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Designer Spotlight: Winterizing and Planting Mums

Posted on by BelleFiori

Mums are popping up on porches and in yards everywhere throughout the Milwaukee area. These gorgeous, full flowers make for the perfect fall accents and come in a variety of shapes and colors. They’re also an inexpensive way to brighten up your home or backyard party. Our florists at Belle Fiori love the versatility of these Wisconsin-friendly blooms and always love seeing those little patches of color throughout the community.

Check out this awesome article from our friends at Better Homes and Gardens about the care and maintenance of these fabulous florals…

fall flowers

Fall Mums: Your Ultimate Care Guide

Mums in Containers

Garden mums also make great container plants. They’re just right for popping into a clay pot, lining up in a row in a window box, or placing in the center of a mixed container with trailing foliage plants all around. Many landscape plants can provide a backdrop for groupings of mums. For texture, choose ornamental grasses or the neon purple berries of the beautyberry shrub (Callicarpa). You also can pair mums with smoke tree (Cotinus), variegated sedum, the deciduous dwarf Fothergilla gardenii, or almost any conifer.

To get the most from your mums, choose cultivars according to their bloom times. It also helps to coordinate bloom time with the length of fall in your location. Most garden mums will withstand a light fall frost, but finding the right cultivars will provide the longest possible amount of pleasure.

Annual or Perennial?

Mums aren’t as expensive as many perennials, so if you choose to, you can plant them as annuals without worrying that you’ve spent too much money on something that might not live more than one season. If you’re an impulse buyer, you’ll probably see pots of colorful mums this fall and not be able to resist.

Fall planting lessens the chance of winter survival, however, since roots don’t have time to establish themselves. If you want something more permanent and are willing to provide proper care such as mulching and pinching to encourage compact growth and more blooms, plant mums in the spring and allow them to get established in the garden. This will improve their chances of overwintering and reblooming the next year. Some plants will even produce a few blooms in the spring before being pinched for fall flowers.

Hardy vs. Florist Mums

Florist (or cutting) mums and hardy (or garden) mums come from the same original parent — a golden-yellow daisylike mum from China. Today’s hybrids in both categories are the results of endless crosses between several species from China and Japan. The result of such hybridization performed over hundreds of years is different types of mums that perform for two distinct purposes.

Florist mums are large-flower plants with many possible bloom forms, from quilled to pompon to spider and more. Grown in greenhouses and used only as indoor plants, florist mums produce few, if any, underground stolens, which are necessary if the mum is to survive cold weather. Florist mums planted outside are most likely being used as short-term bedding plants that will be removed when the blooms are spent. You can plant a potted florist mum you receive as a gift, and it may grow for the summer, but it will not survive the winter, no matter how much protection you give it. Garden mums, on the other hand, produce underground stolens and can survive cold better. Most garden mums are perennials in Zones 5 to 9 and much tougher than florist types. Some cultivars are less hardy than others and can be killed by an early spring frost.

Whether you’re looking for a quick splash of color or a fixture for your border, mums are the pick for a fabulous fall.

Growing Mums

When it comes time to plant mums, consider these factors:

Location. Choose a spot that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Plants that don’t get enough sunlight will be tall and leggy and produce fewer, smaller flowers.

Soil preparation. Mums thrive in well-drained soil. Heavy clay soil should be amended. If your yard is soggy after the slightest rain, grow mums in raised beds with friable soil for good root growth.

If the soil is too dense, add compost and prepare to a depth of 8-12 inches for best performance. Mums’ roots are shallow, and they don’t like competition. Plant mums about 1 inch deeper than they were in the nursery pot, being careful with the roots as you spread them.

Trim off the previous year’s stems as soon as the new spring growth begins to show.

Watering. Water newly planted mums thoroughly, and never let them wilt. After they are established, give mums about an inch of water per week. When bottom leaves look limp or start to turn brown, water more often. Avoid soaking the foliage, which encourages disease.

Fertilizer. Plants set out in spring should get a 5-10-10 fertilizer once or twice a month until cooler weather sets in. Don’t fertilize plants set out in fall as annuals, but plants you hope to overwinter should get high-phosphorus fertilizer to stimulate root growth.

See our favorite mums.

Overwintering. Prepare mums for winter after the first hard frost. Mulch up to 4 inches with straw or shredded hardwood. Fill in around the entire plant, spreading well between branches. Pinch off dead blooms to clean up the plant, but leave branches intact. Mums have a better chance of surviving if you wait to prune old stems until spring. As soon as the weather warms, pull away mulch to allow new shoots to pop up.

Dividing. Mums grown as perennials need to be divided every couple of years. Divide in the spring after the last hard frost and after you see new growth starting. Dig up the plant in one piece and separate outer pieces from the center with a clean sharp spade or large knife. Replant the outer portions into a rejuvenated bed, and discard the original center of the plant.

Pests. You may notice aphids, leafhoppers, or spider mites, but they are not likely to harm the plant.

Pinching Mums for Better Bloom

The key to those full, rounded domes of blooms that you associate with mums is pinching to create more branching and keep plants compact. Don’t hold back — just a few minutes here and there will reward you with a thick, solid-looking plant.

If you’ve bought large, full plants in the fall, they have already been pinched and are ready for planting. Young spring plants will need pinching for maximum bloom and best plant shape.

Start pinching as soon as you see a good flush of buds. Pinch about half of the tender new growth at the top of the shoot; choose some stems with buds and some without. Repeat the process with every 3 to 5 inches of growth (about every two to four weeks) until July 4. Stopping then ensures you will get good bud formation and blooms in fall.

Varieties to Look For

Look for these recently introduced cultivars at your local nursery.

‘Blizzard’ This extra-late variety offers the largest (2-1/2-inch) and whitest flower available in a daisy garden mum. It develops into an almost ball-shaped plant covered with bright white blooms over extra-dark green foliage.

‘Bold Felicia’ The early blooms are an unbelievable neon-hot pink daisy with a bright yellow center disk.

‘Carrie’ A hard-to-find two-tone decorative flower that is a dark red-bronze in the center with golden-yellow outer petals. This extra-late cultivar shows none of the discoloration of aging petals seen in some older varieties.

‘Melissa’ This extra-late mum blooms through late October and was bred for excellent flower form, flower color, color retention, and growth habit. The bright lavender-rose flowers combine beautifully with ‘Erica’, ‘Ingrid’, and ‘Taffy’.

‘Vicki’ Another bright “wow” of a plant, these decorative blooms are rich orange with a darker orange center. They have awesome color and a full spreading plant habit.

‘Zesty Jean’ An unusual pastel peach-coral color, the early decorative flowers are more fully petaled and retain their color longer than others of this hue.

Belle Fiori Real Wedding: Jordan & Joe

Posted on by BelleFiori

We’re flashing back a year to the fabulous Ozaukee County wedding of Jordan and Joe! These two tied the knot last September and are a great example of what Belle Fiori has to offer seasonally for the end of summer and early fall.

Our florists loved Jordan and Joe’s bright and pastel yellow, white, and grey color palette. It was the perfect fit for September! Jordan’s bouquet and arrangements were a beautiful combination of yellow yarrow and spray roses in various shades. For texture and variety, we added white roses, stock, and stems of babies breath surrounded by dusty miller and brunia berry. Just enough color and interest for a classic but playful feel.

To carry their florals throughout the ceremony and reception, the couple chose to line the aisle with wood boxes of lush, wildflower style assortments of flowers. Their complementary centerpieces utilized mason jars and twine to give off a rustic vibe while still maintaining their sunny palette (which they even extended to the cake!) Jordan and Joe did a phenomenal job planning their florals, as well as their entire event!

Check out some images of Belle Fiori’s flowers by Spottswood Photography, and click here to view their post from Jordan and Joe’s big day!

Ceremony & Reception: River Club of Mequon
Invitations & Papergoods: Broadway Paper & Jeff Jasinowski ~design work
Dress: Stone Manor Bridal
Shoes: Nina
Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal
Tux/Suit: DuBois Formalwear
Transportation: Andrus Limosine Service 
Music: Sound by Design

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Holiday Planning-Grandparent’s Day

Posted on by BelleFiori

Did you know that Grapndparent’s Day is September 13th? Grandparents are some of the most important people in our lives, and Belle Fiori loves when clients make an extra special effort to celebrate their grandparents each September. We adore designing custom floral arrangements with your loved ones’ favorite blooms in mind. Remember-there’s no one who appreciates flowers as much as your grandma!

National Grandparent’s Day began with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia. McQuade made it her goal to educate youth about the important contributions seniors have made throughout history. She also urged the youth to “adopt” a grandparent, not just for one day a year, but rather for a lifetime. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day. What a great holiday!

We encourage you to show your appreciation for your grandparents this year with a floral arrangement or gift. It’s a great way to acknowledge them for all that they do and remind them that you’re thinking of them.

Stop by Belle Fiori’s Milwaukee area shop today to order your custom arrangement, or click here to order any you like pictured below!

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T16-1C Heart's Delight T97-1A Simply Chic Mixed Plant Basket T107-1C Bon Vivant Gourmet Basket T152-2C Premium Sunny Sunflowers T601-3C Premium Portrait in Purple

Wedding Cake Decor-Dress it Up with Florals from Belle Fiori

Posted on by BelleFiori

Flowers and wedding cake. Obviously, our two favorite things about weddings!! When Belle Fiori has the opportunity to combine the two? Perfection.

It’s one thing to design a floral arrangement in a vase or vessel, but using a cake or dessert as our canvas is something both creatively inspiring and challenging! We are always intrigued by the artistry of cake bakers and the unique differences in shapes, tiers, frosting textures, and colors! Those elements provide us with the guidance and direction we need to create a stunning and personalized floral design. Large, lavish cakes tend to allow for bold statements, such as a dramatic cascade of flowers or a lush topper. We also love the charm of a small cake with just a touch of simple, dainty blooms.

Incorporating flowers onto your cake is an excellent way to extend the style and colors of your wedding throughout your reception. Cake flowers are often smaller accents of the same blooms as the bride’s bouquet, and can be a wonderful alternative to traditional cake figurines.

At Belle Fiori we are happy to work with you to create your perfect dessert masterpiece. Check out some of our favorite cake designs from past Milwaukee weddings!

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Designer Spotlight: Alex’s Wedding Inspiration

Posted on by BelleFiori

My dream wedding has changed a lot since my Disney princess fantasies as a child. As a four year old, a grown man in a suit of armor riding a horse sounded so romantic and normal. Now, at twenty seven, that seems like a noisy hot mess. While the idea of wearing a dress that would rival Princess Diana’s wedding gown doesn’t strike my fancy like it used to, I’m still envisioning grandiose event details. Now that I’m in a position to have an actual, real and true wedding, my brain is going through never ending “yes, no, maybe-so” judgement calls on every wedding detail that could ever be conjured up by photoshoots and blog posts (even this one). 

The struggle is real. Due to my daily involvement/addiction with Pinterest and Instagram I feel the need to make my wedding unique and original. Which is easier said than done. This post is the beginning of my brainstorming process to create a weird, pretty, and shiny/sparkly wedding look. 

Like every good bride-to-be, I started with a Pinterest board and gathered images of styles and colors I liked and then tried to go a step ahead by finding non-wedding inspiration. I drew from my art history background and came up with an idea.  An idea that can easily be found on Pinterest already! Alright, not exactly. Cynicism aside, I was inspired Georgia O’Keefe. Her color palettes and imagery from her Southwest period seemed easily translatable to centerpieces and event decor. While Southwest themes can be found on Pinterest, I tried to focus on the striking colors in O’Keefe’s work. My goal was not to create a southwest theme, but find an inspiration that highlights burgundy, purples and blues, while finding a reason, other than hunting, to incorporate a deer skull into my piece. 

Here are images from round one of my design experiments. We’ll see how my ideas changes over the year to come. Wish me luck!


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Belle Fiori Real Milwaukee Wedding: Katie & Alex

Posted on by BelleFiori

Katie and Alex’s Southeastern Wisconsin nuptials were the perfect mix of elegant and fun. From the touching ceremony at St. John’s, to the ping pong and brilliantly served shaved ice, these two hosted the perfect event.

When our florists at Belle Fiori were selected to work with this fabulous couple, we were thrilled to create bridal florals to accent some of Milwaukee’s most beautiful venues. From the gorgeous brick at the Lake Country ceremony, to the ever-classic ballroom of the Wisconsin Club, Belle Fiori was given exceptional backdrops for inspiration.

Katie’s beautiful lace gown from Maggie Sottero was the perfect pair for her creamy white rose, lavender herb, white freesia and babies breath bridal bouquet. The pops of lavendar provided a wonderful complement to the bridesmaid’s dresses and decor. The bridesmaid’s themselves carried bouquets of purple stock, lavender roses, delphinium, lavender herb and babies breath. We loved the color combinations which photographed beautifully with both indoor and outdoor backdrops selected by Heather Cook Elliot Photography.

It’s hard to be a florist. Because the range of blooms and endless possibilities make it hard to pick a favorite style of floral design. On any given weekend, we’re hand selected to provide wedding florals and centerpieces for many Milwaukee couples. But I have to say, we had a wonderful time creating Katie and Alex’s classically beautiful centerpieces-they were some of my summer favorites. Housed in gorgeous glass vessels, their reception arrangements were the perfect focal point of each tablescape.

Check out some stunning shots from Katie and Alex’s special day, and congratulations again to the beautiful couple!

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Reception Venue: The Wisconsin Club

Photography: Heather Cook Elliot

Bridal Gown: Maggie Sottero

Bridal Store: Savvy Bride, Brookfield

Bridesmaid Dresses: Bill Levkoff

Groom’s Suit: Dubois Formal Wear

Handkerchiefs: C A Designs Embroidery

Hair and Makeup: Roots Salon, Third Ward

Floral: Belle Fiori

Cupcakes: Sweet Perfections

Shave Ice Truck: Kona Ice Lake Country

Table Tennis Fun: Evolution MKE

DJ and Lighting: Sound By Design

Linens: BBJ and The Wisconsin Club

Videographer: A. Alive Films

Popcorn: Poppin’ On Broadway

Ceremony Glass Crystals: Unity In Glass

Planner: Megan, Dare to Dream Weddings

Tropical Style Bouquets

Posted on by BelleFiori

With the exception of a few steamy days, our Milwaukee Summer has been rather cool this year. To compensate for a lack of lakeside laziness in the Sun, Belle Fiori decided to showcase our favorite tropical bouquets from around the web that take us from Costa Rica to Hawaii, and Morocco to California! Tropical inspired bouquets are a favorite for summer brides, and we’re loving the variety of designs florists across the country are coming up with.

Check out some of our favorites below! If you’re interested in designing a tropical inspired arrangement for a wedding, party, or even your kitchen table, give us a call at 414-272-2234.

We’re loving this beautiful bouquet of orchids, pincushion proteas, calla lilies, and hypericum berries.













The color palette chosen to design this bouquet were shades of coral, burgundy, plum, and persimmon. The bold hues reflected a traditional Moroccan color scheme. You can even find out how to make this gorgeous floral creation here.


Inspired by the colours of Costa Rica, this floral design comprises native Cuban flowers harvested from the Costa Rican area. With a little bit of metallic floss added in for a sparkly touch, this bouquet will surely add some flavour to your wedding look!  Image {Styled by Datura: A Modern Garden | Photographed by Carla Ten Eyck Photography | Via Style Me Pretty}










Check out these gorgeous Costa Rican florals!


Photographed in Saratoga, California, these fantastic florals definitely have a beachy, west-coast vibe.


This tropical arrangement adds more freshness and naturalness to a wonderful beach celebration.












This floral crown and bouquet are full of color and texture.



















This colorful, tropical wedding is a perfect fit for summer. Click here for more!


The bright magenta and pincushion structure make this a simple bouquet that exudes tasteful tropical bohemia.


Softpeaches and pink in the flowers by Il Profumo dei Fiori evoke a tropical feel.

This modern tropical wedding inspiration shoot brings beach-y styling to an industrial setting, for a styled shoot that ends up being nothing short of honest to goodness perfection with the added help of Blush Wedding Photography!

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Beautiful Flowers: Behind the Scenes with the Belle Fiori Processing Team

Posted on by BelleFiori

When you think of beautiful flowers in a wedding bouquet, anniversary arrangement or even as a single stem, you’re usually envisioning them at their peak. Full, open roses, luscious lilies and delightful dahlias dance in your head. When you walk into our shop, the front cooler is full of blooms all ready for a custom arrangement. Bridal bouquets and centerpieces arrive on the wedding day, picture perfect.

Are we magic? Well, kind of. Meet the Belle Fiori processing team!

Mary Nolan has been tending the flowers since Valentine’s week of 2014, where she got to help strip 3000 roses on her first day at Belle Fiori. She is really good at this now. The best part of processing for her is seeing the various wedding color palettes come together. Her favorite flowers are Anemone and scented Geranium.

Cecilia Zea started as an intern last January and is now at Belle Fiori full-time, processing and designing. Her specialty? Keeping the front and back coolers clean and organized which is important for healthy, happy flowers. Her favorite part of processing? “Life is like a box of flowers, you never know what you are going to get.” Cecilia’s favorite flowers are anything from Windswept Acres (our local source for specialty, seasonal flowers.)

Tama Roberts and Sarah Vulcano round out the team part-time. Being newer additions to the store, they are still in awe of everything that comes in.

What exactly is processing?

Flowers need a little love when they arrive at our shop. Several times a week we receive large quantities of flowers for the shop, events and weddings. These are often flown in from California, Holland and South America. Boxes of flowers fill the back of the shop, more bundles fill the sinks and buckets. Most of the flowers are closed up and could really use a drink. Now it’s time for our processers to work their magic.

Roses need to be de-thorned (gloves are highly recommended). Hydrangeas need a sharp cut with a knife. Snapdragons and stock need to go into the cooler immediately, Alstromaria and Godetia like to sit out awhile. Lilies “need space”. Dahlias are the divas of the flower world, and are very fussy about temperature. Also, not too much flower food, please. And sometimes, on very special days, we get baby pink pineapples and the whole shop is giddy with excitement!

New flowers are given a fresh cut, sorted into buckets of water and labeled for each wedding and event. The flowers are checked daily to see how they are coming along, as we want them at their best for the big day. This sometimes requires a bit more love (Dahlias again) but the result is worth it.

So, the next time you stop in, say hello to our hard working processing team. Our flowers are healthy and happy because of them!


Cascade Comeback

Posted on by BelleFiori

When I started working at the flower shop about 6 years ago, the words ‘cascade bouquet’ would bring to mind huge puffy white sleeves, giant veils and of course a long waterfall of flowers accented by trails of Ivy. I was a child of the eighties and needless to say I was pretty skeptical about the resurrection of this glammed out wedding trend when I started designing for Belle Fiori.

Doing some research around web, it appears that the cascade bouquet is actually a modern version of what was once called a “shower bouquet” from 1910, which then reached its peak during the 20’s and 30’s. You have probably seen these bouquets if you’ve ever come across old black and white wedding portraits from those eras.


Princess Diana brought this floral style back to popularity for a short stint in the 1980’s after nearly 5 decades of dormancy, with an enormous and iconic wedding cascade bouquet, and now we are starting to see the emergence yet again throughout the Midwest and in Southeastern Wisconsin.


As the slow comeback of the cascade trickles into our shop we are so happy and surprised to see how much the style has evolved and improved. I absolutely love making them! Take a look at some of these gorgeous and unique modern cascade bouquets we’ve made at Belle Fiori from the last couple of years:

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How Do Flowers Get Their Color?

Posted on by BelleFiori

As florists, we often get the creative freedom to mix and match different types of flowers, colors, and textures to design the perfect arrangements. A big part of those decisions is often guided by the visions of wedding color palettes or our clients’ favorite blooms.

But the starting point from which our florists at Belle Fiori usually begin, almost always boils down to color. Grandma’s favorite was always yellow roses. The bridesmaids dresses are purple. There’s something about that perfect shade of pink peony.

Color is important. But how do flowers get their color?

Without giving you too much of a science lesson, (though I’m more than happy to nerd out about flowers) let me explain a bit.

Like people, who have different hair colors, eye colors, and complexions, the outward appearance of flowers is largely determined by their genetic composition. I’m sure many of you have heard of chlorophyll. It’s what makes leafy plants and stems green. Chorophyll is a pigment. Pigments, such as anthocyanins (found in many boldly colored plants) and caroteniods (found in a lot of vegetables), are determined by the heredity of the plant. …Its all in the genes! So basically, what your baby bloom is born with, is what you’ll get.

It’s possible that you’ve heard of people altering the colors of their own plants. Think…hydrangeas. Many people choose if they want their plant to appear more blue, purple, or pink. This tampering of hues has more to do with changing the PH of your plants’ growing conditions than with altering its genetic components….but it’s certainly fun to do it yourself!

No matter what your personal color preference, it’s interesting to think about how the appearance of your gorgeous florals is determined even before they bloom. And if you don’t know what color is your favorite? Stop by Belle Fiori’s Milwaukee shop and we’ll help you find what you love!

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