Winter Wonderful

Cold weather florals brighten spaces and cure winter doldrums.

Photo by Adam Ewing. Arrangement by Vogue Flowers, Richmond.

You don’t have to forgo fresh, beautiful cut flower arrangements just because it’s cold and barren outdoors. What better time of year to fill your home with fragrant bouquets, adding warmth and cheer to even the chilliest of corners? Here, we offer inspiration for creating winter florals that suit your style and provide expert tips on making cut flowers last.

So Fresh

The best blooms for the coldest months.

There aren’t a lot of flowers blooming in Virginia this time of year, so florists import them from California, Florida, South America, and Holland to ensure year-round availability.“Anemones are very popular and come in a variety of colors,” says Steve Papoulakos, the owner of Vogue Flowers in Richmond. “We also use a lot of poppies from Iceland. Those are the sort of blooms that can really brighten someone’s room or table. And freesias are very fragrant, so people tend to like those.” Papoulakos also recommends incorporating branches, hypericum berries, fruit such as persimmons or plums, and foliage such as ferns, Italian ruscus, and eucalyptus.


Forcing bulbs for winter blossoms.

Although most bulbs require about four months of “chilling” before they’ll bloom, two varieties can be planted in pots and enjoyed indoors without much wait time. Amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus are native to warmer climates and therefore have a much shorter growth cycle: Plants will typically bloom within four weeks. Pot with soil and keep at temperatures around 60 degrees with indirect light.

Pick Your Palette

Color profiles for every mood.

Snow white: Lean in to the season with bouquets filled only with baby’s breath, Queen Anne’s lace, winter jasmine, and narcissus. Add pinecones, birch branches, and snowberries for interest. Recommended vase: short and round.

Deep midwinter: Channel the Dutch masters by pairing burgundy carnations, black calla lillies, and purple hellebores with dark green accents such as juniper or magnolia leaves. Recommended vase: tall and square.

Season’s contrast: Tired of the short days? To brighten things up, mix and match yellow protea, pink camellias, and blue hyacinth. Recommended vase: tapered or bottle-shaped.

Food for Thought

A recipe for homemade flower food.

You know those little packets of stuff that come packaged with store-bought flowers? Throw them out. You can make your own flower food with a variety of household ingredients that will nourish your flowers and keep them at their showiest. Our favorite recipe? Combine 1 teaspoon each of lemon juice, granulated sugar, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda for every 12 ounces of water. The lemon juice and sugar provide nutrients, extending the life of your flowers, while the vinegar and baking soda inhibit the growth of fungi and bacteria. (Be sure to change the water and add a fresh solution every three to four days.)

Stem to Stem

The do’s and don’ts of flower arranging.

Do select locally sourced blooms for the freshest, longest-lasting bouquets.

Do play with vase shapes and sizes to add interest to arrangements throughout your home.

Do use hydrating solutions, which open the vessels in flower stems and allow them to take in more water.

Do remember to hydrate flowers like hydrangeas and roses by submerging the bloom heads for 30 minutes before putting them in the vase. 

Don’t trim flowers with scissors, which will which crush the stems, making water absorption less efficient and shortening the life of the blooms. Use a sharp knife instead.

This article originally appeared in our February 2019 issue.

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