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Ask Ella: Fill Up Your Bouquet With Rice Flower

Ask Ella is a recurring 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 rice flower, whose subtle appearance make it powerhouse filler.

Not to be confused with the popular gluten-free flour alternative, rice flower (Ozothamnus diosmifolius) is a standard filler flower composed of clusters of tiny, pearly heads that often have a slightly pink cast. The stems of the rice flower resemble very sparse rosemary, with woody stems and thin leaves (which give off a slightly musky scent when crushed), and its head has a structure similar to stonecrop.

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When you’re looking for rice flower at the market, be sure to look for plants where the buds are still tightly closed (in other words, not puffy or opening)– this will ensure they last longer in bouquets. When you get them home, trim the stems and scratch them, and place them in cold water. Thereafter, cut the stems and replace the water every second day.

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“Rice flower is a great filler flower,” Ella told GC. “You can pair them with pale pink roses for a simple Valentine’s Day arrangement. If you can find carnations in beautiful pinks, those will also work.” Long lasting, rice flowers dry well– something to think about if you want to preserve a meaningful, momentous bouquet. Their malleable shape ensures they occupy any empty spaces, and are an affordable way to make an arrangement feel a little more luxe.

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