A deep dive into the trend of monobotanical flower arrangements
By Jill Brooke
At New York Design Center’s recent home furnishings trade show, the Baker | McGuire showroom had distinctive flower arrangements placed throughout. These weren’t vases filled with a variety of flowers; instead, each vase featured one specific flower type and color. In one vase, there was a bunch of velvety white callas. In another, next to a book by garden designer Barbara Barry, were Barbie-pink Ranunculus. For intrigue, Paul Stankiewicz also filled one vase with olive branches and another with a sprouted coconut.
“When you have one flower choice, it allows the individual flower to become a star,” explains Stankiewicz, who creates flower arrangements for the North Carolina-based furniture company,
He is not alone in seeking singular special flowers. At the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, interior designers Clive Lonstein and Kesha Franklin sought out curving Allium to put in individual vases. Franklin also used dyed yellow ferns in a white vase to complement the yellow-hued wallpaper. The designers at Design Studio 15 used Allium mixed with draping Amaranthus in a tall vase for the bathroom they designed.
Victoria Hagan, dubbed “the environmental equivalent Katherine Hepburn” by Architectural Digest magazine for her New American Classic interiors, often uses one flower type in her interiors. “It’s modern but beautiful,” she notes.
Part of the reason for the focus on a singular type of flower is that the public is more educated since the pandemic. Studies show that 20 million more people are now gardeners. Because of the beauty of flowers, the consumer public is also following favorite florists on Instagram.
They are also buying books that showcase individual flower types, such as Flower Color Guide by Michael and Taylor (née Darroch) Putnam. The Encyclopedia of Cut Flowers, a new book by Calvert Crary, executive director of FlowerSchool New York and FlowerSchool Los Angeles, which also speaks to this trend, is scheduled for release on Oct. 10.
“One of the things that makes being a florist and flower lover so exciting is the opportunity to learn about new and unusual varieties,” Crary explains. “Everyone starts with the rose, and then the carnation and then finds a whole world of beautiful cut flowers that are available to pursue. It’s an exciting journey, and each year, there are new ones.”
Because of consumer interest—and knowledge—many florists now are lining their stores with buckets of individual flowers to sell. WildFig Floral in Katonah, N.Y., has found that people will pay premium prices for special blooms. “We find that customers will especially buy off-season blooms, such as peonies, Ranunculus or Anemone,” says owner Nichole Wilder. Furthermore, even for in-season flowers, she will put the effort into finding distinctive types and varieties of flowers, such as an intricate Dahlia.
“Monochromatic—or ‘monoflorific,’ as I call it,—is trending in home décor flowers for a number of reasons,” observes Dawn Weissman, owner of Tularosa Flowers & Farm in Fallbrook, Calif. “It highlights the beauty and seasonality of one particular type of flower. Some flowers that look great are Dahlia, lilacs, lilies and peonies but also greens or branches cut from the backyard.” Weissman is also seeing this trend in bridal bouquets. The singular-sensation flower gets attention—and even groupings of just one color.
Using just one type of flower also allows a focus to be on the container. Designers say that many consumers are looking at vases as sculptural art. Arranging one type of flower in these vases showcases not only the flower type but also the vase. The glass vase is now feeling ordinary.
Vessels such as the “Impactite Vase” by Jean-Louis Deniot that was filled with white callas at the Baker | McGuire showroom become a sales opportunity. Therefore, some flower retailers are finding success by offering more interesting vases to complement flower designs. One idea is to put the same flower type in several different art vases a store is selling to give consumers decorating ideas. Another is to ask clients to share some of their heirloom vases, and offer to find special blooms for those containers.
This trend is not only for home interiors. Alexa Howe, CFD, owner of Lilly and Iris Studio in Midvale, Utah, notes that this theme can be applied to any party. “I love when contrasting monobotanical arrangements get styled next to each other. It brings a sophisticated artistic flair to a space and allows each arrangement to shine.”
The idea of one bloom type as high design can be traced back to fashion designer Halston in the 1970s. In fact, when funds were tight during his early days, his assistant would tell him to cut down on orchids to save money for the firm. He dismissively replied, “No, that would be impossible.” Why? Because the orchids were “part of my process.” As he was honing the minimalist style that would make him world famous, the orchids centered him.
“Orchids were all over his place, both at home and in the office,” says Halston biographer Steven Gaines. “Back then, orchids were really expensive and not plentiful. Only the rich could afford them.”
As The Cut reported, Halston would spend more than $100,000 a year for these rare, prized flowers. Halston would get his orchids from floral designer Renny Reynolds, at his venerable New York City-based flower and event design company Renny & Reed. Reynolds told Vogue magazine that the designer had a “burgundy Gae Aulenti table that he would pile up with white Phalaenopsis orchids.”
The flair that Halston used to place potted orchids throughout his lavish Upper East Side townhouse—now owned by Tom Ford—inspired a trend that exists today, with many contemporary homes having large orchids scattered on hallway consoles and living-room cocktail tables.
But with orchids being so popularized now, many consumers are seeking more novel flowers. Florists can take advantage of this trend by sourcing unusual and distinctive blooms for their stores. Furthermore, bud vases are also immensely popular, especially among younger consumers, which opens additional opportunities for the sales and promotion of individual flowers.
“The monochromatic vibe is very popular in design right now and will continue to be,” observes Beth Kushnick, a renowned interior designer with a celebrity clientele and a Hollywood set decorator well known for her work on movies and TV shows, most notably, perhaps, The Good Wife and its spin-off, The Good Fight. “When I hire someone to do flowers, it is not only the arrangement I’m interested in but the unusual flowers in them,” she emphasizes.