Saturday, April 22, 2023

Spring’s Finest: Leucospermum – Pincushions

From the vibrant yellow blooms of High Gold to the soft, golden-peach hues of Brandi dela Cruz and the bright tri-color shades (red, orange + yellow) of Erubescens, we are falling for these classic spring-Leucospermum (and many more) all over again this season.

These prolific plants deliver breathtaking living color in the fields from March through June. The textural blooms are formed mainly with long, sprout-like structures that end in a round knob called a pollen presenter. Together, the mass of styles looks a lot like pins bristling from a “pincushion”, a similarity that has given rise to the popular name for this genus.

Leucospermum includes some forty-eight species as well as several new hybrids. Unlike flowers of the genus Protea, which rely on their showy bracts for visual appeal, Leucospermum put all their art into the colors of the flowers themselves as well as the flowing shape of each curving component.

Inspired by this fanciful protea and ready to grow your own? Here are a few tips:
  • Leucospermum flourish in full-sun exposure with good air movement around the plants. 
  • When transplanting, set plants into the soil at the same level that they were in the container. 
  • Plant on a mound or slope to promote excellent drainage in soil that is slightly acidic. 
  • Mulch to conserve water but keep mulch free of the crown of the plant. 
  • Water regularly until plants are established. 
  • Protect from frost.

When harvested, Leucospermum are stunning when displayed in a vase on their own, or mixed with more traditional flowers like roses, tulips, ranunculus, snapdragons and more.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The Waratah

The Waratah or Telopea is one of Australia’s most iconic flowers and one of the most spectacular members of the Protea Family. While there are many different species, Telopea speciosissima or more commonly known as the New South Wales waratah, is the most recognizable.

The name Waratah, an Aboriginal name for “beautiful” comes from the Eora people, the original inhabitants of the Sydney area. The botanical term for this flower is perfect, seeing that the blooms are big and visible from far away... Telopea which comes from the Greek word “Telepos” literally means “seen from afar”. Anyone who has seen a waratah in the field would agree with the appropriateness of the name.

The round, crimson blooms, razor green leaves and long stems are truly a standout in the field during the springtime. Each waratah flower is comprised of a group or cluster of flowers. Exactly how many depends on the species… ranging from as few as 10 to as many as 240 individual flowers, surrounded by a circle of delicate floral bracts.

When buying Waratah look for:
  1. Choose blooms with 1/2 of the flowers or styles open. 
  2. Avoid blooms with drooping bracts or leaves.

Flower Care:
  1.  Keep cool. 
  2. Strip leaves from the bottom half of each stem. 
  3. Re-cut at least ¼” off the stems and place in cool water. 
  4. Replace water frequently.

With its stunning crimson-red blooms and lush, dark green foliage, Waratah are stunning focal flowers when showcased in spring bouquets and arrangements.