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The information presented on this page was originally released on January 11, 1999. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Personalize The Decorations With Homegrown Flowers
By Jamie Vickers
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Convert a hobby into a money-saving opportunity by using homegrown flowers and greenery for wedding decorations.
"One of the best ways to make a wedding personal and keep the cost down is to grow your own flowers," said Norman Winter, Extension horticulturist with Mississippi State University.
"Growing flowers for a wedding is particularly convenient for June weddings," Winter said. "Even if some flowers such as roses are planted in January, there should be a good number of blooms by June."
Shasta daisies are good perennials which bloom well by June. Black-eyed Susans are also available, and these come in several varieties. One popular variety for 1999 is Indian Summer, which has softball-sized flowers.
Hydrangeas are showy cut flowers that bloom in pink, blue or other modified colors. They are also easily grown at home. When arranging cut hydrangeas, moisture stays in the flower if the tip of the stem is burned.
"Roses are always a wedding favorite," Winter said. "They usually peak around Mother's Day, but a good flush of blooms from hybrid teas and florabundas occur every few weeks."
Roses grow and bloom throughout the summer until the first freeze, and growing them at home cuts costs significantly.
Engagements of two years or more allow time for a greater variety and more mature plants to be grown. With proper care, older plants yield more blooms.
Zinnias are versatile and easily homegrown for weddings. They may be found in all sizes, shapes and colors, and they vary from single petal to dahlia-type flowers.
"Zinnias come in almost every color imaginable," Winter said. "They are carefree-type plants for spring and early summer, but they can grow any time that it is not freezing weather."
For a fall wedding, flowers may be grown in the spring and summer then dried. The dried bouquets and arrangements look natural in the fall.
"To air-dry flowers, cut them when the dew is gone and remove the leaves," Winter said. "Tie several stems together with string or pipe cleaner and hang them in a cool, dry, dark and well-ventilated place."
Use most flowers just as they are after drying, but strawflowers and a few others need wire stems for support in bouquets. The colors may change slightly as the flowers dry.
In the winter, cut stems of redbuds, ornamental peaches or plums, magnolias and cherries. These stems may be forced to bloom as they do in the spring by placing them in a hot water treatment.
Some camellias with bold flowers and dark green foliage are good choices from November through spring. There are several forms in all colors, shapes and sizes.
"If you do not feel comfortable arranging the cut flowers for the wedding, local garden clubs have talented members and florists in the area may arrange your flowers for a fee," Winter said.
Other ways to minimize florist costs is to use flowers that are in season at the time of the wedding, flowers that are locally grown, and any flowers other than lilies, stephanotis and roses.
To cut the cost of these expensive flowers in half, substitute carnations and daisies, or grow your own roses. Florists may substitute bouvardia which is not as fragrant but is fuller than stephanotis, and it could cut half the cost.
Weddings around the Christmas season are usually more practical and cost less because churches and reception areas are already decorated for the season.
Another way to cut spending on decorations, depending on the place and time of the wedding, is coordinate with other brides to use the same arrangements for more than one wedding on the same day or weekend.