By Kim Hess
A California bride deserves a California bouquet. Flowers native to the Golden State will give your wedding day an authentic California flair. Southern California is home to thousands of native plants. They lend their beauty to the San Diego area, and we have to admit — we’re obsessed by the idea of showcasing native flowers during one of the biggest celebrations of a lifetime. Here are five native flowers perfect for your wedding.
The most obvious choice for your San Diego wedding is the California state flower, the California poppy. This brilliantly colored flower grows all up and down California, from the Oregon border, all the way into Baja California. This poppy lights up a floral arrangement with its color — anywhere from blazing orange to a golden yellow. Yellow poppies are more common in SoCal than they are to the north, so you might consider highlighting a more buttery-colored California poppy in your San Diego bouquets and centerpieces. The grayish-green stems and leaves also lend a stylish aesthetic to the greens in your floral arrangements.
The showy penstemon is a gorgeous California plant. You’ve seen it blooming on its own in gardens and hillsides. These lavender-blue and lilac flowers grow on long stems that lend themselves to be massed into a hand-tied presentation. The showy penstemon blooms through much of the year and should be easy to find in California.
The Pacific Coast iris will give you some different colors to choose — white, lavender, dark purple, even pinks, and burgundies. These gorgeous blooms with their large fluttering petals are a graceful addition to any flower arrangement. Whether you pick them by hand out of your garden, or your florist orders them for you, you won’t lose with the Pacific Coast iris. The long stems lend themselves to a presentation style bouquet. But since there’s only one big bloom to each tall stem, the stems can be trimmed and the flowers arranged in a nosegay or other design.
Some people say this California native looks a little bit like a fried egg. This gorgeous poppy has large, crinkly snow-white petals that surround a cluster of golden-yellow stamens. Once your guests see Matilija poppies at your wedding, they won’t be thinking about bacon (unless you’re serving bacon at the reception of course!). They’ll marvel over the flowers. The Matilija poppy is one of California’s favorite natives. It was in the running for state flower against the California poppy when the decision was made in 1903.
The splendid mariposa lily was also a runner-up in the state flower contest. Take one look and you can see this lily holds its own against the distinct and lovely Matilija and California poppies. This flower blooms in the spring in California. It has three large petals and can be pink, white, lavender blue or purple. This distinctive flower grows on thin stems, making it an easy addition to any bouquet or centerpiece. The only downfall to the splendid mariposa lily — it’s not the most reliable of blooms, Horticulturists say flowering takes up a lot of energy for this plant, so a yearly bloom isn’t a sure thing. Check with your florist on its availability.
Choosing native plants is not just a style choice. It’s also the choice of eco-conscious brides, who want their wedding celebrations to leave a smaller footprint behind. Since they’re easy to grow here, you won’t have to spend a fortune on them. Luckily, in California, you don’t have to choose between being stylish, cost conscious, or environmentally responsible. The Golden State is home to lots of beautiful options.
Kim Hess is a nature lover and wedding planner who enjoys incorporating a hometown feel in the ceremonies and receptions she designs. She also enjoys tasting food at