Recycle. Reuse. Repurpose. It’s a popular mantra, but would it work for that most ephemeral of endeavors—a bouquet of flowers? Northwest horticulturalist Riz Reyes thinks so. He adds succulents and other structural perennials like tillandsia (air plants) to his floral designs. When the flowers fade, the cuttings can be rooted in a well-draining medium. Air plants don’t even need that—their roots are mainly for holding on to a surface. The arrangements make a gift now and for the gardening future.
I met with Riz last month at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle and asked him to share with me some of the plants he uses to create his twice-enjoyed bouquets. He says the goal of his floral displays is to represent the current growing season while also showcasing “the botanical diversity that generates curiosity.”
His own horticultural curiosity began early. Growing up, he was often the only kid at plant society meetings. He tells me, “I’d hear a great talk but then I’d have to get driven home so I could do my school work.”
Recycled bouquets are just the latest of his wide-ranging interests. Under his RHR Horticulture sobriquet, Riz has worked in garden design—both containers and in-ground—landscape installation, plant hunting and botanizing, breeding, and now floral arrangements.
Here are Riz’s top picks for plants that you can cultivate and add to your own bouquets. All are easily grown in a greenhouse.
• Aeonium arboreum – These perennial succulents with shiny rosettes on sturdy stems are perfect for a mixed bouquet. Look for varieties with dramatic dark foliage.
• Echeveria ‘Perle Von Nurnburg’, and E. ‘Topsy Turvy’ – Both succulents form rosettes. The first shows off fat leaves, gray-green and silver-dusted. The second has silver-blue leaves that contort inward.
• Sempervivum tectorum cultivars – Purple-tipped four-inch rosettes have offsets around the central plant—classic hens and chicks. Hardy Zones 3-8.
• Ceropegia woodii – Commonly called string of hearts, these silvery patterned green leaves are threaded on pink/purple stems. They look great draping the edge of a vase.
• Senecio rowleyanus – String of pearls features pea-like cascades that can reach three feet long. Somewhat more fragile than string of hearts, it brings vibrant texture to floral mixes.
• Tillandsia (brachycaulous, xerographica, capitata, etc.) – These air plants give structure with their exuberant starfish-like leaves. Take tiny offsets from the mother plant and grow them on for a constant supply. # # # #