Im A Flower Arranger, What Foliage Should I Grow 



When you start flower arranging initially one thing that you first notice and maybe haven’t thought of before is that flower arranging is not all about flowers, foliage in fact plays a large part in flower arrangements, bouquets and indeed funeral tributes


One way to both highlight your flowers and enhance your arrangement is to use foliage or a variety of foliage.  Foliage is also a great “filler” it helps you create a fuller arrangement, and it gives you a background that makes each flower shine.

If you have been on any of our classes you will be familiar with Janette’s saying, when it comes to filling in with foliage ‘ fill in fill in fill in’ (in a Dublin accent of course)


Where is the best place to find foliage for flower arranging ??


You can buy cut foliage from foliage farms, fresh flower wholesalers and of course from your local flower shop.  Typically, Foliage is more affordable then flowers but it does need to be purchased all the same if you have none available to you.


  Even if you have a small garden it’s always good to have some plants growing in your own garden which you can use as a “go-to” when you need a bit of  ‘filler in’

If you have a big garden it would be well worth planting foliage as money saving way by using your own home grown plants and shrubs.


 Here are our Top Four  ‘must have’ plants to plant for a flower arrangers garden. 


  There are many types of Eucalyptus, most are so suited to floristry and flower arranging because of their different features and of course the scent.

The Types we use mostly are Eucalyptus Gunnii  or the small leafed Eucalyptus Parviofolia or one of our favourites is the  highly scented Eucalyptus Glaucescens


Whatever the variety Eucalyptus you decide to grow there here are some top tips to be aware of.

  • Eucalyptus is a fast growing tree ( flower arrangers dream)  that can be cut right back down to the ground (they are a indigenous to Australia so have adapted well to being burned to the grown during forest fires) and will come right back again.
  • Pruned hard every 2-3 years and they will produce lots of new fresh growth which is perfect for floristry.
  • Eucalyptus are evergreen so can be used in winter arrangements.
  • When planting a Eucalyptus in your garden always remember it’s a tree not a bush even though you may keep it low it will have big roots so plant it away from your house or a wall.  
  • Plant in a sheltered place away from cold dry winds as these can put burn marks the leaves. 
  • It can be planted in a planter if you have a small garden, it will restrict its growth but it may grow enough for your flower arranging  


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.


Sussex Silver

Ozothamus Sussex Silver or Silver Sussex is an evergreen shrub that has silvery-grey foliage and tiny white flowers in early summer. 

Sussex Silver gives a wonderful texture to all floral designs

Its silver green/grey hues work really well with most flower colours.

Because it doesn’t go brown but dries rather than dies, it is a great choice for door wreaths and Christmas displays.

Sussex silver does get a small flower which again adds great texture to any designs in early sunmmer

  • Plant in a sheltered site in full sun
  • Sussex Silver likes a moist but well drained soil ,
  • Cutting it back hard after blooming will reinvigorate it giving you more to cut for flower arranging.
  • Sussex silver is a great summer foliage to use when other foliage is growing and not as readily available  




Elaeagnus is another  really versatile shrub to grow.  These is over fifty varieties of it to choose from

  • The evergreen & variegated varieties provide bright colours even in a winter and with their slightly silver backed leaves provide texture to an arrangement.
  • The Variegated variety could nearly be mistaken for variegated holly in Christmas displays (from a distance) and works so well with Autumnal colours too.
  • Elaeagnus is grow best in full sun.
  • Elaeagnus are tough plants, they do prefer well-drained soil but can cope with a range of soil types, including dry soil. 

Other Foliage’s that we like to us also.

 We have just listed a few of our favourite foliage to grow in your garden but of course there is many many more fantastic shrubs and trees you could plant or maybe you already have in your garden, here’s a small list of just a few more.


  • Rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis
  • Skimmia
  • Euonymus
  • Fatisa / Aralia
  • Privet  
  • Laurel

Preparing Your Foliage for Flower Arranging 

Be selective on what you cut off the plant and do this a few hours before you are going to arranging them.

Fill your buckets with fresh water which contains cut flower nutrient.

Recut foliage when placing in the water making sure  to remove any leaves below the water line as they would causes bacterial build up.

Then before you use them leave your stems to drink for a few hours in a cool dark place, this way your foliage will last longer.