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Ask the Expert: Orchids

Posted on by BelleFiori

This week’s Ask the Expert feature focuses on one of the most common gifted plants around. Our florists at Belle Fiori are often asked about the care and maintenance of the delicate orchid, and we’re always happy to advise…

Nichole Asks:

Orchids….how do I get new blossoms? I put a few ice cubes in it each week, but no success after 1 1/2 years! Although the plant is growing, there are no flowers. What should I do? -Nichole S.

My Answer:

Different  varieties of orchids have different needs to re-bloom in a home.  The best starting point is to think of where and how the plant will grow in it’s native setting. I’m going to assume that you have a Phalaenopsis orchid, this is the most commonly available.


The most common reason for any orchid not to bloom is insufficient light. Move your phalaenopsis plants to a window where they will receive strong, but indirect light.  Remember, in it’s natural setting, an orchid will have lots of light but could be underneath a bigger tropical tree for indirect light. I personally have good luck with a bay window in my kitchen. Try to get 2 of 4 directions for natural light, north & west or south & east, etc.. Also, “indirect” means soft, diffused, or filtered light, so avoid hot, direct sun or use a sheer curtain to act as a shade cloth.   You might also try lighting your plants with a fluorescent light fixture placed about 1-2 feet above the foliage, but this is challenging in a home.

The next reason to consider is nutrition.  Are you feeding your plant?  This can come in two different forms-potting soil or fertilizer.  If the plant is still in the original medium, a re-potting can help (sphagnum moss or bark chips are most common options).  Look for the same type of medium that your plant is currently in (several brands are readily available).  Carefully remove the plant from the original container and take this time to wash and scrub the container to remove any bacteria or mold spores.  Discard all of the original medium and fill the container half-full with new medium, then place the roots and plant in the pot. Finally, work more medium on top and between the roots to fill the pot and hold the plant in place.  This will take some wiggling, shimming and shaking to get around all those squiggly roots, but keep carefully working at it until the plant feels sturdy in the pot.  Give the new potting medium a thorough watering. After 30 minutes, drain away any standing water by slowly tipping the pot and pouring the extra out into the sink.  It will take a few weeks to see the effect, but this new soil is yummy to your plant.  Lastly, consider adding a fertilizer to your plant watering regimen. Following the directions for each brand is best as the proportions and potency vary.

I personally do not like the ice cube method for watering a tropical plant.  If you grew up in Hawaii would you want ice cubes on your feet? No way! The only benefit the ice cubes give, is to avoid over watering by only providing a few tablespoons of liquid when they melt. Try switching to a consistent measurement (4-8 oz. for a 5″ diameter pot/weekly) of tepid water.  If you plan to use fertilizer, use it every other watering. Too much fertilizer is like too much rich food and will upset your plant. In good ole’ Southeastern Wisconsin, we are challenged with limited daylight and often low humidity from dry homes in the winter.  You can expect a Phalaenopsis orchid to bloom once a year with the stem of blossoms often lasting almost three months from the first open bloom to the last.  A dormant time of low light will occur in November, December and January.  As the days get brighter and longer your orchids will be encouraged to send up a new stem and bloom.  Hopefully a few of these changes will show the fruits, …er blooms, of your labor.

Good luck!

Belle Fiori Employee Feature-Meet Jen!

Posted on by BelleFiori

It’s time to introduce another member of Belle Fiori’s Milwaukee team. It’s people like Jen that make coming to work everyday a fun and pleasant experience. We’re so glad she joined us, and we hope to have her as part of the Belle Fiori family for years to come!

Meet Jennifer!

Name: Jennifer Nolan

Nickname: Jen

Tell us a little bit about your self: I am an almost-retired dance teacher of 15 years who has discovered a new passion for flowers courtesy of Emily and the amazing designers of Belle Fiori! I love helping people put together that special combination of flowers for their friends and family. I also have a 23 year old son named Sean, and a 20 pound cat named Larry.

How long have you worked at Belle Fiori? 14 months

What is your position? I do a bit of everything…you can find me in flower processing, setting up weddings, taking orders and making arrangements.

What sparked your interest in floral design? I am an artistic person by nature and have always loved painting and drawing flowers. 

When you were 10 years old, what did you want to be? One of the Beatles…I had the haircut and everything!

What is your favorite season? Oh, the Fall….I love cooler weather, and the air smells so good this time of year.

If you weren’t in the field of floral design, what would you be doing? Yoga teacher

What is your favorite part about living in Milwaukee? Living on Lake Michigan and the ease of getting around without a car. I can easily bike to work!

What is your favorite floral trend? The use of herbs and berries in arrangements, along with locally sourced and seasonal flowers.

If you could have 1 super power, what would it be? Flight.

What would I find in your refrigerator at home? Greek yogurt, apples and almonds, gotta have almonds!


Ask the Expert: Do Plant Food Packets Really Work?

Posted on by BelleFiori

Our florists at Belle Fiori field a lot of questions about how to prolong the life of a fresh cut floral bouquet. Last week, we gave you some tips about how to preserve your arrangement, and this week, we want to answer a question from one of our Milwaukee clients more specific to plant food.

Michelle asks:

I’ve got one for you that I was just thinking about this weekend. When I buy flowers (or they are bought for me) they come with that plant food packet. Does that really make a difference in how long your flowers will last? What should I do to maximize the life of my table arrangement? -Michelle D.

My Advice:

There are a few different manufacturers of “flower food” packets, but no matter what, the brand name the product is by far the best option for extending the life of fresh cut flowers in a vase of water. Old wives tales include; aspirin, pennies, clear soda or bleach just to name a few, none of these work as well as a professionally balanced solution. “Flower food” has been developed by experts in both botany and chemistry, it provides the perfect blend of what a plant needs to continue it’s life cycle after being removed for the mother plant.  This blend contains a sugar element to feed the flowers, an acidic element to prevent bacteria from growing in the water and an absorption enhancer to keep the stems drinking fresh water.  Don’t just toss those packets in a junk drawer, mix them with fresh water and enjoy a long lasting vase of happy flowers!

Check back in the coming weeks for more ‘Ask the Expert’ features, and remember, professional flower food is the way to go. Trust us!

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Flower Care for Fresh-Cut Arrangements

Posted on by BelleFiori

Everyone loves receiving a fresh bouquet and our florists here at Belle Fiori love helping clients select the perfect arrangement of flowers for friends and loved ones. Brightening the Milwaukee area with gorgeous florals has been our privilege for years, and we’re always happy to give tips on how to make your flowers last.

Many people are often frustrated by how short-lived a bouquet may be once they get it home. They may forget that fresh cut flowers are still living entities that can be encouraged to last much longer under the right conditions. The following tips will help make your flowers last longer.

Tip #1:

Replenish the water frequently.

Flowers drink a lot of water! It is not uncommon for a large flower arrangement to suck up all the water in a vase within the first day or two you have it at home. Keep the vase full to ensure the flowers do not dry out and wilt. Flowers are also highly susceptible to bacteria that builds up as stems sit in the water.  Keep adding fresh clear water, include “flower food” packets according to the packet directions if possible.

Tip #2:

Trim at least a half inch of stem off your flowers before you put them in a vase and each time you change the water.

As flowers sit out of water on your ride home, the ends of the stem dry out and the cells die, making it difficult for the flowers to absorb water. By cutting the stems just before placing them in water again, you expose fresh tissue that can suck up the water much more efficiently. When you trim stems when you change the water in the vase a few days later, you remove tissue at the tips that may be breaking down and once again expose fresh tissue that absorbs more water.

Tip #3:

Keep your flowers away from heat and bright light.

Sometimes people think they should set their vase of flowers in a sunny windowsill since that is where a plant would be happiest. However, cut flowers are actually the opposite of potted plants. They are at their peak of perfection. Sun and heat will encourage them to “mature” and thus quicken their demise. Instead, keep your cut flowers in a cool dark spot if you would like them to last as long as possible.

Tip #4:

Avoid sitting your flowers beside ripening fruit or vegetables, especially bananas and apples.

Ripening fruit gives off an odorless invisible gas called ethylene. This gas is harmless to humans, but rather deadly to flowers. The science behind it is as such: in the plant world, flowers are the precursor of fruit. Once a flower is pollinate, it begins to develop into a fruit so it can form seeds and start the plant life cycle over again. Ethylene is the gaseous hormone in the plant that induces that flower to drop its petals and become a fruit. As the fruit matures, it continues to give off ethylene. When you sit your vase of flowers next to ripening fruit, you’re exposing them to this gas and they will decide they’d better drop their petals the way Mother Nature intended.

Tip #5:

After you throw out your last arrangement, be sure to wash the vase/container very thoroughly in hot soapy water or, better yet, in your dishwasher.

Bacteria build up in dirty vases and do not go away just because the vase dries out. As soon as you add water again, the vase will once again be full of bacteria and your new bouquet will be subjected to the same bacteria that killed the last bouquet. Give your flowers a fresh clean environment free of bacteria and they will last much longer.

Tip #6:

Use “flower food” for most flowers.

While changing the water every other day or so is often just as effective for making flowers last longer, adding those flower food packets that come with packaged flowers are beneficial as well. This is especially true if you’re forgetful/lazy about adding water regularly. In addition to “feeding” the bouquet, these food packets contain a bactericide that keeps the water fresh for days longer.

Tip #7:

Use sharp scissors when cutting.

If you use dull old scissors or snips to trim your flowers, you are often smashing, and thus damaging, the tissue/cells at the end of the stem. Damaged cells cannot absorb water as effectively as healthy cells. Sharp scissors ensure a clean cut that leaves cells unharmed (except the poor few that inevitably get sliced).



Post-Holiday Sale at Belle Fiori!

Posted on by BelleFiori

Happy almost New Year! Our staff at Belle Fiori hopes you’re all having a safe and festive holiday season. We also want to remind you about our Post-Holiday Sale!

Our Milwaukee area shop is now offering all Christmas giftware at 50% off, while supplies last! Ornaments, silk flowers, wreaths, candles, and other giftware are all available at a great discount*. It’s the perfect opportunity to stock up for next year!

Make sure to stop in and pick up your favorite gifts and decor!


*Excludes live plants and fresh flowers.

Featured Milwaukee Wedding-Andrea & Matt

Posted on by BelleFiori

We have another taste of warmth for you this winter season-Andrea and Matt’s Southeastern Wisconsin wedding!

In the Boerner Botanical Gardens you hardly need flowers to make it feel romantic. It’s a huge outdoor space with lots of beautiful natural elements that make the perfect backdrop for a Milwaukee wedding. However, Andrea and Matt took it to the next level by adding a lush backdrop of their own for the ceremony.

Belle Fiori offers a rental arch that is customizable for each unique couple. Andrea and Matt chose a billowing white fabric draped across the arch, with three lush, garden style arrangements along the top.

Their reception was held in a more intimate space, their parent’s backyard, which was lovely and bright. The pastel color flowers were a romantic and youthful palette that complimented the sea-foam green vintage candy dishes filled with sweets.

Check out some images from the wedding by Ann Parks Photography!


Belle Fiori Employee Feature-Meet Amy!

Posted on by BelleFiori

We have another of Belle Fiori’s finest to introduce you to this week-an excellent addition to our floral family this year. Meet Amy!

Name: Amy Reese

Nickname: Shop Cat

Tell us a little bit about your self: I am a recent graduate of UW Green Bay where I studied design arts and business. I grew up in the greater Milwaukee area and have loved this city for all of my life. Some of my favorite pastimes are hiking, road biking, all sorts of water sports, crafting, gardening, and watching Grey’s anatomy.

How long have you worked at Belle Fiori? I started in July of 2014, but I already love it here!

What is your position? I am a designer but I am also in charge of our outdoor butterfly garden space, where I planted around 60 different perrenials and bulbs this summer.

What sparked your interest in floral design? My interest in floral design stemmed from working in my Mother’s flower gardens at home. I learned about many different types of plants, how they grow, and how to maintain a beautiful garden. My study of design arts in college also influenced this passion.

When you were 10 years old, what did you want to be? At that age I wanted to be a zoo keeper and work with all sorts of animals, particularly penguins.

What is your favorite season? Fall is by far my favorite season! The cooler weather calls for comfy sweaters, warm boots and hot coffee which go along perfectly with hiking and carving pumpkins.

If you weren’t in the field of floral design, what would you be doing? I would most likely be working in a different aspect of the wedding industry or in the field of interior design. I love to work with different colors, textures and mediums.

What is your favorite part about living in Milwaukee? I have been going to the kite festivals on the lakefront for as long as I can remember, and I still enjoy going.  On a nice sunny day downtown a walk near the lake looking at the beautiful old houses is something I love as well.

What is your favorite floral trend? I am still finding out what styles are my favorite, but I am really liking arrangements with ferns that have a very loose and natural look to them with fall jewel tones mixed in.

If you could have 1 super power, what would it be? Time travel!

What would I find in your refrigerator at home? A whole lot of gluten free bread and ice cream!



The Holidays are Here at Belle Fiori!

Posted on by BelleFiori

Happy Holidays!

Can you believe how fast this year has gone? We’re sad to see 2014 come to an end, but we’re admittedly excited that we’re able to finally enjoy Belle Fiori’s holiday florals and displays in our new space. So many great colors, textures, and holiday gifts have made our space extra cozy-chic this season.

Check out some of our favorite displays and gifts, and be sure to stop in at our Milwaukee area shop to pick up anything you or your loved ones might desire this year.

We can’t wait to help you find the perfect gift!
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Classic holiday decorations and gifts are aplenty at Belle Fiori.

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Novelty items always make the holidays cuter and are usually favorites among the little ones!

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Retro holiday is one of my favorite styles-classy but nostalgic.

DSC00178 DSC00179 DSC00181 DSC00183 DSC00186 DSC00189Obviously one of our favorite holiday styles at Belle Fiori, rustic is a classy but natural way to express your seasonal style. Birch and other natural textures add interest to any tablescape or display, and we have plenty of rustic decor this season!

DSC00213 DSC00214 DSC00217Arguably the most elegant of our holiday styles, the winter wonderland theme is a brighter way to way to accent your home for the season.


Featured Milwaukee Wedding-Andrea & Andrew

Posted on by BelleFiori

We’re going to give you a little bit of warmth on this chilly December day…

Late summer/early fall weddings are incredible. Mild temperatures, gorgeous blue skies, and beautiful landscapes make the “it’s a great day for a wedding” so very true.

Andrea and Andrew’s Milwaukee wedding had a lovely citrus palette. The loose, garden-like, bouquets incorporated oranges, peaches, and zesty yellows accented by lacey romantic grey foliage.

Some of September’s greatest flowers like ranunculus, lisianthus, and campanella garden roses created an elegant and bright last hurrah to the end of summer. They made gorgeous accents for the beautiful reception held at the Astor Hotel

It was a wonderful event, and our florists at Belle Fiori were happy to be a part of it. Congrats Andrea and Andrew!

Andrea and Andrew’s Southeastern Wisconsin wedding was photographed by Amy Karp Photography. You can learn more and see images by clicking here to visit her website.


Join Us for Our Holiday Open House!

Posted on by BelleFiori

Here at Belle Fiori, we love this time of year in Milwaukee! Flurries, crisp air, and soon-to-be snowy skies get us in the mood for the upcoming holidays. It’s that time again; time for our Holiday Open House!

We will be hosting our Holiday Open House on Friday and Saturday December 5th and 6th. Stop by our flower shop for discounts on ornaments, specials on seasonal blooming plants, holiday treats, and a design class for front door decorations.

Mark your calendars and join us for this fun event. We’re excited to show you what’s in store for the holiday season and new year!


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