Ask Ella is a reoccurring Garden Collage feature where we ask our in-house florist, Ella Stavonsky, about floral design– including the history of, origin, and maintenance that goes into some of the most intriguing flowers on the market today. This column is dedicated exclusively to common and rare varieties of flowers you’re likely to find at your local market. This week, we spotlight leucadendron, a part of the protea family that’s somewhere between a flower and a filler.
With its slightly alien shape, it comes as little surprise that Leucadendron is part of the Proteaceae family, to which protea also belongs. The most common variety you’re likely to encounter at the florist (and the type pictured below) is the ‘Safari Sunset’ leucadendron or Safari Conebush (Leucadendron x Safari Sunset), easily identifiable by its deep red hues. Generally, leucadendron grows in tall, thin spires, with flat, slightly elliptical leaves, and ending in a seedy head.
Used in arrangements, leucadendron offers a halfway point between a filler and a statement flower, filling out spaces with interesting structure, without detracting from focal points in the bouquet. Plus, it’s a worthwhile investment. “It’s a very strong tropical greenery,” Ella tells us. “It can last for 10 days when properly cared for– just remember it loves cold water, should be freshly cut and given fresh water each day, and the bottom leaves should be removed.”
Pairing with leucadendron is easily if you simply draw on its own qualities: leucadendron handsomely offsets King Protea, from its own family; leucadedron fits in easily with other hues from the sunset family; and with its bright leaves, leucadendron complements fresh, light greenery. Ella adds, “I love to mix it with sunflower or burgundy cymbidium orchid, or even anthurium and birds of paradise…”
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