10 Tips for Creating Successful Patio Pot Combinations

Here at the farm, we have created plant combinations for plenty of patio pots over the years. Here are some of our staff’s top tips to help you plant yours:

1. First, wait until all danger of frost has passed.

If you live in a region with a cool climate, wait until all danger of frost has passed before potting your containers with summer and fall favorites.

2. Corral your containers.

Take a few minutes to note the size, style, and color of each pot. Sometimes they are the best inspiration for which plants to put inside them.

3. Set each pot in the place it will be displayed & determine the sun exposure.

Once you have sited each pot, note the hours of direct sun it will receive per day. Is it in full sun (6+ hours of direct sunlight per day), part shade (3-4 hours of direct sunlight), or full shade (reflected light only with little to no direct sun)? Knowing each pot’s exposure is key to selecting plants that will thrive in it.

4. Survey each pot’s surroundings.

Observe what is around and behind each container. If it’s in front of a structure such as a house, garage, or fence, what style and color is the structure? If it’s on a terrace, what color are the shrubs and trees behind it? These considerations may help you choose a color palette and style for each combination you create. Also note the angles from which your container will be viewed. Will the pot and its plants be seen from all sides or just one or two vantage points?

5. Consider the formula of 3.

Many successful container combos are created using 3 types of plants:

  • The thriller will be the tallest or showiest plant in the mix
  • The filler will ‘fill’ the middle space
  • The spiller will cascade over the side of the pot, softening its lines and adding another dimension to your display

(Not all combos must adhere to the formula of 3, but it’s generally a helpful starting place.)

6. Choose a style & color palette for each combo.

Keeping in mind the styles and colors of your containers, your house, and/or other background elements, aim for a planting style and select your plant color palette.

  • Will you choose a style that is classic or minimalist? Formal or bohemian? Meadow or cottage garden?
  • When it comes to colors, do you prefer pastels, hot hues, two-tone schemes (such as green and white), or a mix?

7. Don’t forget foliage.

Flowering plants tend to get the most attention, but of equal importance are the foliage plants that provide solid colors, beguiling patterns, and/or superb texture. These plants generally flatter and support their flowering fellows, but foliage plants can also achieve star status. Some of our favorites include: Canna Lilies, Begonias (such as ‘Gryphon,’ shown above on the left), Coleus (a red variety shown above on the right), Grasses, and Sedums.

8. Fill your containers with potting mix.

At the farm, we fill our containers with a blend of 2/3 potting soil and 1/3 compost. (You can pour both directly into a pot and mix them up or use a wheelbarrow or large trug as a mixing bowl to create a bigger batch.) If a container is especially large, we might put a few inches of mulch in the bottom. This helps promote drainage and requires less potting soil.

9. Don’t overcrowd your plants.

As you’re selecting plants for each container, keep in mind that they need room to grow and spread over the course of the season. Give each plant some elbow room so it can size up and put on its best performance.

10. Take care of your container combos.

  • Watering: Check your pots regularly to ensure adequate moisture. Keep in mind that some containers, such as terracotta pots, are porous and water will evaporate more quickly, requiring more frequent watering.
  • Fertilizing: Feed most annuals and ornamentals periodically with a blossom-booster such as our All-Bloom Fertilizer.
  • Pinching: Trim or pinch back plants to keep them in proportion to their pot mates.

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Need help or inspiration? Our customer service staff is always happy to help with plant suggestions. You can find them at custserv@whiteflowerfarm.com. Many of our customers also rely on our Annual Container Garden Designs (which do the design and horticultural homework for you).

Happy Spring! And Happy Potting!

Help Us Trial the Organic Fertilpot

White Flower Farm is making continual, concerted efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, eliminate nonbiodegradable waste, and prioritize sustainability across all areas of our company. To date, these efforts have included installing a solar array to heat our greenhouses and offices; avoiding use of pesticides by adopting integrated pest management (IPM) methods; using RootShield Plus, an EPA-registered, OMRI-listed biological fungicide to prevent root diseases; potting our plants in soil that contains beneficial mycorrhizae and bacteria; replacing plastic and foam packaging materials with paper and biodegradable options; and exploring paperless options for packing slips.

Plastic pot on right and organic, OMRI-listed, 100% biodegradable Fertilpot on left.

A significant next step in our process is to make the switch from plastic plant pots to organic, biodegradable ones. In service to this aim, we last year began trials of the Fertilpot, an organic, OMRI-listed, 100 percent biodegradable plant pot. Fertilpots are made from the natural fibers of Spruce trees (Picea abies), and they are manufactured without glues or binders. Fertilpots are plantable. (They go into the ground with the plant.) This spring, for the first time, we are shipping a limited number of plants in Fertilpots to our customers. If you receive a Fertilpot, we would be most grateful for your feedback. With your help, we hope soon to be growing and shipping most, if not all, of our plants in organic, biodegradable pots.

Top 5 reasons to use Fertilpots:

  1. They’re plantable.
  2. They’re good for the environment.
  3. They’re easy to take care of.
  4. There’s no waste.
  5. They’re OMRI approved (certified organic).

Fertilpots may also benefit the plants that are in them by reducing the stress of transplantation. When a plant is potted in a Fertilpot, there is no need to separate it from its pot. When plants are in plastic, roots can get matted and require teasing apart. At transplant time, some roots may get torn or broken, which can cause the plant some stress. The Fertilpot eliminates this stress.

The roots of a Fuchsia are seen growing through the fiber of a Fertilpot. Gardeners need not remove the Fuchsia from the pot. It goes straight into the ground with the plant, reducing stress on the plant at the time of transplantation.

Trialing biodegradable pots at White Flower Farm:

  • Our previous trials have included wood fiber pots and coconut coir pots, but many don’t biodegrade quickly enough for plants to thrive.
  • This spring’s trial of Fertilpots is our first to involve customers. We are shipping some annuals and vegetables in the biodegradable pots.
  • Please note that if you ordered multiple plants for spring delivery, any that are in Fertilpots will ship alongside plants in plastic. Because this remains a trial period for the Fertilpot, customers may not request to have all their plants shipped in Fertilpots.
  • A separate package insert with tips on how to care for and plant annuals or vegetables in Fertilpots will be included with each order that contains one.
  • Fertilpots will be shipped in a fiber (not plastic) tray. This may absorb some moisture during transit.
  • Our trials are continuing as we learn how the pots stand up to handling, shipping, and planting, and how they perform as the plant begins to grow over the course of its first season. Your feedback in all of these areas is essential and will be key to helping us make the transition away from plastic pots.
  • If you receive a plant in a Fertilpot this spring, and if you have a few minutes to tell us about your experience with it, we would be most grateful. Please contact our Customer Service Team via email at custserv@whiteflowerfarm.com or by calling 800-503-9624.


What do I do if I can’t plant my Fertilpot plants right away?

Most important is to hold your plants in a shady, cool area (not in full sun). A garage or basement works well. Do not hold the plants indoors, as they tend to dry out faster. It can help to group the pots close together (i.e., touching each other) so they retain moisture and retain their shape. Do not hydrate the pots in a pan of water.

At what level do I position the pot in the soil?

Plant the pot at the level of the soil in the pot. It’s okay for part of the pot to stick up out of the soil. The part of the pot sticking up can be torn away for aesthetic reasons, but this is not necessary for the success of the planting.

Are the roots coming through the pots as strong as roots in plastic pots?

The roots penetrating the Fertilpots are vigorous.

What if I see mold on the pot?

Don’t panic. We had it tested by the Experiment Station in Connecticut and it was found to be harmless. Simply plant the pot in the soil. The ground (with its own pathogens and fungi) will naturally take care of it.

Thank you for being part of our Fertilpot trials and for helping us move closer to sustainability!




What to Do for Your Plants When Temperatures Plunge

For many, this winter has been characterized by abnormally mild temperatures punctuated by sudden and sometimes severe cold spells. These swings in temperature can be rough on plants. This is especially true when there is no snow cover. (Snow serves as a blanket to keep plants in the consistently cool and dark conditions that encourage and perpetuate dormancy.) Warm days when there is little to no snow may cause the ground to thaw. The sun’s rays and warming soil signal to plants that spring has arrived, even if the calendar says otherwise. Early flowering plants such as Hellebores, Snowdrops (Galanthus), Crocuses, Daffodils, and Tulips may begin poking up their heads and producing leaves and buds way ahead of schedule. What to do? Here at the farm, our garden staff tends to allow Nature to take its course, but here is some advice from our gardening experts:

  • Hellebores, which are generally the first perennials to flower as spring begins to stir, can handle some fluctuations in temperature, especially if you leave their winter-burned foliage in place to serve as a jacket. (Prune away the brown foliage after bunches of buds appear and spring temperatures begin to assert themselves.)


  • Daffodils are tough early bloomers. Foliage that emerges too soon may get frostbit at the tips but the plants will generally rally and produce their flowers on cue as spring arrives.


  • Several years ago, our Tulip trial garden endured a polar vortex plunge. The plants, many of them already in bud, wilted and sagged terribly in the cold and some stems and leaves developed a desperate watery look, but because the extreme cold was of relatively short duration (less than 24 hours), the plants made it through and were that much more beautiful when they blossomed.


  • For particularly exposed or vulnerable plants (or if you feel you must do something), consider covering them with a layer of Oak leaves and/or Pine boughs. Both serve to trap in some of the cold, which keeps plants dormant until spring. At that point, remove the leaves or boughs and enjoy your blossoms.


  • Some gardeners recommend mulching plants in advance of a temperature plunge to provide protection, but beware: Mulch is as good at trapping in heat as it is protecting from the cold. If you mulch after unseasonably warm days, your plants may continue to grow in what they perceive to be cozy conditions.


  • For larger specimens, such as early flowering shrubs and fruit trees whose buds have begun to swell, burlap or old bedsheets may be gently tossed over them to get them through a sudden cold snap, but beware of doing this in high winds, which could result in breakage.


  • Do not touch plants that have been subject to extreme cold. The frozen tissue of leaves and stems is especially vulnerable to damage. Keep your hands away and hope the plants recover naturally as temperatures rise.



Over the Rainbow: The Wide World of Iris

A breadth of colors is likely to explain why certain plants are called Iris, a term deriving from the Greek word for “rainbow.” (The ancient Greek goddess of the rainbow was also given this moniker.) With the profusion of colors found in cultivated varieties of Tall Bearded Iris alone, it is not difficult to explain the association between these flowering plants and the spectacular spectrum that stretches across the sky.

Beyond color variety, however, there is an even larger world in which Iris demonstrate an array of shapes, forms, habits, and idiosyncrasies. Follow along as we explore this diversity, with the hope it may inspire a greater appreciation of a remarkable genus.

Understanding Iris

To set the stage for the genus Iris, which comprises almost 300 species, it helps to step back to view it within the wider context of its botanical family. The Iris family (Iridaceae) includes 64 other genera also known as “Irids” — brothers and sisters, if you will, of our beloved Iris. The family tree contains well-known siblings like Crocus, Freesia, and Gladiolus, plus a plethora of lesser-known relations, from Aristea to Zygotritonia. With such an extensive family, it may be easier to understand why Iris species manifest such a variety of characteristics.

The American Iris Society, the world’s registrar for Iris, upholds some essential classifications to help make sense of this broad genus. One of the simplest groupings depends upon the structure of the plants’ underground parts where nutrients are stored. Some of the most well-known Iris grow from rhizomes — modified stems that grow horizontally in the soil and send out roots and shoots from nodes. Examples of rhizomatous Iris include the flamboyant Tall Bearded Iris (Iris germanica) and flat-flowered Siberian Iris (I. sibirica). Other Iris come from bulbs, just as Tulips and Daffodils do. Some bulbous species are Dwarf Iris (I. reticulata) and Dutch Iris (I. hollandica). A final category includes plants with fleshy roots, such as Juno Iris, a subgenus comprising multiple species.

A more technical classification method, which can make identifying Iris varieties easier at a glance, is based on floral structure — specifically, whether a fuzzy “beard” is present on the flowers’ lower petals, called “falls.” Bearded Iris and Beardless Iris both have their own unique types. A couple of other categories are of special interest to botanists (and will not be highlighted here). Perhaps of more relevance to gardeners are the informal groups organized around Iris characteristics of horticultural value, such as reblooming, unusual foliage, and historical status.

Flight of Floral Forms

Iris flowers are not just extraordinary for their range of colors. They are also structurally stunning — from showy Tall Bearded Iris flowers with their billowing standards (upright petals), lavish falls, and textured beards to the distinctly prostrate, beardless blossoms of Siberian Iris and Japanese Iris (I. ensata). To create a sequence of bloom in the garden, pair the June-flowering Tall Beaded Iris and Siberian Iris with Japanese Iris, which blossom slightly later. The examples below illustrate the possibility of a prolonged period of bloom with a procession of varying shapes and forms.

Iris germanica ‘Champagne Elegance’

The muted shades of bicolored Tall Bearded Iris ‘Champagne Elegance’ invite us to focus a bit more on the graceful cadence and delicate ruffles of the ivory standards and palest orange falls. This prolific bloomer carries 7–10 buds per stem. It is also a favorite example of Reblooming Iris, a type that may, in favorable conditions, send forth a second round of flowers in late summer.

Iris chrysographes black-flowered

Iris chrysographes black-flowered, a kind of Siberian Iris, is stunning for its deep reddish violet blooms that appear as dark as night. It is also called the “Gold-Marked Iris” (literal meaning of chrysographes) for the fine pattern of golden tracery at the top of the falls. With a trio of standards much smaller in ratio to the falls, as well as three prominent “style arms” among the standards, this beardless blossom has quite a contrasting countenance to that of its relation above.

Iris ensata ‘Loyalty’

The luxuriant purple flowers of Japanese Iris ‘Loyalty’ measure almost 8” across. Unlike the former two blooms, this one is noteworthy for the six equally sized petals that cascade in unison from the base of three modest, upright style arms. ‘Loyalty’ adds individual flair with bright yellow striping that emanates from the petal throats, accentuating the detailed, blue-violet veining across the petals themselves.

Beyond Blooms

While the flowers alone point to great diversity within the Iris genus, there are other characteristics that set it apart. Two of them include growth habit and leaf color.

Iris cristata ‘Eco Bluebird’

This dwarf variety of Crested Iris (Iris cristata), ‘Eco Bluebird,’ is praiseworthy for more than just its lilac-blue flowers that bloom in mid-spring and are attractive to hummingbirds. Reaching only 6-8” tall, it makes a perfect ground cover in a wide range of soil conditions.

Iris pallida ‘Variegata Aurea’

Iris pallida ‘Variegata Aurea,’ a variegated variety of Sweet Iris, is a favorite for lavender blooms that happen to possess the unforgettable scent of grapes. But this plant could also be grown simply for its foliage. The golden striped leaves beautifully echo the yellows of companion plants and appear to be aglow when backlit by sunshine.

No matter why you decide to plant Iris in your garden, one thing is certain. There are manifold reasons to add members of this genus to your collection of plants. Indeed, the infinite variation of Iris may be the pot of gold at the rainbow’s end.

A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas (properly called Lathyrus odoratus) are one of the great plants for cutting, and they provide irresistible colors and fragrance for spring and early summer bouquets. The delicate flowers are available in a wide range of rich colors, and they scent the air with grapelike perfume. To help those who have never grown Sweet Peas in a garden or a container pot, we asked our nursery manager, Barb Pierson, to offer a bit of advice. Her tips will help any novice or green thumb enjoy a bountiful crop of these beautiful flowers.

Why do people grow Sweet Peas?

Sweet Peas are grown for their beautiful ruffled flowers in shades of pastels, blues, and bi-colors. Many varieties are fragrant making them a desirable cut flower. Sweet Peas have a long history of cultivation and breeding for both the home gardener and the florist trade.

Sweet Pea ‘Zinfandel’

How do I go about growing Sweet Peas?

Sweet Peas can be grown from seed and sown directly in the ground after a seed treatment or, more easily, from a started plant. Here at White Flower Farm, we sow 3 seeds per pot to produce 3 growing Sweet Pea vines.

Where do I plant them and when?

Sweet Peas enjoy full sun in the northern half of the US. In the South, they can benefit from afternoon shade. They like cool roots and cool temperatures so they are planted as early as possible in the spring. A light frost will not harm newly planted seedlings. In very warm areas, they can be planted in the fall and grown through the winter and early spring. For best results, add compost to the soil and check that the area is well drained. Raised beds can be a good way to grow Sweet Peas.

Sweet Pea ‘Cherie Amour’

Do they need any special care while they are growing?

Because Sweet Peas are vining, they need support to grow up and flower. Many types of structures can work such as a trellis, supports with mesh or twine, or fences. They need a structure that is well anchored in the ground to support the weight of the vines. The plants will form tendrils that wrap around the support you provide.

They like a nutrient-rich soil so adding compost at the time of planting is recommended, and mulching Sweet Peas will keep the roots cool and retain moisture while growing.

Once the plants have grown to about 6” in height, it helps to pinch the growing tips by 1”, which will help the plants branch out and produce more flowering stems.

Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’s Original’

What are the most common mistakes that people make with Sweet Peas?

  • Waiting until mid-summer to plant them – they don’t like the heat and won’t produce flowers as readily
  • Not providing support at the time of planting. It is difficult to add your trellis or support after the plants have started growing
  • Poor soil without adding compost or fertilizer will result in weak plants and fewer flowers
  • Planting Sweet Peas too close together without thinning them can create an environment for powdery mildew and crowding, which reduces flower count

Do Sweet Peas produce pods that you can eat like the ones you find in the grocery store?

Although the seed pods look like Snap Pea pods, they are not edible. You can save the pods and seeds to produce plants for the following year. Keep in mind that the seeds may not produce plants that are the same color as the parent plant.

Will the plants come back again next year?

In most climates, the plants are not hardy through the winter. Even in warm climates, they are re-planted with fresh seed and plants to produce the most flowers and have vigorous growth.

When do they bloom? Are there tips for getting extra blossoms?

Sweet Peas will start blooming approximately 4 -6 weeks after visible vining. Timing of bloom will depend on whether the plants have been pinched back. Pinching may slow growth somewhat, but it will produce bushy plants with more flowers. Sweet Peas will grow and flower faster as the days get longer in spring and early summer. Using compost or dried aged manure will help provide nutrients to produce large abundant flowers. A fertilizer with higher phosphorus than nitrogen can boost flower production as well.

Sweet Pea ‘Cherie Amour’

What is the process for cutting the blooms?

Cut the blooms in the morning before the sun has had time to dehydrate them. Choose freshly opened flowers on the longest stems for your vase. Do not cut the main stem of the plant, just the side flowering stems.

Why should I get my Sweet Peas from White Flower Farm?

Our plants are produced in our greenhouses in spring and are shipped to you at the proper time for planting in your area; no seed treatment or waiting for germination required. We ship our Sweet Peas in 4” pots – each containing 3 fully rooted seedlings – and they arrive ready to go into the ground. This saves you the time and trouble it takes to grow Sweet Peas from seed. Buying and planting our Sweet Pea seedlings is the quickest way to enjoy these fragrant flowers outdoors and in vases in your home.


Looking for Ways To Stretch Your Holiday Budget?

Are you looking to stretch this year’s holiday budget while still giving top quality presents that will delight your recipients? Scroll below for a handful of shopping tips from the elves at White Flower Farm:

Mini Flowering Plants

Our mini flowering houseplants, which come in sets of four (starting at $65), can be divvied up to make four individual gifts. Pictured above are our Mini Orchids in white ceramic cachepots. For more mini plant options, click here for Mini Red Cyclamen in ceramic cachepots, and here for Mini White Cyclamen in glass cachepots.

Bareroot Amaryllis Bulbs

Our premium, large grade, bareroot Amaryllis bulbs start at an affordable $23 per bulb. Wrap up a bareroot bulb and give it along with a printout of our potting tips, or go the DIY route, and pot up a few bulbs yourself to give as gifts. Click here to find a wide variety of Amaryllis varieties, all available as bareroot bulbs.

For an easy guide to potting a bareroot Amaryllis bulb or growing it on pebbles, click here.

Bareroot Paperwhite Bulbs

Buy any single bag of 12 premium bareroot Paperwhite bulbs (starting at $35). Divvy them up and give the bare bulbs as is or do a little DIY project and set a few bulbs atop pebbles in  a hurricane vase or in several smaller glasses or bowls to multiply the number of gifts. Tie a ribbon around the vessels, and you have several great presents that will flower and bring fragrance to any indoor space (and smiles to the faces of your recipients).

For bareroot Paperwhite ‘Ziva’ bulbs, click here.

For bareroot Paperwhite ‘Ariel’ bulbs, click here.

For bareroot Paperwhite ‘Wintersun’ bulbs, click here.

Tabletop Evergreen Quintet

Our Tabletop Evergreen Quintet ($115) includes five different mini plants along with five canvas boxes. The quintet can be divided up to make five individual gifts, each charming, lasting, and easy-care. Click here for the quintet.

Lavender Sachets by the Yard

Our popular, fragrant Lavender Sachets by the Yard ($32) arrive as a single segmented yard of eight fragrant Lavender sachets stitched inside lilac-colored organza fabric. Simply cut apart the segments to create eight great individual gifts or stocking stuffers.

Gifts Priced To Include Standard Shipping

A number of gifts we offer are priced to include standard shipping. From lovely pre-potted bulb gardens to favorite gardening gloves and boots to stylish botanically-themed scarves and our charming new Flower Garden Tea Towel Calendar. All of these gifts make budgeting easier because the shipping charges are already included in the price. For more gifts priced with shipping included, click here.

3-Gift Offers That Include Standard Shipping

Our 3-gift offers are among our bestselling items year after year, mainly because they provide a great value. For starters, choose what type of gift you wish to send: Amaryllis (red, white, pink, or bicolor); pre-potted Bulb Collections; or Citrus Samplers. We’ll send three gifts of your choosing, one to each of three addresses, at a price that includes standard shipping. For all of our 3-gift offers with shipping included, click here.

A White Flower Farm Gift Certificate

A White Flower Farm Gift Certificate never expires, and it invites recipients to choose whatever they might like from our wide array of garden plants, indoor plants, tools and gear, fresh-cut flower bouquets, seasonal decorations, botanically inspired home and garden accents, and more. Our gift certificates start at $25. Those valued at $50 or more receive a 10% discount. We send your recipient a gift certificate along with a copy of our latest catalog. Click here to order.

On behalf of the staff at White Flower Farm, we hope your holiday season is merry and bright!

Favorite Holiday Decorations & Gifts Selected By Our Staff

Need a little help with your holiday shopping this year? Take some inspiration from our staff! We polled a variety of team members about their favorite holiday items, and the responses were just what we hoped – a representation of some of the best of our diverse inventory. Scroll below and enjoy seeing both longtime favorites and new finds singled out for their superior quality as decorations and gifts at holiday time. There is something for everyone! Check out our website for more.

Canella Berry & Cone Table Basket

“This basket rests on our coffee table, generously stuffed with highly scented fresh-cut greens, cones, and berries. It makes for the perfect Christmas morning – the Canella berries gleaming from the light of the fireplace as my two young sons open presents from Santa. Five stars from me!”

~Michaela P., Customer Service Representative

Picnic in Provence Bulb Collection

“Talk about making an impression and being the envy of family and friends! There was great fun watching the bulbs emerge, and then the real show of color exploded into cheerful and enchanting hues of spring. This bulb collection really brightens up a long winter’s day.”

~Tom B., Retail Store Manager

Amaryllis ‘Red Pearl’

“‘Red Pearl’ is absolutely the most velvety, deep red Amaryllis. Hands down my favorite.”

~Pam W., Customer Service Representative

Cretan Candle Lantern

“Whether outside for a summer or fall evening or indoors in the bay window on a winter night, I light a candle in my Cretan lantern throughout the year. It always provides a welcoming glow. A unique, handmade gift that many have enjoyed.”

~Mary A., Product Information Manager


“Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum) is one of my favorite gifts to give (and receive) because it’s unusual, beautiful, and hard to find. The dark green, filigreed vine arrives covered in clusters of pinkish-white buds. They open into small white flowers that release an exotic scent reminiscent of warm, tropical places. In wintertime, it’s pure heaven.”

~Deb H., Senior Writer & Editor

Scandinavian-Style Christmas Tree Quartet

“Small but eye-catching. I love the contemporary yet timeless style. We’re using these charming trees as a centerpiece on our coffee table.”

~Teresa F., Art Director

Spiced Orange Wreath

“This wreath is my favorite holiday item offered this year. Orange is my favorite color, and I remember having an Orange stuffed in the toe of my stocking each year of my childhood.”

~Sheryl M., Customer Service Representative

Mini Orchid Quartet

“I just love Orchids, and nothing is better than sharing them as gifts at the holiday season. This quartet allows for just that. Perfect as teacher gifts and for friends and family, too! Moth Orchids are easy to care for and very cheerful during short winter days.”

~Lorraine C., President

Holly & Greens Runner

“This freshly assembled Noble Fir and Holly runner brings the holidays to your home. Love the enduring, rich evergreen fragrance.”

~Samantha F., Customer Service Representative

Paperwhite ‘Ariel’

“While the end result is spectacular, it’s the process of growing Paperwhites from bulbs to blooms that so endears them to me. The fragrant, slightly earlier-blossoming white trusses of ‘Ariel’ are heavenly. Seeing them develop from humble beginnings is a powerful reminder of the miraculous during this special season.”

~Erica A., Assistant Editor/Writer

Amaryllis ‘Cherry Nymph’

“I love Amaryllis ‘Cherry Nymph’ for sheer petal power. Those bright red double blooms keep coming, brightening up the winter days.”

~Liz Z., E-Commerce Director

Dianthus ‘Little Pink’ Trio

“These adorable Dianthus gift us with a sweet, spicy scent and pretty flowers that last for weeks. The plants come as a set of three, great for a presentation or for giving a couple away as gifts. Don’t forget to keep one for yourself!”

~Caitlin L., Customer Service Representative

Wildflowers Glass Night-Light

“This night-light is more colorful, beautiful, and different than any other I have ever seen. I’m very impressed by the description (on our website) about how the piece is made. The colors are stunning, and I bet they’re even more stunning when it’s lit up in a dark room.”

~Jodie T., Customer Service Representative

Clivia miniata

“This is the sturdiest, longest living flowering plant we sell. Its dark green, glossy foliage always looks great. It is very happy in clay and blooms when you least expect it. A great gift for the plant lover when you are looking for something just a little different.”

~Cheryl D., Nursery Inventory Manager/Buyer

Cape Primrose ‘Grape Ice’

“This cheerful Cape Primrose is the gift that keeps on giving. Perky purple flowers strikingly marked with delicate white throats, veins, and edges keep appearing for months if you remove spent blooms. I’m starting the holiday season by treating myself!”

~Karen B., Senior Horticultural Advisor, Customer Service

Our Staff’s Favorite Tulips for Fall Planting

Here at the farm, we’re in the midst of planting a whole lot of Tulip bulbs for next spring’s displays. If you’ve ever found yourself a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number and variety of Tulips available for planting, we thought a few suggestions might help. We polled about a dozen members of our staff and asked them each to select a favorite. In our humble estimation, their choices could not be better. If you’re looking for a great Tulip or a selection of different ones to add to the spring show in your garden, you would be hard pressed to find better varieties than those highlighted here. You may rely on any of them to bring beauty, color, and joy to your spring garden. (If you wish to also enjoy your Tulips in vases indoors, make sure to plant extra for cutting.)

Tulip ‘Apricot Foxx’

“Tender tones of apricot, raspberry, and honey comingle in the blossoms of Tulip ‘Apricot Foxx.’ You can pair this beauty with almost any other spring bloomer, and it flatters every companion.”

Mary A., Product Information Manager


Tulip ‘Purissima Blonde’

“The variegated foliage stands out in the spring garden. The white blooms and colorful foliage pair well with yellow and white Daffodils. They bloom together in our area. They tend to be more perennial than other Tulips. For great companions try Daffodils ‘Merel’s Favourite’ and ‘Lemon Sailboat.’”

Cheryl D., Nursery Inventory and Merchandise Manager

Tulip ‘Blue Diamond’

“I’ve planted ‘Blue Diamond’ Tulips the last few years and they never fail to elicit excited comments when their double purple flowers are in full bloom. They add a touch of surprise to the garden and mix wonderfully with other pink or white Tulips.”

Tom B., Store Manager

Tulip ‘Prinses Irene’

“Each of these beautiful blossoms is like a painting, the warm orange petals variously flamed and feathered in purple. For an added surprise, the flowers are fragrant. They are stunning on their own or planted amid a sea of Muscari armeniacum and/or Anemone blanda ‘Blue Shades.’”

Deb H., Senior Copywriter

Tulip bakeri ‘Lilac Wonder’

“Small and quite delicate looking but solidly perennial for me – approaching the 10-year mark and still going strong.”

Eliot A. W., Owner, White Flower Farm

Tulip ‘Big Love’

“Tulip ‘Big Love’ is my favorite. It has elegant big blossoms with an exceptional coloration of deep reddish purple with white hearts. It brings back such wonderful memories of my Nonni’s Tulip garden!”

Michelle T., Customer Service Manager

Tulip ‘Finola’

“I love the play of pink, white, and pale green on each flower of Tulip ‘Finola,’ and those double blooms are so packed with petals!”

Liz Z., Director of e-Commerce

Tulip ‘Elsenburg’

“I love Parrot Tulip ‘Elsenburg’ because people can’t believe that, yes, that is a Tulip.”

Pam W., Customer Support Representative

Tulip ‘Orca’

“Striking double orange blossoms are sturdy in spring rains and very long lasting. Blends well with deep purple Tulips as well as yellow. Pink, too, if you’re looking for something bright and cheerful. Also beautiful when forced for early spring containers. A favorite of mine since discovering it a few years ago.”

Lorraine C., President, White Flower Farm

Turkish Tapestry – Species Tulip Mix

“I love the way Species Tulips retain their wild nature, opening with the sun and closing again when a cloud passes, often with different coloration inside – very entertaining. Refined linear foliage dries up and disappears without a fuss after blooms have faded, and plants often increase over the years.”

Karen B., Senior Horticultural Advisor

Tulip ‘Pink Impression’

“One of my favorites is Tulip ‘Pink Impression.’ This large Darwin is the classic lipstick pink, tall and gorgeous. It is perfect mixed with spring-flowering perennials and groundcovers.”

Barb P., Nursery Manager

Drying Hydrangeas: An Experiment

It had rained in the night, so the flowers I sought, all dappled with raindrops, seemed to laugh at the purpose I had in mind for them. How would they fare as dried flowers?

On that morning in early August, I approached as many different Hydrangea shrubs as I could find in the White Flower Farm gardens – and there were plenty! I wondered if different species and cultivars would dry better than others. There were three relatively simple drying methods I wanted to try, but I still had questions about the best Hydrangeas for drying, when to harvest them, and which of the methods would be most effective.

Cutting the Blooms

With boots drenched from the wet grass and pruners in hand, I clipped stems from seven varieties of Hydrangea that were exhibiting the most interesting blossoms at the time. My selections included three different flower forms: Mophead (the classic rounded form), Lacecap (flatter and more delicate with their hem of sterile florets), and Panicle (shaped like ice cream cones). I gathered blooms at varying stages of maturity, and because I would be trying three different drying methods, I cut at least three stems from each of the shrubs, one for each trial. Scroll below to see the players.

From left to right: Hydrangea arborescens (Smooth Hydrangea) Invincibelle Mini Mauvette®, ‘Haas’ Halo,’ and Incrediball® Blush.
From left to right: Hydrangea paniculata (Panicle Hydrangea) ‘Little Lamb,’ Little Quick Fire®, and Vanilla Strawberry™.
A single plant of Hydrangea macrophylla (Bigleaf Hydrangea) Endless Summer® Summer Crush® demonstrating color variation due to different stages of bloom.

Cutting flowers is a bit of a science. I timed my cutting for early morning when blooms are freshest, and I made sure my pruners were clean and also sharp so they would not crush the stems. I angled my cuts to create the largest surface area for water absorption. I transferred the cut stems immediately to a bucket of water as this helps prevent air bubbles from going up the stems, which can cause the blossoms to shrivel prematurely.

There is an additional consideration when cutting flowers for a vase, basket, or other vessel. It may be important to leave a certain amount of stem. This is particularly true when cutting for dried blooms. I chose to leave stems about 12-18” in length, allowing plenty of stem for different drying methods and for display in medium-sized vases or baskets.

Fresh cuttings of Hydrangea arborescens Incrediball® Blush showing color variation among young and old blossoms.

Preparing for the Drying Process

After trundling buckets of cuttings between the gardens and home, I selected an underlit interior hallway for the drying. The low light would help keep flower colors from fading. The blooms could linger there for as long as the process would take, and that was yet to be discovered. With my drying spot ready, I took the first steps in each of three drying methods.

One by one, I removed the Hydrangea blossoms from their buckets and stripped the stems of leaves. This step reserves whatever moisture is in the stems for the flowers only. It also removes foliage that will shrivel, become unsightly, and break once the stems are dry.

Next, I followed the three different methods for drying:

Hang-Drying Method

I hung one batch of stems upside down on a string I had suspended between two doorframes. I angled the string slightly away from the wall to allow for better air circulation around the blossoms.

Dry Vase Method

I inserted other stems into old canning jars with no water in them. I tried not to cram in too many blooms, again to permit air to circulate among them.

Wet Vase Method

For the final batch of stems, I made fresh angled cuts as well as vertical cuts about 1” long up the center of the stems to encourage water absorption. I placed these in jars with 1-2” of water. The idea was to allow these stems to dry more gradually as the level of water diminished over time.

Ready for drying to begin.

End Results & 3 Takeaways

Over the course of one week, I suffered a few losses but also gained an assortment of dried blooms! More importantly, the mixed results helped me come away with three insights for drying Hydrangeas.

1. Drying can happen relatively quickly. After one week, all the blossoms had totally dried except one (a particularly blue Macrophylla). Those that were in vases without water or hanging upside down dried the fastest, even in the first couple of days. It took a little longer for the stems in vases with water, but once the water was gone after 6-7 days, they were all dry except the one. It should be noted that it was an exceptionally hot week, which may have quickened the pace.

Hydrangeas in vases without water dried within days. For those that had water, the process took a little longer but no more than a week (except for the bright blue Mac).

2. Each method works, yet with some discrepancies among varieties. No method stood out as particularly superior to another. However, a couple of Hydrangea varieties responded to specific methods better than others. For ‘Haas’ Halo,’ a lovely Lacecap type, one blossom that was hang-drying lost its flat silhouette due to gravity while stems upright in vases held their shape. In the case of Invincibelle Mini Mauvette®, the bloom that retained its beautiful rose coloring best was the one in the vase with water, perhaps due to its more gradual rate of drying.

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Haas’ Halo’ performed well in vases without water (left). Hang-drying was less successful, however (right).
Hydrangea arborescens Invincibelle Mini Mauvette® kept its pretty mauve-pink when dried more slowly in a vase with water.

3. Older blossoms perform best. For all the varieties tested, one rule (or lesson) proved true: The more mature the blooms, the better they dried. Older blossoms had few if any unopened flower buds, and very often their colors had begun to fade or transition from one color to another. This was especially evident with the varieties for which I had a range of flower stages, especially Incrediball® Blush and Summer Crush®. Of the three Panicle Hydrangeas, Little Quick Fire® had the most mature flowers and outperformed the others.

A young, pink bloom of Hydrangea arborescens Incrediball® Blush shriveled (left) while a more mature flower from the same plant held its shape and color (right). This pattern was evident for all three methods.
Hydrangea macrophylla Endless Summer® Summer Crush® responded similarly. Younger blossoms collapsed (right), yet older ones kept much of their coloring and shape (left).
Not quite fully matured heads of Hydrangea paniculata Vanilla Strawberry™ (far left) and ‘Little Lamb’ (center) could not compete with Little Quick Fire®, whose pink-tinged flowers were showing greater age at the time of cutting (right).

This was a fun experiment. Not everything turned out perfectly, but then that wasn’t the goal. I can’t wait to try another round as the season progresses. In the meantime, I am enjoying my first basket of dried Hydrangeas.

A colorful collection of the best-drying Hydrangeas.

10 Favorites for Fall Planting

Staff at White Flower Farm Weigh In

With the promise of cooler months ahead (at least in our part of the world), it’s time to prepare for a major season in the gardening year. For a number of reasons, fall is an ideal time to add new plants to the garden. So, to get the wheelbarrow rolling, we’re sharing 10 top picks for fall planting that were chosen by staff members at White Flower Farm. Scroll below, and we hope you’ll be inspired by a diverse selection of bulbs, perennials, and shrubs that are beloved for a surplus of outstanding qualities. You may find a shared favorite, or you can continue to our website to identify your own top picks.

(1) Crocus tommasinianus

“Despite a healthy population of chipmunks, these Crocus bloom every year in early spring. They start out a dark purple and then turn lavender as they open. Plant them close together for a bouquet of Crocus that will grow over time. I can see why this heirloom Crocus has been a favorite since the mid-1800s!”
~Barb P., Nursery Manager

(2) Hydrangea serrata ‘Blue Billow’

“Graceful and dependable, ‘Blue Billow’ thrives in a slightly shady spot (sun, too) and delivers colorful blooms that get better every year. Combine it with large-leaved Hostas for a garden space full of texture and color. Pollinators also love it!”
~Rob S., Director of Horticulture

(3) Iris germanica ‘Petalpalooza’

“I got my start in gardening by weeding my mother’s patch of Tall Bearded Iris, so I have an affinity for this classic genus. If you’re looking for a ‘wow’ for the June garden, then you’ll find it in ‘Petalpalooza.’ Its ruffled, two-tone flowers will stop you in your tracks while adding a vertical accent to the garden. Autumn is a great time to plant Tall Bearded Iris, and with this reblooming variety you’re likely to get a repeat show every fall.”
~Tom B., Retail Store Manager

(4) Tulip ‘Ballerina’

“A beautiful standout from a White Flower Farm Tulip trial of over 100 varieties. The long petals of this Lily-flowered Tulip stand upright, and their color combination of tangerine with highlights of pink/magenta cannot be missed. With straight, tall stems (18-20”), this Tulip is very graceful and perfect for cutting. It has a sweet fragrance, too. Later-blooming and longer-lasting than most Tulips in our trials.”
~Mary A., Product Information Manager

(5) Syringa vulgaris ‘President Lincoln’

“A large, graceful plant with flowers on the blue/lavender end of the Lilac spectrum. It’s fast-growing but won’t flower to its potential for several years. The fragrance and color are well worth the wait.”
~Eliot A. W., Owner

(6) Allium christophii

“Showy, silvery amethyst globes, each comprised of up to 100 starburst florets, hover above early summer perennials like Lady’s Mantle and Geraniums. Cluster the bulbs between perennials to conceal ripening foliage and enjoy this deer-resistant pollinator magnet as a dried flower after bloom, in the garden or a vase.”
~Karen B., Senior Horticultural Advisor

(7) Geranium Rozanne®

“This Geranium is so versatile and requires no maintenance! Once it starts blooming, it doesn’t quit for the whole season, and that gorgeous purple color goes with everything.”
~Liz Z., E-Commerce Director

(8) Spiraea japonica Double Play® Candy Corn®

“The foliage color makes this small-scale shrub a standout for any garden. You notice it early in the season when the foliage emerges a bright red, a nice sign that spring is here! As the weather warms, the foliage changes to an orange shade with red tips. A great plant for season-long interest!”
~Ray H., Product Development Coordinator

(9) Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’

“I like this minor bulb because it’s unique. While it’s delicate, you can still see its snowy white blossoms from a distance.”
~Cheryl D., Nursery Inventory Manager/Buyer

(10) Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’

“This may have been the first plant I ever picked out for my garden, and every year I love it more. While I was initially drawn to the reddish-pink color of the flowers, I now treasure it for the molasses-colored cones that attract and support a diverse array of pollinators over a long season. I love to watch the bumblebees, honey bees, and Monarch butterflies feeding in summer, and in fall, it’s a delight to see goldfinches balancing atop the cones, feasting at the seeds. Plants spread slowly to form generous clusters. Mine pop up like bouquets amid Ornamental Grass Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster,’ Chelone ‘Hot Lips,’ Amsonia hubrichtii, and Pycnanthemum tenuifolium (Slender Mountain Mint). The tall stems supporting these flowers make ‘Magnus’ easy to cut for meadow-style bouquets, but I prefer to keep the flowers in the garden where they support the lives of so many small but significant visitors.”
~Deb H., Senior Writer