Greenery Options for Floral Design
We love using lush greenery in our arrangements. The perfect greenery elements can make or break a design. We try to incorporate at least one foraged ingredient in our designs, and often we forage greenery. When foraging, make sure to get permission before cutting. New ingredients are great! If you see something that looks beautiful that you haven’t used before, test it out by snipping a sprig a week or so before your event. Test how long the foliage lasts both in and out of water.
Here is a list of our go-to types of greenery. We are in Maryland, zone 6b.
Autumn Clematis - As the name denotes, autumn clematis can be found growing wild in the fall. The clouds of tiny white blooms add such whimsy to an arrangement. Keep them in water!
Bittersweet Berries - Also foraged in the late summer and early fall. The berries are yellow on funkily shaped vines. They can be found growing up the trunks of tall trees and brush in wooded areas. As the season progresses, the yellow exteriors of the berries will crack revealing the red centers.
Boxwood - This evergreen shrub is one of our winter staples. If cutting, be careful not to take too much from one bush at a time. You can also order from the wholesaler.
Bradford Pear Tree - Another foraged favorite. Bradford pears are invasive in our area, and their slightly waxy leaves with brownish berries hold up really well, even out of water.
Bush Ivy - This can be foraged all year and can be ordered in bulk from wholesalers. Look for green ivy growing up the trunks of big trees. It is easily spotted in winter when it is the only green around. It holds up great out of water and has cool berries in Fall.
Camellia - Camellia foliage is our favorite green to buy from the wholesaler. Its dark green foliage looks fresh and elegant year-round. Make sure to order it in “bales” which are huge bunches.
Dogwood - There are few things in life more elegant than a big flowering branch of dogwood. In our area, dogwood trees can even be found growing wild in the woods.
Dusty Miller - The soft, silver-blue leaves are perfect for some aesthetics, but its wilty tendencies make it tricky to work with. We prefer to buy ours locally, but it can be shipped from wholesalers.
Eucalyptus - There are so many varieties of eucalyptus. Autumn Eucalyptus or Eucalyptus Stuartiana is my all-time favorite. Though it’s tricky to source, its soft green/purple/red hues are mouthwatering. Acacia foliage is a good substitute. I was just introduced to growers in California, Resendiz Brothers, who offer a beautiful selection of eucalyptus. Our local flower farmer also grows some beautiful Euc.
Fern - We order all types of fern year round. It can also be foraged. Be sure to forage late in the season when the stems are almost as firm as sticks so that it will hold up. Japanese Painted Fern is cool if you can find it.
Grasses - I know these aren’t greens but if you have access to a meadow, forage some grasses of whatever you can find. A few stalks of wild grass add such whimsy.
Herbs - We use SO MANY HERBS in our designs. Some of my favorites are sage, mint, lavender, the dark purple basil, and nasturtium. Oregano ‘Kent Beauty’ is stunning. It is best to buy herbs locally and in-season, but many will also ship well.
Heuchera - These fat leaves with their subtle coloring make such an impact. I buy whole Heuchera plants from our local garden center, cut from them for an event and then plant them in my yard. The plants will grow back each year, but mine seem to get sickly. You can often set up a “Contractor Account” at garden centers to get better pricing.
Hydrangea Foliage - Late in the season we harvest our hydrangea foliage like crazy. It offers serious coverage and sometimes gets beautifully bi-colored. Be careful not to use hydrangea foliage early in the season because it is very quick to wilt. If you don’t have hydrangea bushes of your own, check with your local growers.
Lemon Leaf Salal - We order salal from the wholesaler, and it is definitely one of our staples.
Leucadendron - If you are working with a ‘Marsala’ color pallet, Leucadendron can be a nice addition. They sometimes read a little orangey though so make sure to have your wholesaler send a photo before shipping.
Liquidambar Branches - We order these branches from the wholesaler in Fall when we want bright fall colors. You can also just ask your wholesaler what branches they have available during the autumn season.
Nandina - Our local flower farmer sells huge bundles of nandina that we love! Its delicate leaves and beautiful fall colors make nandina one of my favorites.
Plumosa - The bright green, feathery foliage is excellent to use when smilax is unavailable. Beware of thorns.
Poke Weed - We forage pokeweed in early summer when leaves are plump and berries are green with bright pink stems. Use caution: berries are poisonous, and once the berries turn deeply colored, they stain like crazy.
Porcelain Berry - These vines of turquoise and purple berries are stunning. Porcelain berry is invasive and can be found growing wild over fences and trees in the early to mid-fall.
Privet Foliage - This is one of the first bushes to green up in the spring, and we forage the heck out of it.
Ruscus - Another good sub for smilax. Order from your wholesaler. It can last days out of water and is perfect in garlands.
Russian Olive or Elaeagnus - This silvery green shrub grows wild here. It is easy to spot when the wind blows - just look for silver leaves. We find that it is in best shape early in the season. Bugs seem to chew it up by the end of the summer.
Saucer Magnolia - I have a poor magnolia tree in my yard that I just can’t leave alone. The blooms in the spring are fleeting, but the foliage is excellent year-round.
Scented Geranium - I always order from our local farmer and have NOT had good luck having it shipped in. Chocolate and lime scented geranium are my favorites.
Smilax - this vine probably doesn’t need an introduction. We order ours from East Texas Smilax. A bag of smilax can densely cover half of our arch and costs between $175-$200.
Viburnum Dentatum - Can be ordered from the wholesaler (although generally, you will only get the black berries), or bought from a local farm or foraged if you are lucky. Forage early in the season because the birds love the berries. I am addicted to the gorgeous early fall chartreuse of the foliage.