And they said it couldn’t be done. Greetings, flower fans, and welcome back to Flowers A–Z! This week, I was confronted with perhaps the most challenging of all letters, and although I seriously considered something along the lines of “eXcellent dahlia,” I knew I had to dig deeper. While not exactly a flower, the bold Xanadu philodendron fit the bill. “X” is for Xanadu philodendron! When I heard that this variety of philodendron was called Xanadu, I was immediately transported back to the 1980 Olivia Newton John film (hello, Aussie readers!) and my six-year-old fantasies of being a roller-skating muse. SOLD! And let this be a subtle hint to our writer Amy Merrick: I think a Living In post on Xanadu would be amazing. But I digress . . .
Although we typically think of philodendron as primarily foliage, they are considered a flowering plant (and many species produce gorgeous tropical blooms). There are hundreds of species within the philodendron family, and they are native to the tropical regions of the Americas and the West Indies. Philodendron like water and humidity and can just as easily climb trees and rocks as they can spread in thick outcroppings on the jungle floor. Some of my favorite tidbits about philodendron come from their role with indigenous cultures in the Amazon: Tribal peoples use the leaves to make ropes, nets and poison fish, and witch doctors use the leaves both in cures and for ceremonial purposes.
Because I wanted to use cool colors to complement the philodendron leaves for this week’s arrangement, I decided to incorporate succulents. For our little “how-to,” I’ll demonstrate staking succulents, so they can be used as flowers in a bouquet or arrangement. Follow me after the jump for this quick DIY. —
The full post continues after the jump . . .
This project requires only a few tools:
- wooden floral stakes from any floral supply store
- thick waterproof floral tape
- thin stretchy floral tape
- floral knife or clippers
- your succulents
Although floral stakes are already pointed, we need to make them into sharper spears in order to poke them into the base of the succulents. Use your clippers or knife to carve the end into a finer point.
Now you can spear into the center of the succulent’s base, creating a stem for the succulent “flower.” Be sure not to poke all the way through the succulent. Just about halfway into the bloom is the way to go.
If you are lucky enough to find a succulent with a little tail, even better!
Take the floral stake and tape it right to the tail using the thick waterproof tape.
For either technique, start the process with the thick waterproof tape. It creates a more solid foundation. Follow that step by wrapping over the thick tape with the thin, stretchy floral tape. This yields more security and a smoother feel. Now you are ready to use these succulents like you would any flower with a nice, sturdy stem! The beauty of floral stakes is that they can be cut with clippers just like a floral stem, so while designing, you are not constrained to the height of the stake.
Now back to the philodendron — tuck them into any bountiful arrangement. Here I used a mix of tropicals (like mini callas) with more traditional/garden-y parrot tulips, brassica and hydrangea. Couldn’t you go bananas over that luscious violet antique Dutch hydrangea? I used the philodendron throughout the arrangement — as an accent around the neck of the vase, nestled in with other blooms, up high for some flair . . . whatever suits your fancy, please do!
And look at how the majestic succulents can masquerade as any full “face” flower.
Despite what you may have heard, never be afraid to mix tropicals or unusual foliage with more typical garden flowers. The trick is in your palette selection and the way you design. When in doubt, if you keep all the elements on relatively the same plane, the results will look clean and modern.
Don’t hesitate to play with color and form in your selection of florals, and join me back here in two weeks when “y” will be for . . .