It’s always amusing to watch what unexpected hue the Color Experts at Pantone will reveal each year to be the leading color for the following fashion season. It feels a little bit like a cat playing with a mouse sometimes, but it keeps life interesting! Though why should you even care what Pantone thinks if you’re a flower farmer?
The color they select always has a trickle-down effect on the dress colors and decor choices of weddings the following season, sometimes longer. And eventually the influence is felt in the flower breeding world too. A few years back we had Marsala as the Color of the Year, a hue that left many flower growers scratching their heads to come up with anything that really matched. Here we are a few seasons later and the seed breeders have graced us with beauties like Rudbekia ‘Sahara’, Lisianthus ‘Rosanne Deep Brown’, and Helianthus ‘Strawberry Blonde’.
Sadly color trends usually move too quickly for flower breeders to keep up though. Farmer-Florist such as myself need to work with what’s already available. The 2018 Color of the Year is “Ultra Violet”, an intense, luminescent purple that takes me back to my childhood in the 80s. At first glance, you would think it’s hard to match this with flowers, but as it turns out, there are already several great flowers out there to grow in this colorway.
So here’s my quick list of flowers to grow for the 2018 season that already fit into this brilliant purple trend.
Pro Tip: a lot of times flowers designated as “blue” in the seed catalogs actually look bright purple in bloom.
I particularly like ‘Galilee Blue’, which really reads much more bright violet than blue in bouquets.
So many to choose from here, but consider trying ‘Royal Family Blue’
One of the very first varieties of lisianthus I ever grew was ‘ABC 2-3 Blue’. I loved that variety for how easy and productive it was, but I kicked it out of the rotation a few seasons back because I just couldn’t work it into our wedding designs that were all muted palettes. Can’t wait to add it back in!
Several bee balms are purple, but my favorite to grow and arrange with is ‘Lambada’. Truly awesome in mixed market bouquets!
One of my favorite fun and funky flowers, I’m so excited to have a reason to use ‘Frosted Queen Mix’ more often!
Clearly there’s quite a selection here. But my favorite bright(er) purple dahlia is ‘Jason Matthew’. A wonderful subtle lavender complimentary dahlia is ‘Jasmine Pearl’, hands down my very favorite dahlia as a designer.
Highly under-appreciated, this little filler is going to enjoy a renewed interest with this bright purple trend. Most of the cultivars read a bit blue, but it’s ‘Red Flint’ that I think will fit the bill perfectly.
If your ground is still workable here in December or if you’ve got a little tunnel space to spare, get some seed for ‘QIS Dark Blue’ and get sowing!
This one doesn’t grow well for us here in Philadelphia, but it’s worth mentioning. When picking a variety, look for ones that are “blue”.
Lots of purple in the Allium genus and ‘Purple Sensation’ has long been a staple for cutting.
Bearded iris have been all the rage the past few years in Old World painting inspired floral designs. But I’m thinking there might be room to return to an old staple in the floral industry…the common Dutch iris. ‘Purple Sensation’ and ‘Blue Star’ are two varieties that practically glow purple.
Ah, Beauty Berry! I finally have a reason to use you in abundance! Lots of texture, color and movement in these delicate stems loaded with bright purple berries!
We like Benary’s Giant series at our farm and the ‘Purple’ in that series is nice and bright!
Lots to choose from here again, but if you can get a hold of it, plant some Salvia leucantha (purple Mexican sage bush). It won’t be ready to cut until the fall, but that’s the perfect time to blend this bright purple into all the other jewel tones of autumn.
There are several other varieties of purple flowers in more muted shades as well that mix beautifully with the brightly colored ones listed above. We’ve also grow Dacus, Tulips, Ranunculus, Nigella, Hellebores, Baptisia, Delphinium, Colombines, Fritillaria…the list goes on and on. Feel free to make your own suggestions in the comments.
Embrace the purple, Flower People! And look forward to the return of some rich, deep color in floral design!