Having a steady supply of foliage is key to successfully making bouquets throughout the season—in spring, during the long months of summer, and into early fall. In this post, I’ll share the best staple foliages and foliage-like fillers, along with several of my favorite new varieties for 2020.
Most of the varieties here can be grown from seed (the exceptions are raspberry greens, scented geranium, and ninebark). For more great fillers, like amaranth, millet, and cress, check out my recent post on Grasses, Grains, and Pods.
The scent is a bonus with many of these varieties. Some are culinary herbs with a magnetic fragrance (that might make you hungry), and others, like bells of Ireland and the eucalyptus varieties, have a fresh, clean scent. A few stems of any of these fragrant-leaved varieties will add perfume to your arrangements and bouquets.
Bupleurum (pictured above): The bright, chartreuse green blooms of this easy-to-grow flower add sparkle and interest to early summer arrangements. I love to combine the airy stems with brilliant jewel tones or simple clean whites and greens.
For an extended harvest, sow seeds every 2 to 3 weeks. In mild areas, seeds can be sown directly into the garden in fall. Everywhere else, direct seed into the garden 6 weeks before the last frost.
Harvest when flowers are fully open, otherwise, they have a tendency to wilt. Fresh flowers last an incredibly long time in the vase, 7 to 10 days, with or without flower food.
Bells of Ireland (pictured above) is a cutting garden staple and one of the finest annual foliage plants you can grow for mixed bouquets. Plants are heavily branched, producing a bumper crop of tall, lime green spires adorned with bell-shaped blooms. They have a lovely, subtle, springlike scent.
Harvest once the green bells start to form along the stem. Remove leaves from the lower half of the stem because of they often yellow. Expect a vase life of up to 2 weeks with the use of floral preservatives.