When you’re looking for a dramatic wedding bouquet, desk arrangement or bouquet, tropical flowers make an unusual and contemporary display with a real wow factor. Typically tall, with enormous flowers and very vivid colours, they have some major advantages over more traditional alternatives like roses, tulips, daffodils and carnations.
Many florists now import and stock tropical plants so, though they tend to cost a little more, prices are becoming more affordable through competition. Also check out the number of specialist suppliers on the internet, many of which will deliver direct. And there’s more good news. With this amount of drama and the sheer size of the flower heads, you need only one or two stems to create an amazing display. Your tropical arrangements will fast becoming a focal talking point.
These large, often quite fleshy petals also give you the benefit of their longevity and hardiness. With a bit of care, they will last for around one month … rather than the few days that some more delicate, widely available flowers stay in top condition for. They are therefore an ideal gift when going to a dinner party.
Bird of paradise – or to give them their proper, scientific name of strelitzia – these look for all the world like a tropical bird stopping in at a banana leaf. This is perhaps the most sought after and flashy of all the tropical flowers now available. What looks like the head of the bird is often a deep, rich violet while the other petals, looking like wings, are often yellow or orange. They can be grown throughout countries with a Mediterranean climate but originate in southern Africa. More and more florists now stock these as a cut flower, with their tall, towering stems and simply stunning single flower. Use them sparingly: one stem will be enough to dominate an arrangement.
Heliconias – picture a rainforest floor studded with red, fleshy flowers, or a tropical garden brimming with hummingbirds, and you’ll have a good clue about the heliconia. These make great cut plants though you may mistake the petals of some species for red or dusky pink leaves. They can have a yellow outline too. Seek out varieties such as Heliconia wagneriana or Heliconia pendula.
Hibiscus – These are a show stopper, with glorious colours, a more delicate kind of petal and an extremely long pollen-bearing central stigma. They can be pastels or white, through pinks, reds and oranges and a violet colour that is almost blue in hue. This is the national flower of Malaysia, and a bloom worn by women in Tahiti. They also grow naturally in India and China.
Orchids – though there are lots of rare collectors of orchids, and they’re often viewed as almost extinct and solely tropical, orchids are actually amongst the most widespread flower in the plant kingdom. There are between twenty and twenty-six thousand recognised species, but its the rare tropical blooms that command the high prices. Small, less fleshy and more delicate, they are highly sought after for corsages and wedding bouquets. But don’t be fooled by the dainty appearance of the pastel shaded orchid. They can last well over a month when cut. Choose from variegated flowers, purples, pure whites, oranges and practically every shade or pink and red.
Protea – really here you only need a single flower in any kind of bouquet or arrangement. They’re that big. The sensational variation, with 83 different species. From Southern Africa, they have fleshy petals and large cones. Often called sugarbushes, they have a wide range of colours including golds, purples and cream. Sometimes the petals curl in, giving the large flowerhead almost an artichoke appearance.