I recently interviewed urban flower farmer and artist Danielle Fulawka and she gave me so much flowery-goodness to work with that I needed to split up her interview into two posts. If you haven’t read how she transformed her rocky city yard into an urban flower farm for $2000, you can read that here. In today’s post, Danielle shares her favourite flower varieties and the rules you need to know to make a beautiful bouquet with your own homegrown flowers.
All Annual Flowers are not Created Equal
A flower is a flower. . . right? Wrong. While you should grow any flower you think is beautiful, there are definitely ones that are better for flower farming and cut flowers than others. When choosing varieties to grow, you need to choose ones with thick stems, as well as a variety of flowers that will look good in the arrangements you’re planning to make. You also need to try and stagger the bloom times, so you don’t end up with tons of flowers one month, and almost nothing the next.
Confused yet? You also need to think about which varieties produce the most blooms or are continuous bloomers, as well as be careful that the variety you’re planting has enough of a stem length. For example–the snapdragons you see in big box stores are all dwarf varieties and won’t do well in arrangements. However, there are many varieties of snapdragons that have long enough stems, you just have to watch the seed packets.
To make it easier on yourself, stick to a couple varieties that you love, and plant a crop of them every 3 weeks to easily prolong your blooming season with less stress. Don’t worry, Danielle shares with us some of her favourite varieties below!
Thrillers, Spillers, and Fillers
Every flower arrangement looks best if it has a combination of these three elements: thrillers, spillers, and fillers. Thrillers are the big focus flowers, like tall delphiniums, a large sunflower, or pretty peonies. A spiller is a flower that trails down the sides of your arrangement, and a filler is the greenery or small flowers that fill in the blank spaces, creating a fuller look.
For floral arranging, Danielle further refines this rule. Each bouquet should have something tall, like delphiniums or snapdragons, a filler, like queen anne’s lace, 2 round shapes of different sizes, like strawflowers and sunflowers, and lots of greenery. For greenery, don’t be afraid to use unusual choices like herbs, tree branches, or stuff you’ve foraged from a ditch.
Danielle recommends planting at least 5-7 varieties to bloom in each month of the flower growing season that have these qualities.
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Danielle’s Favourite Annual Cut Flowers
So what flowers does Danielle recommend? Here are her favourites that are easy to grow and give you lots of blooms:
- Branching sunflowers
- Strawberry lemonade mix sunflowers
- Snapdragons, especially the rocket variety
- Sahara Rudbeckia
A Few Flower Growing Secrets
Danielle was also kind enough to share with us some of her secrets for growing beautiful flowers. She recommends starting as many of your own seeds as possible and pinching off some of the new growth when the plants get to the 4 leaf stage. Pinching off encourages the plant to branch out, eventually creating more blooms in your garden.
If you want to grow the best cut flowers, plant your flowers closer together for longer stems.
She also tells all of her customers to keep their bouquets in the fridge overnight when they’re not enjoying them. The fridge is practically magic and can double the life of your flowers.
Thanks Danielle for all your advice and words of wisdom! If you are local to Saskatoon and would like to book Danielle for 2019 weddings or her floral subscriptions, you can DM her on Instagram. Follow her journey on Facebook, Instagram, or her website.
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Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots. She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden. She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.