wedding flower arrangement with foraged plants
garden foraged floral arrangement

Spring has sprung and it’s definitely a great time to be getting outside, exploring nature, and re-establishing our connection with the ecosystems around us after a long winter! One great way to do this is to explore the plant life around you, and bring home some foraged floral arrangements.

Benefits of Fresh Flowers Inside

Having fresh flowers and plants indoors can help not only brighten our days and make us smile when we see their beauty, but there are some other little benefits too! Seeing the color and beauty can reduce stress levels and boost productivity, making fresh arrangements perfect for the home office or kitchen.

As we get outside to do the foraging, our immune system, Vitamin D levels, and muscle tone increase. Just being outdoors in the natural world is shown to improve health overall and promote healing.

Chronic stress can lead to disorders such as depression, anxiety, and even digestive health issues! Any way that we can, during our busy lives, reduce the amount of stress and give ourselves little pick-me-ups, the more we can improve our mental and physical well-being.

Ethical Foraged Flowers

Just because we might want some extra color and beauty in the home doesn’t mean that we should be picking all of the wildflowers willy-nilly. In fact, we should be very contentious of our harvesting habits so that we can ensure proper survival and seed dispersion of native plants. A great rule of thumb is 1:3 rule. In an area, monitor the plant population and never pick more than 1/3 of the plant population. In fact, harvesting less is better, unless you’re harvesting an invasive plant, in which case have at it! The way I remember this is: “One for me, one for the bees, and one to make seeds!” By following this rule, we make sure that the flower can reproduce and continue passing it’s genetics on, making more plants for us to enjoy later, as well as providing food for pollinators, birds, small mammals, and others.

Learn more about foraging etiquette, and how to prevent seed dispersion and rampant growth of invasive plant species below!

Not ever arrangement only has flowers in it though. Some have tree branches too! As you look for beautiful tree branches, think about proper pruning techniques. Instead of ripping branches off, prune them at a 45 degree angle at the branch collar. This is a bit of swollen bark tissue that separates the twig from the branch it’s attached to. By pruning here, we can promote growth, and also signal to the tree where to callus over and heal. Keep in mind that this is a wound and improper pruning cuts can be a perfect spot for fungi, bacteria, or other pathogens to enter!

Prune the Golden Curly Willow along the dotted line to keep the tree healthy. Avoid cutting into the branch collar (the swollen part in the circle) and don’t leave a large stub!

Flowers & Trees that Make Beautiful Arrangements

As you’re out and about, searching for beauty to bring home, please also remember to ask permission to forage on anyone’s property other than your own! In fact, some locations do not allow foraging, so please respect that.

Otherwise, be on the lookout for beautiful plants through out the year! Below is a list of some of my favorite by season (plants marked with * can be invasive in PA):

  • Violets
  • Pussy Willow
  • Dead Nettle*
  • Henbit*
  • Forsythia branches*
  • Yellow Rocket*
  • Curly Willow Branches
  • Redbud Branches
  • Dame’s Rocket*
  • Chicory
  • Fleabane Asters
  • Multiflora Rose*
  • Viper’s Bugloss
  • Butter & Eggs*
  • Spotted Knapweed*
  • Bee Balm
  • Sunflowers
  • Tickseed
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Daisies
  • Pine Boughs
  • Holly Boughs
  • Cedar Branches
  • Winterberry Boughs

While there are many more beautiful plants out there, not every flower is suited for an arrangement. For example, the milky sap of a dandelion can spoil the water and cause rapid wilting in your other flowers. Daylilies only bloom for one day, and will have to be replaced quickly. Play around with combinations and discover what you love!

Creating Foraged Floral Arrangements

garden foraged wildflower arrangement

By following these basic steps, you can create gorgeous arrangements!

  1. Find a jar, vase, or cup to hold the flowers and add water. You don’t want your blossoms to wait to get into water!
  2. Cut the stems at an angle and make sure that their height will be roughly 1 1/2 times the size of the jar used. (If you have a tall case, you don’t want short flowers!)
  3. Remove the lower leaves that would sit in the water. Any foliage that falls into the water can cause bacteria and algae growth, which severely shortens the lifespan of your arrangement
  4. Add flowers to the bouquet in a spiral manner. Try to have few large accent flowers that look good with many different flowers. Don’t overwhelm the bouquet with too many large flowers (have only 3 sunflowers mixed with daisies, Black-eyed Susan’s, and bee balms, with sprigs of wild grasses popping out, instead of a bouquet of ONLY sunflowers)
  5. Change the water out whenever it starts to get cloudy. Also, pick out blooms as they die to prevent rotting the other flowers that last longer naturally.

What will you create? Interested in learning more about ethically harvesting wildflowers and branches as well as a more in depth look at how to design your arrangement? The Art of Ecology hosts spring and summer floral arrangement workshops, perfect for any nature lover!

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