Growing filler plants for flower bouquets

I like to gather cuttings from my own flower garden to create simple floral arrangements. In the spring, it’s daffodils or tulips. In the summer, it’s roses, hydrangea or a tiny bouquet of pansies. Sometimes, the flowers available for cutting are so few that the bouquet looks wimpy. To fill out the bouquet, I collect foliage from other plants in the flower garden. You can do the same thing too. Start with a loose flower arrangement. Next, look through your landscape for plant foliage or stems that add color, height or interesting shapes to fill out the bouquet. Or, create a flower garden design that includes perennial flowers or annual flowers that are suitable as filler for a flower arrangement.

Plant leaves

The lacy leaves of yarrow (Achillea millefolium), coralbells (Elmera Rydb.) or false goat's beard (Astilbe) create an appealing backdrop at the rear of a floral arrangement or cut short to use around the lip of the vase. Cut hosta leaves to use as floral filler. Though short-lived in a vase, the green or variegated color of the pointed hosta leaves offer a unique shape to any flower arrangement.

Shrubs stems

Dried spirea branches add interest
 to this small dried flower display
I have a fondness for flowering shrubs that serve double-purpose in my landscape design. When height is needed for a flower arrangement, clip stems from forsythia (Forsythia var.), camellia (Camellia japonica), hydrangea (Hydrangea var.) or spirea (Spiraea prunifolia). Use the stems with or without the leaves. I like to dry the stems of spirea and hydrangea for use as filler in dried flower arrangements. To dry shrub stems, stand them in an empty vase or leave them on the shrub where they will dry in the fall. Clip the stems and store in a dry location.


Cut flowers fade at varying rates. For instance, the petals of tulips drop before those of roses. Even within rose varieties, some hold on to their petals longer than other do. As you toss out spent flowers from the bouquet, add fresh flowers from your garden. Flowering plants with large bloom that you can grow include the black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), peony (Peony), purple coneflower (Echinacea), iris (Iris) or daisy varieties (Leucanthemum) like Shasta or oxeye. For medium size blooms, grow carnation (Dianthus) or bachelor button (Centaurea cyanus). Plants with small blooms include pink tickseed (Coreopsis rosea) or the yellow moonbeam tickseed (Coreopsis verticillata). Baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata) is perhaps the most popular floral filler with its tiny white blooms.

© Barbara Raskauskas

Source: “Plant Database,” USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service