Flowers for Garlands

Long strings of garlands comprised of long-lasting and sturdy-structured flowers can add much to the visual appeal of a festive party. Flowers are relatively small, so large numbers are needed to make a festooning rope, much more so than a basic Polynesian lei for the neck and shoulders. Consider growing annual flowers from seed to supply a huge number of blossoms without great expense. Rarer, more delicate blossoms like orchids will cost more as well as require considerable time to receive if shipped from growers around the world.


Easy to sow and grow into bushy plants with abundant numbers of golden, orange or pale yellow flowers, marigolds also have blossoms that are stiff and firm. Stringing marigold flower heads, especially those from the upright, taller growing African or American marigolds (Tagetes erecta) allows you to make a garland with fewer blossoms. Simply pierce the flower with a large needle and heavy-gauge nylon string or thin metal thread through its stem base and the middle of the petal mass. The smaller French marigold types can also be used, and provide a broader range of flower colors and petal shapes than African marigold varieties.

Golden Everlastings

Even when fresh and newly opened on the plant, golden everlasting or strawflower (Xerochrysum spp. or Bracteantha spp.) flower heads feel dry and crisp. You may string the individual flower heads like marigolds or strip the flower stems of leaves and layer them with coiling wire or string to create the garland. An advantage to using strawflowers over marigolds is that the strawflower blossoms will dry evenly and look exactly the same when they were fresh--allowing the garland to persist for a much longer time. Golden everlastings are easy-to-grow annual plants that also produce flowers in white or rosy pink shades besides the typical yellow, orange and rusty-red tones.

Flamingo Flowers

Flamingo flowers (Anthurium spp.) are tropical herbs that produce waxy, heart-shaped red, pink, white or green flower spathes with a yellow finger-like spadix. The long stems allow you to coil wire around them to layer dozens of flamingo flowers into a garland. The waxy stems and flowers are sturdy and will remain attractive for a couple of days without being in water, providing longevity to bridge the gap from making the garland, hanging it and enjoying it for the festivities.


Leis are made from frangipani blossoms (Plumeria rubra), among other tropical flowers. If you are fortunate to have several trees of frangipani in flower in the summer, you can string the trumpet-like flowers with a string through their floral tubes/throats to create a garland. The waxy and deliciously fragrant flowers will remain firm and presentable for up to 36 hours before beginning to wilt. Keep the flowers chilled in a refrigerator to lengthen their life once strung into a garland. Blossoms range in color from white, red, pink and yellow and combinations in-between.


Among the least expensive of flowers to purchase at a florist are carnations (Dianthus spp.), sometimes called pinks. These fleshy, multipetaled flowers have a large, firm, cup-like base that holds the blossoms. String these blossoms by poking a needle with string or wire through the tough bases and orient the flowers to make a colorful garland. Refrigerating the garland prolongs the life of the flowers, but once in a room, will look good for upwards of 36 hours before the flower heads decay and soften. Carnation flowers come in an array of colors and white carnations can be dyed into any color that doesn't naturally occur.

Keywords: flowers for garlands, making a lei, stringing flowers, garland construction

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," nonprofit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He's gardened and worked professionally at public and private gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He has written articles for eHow and GardenGuides.