Star Roses and Plants hydrangea 'Cherry Explosion'

May 2023
5 Floral trends for 2023 By Teresa McPherson

Cut flower experts share their forecasts for the year and top customer requests.

Bright and flashy colors, dried and preserved blooms, and a nod to nature are among some of this year’s floral trends. Read on to see what trends you’ll want to promote in your garden center.

1. Going Neutral

Classic and timeless are always in style, according to a recent trends report from Dutchess Bouquets. The company says neutrals from beige to mauve can tone down brighter colors or create a soothing palette together.

“What our customers define as ‘neutrals’ is starting to include more colors like soft pinks, peach, brown shades, pale yellows,” says Michelle Elston, treasurer of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ASCFG) and owner of Roots Cut Flower Farm in Pennsylvania. Her business sells at farmers markets and to regional supermarkets and special event customers.

“[Customers] are seeking more color … medium pinks, peaches, soft oranges, soft pinks and light blue seem to be the most sought after,” she says.

Hillary Alger of Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine and the ASCFG’s industry liaison says, “There is continued strength in demand for muted, peachy, champagne, blushy-pinky things that designers bend into a diversity of color palettes.”

In addition, she notes “an overall shift toward richer, deeper, more saturated hues to push the muted stuff in more interesting and more seasonally relevant directions. Cranberry and ochre seem to be common and more recent requests.”

2. Loads of Lavender

Consumer trend forecasting company WGSN chose Digital Lavender as its Color of the Year for 2023. In fact, it predicts purple to be a key color for the year, representing wellness and digital escapism. In addition, a renewed focus on pollinator gardens will help push interest in lavender plants.

Demand for lavender — both as a flower and a color — is expected to rise. Photo credit: Burpee
Demand for lavender — both as a flower and a color — is expected to rise. Photo credit: Burpee

Rio Roses predicts that “this year, you’ll see the color lavender everywhere, as well as the lavender flower itself.” It says it’s gaining popularity due to its calming fragrance.

Dave Dowling, cut flower specialist at Ball Seed/ColorLink, says he’s seen an increase in customers ordering lavender plants to add the crop to their cut flower farm.

“They’re then selling the flowers fresh, and dried, with some farms offering value-add products like soaps and lotions, too. There is a new variety of lavender called ‘Phenomenal’ that is hardy from USDA Zones 5 to 9 that growers are having great success growing.”

3. Preserved Flowers

Bringing life to dried and preserved flowers and preserving fresh ones are two trends growing in popularity, thanks in part to the TikTok crowd.

Kerri Laudig, co-owner of Ashcombe Farm and Greenhouse in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, says they’re seeing increased interest in dried and preserved flowers in their store.

“We have seen the uptick mostly in wedding requests, home décor and custom floral work. Our in-house designer remembers the dried flower boom of the 1980s and has seen many people bringing their dried arrangements in for a refresh,” she says. “We also dedicated a portion of our on-site gardens to growing and then drying and selling bouquets in the store.”

Trends like the cottagecore movement romanticizing rural life (at last check, the hashtag #cottagecore has 13.1 billion views on TikTok) has brought pressed flowers into the mainstream. No longer something Grandma does to preserve her posies, pressing flowers has become popular in part due to younger generations watching and creating TikTok videos.

At press time, TikTok videos tagged with #pressedflowers have more than 228 million views, with DIYers sharing creations from furniture to bookmarks to pressed and framed wedding bouquets on the video-sharing app.

Jennifer Bristow, owner and creative director of Fresh Jewelry Co. since 2008, says she’s continuing to see interest grow in her jewelry, which features vibrant fresh flowers placed into sterling silver jewelry frames.

“There was a time before COVID when we distributed into 36 states, Canada and national accounts. Now, as we rebuild our business post-COVID, we are pruning and reshaping our product line with current and creative ideas … and also streamlining our business practices. The response has been tremendous and it feels like a whole new world for Fresh Jewelry Co.”

She says Fresh Flower Earrings are the family business’ best sellers. “Our Fresh Rings are a close second in popularity. At garden events, we fill a bird bath with Fresh Rings on rice that usually attracts a flock of women crowded around to try them on and purchase.”

Fresh Jewelry Co. features vibrant fresh flowers placed into sterling silver jewelry frames. Photo credit: Fresh Jewelry Co.
Fresh Jewelry Co. features vibrant fresh flowers placed into sterling silver jewelry frames. Photo credit: Fresh Jewelry Co.

According to Bristow, they’ve always been a favorite among flower lovers and garden club members, but as they’ve started designing in more contemporary shapes and added new flowers to the collection, teens and young adults are increasingly buying more.

“The vibrant colors are a real draw,” Bristow says.

4. Think Pink

After behind-the-scenes photos of the “Barbie” movie were released last year, Rio Roses says the plastic doll’s aesthetics are becoming trendy again. Think over-the-top electric Barbie doll hues — bubblegum pink, bright fuchsia and another trending color: magenta, Pantone’s 2023 Color of the Year.

“I’ve had a lot more requests for magenta (or merlot) the last several years before it became the 2023 Pantone Color of the Year,” says Val Schirmer of Three Toads Farm in Kentucky, which specializes in lily and bulb gardens, and president of the ASCFG.

“I am definitely growing more dahlias in those deep, rich hues over the plums (which used to be more popular here). The florists and designers I sell to have also really liked the deep raspberry/cherry/merlot hues in annuals such as zinnias, cosmos and Scoop scabiosa.”

Niki Irving, a North Carolina wedding florist and farmer, and the ASCFG’s Southeast regional director, says she has seen a decrease in demand for all-white weddings and white flowers in general.

“I am seeing much more demand for bright, vibrant colors for wedding flowers,” she says. “Retail customers are also drawn to warm, seasonally inspired tones: peach/pink in spring; magenta/peach/pink in summer; and merlot/muted pinks/muted oranges in fall. This is just based on my experience in my market, which is a huge wedding destination location.”

5. Sustainable Products and Practices

As stewards of plants, this trend is the future. Dutchess Bouquets has created a line of “eco-friendly flowers” called Grown Good, which are bouquets packaged and sleeved with bio-based, recyclable materials — the sleeves and insert sheets are made from sugar cane, which can be considered a renewable resource.

This year, FloraLife announced all its FloraLife-branded recyclable paper flower food packet products were deemed carbon neutral. In addition, the company partnered with Carbon Footprint Ltd. to offset the remainder of the packets’ carbon footprint.

“By moving toward paper, the carbon footprint of the packets has been reduced, and we are also offsetting the remaining impact by our investment in the Pacajai REDD+ project, a program to prevent unplanned deforestation in the Amazon; the Longyuan Mulilo De Aar North Wind Energy Facility project, a project to supply wind-generated electricity to a grid in South Africa; and the 5MW Solar Power Plant in Rajasthan, India,” says Mark Allen, global product and sustainability manager, FloraLife.

FloraLife also introduced all-polypropylene plastic flower food packets that can be recycled. The packets are made solely of polypropylene that is recyclable under various global recycling programs yet offers comparable quality and performance of standard plastic packets on the market.

For an enhanced reading experience, view this article in our digital edition.

Teresa McPherson

Teresa McPherson is the managing editor of Lawn & Garden Retailer. Contact her at [email protected].