Summer is Here and the Season is Hot!
June is the start of the summer season and with rising temperatures and dry days, the focus shifts to getting outdoors and enjoying the beach, hiking, or boating. Alas, the flower season shifts as well with a focus on flowers that tolerate heat and humidity, tropical flowers.
Tropical flowers never fail to amaze with their colors and forms. They are also bold in color and exhibit unique shapes, so they are sure to get a conversation started. Summer is the perfect time to explore using tropical flowers in arrangements as they are long-lasting and can tolerate hot, humid environments. Unlike most flowers, tropical flowers do not like the cold. Tropical flowers should not be stored in coolers or at temperatures below 60 degrees or they will blacken. They love humidity and the occasional misting.
Our lead designer, Carlos Franco, has created some fun, contemporary tropical florals for our customers and so we decided a blog exploring the tropical flowers and foliage we use would be of interest as well. In addition to this blog, we have a “design-it-yourself” series on arranging tropic plants for those interested in doing an arrangement of tropical flowers at home.
1. Lobster Claw (heliconia rostrata)
Heliconia is a plant related to bananas, cannas, and gingers. What is used in floral arrangements as the colorful “flower” is actually a group of leaves, called bracts. The heliconia’s true flowers are hidden inside the bracts and are long-lasting. Heliconia bracts resemble lobster claw, thus the name, and may be found in red, orange or yellow, usually tipped with a bright gold splash.
Heliconia is native to Central to South America and is in a group of plants that may grow up to 15 feet tall in nature. There are about 100 individual species, and most species then have a large number of hybrids, with flower styles varying significantly. Heliconia leaves look more or less like banana leaves, glossy, oval and paddle-shaped. They are generally green, but some are tinged slightly with color when young and sometimes the leaves and stems are colored or patterned slightly.
2. Anthurium (herbaceous epiphytes)
Anthuriums, also called the “flamingo flower” or “Hawaiian heart,”are native to tropical America from Mexico to northern Argentina and Uruguay. In Greek, the name Anthurium means tail flower. Anthurium is a great choice for novice plant owners because they are low maintenance and exhibit blooms that last for months. To prevent the rotting of stems and roots, a well-drained soil is important. Their open, heart-shaped and long-lasting blooms make them popular as hostess or hospitality gifts.
Though the anthurium looks like a flower bloom, it is actually a spathe or shield-like leaf. It functions to protect a spike of miniature flowers known as the spadix that is closely arranged around a fleshy axis and typically enclosed in the spathe, characteristic of the arums. The spathe can come in many colors, such as pink, orange, and white.
3. Ginger (zingiberaceae)
The flowering ginger is part of the zingiberaceae family, a diverse flower that includes 52 genera and more than 1300 species and grows throughout tropical and subtropical parts of Southeast Asia. Some of the more common genus names include Alpinia, Costus, Hedychium. Several species of Alpinia are cultivated as ornamentals while the Hedychium produces blooms that are used in garlands and floral arrangements. The red colored ginger is typically used for many tropical arrangements.
Flowering gingers sold as garden plants reach an average height between four and five feet tall. Ginger spreads and emerges from the thick fleshy root-like structures known as rhizomes with leaves that are usually lance-shaped or oblong and deep glossy green. The ginger flowers vary significantly from one genus to another.
4. Maraca Ginger (zingiber spectabilis)
The Maraca Ginger often referred to as the beehive or pinecone ginger because of its ornamental shape, is a popular addition to tropical arrangements. Beehive ginger is fragrant and makes an excellent cut flower, with the bracts holding both colors and shape a week or more once cut. It is a gourd-like structure filled with pebbles and its scientific name is Zingiber spectabilis. The maraca is also revered for the medicinal properties that have made it popular to use for sprains, indigestion, stomach pains and toothaches. The milk found in the cone is used in a number of commercial shampoos and has been used as hair care products for centuries.
The maraca ginger is believed to have originated in India and can reach 7 feet in height, with long narrow leaves arranged oppositely on the stems. About mid-way thru summer, separate stalks grow out of the ground with green cone-shaped bracts that resemble, you guessed it, beehives or pinecones. While initially green, the bracts turn red over several weeks, then small creamy yellow flowers appear on the cones.
5. Mokara Orchid (vandaceous)
Mokara Orchids belong to the vandaceous genera and are a man-made tropical orchid not found in nature. It was created in Singapore in 1969 and originate from the cross-breeding of orchids of the genera Ascocentrum, Arachnis, and Vanda. Since then, dozens and dozens of other types have been created.
Mokara orchids are long lasting and have starfish-shaped blooms and thin, almost wire-like stems holding 7-15 flowers per stem. With most varieties available year-round in stunning red, purples, pinks, yellows, burgundy and orange, these flowers are hugely popular for use in wedding and event decor. Some breeds exhibit dotted petals while others are solid, or opaque.
Mokara orchids are relatively easy to care for and thrive inconsistent temperatures between 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit in environments with at least 80% humidity. These orchids do not tolerate any disturbance or damage to their root system which can make them unlikely to bloom and force them into decline for a season or more.
6. Bromeliad (bromeliaceae)
Bromeliad plants add an exotic touch to any arrangement and are also great to add to a garden as they are easy to grow, long lasting, and easy to care for. They are a wonderful addition to any plant collection and add color and texture to any home or patio. Bromeliads work well in contemporary, modern, and tropical decor styles due to their shape and color. They have adapted to withstand drought and should not be over-watered or it can cause root rot.
Bromeliads can often be epiphytic, meaning they use the structure of other plants like trees to provide stability and structure. They are not parasitic and do not live off the other plant, they simply use it to assist in holding itself up. There are 51 genera and more than 3400 known species of bromeliads, growing mostly in the tropical parts of Central and South America although they are highly adaptable.
The foliage of a bromeliad usually grows in a rosette with patterns and a variety of colors but varies greatly and can be broad and flat or thin, spikey or soft. Leaf colors range from green and gold to maroon, red, and yellow while others can be spotted. The everyday pineapple plant is a bromeliad.
7. Ornamental Banana Bloom (musa ornata)
Musa Ornata, the ornamental or flowering banana plant, is one of more than 50 species of banana in the Musa genus. They are large, tropical evergreen perennials originating in southeast Asia. The blossoms grow on stems of up to 3-4 feet in length and originate from the center of the plant. The blooms are usually long, tapering buds that present upright or they can also fold over in a draping manner, depending on the variety. Musa thrives in high temperatures and humid environments and produces flowers in mid-summer in a range of whites, purples, pinks, oranges and yellow. The plant can grow up to 50 feet tall in the wild.
The banana bloom is usually available year-round in floral shops that showcase unique and unusually flowers. The Musa Ornata, in all its varieties, is grown commercially in Hawaii and South America for North American consumers.
With every tropical arrangement comes a selection of foliage that also is tropical in nature and compliments the look and feel. We decided to share a few of these with you as well to give you a sense of what we combine to create our custom arrangements. Always soak your foliage properly for several hours in water before you arrange it. This is essential, even if it is cut fresh from your garden.
Split-leaf Philodendron (monstera deliciosa)
Taken directly from the monstera deliciosa plant native to Mexico and Panama, the tropical leaf is exotic in shape with holes and ridges throughout the adult leaf. The leaf is used as a base element in our arrangements (to cover the edge of the container) and to create horizontal lines.
Song of India (dracaena reflexa)
Song of India plant is a species from the dracaena genus (dracaena reflexa) that is a popular houseplant. Like the monstera leaf, the action here is with the dracaena leaf as well. Glossy and wide, they can grow up to 1 ft long. Various cultivars of this genus display different leaf variations.
The dracaena is used for color contrast and textural interest in tropical arrangements.
Ti Leaf (cordyline fruticose)
The Ti leaf, known as the Hawaiian good luck plant, is a staple in floral shops with its smooth blade-shaped leaves that can measure about four inches wide and range from one to two feet in length. Available in hues of green, orange, yellow, purple, pink and red depending on the variety, the Ti leaf is also used for Hawaiian leis. While ti leaves are inedible they are commonly used as wraps when preparing foods.
The leaves are versatile, and their shine and shape make are a perfect complement to many floral arrangements, particularly tropical. The ti leaf is used to line the inside of clear glass vases and as vertical backdrops for bright, tropical flowers. They can be twisted and curled to add interest as well.
Majesty Palm (ravenea rivularis)
Like the name implies, they are the leaves of palm trees which are comprised of a diverse variety. Most arrangements are made with either a fan palm, shaped like a fan or an areca palm which has long and narrow with multiple leaves extending from the main stem.
The palm leaf is a universal element for tropical arrangements due to their leafy green hue and fan-like shape. They are perfect building blocks to a large arrangement, providing a great background to pinks, oranges, and yellows. They can also be added to bouquets.
Fig Leaf Palm (fatsia japonica)
Fatsia japonica, commonly called the paper plant or fig leaf palm, is an evergreen shrub that produces large, glossy hand-shaped leaves that can be up to 16 inches across although they come in a range of sizes. Architectural in shape, the Fatsia is native to southern Japan Korea and Taiwan. In the fall and winter months, the fatsia produces globe-shaped clusters of white flowers followed by small black fruits. There are also several variegated fatsia plants to choose from in addition to the typical solid green.
Fatsia is used as a background or base element in arrangements, particularly tropic arrangements.
Summer is a great season for tropical flowers and plants. Take a look at our new arrangements and don’t hesitate to send a tropical arrangement as they are bright, colorful, and usually last an extended length of time. Plus, they are exotic and sure to create a conversation piece for whomever you send one.
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