Week 2 of Flowers

It’s Week 2 of Flowers dedicated to those who are unfamiliar with heliconia, lychnis, and nerines.

Heliconia – “Lobster-Claws”

Either people mention Lobster-Claws or False Bird of Paradise, they’re meaning the colourful heliconias, native to the tropical Americas and the Pacific Ocean Islands. The heliconia flowers are almost hidden by its large, colourful bracts. These flowers produce sweet nectar that attracts mainly the hummingbirds. It’s been found that specific species of heliconia is pollinated by specific hummingbirds. A hummingbird will pollinate a heliconia flower based on its shape, nectar production, and territory.

Heliconias are great for large arrangements but they are also beautiful in vase or medium pot designs. There are some interesting collections of heliconias on Pinterest, and I like this particular tropical design that is not overwhelmed with other flowers and colours. However, perhaps a couple of additional gerberas would be nice.

Heliconias can be grown indoors as long as the temperature doesn’t go below 5°C (40℉) and they get a lot of sunlight. They also need rich soil to grow properly. If you’re looking into grown heliconias in your home, there are smaller varieties that fit in a pot.

You can view the list of 40 varieties on this online book from pacificfarmers.com.


Last week you were given another stanza to guess one of this week’s flowers. The stanza could be found in Erasmus Darwin’s “The Botanic Garden”. If given the second verse of stanza, you’d know this is about Lychnis (The Campion):

Five sister-nymphs to join Diana’s train
With thee, fair Lychnis! vow,–but vow in vain;
Beneath one roof resides the virgin band,
Flies the fond swain, and scorns his offer’d hand;
Lychnis x haageana ‘Lumina Salmmon Shades’ in July – Garden Canadensis

I had a hard time finding examples of lychnis in vase arrangements. That’s because they are more ideal for your garden borders and beds, or as fillers in the “thriller-filler-spiller” design. The video below explains how to use this planting technique to create a container for your patio or garden. So, if you’re already planting lychnis, try to use them as fillers!

Lychnis is a low maintenance perennial plant, blooming between May and June in full sunlight and moist soil. Under the right care and watering condition the plant can last for about 5 years, and it can survive our Canadian weather.


Named after the sea-nymphs of Greek mythology, “They simply love – and insist upon – sunshine and really well-drained soil. Give them that and they will reward you with a stunning display of flowers every September and October, that lifts your spirits as no other flowers can at this time of year” – Alan Titchmarsh

One of my ‘first-bloom’ Nerine seedlings!  Few things bloom at this time of year that are as exotic ! – Southlands Nursery

As they are autumn flowers, they make perfect bouquets and centerpieces for couples who are having weddings in September and October.

I personally prefer spring and fall weddings because of the cool temperatures although it tends to rain more during the spring season. Winter in Ottawa is too cold and messy with dirtied snow, but you can still get amazing photographs somewhere that has undisturbed snow. Is it worth it though? You’ll have to stand in the cold, trying to smile naturally when you’re both freezing to the bone. Summer, on the other hand, can cause an unpleasant amount of sweat. To be fair, this year our summer hasn’t been that bad and there have been numerous wonderful winter and summer weddings. But, I’m getting off topic.

Nerines are great as cut flowers because they are long lasting indoors. They are also alluring on their own without supporting flowers.

Would you walk down the aisle with this design?  The fan is another great idea that I’m in love with.
Week 3
Next week is Week 3, our last week. So, here’s the final stanza to give you a hint of next week’s flower:
Summer set lip to earth’s bosom bare,
And left the flushed print in a poppy there:
Like a yawn of fire from the grass it came,
And the fawning wind puffed it to flapping flame
~ See you next week ~

~~ Quyên Ngô

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Alta Vista Flowers

Co-owner of Alta Vista Flowers with Michael LeRoy. We operate a full service flower shop that has been in business for 60 years, with our very dedicated staff.
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