Drying & Crafts

BEYOND BLOSSOMS: Fresh + Dried Grasses, Herbs & Vegetables

Expanding Your Floral Design Menu

Whether you're growing flowers for use in fresh-cut or dried floral design, traditional blooms provide just one form of material. Ornamental grasses, grains, herbs, and even a few vegetables can become important components in a diversified flower business. These crops yield up a wealth of useful plant material that can be reliably produced on an annual basis. They can be used to substitute for or to augment other types of interesting focal-point and filler materials that are cut from the landscape, such as woody plants, rushes, sedges, cones, and berries.

Here are a few recommendations for herbs, grasses, and vegetable varieties you can grow as additions to your floral menu.

Herbs • For Texture & Scent

Herbs can be useful in both fresh and dried floral designs, crafts, and other value-added products, providing texture or shape or scent or color.

Some are more appropriate for cutting than others, however, by virtue of certain features: perhaps they have the stem length or vase life needed for fresh cuts, or do not turn brown when dried. Basil, for example, is available in numerous attractive cultivars, but only a few have the vase life to make them candidates for arrangements. The same is true for sage.

The flowers of 'Ellagance Purple' lavender retain their intense, deep violet-blue, and are borne abundantly atop large, dense spikes of silver-green that hold up well for crafts and arrangements. Other herbs are rich in the essential oils that produce the finest potpourri, sachets, or other aromatherapeutic products.

These are some other highly recommended herb varieties that provide texture and scent.

1. Basil
Aromatic; adds color contrast.
2. Bouquet Dill
Good yields; versatile.
3. Echinacea
Easy to grow, easy to harvest.
4. Garlic Chives
Good-looking and sturdy bouquet element.
5. Wild Marjoram
Use fragrant, pinky-purple flowers fresh or dried.
Grasses & Grains • Lend Movement & Contrast

Ornamental grasses add movement and contrast to fresh flower bouquets. Two of the best are Panicum 'Frosted Explosion', with its airy, sparkly plumes, and Pennisetum 'Purple Majesty', with its award-winning, statuesque spikes.

Millet, barley, wheat, and rye can be used fresh and dried. Several inexpensive cover crop varieties are also attractive enough to be used in floral design, or you can grow specially selected varieties from the Ornamental Grasses in our flower section.

1. Six-row Barley
Thick, golden, 6-rowed spikes with long, attractive awns.
2. Purple Majesty Pennisetum
Tyrian purple spikes tower above richly wrapped culms.
3. Winter Rye
Hardy, with durable, graceful stalks.
4. Triticale Silver Tip Wheat
Sturdy glumes and awns of diverse colors and lengths.
5. Millet
Fluid panicles on strong, upright stems.

Ornamental Vegetables • An Element of Surprise

As cut flowers, artichokes and cardoon lend an unusual form as a statement. A wide array of peppers can also be grown for cutting and drying materials for arrangements. Many customers who buy cut flowers in summer will be looking to purchase pumpkins, gourds, broom corn, and specialty squash for decorative purposes in fall.

Here is a small sampling of types and varieties to try.

Get Creative

Whether you're supplying customers in the floral industry or providing the means to your own creative ends, you can plant and grow an ample supply of both fresh-cut flowering plants and dried materials of diverse types. See our additional recommendations and instructions in Air-Drying Cut Flowers and other plant materials for arrangements and crafts.