Summer flowers: on the July Flower Agenda
Sometimes it’s hard to choose, particularly when there are three magnificent summer flowers on offer. That is why the gladiolus, snapdragon and sunflower are on the Flower Agenda together as a trio in July. So different in terms of background, shape and colour, and so powerful together.
The gladiolus originates from Africa and is a classic summer bloomer. The name Gladiolus comes from Latin and means ‘small sword’, a reference to the sword-shaped leaves. The name symbolises strength and victory. Snapdragon (Antirrhinum in Latin) originates from southern Europe and North Africa. The name Antirrhinum is derived from the Greek meaning ‘flower resembling a nose’, referring to the snapdragon’s unusual flower shape. The sunflower (a.k.a. Helianthus) originally came from the southern and western United States. Sunflowers were brought to Europe by Spanish sailors in 1530. Helianthus derives its name from the Greek words for sun (Helios) and flower (Anthos).
The gladiolus is available in almost every colour of the rainbow and in bicoloured varieties. The flower shape ranges from smooth-edged to fringed and from large-flowered to small-flowered, which include the colvillii and primulinus species.
We particularly know the sunflower in its yellow incarnation (think Van Gough), but there are also cream, brown, orange and even bicoloured versions. The flower size can range from 5-15 cm (small-flowered, often topped and branched) through to 15-30 cm (large-flowered varieties, low in pollen, often not topped and not branched). There are even varieties where the flower stands upright.
The snapdragon is available in many colours and stem lengths. Alongside the single-coloured varieties we are increasingly seeing bicoloured and multicoloured flowers in the range.
What to look for when buying these summer flowers
- Check that the flowers are fresh and free of pests and diseases.
- Also check the ripeness, the length of the stems and the leaf quality.
- With gladioli the length of the inflorescence and the weight is important.
- With snapdragons you should also check the length of the inflorescence and whether the flowers just under the top are prone to breakage.
- With sunflowers, the flower diameter and the shape of the flower are important.
- Beware of botrytis (grey mould), which can be seen on the flowers or on the leaves.
- Gladioli are usually sold dry because otherwise they ripen too quickly. Sunflowers and snapdragons are pre-treated by growers for a better vase life.
Care tips for professionals
- Store gladioli cool and dry for a few days so that they do not open to quickly. You can place them in water after a couple of days.
- Place gladioli and snapdragons upright in order to prevent the tops from curving.
- Place the flowers in clean vase with clean water and preservative.
- Trim 5-10 cm off the stems with a clean, sharp knife or secateurs.
- Do not allow the flowers or leaves to get damp - this causes botrytis.
- When making bouquets and floral work take account of the length and weight of the flowers. All three of them are pretty chunky.
Display tips for professionals
With their colourful appearance and robust shapes these three summer stars are very well suited to cheerful summery bouquets and arrangements. Think of a field bouquet, table decoration or parallel arrangement because of the stretched shapes of the gladiolus and snapdragon and the sunflower’s round shape. A vase or container filled with one type of summer flower steals the show at summer parties and barbecues.
Care tips for consumers
- Place the flowers in water as soon as possible after purchase.
- Flowers like a clean vase and fresh tap water.
- Sunflowers are heavy, so choose a sturdy vase.
- Add cut flower food to the water for a longer vase life.
- Trim 3 to 5 cm diagonally off the stems.
- Make sure there are no leaves hanging in the water.
- Top the vase up with tap water every day; sunflowers are particularly thirsty.
- Place the flowers in a cool spot, out of draughts and direct sunlight, and away from the fruit bowl.
Source Flower Council Holland