Decorating & Design

June 7, 2016

How To Dress Up Garden Center Flowers

Faced with a sea of red geraniums, sometimes it’s hard to get inspired by big-box floral departments when planting containers. The equivalent of a grocery store bouquet, these garden centers are convenient and budget friendly, but the plants can be an overwhelming mishmash as well as somewhat predictable (does anyone crave a hanging planter full of begonias?). With help from florist Maija Reisenauer of Hello Midge Flower Studio in Toronto’s east end, you can look beyond the everyday annuals to create containers with professional grade polish. Maija offers three scenarios for container plantings that no one would suspect came from a hardware or grocery store.



Style: Romantic & Vibrant
Display Tips: “Play up the gradations with a trio of hydrangeas to lend an ombre effect, for example, dark purple fading to hot pink then soft pastel pink,” notes Maija. “For an instant English garden vibe, underplant with ivy.”
Care Instructions: Hydrangeas are thirsty: this soil helps retain moisture to cut down on watering, and add aluminum sulfate to water to keep buds true blue, or garden lime for pink and fuchsia. Transplant the shrubs into a bed in fall if you have space.



Style: Eclectic & Quirky
Display Tips: “Break them up into different planters and display en masse. Different heights, styles and materials in groupings are key,” notes Maija. Use succulents on a small space or balcony to introduce visual interest with a variety of plants with sculptural shapes.
Care Instructions: Succulents need well drained soil and gravel. They require watering only once a week and can withstand neglect as long as they are out of direct sunlight.



Style: Lush & Modern
Display Tips: Put the focus on the leaves, not flowers by contrasting lacy fern fronds and tall Sansevieria (or snake plant) spikes. Neither plant requires a lot of light, so this container is a good option for shady city gardens or front porches. “Make the green leaves really pop by buying or spray-painting planters in a bright, fun color,” Maija suggests.
Care Instructions: Both plants are easy care but have different moisture requirements (concentrate watering around the periphery of the container near the fern rhizomes, snake plants need less). You may want to separate plants if over wintering indoors.

Author: Wendy Jacob

Illustrations by Philipp Boltz