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Trend-forward lisianthus continues to grow in popularity

With the beginning of summer, we welcome lisianthus back to floral departments across the nation. Lisianthus season traditionally starts in mid-spring, with harvest beginning in April, and then it gets very heavy from May through September, finishing off in October. Lisianthus is native to the Americas, with several variations of the plant growing wild. Most notably, a variety with the common name Texas Bluebell is found growing naturally in the vast prairies of Texas. The species sold in floral departments is Grandiflorum and it has been bred as a standout cut flower.

The flower’s name comes from Latin, “lysis” meaning dissolution and “anthos” meaning flower. Some, who cite its history as a prairie flower, see it as a token of old-fashioned values and sensibility. Others, looking at its Greek name, suggest that lisianthus symbolizes an outgoing and divisive nature.

This summer, we expect lisianthus to continue to grow in popularity as we see the demand for flowers with a more botanical look skyrocket.

“I think lisianthus offers a soft accent and sometimes alternative to a more traditional flower such as a rose,” said Katie McConahay, program and category manager for floral at New Seasons Market, based in Portland, OR. “As we see a comeback in heirloom flowers, lisianthus stands out as a variety that offers a bit of nostalgic romance to any bouquet with its lush and delicate bloom. It is something we sell best when it is in season and we are able to see a good assortment of color and larger blooms.”

Rodi Groot, product coordinator at Sun Pacific Bouquet in the greater Los Angeles area, said, “Lisianthus goes well in wildflower garden-style designs. The long, multi-petaled stems bring great line and appealing colors to any bouquet. The structure of the flower petals brings a softness feel to the overall look of the bouquet.”

We are experiencing the very beginning of a sea change in floral design. Millennials and Generation Y designers are throwing out the preconceived notions of what a bouquet should be. They are reaching beyond the traditional palette of floral design by incorporating non-traditional plants, herbs, fruits and vegetables into designs. Lisianthus has the bandwidth to be part of this emerging style.

One leading-edge designer who uses lisianthus is Nicolette Owen from the Brooklyn, NY-based Nicolette Camille Floral Design. “When in season, I source my lisianthus from local farms, but there are some insanely beautiful, huge, very ruffled lisianthus varieties from Japan that I love,” said Owen.

In-demand designers such as Owen are offering unique varieties to their customers, and this speaks to the versatility of the crop. Lisianthus is unique in that it can be used in a very controlled fashion in a design, or you can “let its hair down” to capture the farmers market aesthetic.

It is important that mass-market retailers incorporate trend-forward flowers in their everyday designs, as consumers are more exposed to new styles than ever before. Social media channels like Instagram let consumers easily see what innovative designers such as Owen are doing. Taking advantage of seasonal blooms such as lisianthus is a great way to highlight the relevance of your floral department.

Bill Prescott is the marketing communications specialist at Sun Valley Floral Farms in Arcata, CA. He can be contacted at bprescott@tsvg.com.

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