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Did you know that many flowers and herbs can be made into teas at home? Oftentimes you need look no further than your own garden for edible plants that can turned into a delicate and delicious brew. Just follow a few simple steps and you’ll be all set to make your own infusions.

You will need:

– Plant materials (herbs, flowers)
– Tea ball or empty tea bags
– Water
– Basket + paper towels/microwave + plate/oven + baking sheet (depending on drying method)
– Tea cup or mug

First of all, know what you’re looking for – educate yourself about which plants and flowers can be made into teas (some seemingly innocuous plants are actually poisonous, so don’t just pick them at random). Here is a list of some common edible flowers and herbs that you can use. It’s by no means complete, but a good basic reference for easy-to-find garden plants:

Plants for tea:

• Lavender
• Dandelion
• Chamomile
• Anise Hyssop
• Lemon Balm
• Hoary Mountain Mint
• Basil
• Lemon Grass
• Chrysanthemum
• Rosebud
• Rosemary
• Peppermint
• Jasmine

Step 1: Gather your plant materials

. Go out into your garden and harvest the leaves or flowers you will using for your tea. You don’t want to take too much, or you’ll risk damaging or even killing the plant itself. As a rule, take up to one third of the plant and leave two thirds or more. Be careful not to damage or pull too much of the stem of any plant you use.

Step 2: Wash your leaves and flowers.

You don’t want to make a tea full of pesticides! And even if you don’t use pesticides, it’s generally a good idea to get all the dirt and other unwanted particles or chemicals off of your pickings. Infusions leech chemical essences into the tea water – the good and the bad; so it’s very important not to skip this step.

Step 3: Dry your ingredients.

You can skip this step if you’ve only gathered enough for one cup of tea and plan on using your herbs or flowers immediately. But if you would like to preserve some of the plant materials to be used later, you can hang the leaves and flowers, or put them in a basket lined with paper towels, and let them air dry in a well-ventilated area. This may take somewhere between a few days and few weeks depending on the types and amounts of plant matter. You can also Tie them in bunches and hang them upside-down in a cool, dark area. If you want to speed up the process, simply place your plant materials on a plate and microwave them for 2 to 5 minutes, checking their dryness along the way. Alternatively you can put them in the oven on a baking sheet and bake them on a low setting. The herbs and flowers will be ready when they feel papery.

Step 4: Prepare your ingredients for steeping.

When the herbs and flowers have completely dried. Place about a tablespoon of the dried ingredients inside a tea ball or tea bag and seal it. You can usually find tea balls at some larger or specialty grocery stores. Make sure you choose one with a chain for easy removal from the tea cup or mug.

Step 5: Make your tea!

Boil yourself some water and place the tea ball or bag into the water, letting it infuse for as long as you want – longer for a deep, rich flavor, shorter for a delicate taste. Now, enjoy the fruits of your labor! Go ahead and experiment – why not make some interesting blends by combining different herbs and flowers? Start simple, then figure out what you like and feel free to play with various tastes and aromas.

January:

Though January brings snow, cold and short days with little light, some flowers actually do well in these condition and are able to withstand the harshness of winter. These hardy flowers include: Amaryllis, Freesia, Acacia, Carnations, and Gerber Daisies. You’ll generally be able to find these blooms available at your local florist.

February:

It may still be cold in February, but this month heralds in the first of the traditional spring flowers, such as crocus and primrose. You’ll also find violets and forsythia blooming in this month. Your florist will have a wider selection available – keep in mind that many flowers in shops are imported from warmer climes.

March:

Early spring is a great time for flowers. Daffodils, Poppies, Sweet pea and Tulips all make their appearance in March. You also might be able to find Gardenia, Hyacinth and Hollyhock blooming in some places. Warmer parts of the country may expect the lovely Bird of Paradise flower to make its appearance as well.

April:

By this time, things are beginning to really warm up. Now, in the midst of true spring, you should have no problem finding Anemones, Ginger, Allium, Marigolds, Wax flower and Hydrangea. Also available are Gerber daisies, Lily of the Flower, and gorgeous Stargazer lilies (plus many more not listed here – April is a great month for flowers!).

May:

May might just be the best season for flowers. Carnations, Pansies, Bouvardia, Bornonia, Anemones and Bells of Ireland all enjoy the warm temperatures of this fair month. Casablanca lilies, Lilacs, Peonies and Ranunculus also make their appearance as we move closer to summery weather.

June:

June brings quite a few beautiful blooms, like Roses, Baby’s breath, Hydrangeas, Mini callas, Celosia, alstroemeria (Peruvian Lily), Asters, Celosia, Cornflowers and Forget-me-nots.

July:

Now in the heart of summer, you’ll find flowers who can really stand up to the heat in full bloom. Many may have already come and gone, but a few flowers really love the warmer temperatures. These include many types of Orchids, Delphinium, Daisies, Gardenias, Iris, Hydrangeas (these hardy shrubs have a particularly long blooming season), and Sunflowers.

August:

By far the hottest month of the year, only certain flowers can stand up to the challenge that extreme heat of August poses. You’ll find Allium, Bachelor’s Buttons, Cornflower, Belladonna Lily, Gladiolus, Zinnias, Clematis, and Grape Hydrangea all in bloom as the temperature rises.

September:

As the weather cools and we begin to plunge back into fall, some lovely blooms finally make their appearance. Agapanthus, amaranthus and Blue lace flower shouldn’t be too hard to find. Coxcomb and protea should be available at your local florist as well.

October:

Now in the heart of fall, October brings the perfect conditions for some cold-loving flowers. These include kalanchoe, statice, yarrow, solidago and salvia. You might also be able to find spray arnation, lisianthus and tuberose.

November:

Late fall meaning temperatures are seriously taking a dip. But this brings the perfect conditions for Mimosa, aranthera, banksia and helenium. Chrysanthemums, one of the most celebrated flowers the world-over, will also open in November.

December:

Cycling back around to winter, you’ll find some hardy cold-loving plants blooming in harsh month. Anthurium, muscari, phlox and the beautiful hellebore make their appearance as we head toward the new year.

So, you need to send flowers to a man. Now what? There’s a delicate art to selecting flowers for men. It’s not as hard as it seems but it helps to stick to some general guidelines. Here are a few simple tips for keeping arrangements on the masculine side.

Who are you sending flowers to?

This will inform your choice of flowers. Are you sending a thank you or sympathy arrangement to a coworker or superior? If so, go with something more formal looking and definitely stick to neutral tones like whites (all white is traditional for sympathy), blues and greens. Steer clear of roses, too. It may be okay to include a few in a sympathy arrangement, but don’t overdo it – the rose is the classic flower of love and romance. If you’re sending a romantic arrangement to your boyfriend or husband, on the other hand, feel free to include as many roses as you want. It’s still a safe bet to stick with blues, greens and whites unless you know that he likes other colors.

Steer clear of “girly” colors:

This may sound obvious, but it’s worth pointing out. Shades of pink, red, yellow and purple are not the way to go when sending a bouquet or arrangement to a male. If you send a typically feminine-looking bouquet to the man in question at his place of work, you risk embarrassing him in front of his boss or coworkers. That said, there are some men that like colors in the warm palate, such as orange, yellow and red. If you know for sure that he likes these colors and would be fine with receiving an arrangement in these shades, go for it. But if there’s any question about or ambiguity at all, don’t risk it.

When in doubt, stick with a neutral color palate:

As was pointed out above, girly colors might cause embarrassment for the recipient of your flowers. Best to go with a floral arrangement in “neutral” tones. This means white or cream, blues and greens. It’s helpful to tell your florist that the arrangement is going to a male – they deal with these requests all the time. In fact, go ahead and provide them with as many details as you can: is it going to a business or residence? Is it a friendly or business-related gesture? These details will help them to create the perfect arrangement tailored to the occasion and conveying the right kind of sentiment. Any florist worth their salt will probably have dealt with a similar situation before and will know what to do.

Choose flowers with a classic, elegant look:

In addition to the color of your flowers, you’ll also want to consider the types of flowers you use. Some are a bit more feminine than others, such as peonies, roses and Gerber daisies. Stay away from these. Instead, go for flowers with a sophisticated, unfussy look, like white calla lilies. You can even use Oriental lilies if you stick with white, but might want to steer clear of Peruvian lilies unless you know that he specifically likes these. Some other good choices are green anthuriums and blue hyacinth. Orchids will also work just fine.

Go with a plant:

If you’re uneasy with the whole idea of sending a floral arrangement to a man, go with a potted plant instead. This will convey the same message, whether it’s “thank you” or “I love you,” giving plants as gifts is a lovely gesture and appropriate for any occasion. Just make sure the plant you choose is not overly demanding, unless you know that the recipient would be willing to take on the task of caring for a more high-maintenance plant. If not, definitely stay away from bonsais – these neat little miniature trees require extensive care and many people don’t have the time to make this kind of investment. Instead, go with a Pothos or Peace Lily. These are popular office plants because they are among the easiest to care for. Pothos is very tolerant of erratic watering, just make sure not to overwater it, somewhere around once or twice a week should be just fine. Jade is also a beautiful plant that won’t be too demanding. When in doubt, ask a florist. Chances are they have heard your questions before and will usually be happy to help.

Although the natural world provides flowers in almost every shade, specific colors such as blue and turquoise may be very hard to find. But you can make these shapes in your own kitchen with a little ingenuity. You will want to use white flowers for your dyeing experiment, since the colors will show up best on these. If you choose to use colored flowers, keep in mind that your results may be unpredictable and possibly darker than you expected.

You will need:

• White flowers
• Warm water
• Vase
• Food coloring

1) First, prepare your flowers.

Again, it is best to use flowers in shades of white or cream. Trim about two inches off the bottom of the stems, cutting with sharp scissors underwater and at an angle. The reason for cutting them under water is that this prevents air bubbles from rising up the stems; air bubbles block full absorption of the water and dye. The angled cut ensures that as much dye is absorbed as possible (more surface area).

2) Fill a vase about half full with clean water.

You will want to add somewhere between 20 and 40 drops of food coloring for every 2 cups of water. 20 drops will give you a light, subtle tint. 40 will give you a rich, saturated color.

Add the flowers to the vase and simply let them to sit in a cool place for a full 24 hours. As the flowers drink the water, the dye is sucked up through the stems and into the petals. Check on your flowers from time to time to prevent them from turning darker than you would like. Once they reach the perfect shade, remove them from the water.

Note:

with some flowers, you may notice that the tips of the petals change color first. Don’t worry, the rest of the petal will follow in a few hours.

Bicolored flowers:

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can achieve a fun, bicolored look with a little tweaking of the above process. Simply slit the stem up the middle and place each of the halves in a different color solution.

Tie-dye flowers:

This is a variation on the bicolored effect. Split your stem into three sections this time and place each in a different colored dye solution.
If you’re up for some more experimentation, go ahead and try your hand at dyeing naturally colored flowers. You may get some very interesting results!

It’s a great idea to celebrate the holidays with a festive bouquet. Flowers add cheer to any occasion and you can create a beautiful arrangement using just a few types, no need to get too fussy! Below, find some suggestions for great bouquets to compliment every gathering the whole year round. A few holidays lend themselves easily to a patriotic red, white and blue scheme, but don’t be afraid to add a dash of color with another type of seasonal flower. These can actually fill out the bouquet quite well and add an element of the unexpected.

New Year’s Day:

Bouquets in silver and white echo the snow-laden landscape of New Years Day. Use white roses, white lilies and baby’s breath, accented with some bear grass and curly willow. Calendula, Pansies and Hellebores are winter-blooming flowers that can add a dash of color.

President’s Day:

The go-to arrangement or bouquet for this patriotic holiday would be a red white and blue scheme. For white, you might want to consider using white calla lilies, Casablanca lilies or paper whites. For blue, blue hydrangea or purple blue larkspur will work, and for red, try red ranunculus. For a dash of color, add pink stargazer lilies or yellow kangaroo paw, which are both in season in February. There are many patriotic holidays, so feel free to experiment which variations on the traditional color schemes.

Memorial Day:

For memorial day, you can go with a red, white and blue scheme or just choose a selection of seasonal flowers, although I would recommend keeping to cool tones in green, blue and white. If you do opt for a patriotic scheme white peonies, freesia and gerbers are in season. For red, you can use alstroemeria (Peruvian Lilies) or red Gerber daises, and for blue try blue cornflowers or blue delphinium. Add some color with pink lisianthus or alstroemeria. A simple and elegant arrangement also suits this holiday well, nothing loud or flashy. Choose from the whites and blues listed above and accent with some greens such as bear grass, mini green hydrangeas or curly willow.

Independence Day:

This is the only patriotic holiday where I might recommend sticking with the traditional color scheme. White lisianthus and white and red zinnias are in season. Blue iris or cornflower will complement these with gorgeous purple-blue tones. Add one or two stems of calla green goddess for a splash of green. On the other hand, you could flout tradition with a big cheery bouquet of sunflowers.

Labor Day:

In patriotic colors you will find blue and white hyacinths, white magnolia, red roses, and red white and blue snapdragon all in season. To spruce up this traditional bouquet, add purple freesia, which will complement the purple-blue tones stunningly.

Columbus Day:

For Columbus Day you will want to choose either fall colors (green, orange, and yellow) or the colors of the Italian flag (green, red, and white). For white, choose Lily of the Valley, Wax Flower, or white callas. In red, you will find amaryllis, amaranthus, red hypericum berries all readily available. Mango callas make a great orange element here, as do orange alstroemeria and amaryllis. Yellow hypericum flowers and yellow callas are in season, for yellow. And for green, use green hypericum or dianthus.

Thanksgiving:

For this festive holiday, go with shades of orange, yellow, brown, green and red. Feel free to include some small gourds or pumpkins, or even some attractive twigs or wheat stalks. Use mango callas or helenium (these have variegated red, orange and yellow petals). In yellow, choose freesia or lisianthus. For red, gerbers or alstroemeria will work. And, for green and brown, mix bear grass, curly willow and decorative twigs with fall leaves still on the branches.

Christmas:

Poinsettia plants are the favored floral decoration for Christmas. But you can also create gorgeous and original arrangements in shades or red and green with some seasonal blooms. For red, take your pick from peonies (a very rich blood-red shade), roses, tulips or poppies. For green, go with holly, bear grass, or cedar sprigs. Add some small ornaments, bells or glitter for a truly festive bouquet.

Hannukah:

For Hannukah, you will want to use white and blue, the colors of the Israeli flag. Find Paper Whites, Stephanotis and Casablanca lilies in delicate shades of white and cream. For blue use larkspur, snapdragons or delphinium in blue-purple tones. Add silver and blue glitter to spruce things up.