What do you do when the flower you want isn’t in season?

Thinking About Flowers By Season
By Photo and Share CC - 꽃, by Nanshil Kwon, CC BY 2.0

How to think about wedding flowers by season in a way that actually works for your style and your wedding

December 9, 2016 10:30 am | by Sarah-Eva | Posted in Bouquet Questions

Today, I’m answering a frustration about seasonal flowers sent to us by Chrissie. Her frustration is in picking flowers that will actually be available for her September wedding and what to do if there is a particular flower she wants that is not in season for her wedding.

This touches on a major concern of many brides and a huge factor that can make designing you own bouquet intimidating. Simply understanding what flowers are in season can be one of the most confusing bouquet design, so we’re going to take some time on this question: what do you do when the flower you want isn’t in season?

To learn how to think about wedding flowers by season, we’re going to use peonies as an example since it’s so popular among brides.


What “In Season” Really Means for Flowers


Bouquet with in season peonies

photo: Alison Mayfield

Peonies are a favorite wedding flower, but peonies are also a wedding flower that is only in season from April to September, depending on the variety. This means that off season brides who want peonies, will find them difficult (and expensive) or even impossible to get.

Figuring out what flowers are in season when is, simply put, confusing. And this is one point when many brides simply give up. So, we’re going to pull back the curtain off of this seasonal wizard and reveal the specific distinctions and options that are—once you know them—in fact manageable choices.

Chrissie asked specifically about a flower that’s not in season, so let’s start by getting clear on what “seasonal” actually can mean. When a florist, designer, or flower supplier talks about a flower being “in season,” they can mean three different things.


Flowers in Season Definition 1: It’s Not For Sale All Year

Some floral companies simply mean that it a flower is not for sale all year – that there are some months when you can get it and others when you can’t. When they can get it, the flower is in season. For example, some types of peonies are only available from around April to August or September. A few types are flowers in season in May only. Because you can’t get these peonies the rest of the year, they are a seasonal flower by this definition.

You can use Pedls to find flowers that are actually for sale near you by searching for flowers by “commercial availability” under the availability tab.


Flowers in Season Definition 2: When It’s the Cheapest

“In season” can also mean that period in time when the flower is the cheapest. Within that April to September period, peonies are cheapest and most abundant between the end of April and early June. By this definition, it’s in season during that four to six week period.

In Pedls, we have included information about how season affects the price of individual flowers on each flower’s individual information page.


Flowers in Season Definition 3: When It’s Growing in Your Part of the World

Then there’s a third meaning: “in season” can mean that it’s the natural point in time when the flower would be growing in nature near your venue (just how near really depends on how important local is to you). For example, the peony typically blooms in the United States between the end of April and the beginning of June—that’s its natural season.

Often, these three meanings of “seasonal” can be the same thing: A flower is cheapest when it can be locally sourced and therefore blooming nearby. This would be the case for peonies in May, though the exact dates will vary from year to year depending on weather.

But choosing flowers that grow naturally near your venue is also important to get right for some bouquet design styles. For example, if you are going for a rustic or garden style bouquet, you might want to choose flowers that grow naturally at the same time near your venue. If you’re interested in better understanding the different flower design looks and styles and how season impacts them, you should check out our Bouquet Starter System where we go over each design look in depth and give you the tools you need to figure you which style of bouquet is for you, to create a basic bouquet design in your style, and to explain exactly what you want to your florist.

You can use Pedls to find flowers that are in bloom near your venue on your wedding day by searching for flowers by “natural season,” under the availability tab.


What Flowers Are “In Season” for You Depends on Your Style


So, now that we’re clear on what “in season” or “seasonal” can mean, we can actually get down to business of Chrissie’s question. The question really isn’t, “is it in season or not”—that’s too cut and dry for this global business. The real question Chrissie or anyone in her shoes needs to ask is this: is it “in season” enough for me?

The right question to ask about in season flowers for your wedding

Let’s say again that Chrissie or someone in her situation is after peonies, and her wedding is the last weekend in September. Also, let’s say that Chrissie’s bouquet style doesn’t use a design style that depends on the flowers being seasonally available near her venue. She will just need to worry about whether the peony she is after is commercially available and in her budget. Varieties of peony are available from Alaska well into September and from New Zealand well into winter, for a price. In the event that they’re all gone by that last weekend in September this year (flower availability can be fickle depending on environmental factors), she then needs to decide if she’s willing to switch varieties and have them shipped from somewhere even farther away (like New Zealand) for more money.

If Chrissie decides she doesn’t want to have peonies shipped from Alaska or New Zealand because it’s not in season enough for her, then now that flower is not in season for her. And when the flower you want isn’t in season, there’re two choices: 1) either you need to rethink the style and discover new flowers for your bouquet or 2) you need to find a suitable replacement.


Finding a Replacement for a Specific Flower


If you need a replacement for a flower you love but that isn’t in season for your wedding, follow these two steps to find a flower that captures what you love about the flower you can’t get.


Step 1: Get Clear on Why You Like that Flower

The first step to finding a replacement for seasonal flowers is to get clear on why you wanted that flower. Every flower is made up of unique characteristics, many of which you’re not even noticing are the things you like about the flower. To replace the flower, you have to get clear on the “why” behind your first choice.

Here are some of the top reasons you might have loved that seasonal flower.

  • its color
  • the shape of the flower, meaning the number of petals and way they were arranged
  • its size
  • the texture of the petals

The individual flower page on Pedls breaks all this information down for you, so you can start by looking at the page for the flower you love and then using Pedls to search for new flowers that share characteristics with it.

You might also realize that there isn’t really a specific characteristic that you loved about the flower—you just saw the darn thing so many times in bridal magazines that you’d been brainwashed. That is okay too! It means you are free to find a flower that is truly you to carry down the aisle.


Step 2: Find Different Flowers in Season With the Same Characteristic You Love

Once you’re clear on why you want the flower you can’t get, you want to use Pedls to pick a flower that has the same characteristic but is a seasonal flower for September by your own measure of what’s seasonal enough for you. Going back to my example of peonies, I may like the big fluffy shape it has as a mass flower. If that’s the case, search Pedls for “mass flowers” in the shape category. A fall dahlia may be the perfect substitute.

Bouquet with in season Dahlias

photo: Sarah Kate Photo

Dahlias, which is one of the seasonal flowers in the fall, provide the big round shape similar to a peony, one of the flowers in season in May.

Or maybe it’s the bright bold pinks that you really want. You can use Pedls to search by color for “pink.” This might lead me to consider a dark pink phlox.

Image of in season phlox flowers

photo: Ghislain118 http://www.fleurs-des-montagnes.net – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The little phlox may be one answer one solution for a late September wedding that needs a substitute for unavailable pink peonies.

Either way, you’re getting flowers that are both available and aligned with your style.

Now, which flower someone in Chrissie’s position ultimately chooses should work within the overall style she’s creating (a task that’s covered in the Bouquet Starter System ). But in these two steps, you’ll be able to take control of wedding flowers by season in a way that works for your style and your wedding. Planning a wedding is hard enough. You don’t need to let the seasons rob you of your style.


Featured Image by Photo and Share CC – 꽃, by Nanshil Kwon, CC BY 2.0

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