After reading too many seriously incorrect blog posts about what flowers are in season in South Africa (I will just limit my observation to this country for this article), I contacted one of our local wedding directory and blog services and called them on their validity of the information that they published. Their response was that they got the information from another reputable blog and therefore assumed it was correct.
AND being asked by clients for flowers that are totally not in season and being told by XXX blog said they were available, I decided to write 4 articles on the flowers available by season, specifically for South Africa.
I have been a floral designer for 12 years now and when I was first starting out and didn’t know the seasons, I used to make a monthly trip to the flower auction in Johannesburg and wander around the suppliers, noting what was on their floors for that month. From these observations I compiled my own list as even the list that said flower auction published in the form of a poster was initially incorrect.
Since then, we have been blessed by the resurgent interest in floral design, to have many more varieties grown for our market for longer seasons than before. Also more modern farming techniques have also resulted in longer seasons for some varieties that had very limited seasons before, such as the blushing bride protea.
Here’s the first article that I wrote on Summer Flowers, as published on Pink Book blog, but since updated for this year based on new growers entering the market.
South Africa is blessed with a huge amount of sun. With between 2400 hours to 4000 hours of sunshine a year, depending on where in the country you are.
And as a result, it’s no wonder, summer is the most popular season for weddings with colour schemes generally focusing on soft, romantic pastels, or bright summery shades.
“Just living is not enough, one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower” – Hans Christian Andersen
Summer flowers are fairly abundant in terms of the varieties available, and the good news is that generally flowers are a little less expensive in summer due to flowers enjoying the rain and warm sunshine and thus flowering more profusely.
In drought years, flowers will be more expensive due to the cost of water (for irrigation) and the damage to flowers when the temperatures are too high for too long. They can also get wind damage from hot dry winds, which are typical of the Western Cape during summer.
Also note that around Valentine’s day, the cost of all flowers increases, but particularly the cost of roses and any pink, white or red flowers. So factor this in if you are getting married just before or just after Valentine’s Day.
“A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and a man cannot live without love.” – Max Muller
Here’s a list of cut flowers typically available in the period: November to February in South Africa – that can generally be found at the flower market or via flower wholesalers, floral designers and florists. But the list may vary slightly from region to region across South Africa, also depending on what your local wholesaler can source:
Note: The list is not exhaustive, and there are also other flowers that grow at summer time but that might not generally not sold as cut flowers due to their fragility or inability to be stored and/or transported to flower markets.
Flowers available on import have been excluded.
- Alstromeria or Inca lily
- Amaryllis lilies
- Arums – coloured varieties and still some white in early summer
- Asclepia or Melkbos or Old Man’s Balls
- Asiatic lilies – also called Umbelatum lilies or some people call them day lilies or tiger lilies, which they closely resemble, but are not
- Banksia (early in the season)
- Bupleurem or Cat’s eyes
- Brunia (dark green variety, not the grey, some grey in early summer)
- Carnations – large and mini’s
- Celosia or cocks comb
- Chinese or summer asters
- Chinks or Chincherinchees
- Chrysanthemums – large singles and sprays
- Craspedia or Knobkierries
- Crocosmia (late December through January)
- Dahlias (late summer) and limited areas and availability
- Delphiniums (early summer), regular and hybrid
- Dendrobium orchids (generally on import)
- Dianthus or Sweet William
- Equisetum or snake grass
- Eucomis or pineapply lily (December/January)
- Fountain grass
- Gerberas – large and mini
- Golden rod or Solidago
- Gypsophila or Babies breath
- Hydrangea (late summer, although some of the deeper colours and pure white may still only be on import)
- Hypericum berries
- Kale (early summer)
- Kangaroo paw (sporadic supply & limited colours)
- Lace flower (Queen Anne’s lace)
- Larkspurs (early summer)
- Leucodendron (fynbos, but it gets more scarce as the summer gets hotter)
- Lisianthus – get more abundant as the summer matures
- Monte casino or Michaelmas daisy
- Nigella – flowers and pods
- Oncidium orchids
- Oriental lilies – casablancas, white and stargazers, shades of pink and pink/white(some people mistakenly call these St Joseph lilies)
- Peonies (season is about 6 weeks and can start at the end of October til early November only or only start in November depending on the environment conditions)
- Phalaenopsis orchids
- Pin cushions (early summer)
- Poppies (early summer only)
- Proteas (some varieties, but king proteas are more scarce in summer)
- Roses & cluster roses
- Scabiosa, flowers and pods
- Sea holly or eryngium
- Snow on the mountain (euphorbia)
- Stocks (early summer)
- Strawflower (type of everlasting)
- St Joseph lilies
- Wax flower (early summer still available)
- Waratah proteas (early summer for a limited period)
Using seasonally available flowers is always more budget friendly and better for the environment as their footprint is so much more eco-friendly, than flowers imported from other continents. Not to mention they are usually better quality as well and are more suited to the local climate.