Leafy Floral Arrangements – Choosing Leaves For Flower Arrangements

Leafy Floral Arrangements – Choosing Leaves For Flower Arrangements

By: Tonya Barnett, (Author of FRESHCUTKY)

Growing a flower garden can be a rewarding endeavor. Throughout the season, gardeners enjoy a profusion of blooms and abundance of color. The flower garden will not only brighten the yard but can be used as a cut flower garden. Cut flower gardens are an excellent way to bring the outdoors in, but a key component of a good flower arrangement is the leafy greenery.

Creating a Flower Arrangement with Leaves

Those who have planted a flower garden have likely decided to grow many of their favorite plants. The combination of annuals and perennials can blend together for a stunning display. In deciding to pick flowers from the garden, it is easy to become enamored with the largest and most vibrant blooms. However, a high-quality flower arrangement will often include several parts. Though focal flowers are of great importance, many overlook another key component: the foliage.

Flower arrangement foliage, sometimes called greenery, plays an important role in flower arrangements. A bouquet of leaves or leafy stems often serve as a framework for more colorful flowers. They can also be just as beautiful on their own.

Flower arrangements with leaves often look more natural and organic in nature, due to their lush green filler. Leafy floral arrangements also provide greater flexibility in terms of vessel used or arrangement style. Learning to use leaves for flower arrangements is an easy way to craft professional looking bouquets straight from the garden.

Best Leaves for Flower Arrangements

Leaves for flower arrangements can vary greatly. Though bouquets of leaves can often be purchased locally, many cut flower gardeners choose to grow their own. Growing your own flower arrangement foliage will ensure a steady supply throughout the entire season.

Popular garden options include the use of herbs and shade-loving perennial plants. Mint, rosemary, and various cultivars of sage can all be grown for use in cut flower arrangements. Other ornamental plants, such as dusty miller, can be specifically sowed for use in vases. Fortunately for growers, these common foliage plants will be a beautiful addition to the flower border too.

Other leaves for adding to bouquets, either alongside flowers or as their own leafy display include:

  • Palms
  • Ferns
  • Yarrow
  • Ivy
  • Myrtle
  • Eucalyptus
  • Grevillea
  • Holly

Branches and foliage from various shrubs can also be used. Before picking and using any type of foliage or greenery in cut flower arrangements, know which plant you’re working with. Since many ornamental plants contain toxic properties, those composing arrangements will need to ensure they are safe to use in bouquets and vases.

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Read more about General Flower Garden Care

Foliage Plants for Flower Arrangements

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Foliage plays a role in a flower arrangement that is as important as the flowers themselves. Your choice of foliage plants helps create the shape of the arrangement, such as using spiky foliage for linear arrangements, large, rounded foliage for mass arrangements, or using a combination of the two to create linear-mass arrangements. Green foliage provides a dark background to highlight the bright colors of flowers. Foliage is typically more affordable than flowers, so using foliage as filler creates a full arrangement without a huge expense. You can find a wide array of foliage for arrangements throughout your home garden.


Trees deliver outline or seasonal elements for arrangements. For example, Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) leaves are large and leathery with dark green above and felted rusty brown undersides. Use these leaves with large-scale flowers. Magnolia grows in USDA zones 6 through 10 and needs a large space, since trees can attain 60 to 80 feet tall.

Small-growing palm trees have leaves to use as whole elements, or use just a piece of a palmate or pinnate leaf for linear effect. Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) with feathery leaves grows as a container plant or small garden plant in USDA zones 10 and 11. Pygmy date (Phoenix roebelenii) has feathery 3-foot-long leaves. It grows slowly to 6 to 12 feet in USDA zones 10a through 11 and is often grown in containers or where limited space is available, such as at poolsides.

For seasonal arrangements, pines (Pinus spp.) and junipers (Juniperus) furnish fragrant greenery for holiday floral arrangements.


Pittosporum is now a firm favourite foliage amongst a lot of florist and there is a few reasons behind this.

  • It has great glossy long lasting foliage which will often live well beyond the flowers in all types of florist displays from to posies to pedestals
  • There are lots of different verities of Pittosporum , Green Pittosporum pittosporum tenuifolium, Black / Purple pittosporum pittosporum tom thumb or a Variegated pittosporum pittosporum variegatum
  • Pittosorum is a lovely evergreen shrub that once it’s established it grows quickly
  • The green variety of Pittosporum grows much quicker than the other varieties.
  • Plant Pittosorum in fertile well drained soil it will grow in full sun or partial shade
  • The variegated or purple leafed varieties prefer full sun to get the best foliage effect.

Flower Arranging 101: Make Bouquets from Your Garden

Just because Mother's Day has come and gone, doesn't mean all those lovely buds have. With all of the springtime freshness going on outside, is your house feeling a tad blah? Breathe a little life into your home. Bring the outdoors in by gathering a bouquet of fresh cut flowers from your garden.

You can scrounge together a stunning bouquet out of even the barest of plots. Even if that means an all out green arrangement. Designing a dramatic bouquet is all about how you arrange the flowers. With these tricks you can create a florist-quality bouquet all on your own.

Snip your lovely dewy flowers in the early morning or evening. Flowers cut during midday will wilt more easily.

You don’t want a clump of dirt, well, dirtying up your beautiful bouquet. Carefully wash off any soil and remove all leaves from the stem except the ones nearest the blooms. This will keep the flowers healthier and make them easier to manage when you get to arranging.

Cut the ends of the stems off at an angle. Snipping them this way exposes more of the stem’s surface area, so the flower can more easily suck up water. Think of it like a straw.

Finally, place the flowers in a vase filled with lukewarm water.

Choose a complementary vase

Speaking of vases, highlight your purty blooms' best features with a complementary vase. Do you have sweet pink cabbage roses? Then choose a stunning bright blue vase to set off their color. Did you gather bunches of white hydrangeas? Play up their delicate petals with an equally fragile glass vase.

Be sure to fit the vase to the size of the bouquet. Choosing a vase that’s too large for the number of flowers in your bunch will make your assortment look rather odd. The key to a good lookin’ arrangement is a full vase. If you want a more minimalist look though, choose flowers with long graceful stems and place them in a tall skinny vase.

This isn’t an exact science, ladies (and perhaps some gentlemen). Simply choose a collection of flowers that you think look good together.

Then get down to business. Start by arranging the flowers in your hands. Add a flower at a time, layering them over each other and turning them so that the arrangement stays round. Once you've got the look you want, tie the flowers together with a rubber band so the arrangement remains tight. In the vase, the bouquet should look more dense in the middle and more airy toward the edges. I particularly like the look of full budded flowers, such as peonies (with the stems cut short) and the flowers bunched together so they almost burst out of a small, squat vase.

Incorporate other elements (pretty much whatever you can find!) into your floral arrangement to add texture. Weave foliage, buds, leaves and other clippings from your garden into the bouquet.

Don’t forget to check the arrangement from all sides. You don't want one mediocre angle ruining the whole display.

Want more bouquet ideas? Discover the who, what, why, when and where of an organic bouquet.

Watch the video: Foliage Manipulation 1