It takes a village, a strong back, a big basement and perfect light, but they are able to grow these beauties and haul them out of the basement and to the backyard each spring.
The flowers common name is derived from the flowers resemblance to a bird of paradise, and is also sometimes called a crane flower. If you want a big impact flower in a tropical themed arrangement, or a statement stem for a contemporary design, these tough flowers will hold up, stand up and say “Howdy!”
My grandmother always called these flowers brown-eyed Betties–I think it works! 🙂 These cheery perennials have a lovely yellow daisy like appearance with a brown center, and bloom nicely in the dog days of summer.
They spread easily in your garden, and are dependable returning visitors year after year. Known as the state flower of Maryland, the winning horse at the Preakness is blanketed with Black Eyed Susan’s in the winner’s circle each year.
This old fashioned perennial is a spring bloomer in more temperate climates, and has wonderful pink heart shaped blooms with small white flowers at the base of each bloom. Each bloom stem has several blooms on it. One of my all time favorite flowers.
These shrubs grow all over the Caribbean (and other warm places), and come in so many beautifully vibrant colors. The flowers on the woody (and thorny) stems are papery and delicate, so are not the best choice for an arrangement; they are popular ornamental plantings in warmer climates.
A fragrant and stalwart shrub in many landscapes, I am a huge fan of the boxwood for its prunings. Yes, that means I grow my boxwood so I can cut it back and use what I cut back in making stuff. Crazy, but true! My favorite base for a holiday wreath is boxwood, as its leaves are shiny green, small and there are many of them. The result is a controlled look, which I prefer in holiday wreathes. Boxwood compliments the other filler greens that you can use in any wreath, such as Salal, fern, evergreens, and magnolia.
A great filler flower with lots of movement in its stems. Blooms are very small, hints of greenish yellow, and are cloistered together against the green smooth leaves. These flowers definitely perk up with water.
This regal flower is hugely popular with brides. It makes a statement for sure. Flower growers love the Calla because it is sturdy, and grows continuously, even hardy enough to survive little frost.
Strong and sturdy, the calla works well on its own, massed together in an arrangement or bouquet and ably holds its own as a component of a cut arrangement.
Alabama’s state flower, the Camellia is a true southern belle, arriving in North America through the port of Charleston. They do grow farther north, and I even see them thrive here in the DC area, but it’s all about location, location, location, for a successful growing experience.
Situate your camellia in a protected spot. They tend to prefer cool roots, so partial shade is a plus. The evergreen shrub hosts an incredibly rich abundance of color and blooms. My Mom is extremely proud of the variegated red and white camellias she grew in the back yard of their home in North Carolina. We knew what season it was when the dining table was adorned with a shallow bowl full of floating camellia blossoms.
I need this plant in my garden, and not just for its supposed medicinal properties! Long ago candytuft was thought to be helpful in the treatment of maladies such as gout, but I’m going to leave that call to the experts and just moon over the bright white flowers that decorate this reliable perennial each year.
Originally used in Greek ceremonial crowns, this flower is believed to have derived its name from coronation ceremonies. Also known as dianthus, carnation is another sturdy, dependable flower that is cost effective, especially when you want a mass of color for not a lot of money. Carnations have recently enjoyed a resurgence of popularity as DIYers realize they look beautiful when massed together, and are used in their natural colors. Carnations are the symbol of many events and holidays and the colors in particular have significant meaning.
So I love Celosia, in its many forms, but probably love the cockscomb variety most of all. It looks like brains kind of, but comes in the most amazing colors. Celosia is also known for its variety. There are varieties called amaranth that are awesome, and I am equally fond of the weeping variety of amaranth as well as the regular non-weeping form. The branches and blooms of these plants have a mind of their own, and can be relied upon to create great visual interest in your flower arrangements. I have been wholly unsuccessful in growing cockscomb in my garden, so I do buy these when I see them available as cut flowers.
Celosia (Weeping Amaranth)
Celosia (Non-weeping Amaranth)
are the common name for the smallest species of edible onion. In culinary use, the scapes and the unopened, immature flower buds are diced and used as an ingredient for fish, potatoes, soups, and other dishes. Chives have insect-repelling properties that can be used in gardens to control pests. The flower buds once opened provide a nice fragrant addition to your herbal arrangement.
A perennial with spoon shaped petals, this flower usually blooms in the summer. Who hasn’t seen little girls in the warmer seasons sitting together and making necklaces and crowns from daisies? Such a sweet vision and a happy flower.
I have one of these in my yard, also know as a spindle tree, and it is my go resource for variegated greens year round. Leaves are shiny, with green to yellow or green green to off white depending on the age of the branches.
Fragrant, funnel shaped blooms on a sparsely leafed stem. The stems are longish, and the flowers grow on one side of the stem. These are the go to scent for many creams and lotions, but also add a lovely scent to an arrangement.
Just like Chives, Garlic, in some forms, grow scapes. Scapes are the unopened immature flower buds of the hardneck garlic plant. They tend to grow tall and curvy and add a really cool element to a contemporary arrangement.
Also known as hardy geraniums, these perennials are long blooming, they are easily transplanted or divided. I like the longer branches of these plants, as they provide delicate visual interest in a flower arrangement.
This lime green and yellow variegated ornamental grass is awesome in flower arrangements but also in your garden along the edges, in the shade. It’s cascading form, and bright pop of color, look great against a stone wall, or as a collar around the base of a floral arrangement. Easy to grow, and divide, it comes back each year, spreading out just a bit more along the gardens edge.
I love holly for its glossy evergreen leaves, and its desirable berries that provide great visual interest (and a food source for birds) in your garden. Synonymous with the Christmas holidays, my holly bushes are well pruned leading up to Christmas, for use in center pieces, wreathes or other arrangements.
Shade tolerant perennials that come in a bajillion different varieties. Easy to grow, easy to divide these plants are the workhorse do a shade garden. I tend toward using the leaves of the hosta more than the blooms in arranging, and in particular love the varieties that generate blue green leaves.
My weakness in my garden. I have many different varieties of this plant, and appreciate them for different reasons. The twisted branches and conical blooms of the oak leaf Hydrangea, the beautiful blue to pink to purple Mophead blooms that fade to green as summer passes. Blooms of the Hydrangea plant are abundant, long lasting, cheerful, and easy to dry for year round enjoyment. I have them planted in containers, in the ground and in varying sun and soil conditions.
Also known as the herb St. John’s Wort, this perennial/ shrub/ tree can take many forms. I am particularly in love with my low growing version that serves as a ground cover, and has the most spectacularly bright yellow flower.
Interestingly enough, hypericum is more popular for its foliage and berries than its flowers. I use it often as filler, as the green to reddish orange berries are quite pleasing.
Japanese Red Maple tree
This showy, versatile multi-stemmed tree is a great accent to the garden. The sharply pointed leaves are dark red during the growing season, and fiery red to orange as Fall arrives. The branches look stunning against greens, and work well in natural arrangements.
This plant is pretty ridiculous if you believe everything you read about it. It’s a member of the mint family, it’s a pretty flower, an essential oil, is used dried in many things, is a medicinal herb and it is the real Queen of England….. Well not that last part, but it IS one of my favorite colors…honestly! This fragrant perennial has been used for centuries to treat all kinds of maladies, in the form of aroma therapy for calming and relaxation (“gooo to sleep……”) while the seeds and flowers have been known to be used as treatment for wounds, acne, skin burns. Who knew? Its a double duty tool in your flower arrangement. Used in moderation it adds a nice scent, and a simple accent.
Leather Leaf (Baker) Fern
A useful selection in any flower work, this fern is sturdy and dark green. The triangular shape of the fern leaf allows for great versatility as filler in wreathes, vase arrangements, and corsages, boutonniere’s or hairpieces. If I am on a tight budget, these ferns help keep my design within reach.
is a native herb from Asia. I use it like I use bear grass, as accent. It has a lovely scent, and is a natural mosquito repellent. Yea! I hate mosquito’s so this is a great thing for me.
Inexpensive, sturdy, and very useful in all kinds of flower arranging. This leathery leafed filler is a dependable staple in my floral recipes. Works well in wreathes, and as filler in vase arrangements.
is a perennial herb that is ever present, and often spreading throughout the garden. The leaves of the mint plant come in many colors and many variations.
Chrysanthemums, or mums for short are diverse family of blooming perennial. Easily grown in the garden, and widely available in so many shapes, sizes and colors, the mum is a go to flower to consider for colorful filler, and pops of color. My favorite variety is the Kermit Mum, a button of lime green that compliments so many colors in a bouquet.
Also known as heavenly bamboo does well in the garden, especially if you are challenged for sunny spaces. I love the colors that the leaves turn in the fall, with the reds that match well with the ample berries. The leaves have a bamboo like silhouette but are not part of that plant family. Nandina does not tend to last as long as other fillers once cut.
The name means nose twister or nose tweaker, which is weird, but this edible flower adds a clever twist to a fresh salad, and a fresh arrangement. The small intensely bright flowers are a great pop of color to a little posey.
Not just for pizza anymore! A member of the mint family, and cousin to sweet marjoram, I like the way this herb has a bit of a vine growth pattern. It allows me to use it in a herb arrangement when I want something to drape down out of the vase.
These beauties are popular for their wide variety of beautiful colors, their many layers of delicate petals, and the stems that these blooms sit upon. I truly love the way these flowers find their own space in a vase.
A woody, perennial herb with aromatic evergreen leaves, I use the branches of my rosemary plant as much for cooking as I do for arranging. Beginning in the Middle Ages, rosemary became a traditional part of wedding ceremonies with the bride carrying sprigs in her bouquet to symbolize love and loyalty.
This herb, a member of the salvia family of plants is a popular herb in the kitchen. Often used in poultry and meat dishes, it comes in many forms, with differing scents, tastes and leaves. The culinary sage is a great addition to a herb based flower arrangement, as the smooth edged, tapered leaves in grey-ish green stand out nicely.
One of my favorite cut flowers, especially when used in large groups of the same color. These blooms are on long stems, and have cool blooms that open when you squeeze then on the sides….. That why they call them snap dragons. it supposedly looks like the jaws of a dragon open and closing…..you be the judge. I love the color variety, especially the varieties that blend two colors together in one bloom.
A nice, less allergy inducing cousin of the Goldenrod. This fall blooming member of the aster family is versatile and useful as a single stem in a hand tied bouquet, or dissected in pieces for smaller arrangements like posies. The yellow color of this flower adds great contrast.
You should be able to tell by now that I have a shady garden! This herbaceous perennial has a place of honor in it for its unusual flowering, nice leaf coloring and its healing properties…yup it is used to treat diabetes…so cool!
Spotted Leopard Plant
Shade lovers, these spotted leafed plants do bloom, a bright yellow daisy like bloom, but it’s the leaves that make the difference in an arrangement.
Grown as annuals, these long stemmed beauties are reliable, sturdy and come in a variety of colors in the white, purple, pink color range. I prefer the double blooms; they look richer in the arrangement.
An annual native plant that grows on a furry sturdy stem. The flowers can be quite big, and are round like the sun, hence their name. They are also a food source for birds and people! The centers of these flowers when dried have many seeds that are used to make oil, and also to feed the birds.
A great ground cover in your shady garden, this sweetly scented herb is often used in Germany to flavor beer, brandy and other spirits! It adds a sweet flavor to flower arrangements with its tiny white blooms and leaf form.
Blue Globe thistle is one of the most elegantly colored plants around. It has fantastical large blue balls of steel blue flowers in midsummer, which would be enough. But making it even more lovely are its large coarse, grayish-green leaves, which set off the flower beautifully. If you can bear to separate them from the foliage, globe thistle makes a great cut flower, lasting for weeks in the vase. It also dries well. It’s bothered by few pests or diseases.
These flowers were so sought after, and so popular that they were once thought of as currency. That is crazy, but true. Tulips are perennials, grown from bulbs and are a favorite food source of the @&&$) squirrels in my yard. They come in varying colors, heights, textures and are fun to use as cut flowers because they keep growing after you have cut them!
Also know in the olden days as the nosebleed plant, for its ability to stem the flow of blood, I am more of a fan of this reliable bloomer in my garden. The flowers bloom white to pink, depending on the variety, but I favor the strong yellow. Cutting these back on a regular basis generate new growth, and more flowers!
A beautiful evergreen shrub with a sprawling and extremely wide-spreading habit of growth, very deep green color and bright red berries. Repandens English Yew has dark green foliage which emerges light green in spring. The ferny leaves remain dark green through the winter. The flowers are not ornamentally significant.
Thanks to www.flowerspictures.org for many of these pictures. Sources listed otherwise.