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MOTHER Nature may indeed be a first-rate floral designer in her own right, but even the most brilliant blossoms can fade in the course of a special event. That's where the latest floral products come in. Whether they make blooms stand out in a dark room or keep stems straight, these accessories bring a fresh look to floral arrangements.


The success of New York-based Acolyte Technologies Corp.'S FloraLytes — one-time-use accent lights that can illuminate flowers, balloons and tabletop items — meant it was only natural for the company to branch out with a waterproof version. New Submersible FloraLytes, available in 10 colors, offer updated design features such as an on/off switch and replaceable batteries. The lights “have been a huge hit with floral designers and are perfect for any water-related application such as the bottom of a floral vase or in ice sculptures,” notes Masa Yamazaki, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

In addition to illuminating the flowers, FloraLytes can highlight design details that might be lost in a darker setting. “We're seeing a lot of metal and alloy wires being incorporated into floral designs, and the use of our lighted products really helps to accent these elements,” Yamazaki says. “Also, the use of monochromatic arrangements, especially whites and pastels, provides a great opportunity to create stunning accents using colored lights.”


Nothing shows off beautiful flowers better than vessels that don't compete for attention with the buds — hence the popularity of clear glass pieces at Roswell, Ga.-based floral accessories supplier Accent Decor. Currently, “the most popular products are clear glassware from 8 inches to 40 inches in height,” says Margaret Hofland, marketing manager. Unique pieces such as clear “Clarinet” reversible vases, available in sizes ranging from 32 to 40 inches tall, add an eye-catching element without distracting from the blossoms. When a floral designer wants to use color, Hofland suggests adding elements such as clay marbles and sisal collars to arrangements. “The mood a designer wants to create can be expressed by combining floral with colored accessories in clear glass,” she says.

New accessories from Kent, Ohio-based Smithers-Oasis are also bringing color to arrangements. The company's decorative wire — available in aluminum, bullion and paper-covered varieties — helps flowers hold their shape and adds sparkle. Rainbow Foam, which can be used with fresh, dried or silk flowers, has been a best-seller since its introduction. The foam, available in 15 hues, “is meant to be seen — it becomes an intricate part of the design, adding impact and color to any special event,” explains Kelly Mace, marketing programs coordinator. Smithers-Oasis also manufactures Mache foam products in shapes including hearts, ovals and squares, which keep flowers secure and hydrated during events.


Extravagant fresh bouquets not in the budget? Today's faux flowers may grow on you.

“When people think of artificial flowers, the first thought that comes to mind is a frayed, fake-looking product — not exactly the look you want for an elegant event,” says Norita Dahlin, decorating consultant at Walla Walla, Wash.-based Flowers for Rent, which manufactures artificial blossoms for use at events. The company's flowers, available in designs including bouquets, wreaths and garlands, are made from materials that “are expensive to purchase, but not expensive to rent,” she explains. “They not only look real, but they feel real, too.”

The savings over using fresh flowers can be substantial: “I recall working with a bride who didn't set a price ceiling but asked me to create the effect I would do for my own event in her custom colors,” Dahlin says. “The result was the most beautiful we had done and cost $3,000. To purchase fresh flowers needed to create a similar look would have cost $12,000 to $15,000.”

The flowers are also in demand for occasions where fragrance is undesirable, she notes: “Winery event planners are beginning to realize they can have real-looking flower centerpieces at their wine-tasting events because these do not have scent to interfere with the taste of the wine.”


Accent Decor, 800/385-5114; Acolyte Technologies Corp., 888/226-5983; Flowers for Rent, 877/522-1630; Smithers-Oasis, 800/321-8286

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