By Jill Brooke
Wax flowers are the unsung heroes of flowers. They may not be the attention-grabbing stars of the show in a vase like a Juliet rose, the fragrant lily or the pillowy peony, but they get along with everyone.
In fact, they not only get along, but they are loyal and incredibly. long-lasting – and come in so many varieties.
In the language of flowers, they mean happiness in marriage – which is why they are so popular in wedding corsage work.
Their delicacy and mild fragrance make them such an easy filler for any occasion. In Latin, their name means “uncinatum” which means hooked – in reference to the tips of the leaves.
Because I am so hooked on these flowers, I sought out the advice of Joe and Julie Walker, the owners of Obra Verde Growers, who have been growing wax flowers since the 1970s.
“Wax flowers have always been one of the top five sellers used in floral arrangements, but it’s only gotten bigger with the creation of hybrids,” says Joe Walker.
“We call them drought-tolerant beauties,” adds Julie Walker.
Aside from the hybrids in new varieties of colors, the flowers benefited from a recent breeding program at the University of Western Australia where researchers developed flowers with larger bloom size and durability.
Wax flowers can not last up to 21 days. Pretty terrific right? Flower consultant John Donati says the popularity of wax flowers will only increase because of this “shelf life” as well as the diversity in color tones now bred at Obra Verde Growers.
So what are the 9 best wax flowers right now? Here is what Julie and Joe Walker told us.
Matilda – The deep red buds of Matilda appear in October-November and open to a large dime-sized white flower that sports a pink picotee ring in the center of the flower after being open for several weeks. The pink picotee continues to spread throughout the entire flower transforming the flower to a deep red. A hybrid created by the University of Western Australia, the flower has a 21 day vase life.
Bridal Pearl – Bridal Pearl is one of the many Pearl flowers bred by the University of Western Australia. Bridal Pearl starts out pure white and takes on a light blush tone with age. All Pearl flowers were bred to bloom about 2-3 weeks apart to be available to the florist from December through May. All Pearl flowers have a 14 -21 day vase life and are considered hybrids.
Trifecta – Trifecta flowers start out white and quickly begin to change color to pink and purple. The three colors all occur on the same branch giving a very striking color combination that will stand out in any bouquet. Trifecta blooms have a 14-21 day vase life and are considered hybrids.
Crystal Pearl – Crystal Pearl is the only Pearl Flower that blooms pure white and stays white throughout the entire flower season. Other Pearl Flowers age with some color from pink to blush. Crystal Pearl has a 14-21 day vase life.
Purple Pride – Purple Pride is one of the most common waxf lowers on the market. The bloom starts out deep lavender and turns a deep purple with age on the plant. Discovered in West Australia, it is considered a selection. Purple Pride has a 14-21 vase life.
Dancing Queen – Dancing Queen is one of the only double-petal waxflowers available on the market. The flowers start out light pink and turn to a deep lavender with age on the plant. This variety is a stand out in any bouquet due to the flower size and the double petal. Flower vase life is 14-21 days. Dancing Queen is considered a hybrid.
Revelation – Revelation is a cross-bred waxflower that boasts heavy clusters of light to dark pink flowers all appearing on the same stem. This hybrid was part of a breeding program that includes varieties such as Blondie, Painted Lady and Rosie waxflower. All of the varieties have a 14-21 day vase life.
Purple Gem – Like the Pearl Flowers, the Gem flowers were bred to produce color yet give the same performance as the Pearl Flower. The Purple Gem flowers start out light pink and change to a deep purple over time on the plant. The flowers have a 14-21 day vase life.
Sweet 16 – A true hybrid, Sweet 16 is one of the more unique wax flower varieties that start out with pure white small blooms and turn pink and gradually change to deep red on the plant. The branches can be harvested with all three colors and give a wonderful addition to any bouquet. The flowers have a 14-21 day vase life.
Whatever your choice, the versatility of these flowers offers so many creative opportunities. Although florists, as well as supermarkets, carry varieties, if you have a preference definitely ask for them by name. My personal favorite is the Trifecta and you will certainly find a few to adore too.
Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD.