Mardi Gras, or ‘Fat Tuesday’ in English, is a carnival celebration held in mainly European countries, but now adopted across the United States, which is essentially a celebration of the end of the Easter period and the start of spring.
Generally, the festivals and carnivals are full of flower arrangements to celebrate the period, many colors are used to get everyone excited about the coming flowering periods.
Many think Mardi Gras is related to the pagan traditions of welcoming the spring and the new growing season, many send praise to the agricultural, roman, god ‘Saturn’ who is considered to be God of Agriculture.
So, there’s no better time to celebrate flowers, Mardi Gras flowers are often brightly colored and have a carnival vibe to them, perfect for celebrating the start of a new season for growing all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and flowers! Read on to see our picks!
Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’
Where better to start than with this cultivar, explicitly named after this great carnival! Helenium is often called ‘Fake Sunflower’ for its great similarities to this popular flower. The Helenium is slightly smaller in its flower size but doesn’t scrimp on the color!
The small flower head has a similar look to the sunflower and is equally enjoyed by bees for its large head. The head is surrounded by many beautiful double petals that as the season goes on become ombre in their color and can have shades of yellow and red through to orange depending on the time of the season.
This makes them perfect for Mardi Gras bouquets as they bring a great pop of color that is a team player rather than an attention hoarder, they could look great in any celebratory bouquet or even in your garden as a showy flower for a bed or border.
Ironically, these flower into the late summer which is great for general horticulture as they keep the summer vibes strong into the fall, but isn’t great for flowering in the Mardi Gras period, although this could be achieved with an indoor climate, many will buy them in for this period.
Coreopsis Tinctoria ‘Mardi Gras’
Another great carnival cultivar is named perfectly after this great celebration. This is an annual plant that has thin straight saber-like leaves which some beautiful festival flowers emerge. The petals have an interesting star shape that brings some texture to a bouquet or bed.
The center disc of the head is similar to a Helenium or sunflower but much smaller. The petals are similarly ombréd with shades of orange to red colors.
The Coreopsis is the perfect supporting character in a bouquet, the wingman for your Mardi Gras celebration.
The small flowers, with their unique inflorescence, make them particularly complimentary of the previously mentioned Helenium, but also any Mardi Gras flower will appreciate the company of this small but showy flower, even in a border or bed.
Rosa Floribunda ‘Mardi Gras’
Another perfectly named cultivar. The Rosa, commonly called the Rose, is also a seriously common sight at Mardi Gras. This particular cultivar is truly a beautiful Rose for any occasion, but this ombré effect is very popular in Mardi Gras celebrations.
It seems silly to describe a Rose flower, but a Rose often has layers of long ruffled feathers that form around a small point and don’t have an obvious or visible center to the head.
This particular cultivar has a beautiful ombré effect of shades of pink to yellow to orange. Each petal is a beautiful sunset to behold and has deservedly won the ‘All-American Rose Selection’ award in 2008.
Moreover, for the horticulture geeks, this is a particularly interesting plant for its cultivation Dr. Keith Zary bred this flower rather recently in 2007, and is technically a hybrid of two other rose cultivars – ‘AROfres’ and ‘Singin’ in the Rain’.
This shows how modern cultivation techniques, used commonly in the American cannabis cultivation scene, are affecting even the most historical arts of flower cultivation. We’re glad, though, as this is a perfect Mardi Gras flower to welcome in the flowering period.
Ranunculus ‘Elegance Viola’
This is a particular flower and cultivar that will be overlooked for the common rose, but will provide you with a Mardi Gras show flower that could set your arrangements apart from the competition! These bulbs sprout into beautiful large heads of layered ruffled petals.
They have a very similar inflorescence to the Rose but become curved inwards as they get towards the center adding a lot more texture to their head.
The color of the flower is a deep purple that will compete with the darkest red wine you’ve ever seen – although we can guarantee this flower will be just as intoxicating as the wine!
The flower is perfect for Mardi Gras for this deep purple color that does so well among other flowers. It’s the perfect way to deepen the color palette of your arrangement which adds well to the carnival and festival vibes.
Eustoma Grandiflorum ‘Arena III Apricot’
This flower is another great alternative to the common rose, which we see all over the Mardi Gras celebration, which will add some textural inflorescence to a bouquet rather than simply using different colored roses.
The Eustoma has a similar inflorescence to the rose, layered large leathery petals circle around the head. One difference between the Eustoma and the Rose is that the Eustoma will occasionally display the stamens, especially when young, which doesn’t happen with the rose.
The color of this flower is beautiful at the worst of times, but in the context of Mardi Gras adds some subtle color to your bouquet that will really lift it as well as show your arrangement abilities and plant knowledge.
Expect some peach or apricot colors that are such a great addition to a bouquet, bed, or border. The subtle off-white shade really celebrates the white we associate with spring and new starts as well as the emergence of orange colors that welcome the summer.
Xerochrysum Bracteatum ‘Purple Red’
Strawflowers, like the Xerochrysum (or Helichrysum), have become really popular recently among modern flower arrangement and horticulture. This is one of the examples of why, as the flower is super unique and adds some serious variation to the usual suspects in a bouquet.
The Xerochrysum has quite a lot of variation within its own flowers. The younger flower heads cup inwards like the rose but expose the beautiful center of the flower that displays cones of petals just waiting to bloom into their summer glory.
The more mature flowers are much deeper in color, have less white visible on them, and open much more proudly creating a ruffled neck like a proud aristocrat holding their head high.
We would recommend using a strawflower in any bouquet, but the purple and white combination in this particular ‘Purple Red’ variety is just ideal for a celebration of all things Mardi Gras.
Papaver Commutatum ‘Ladybird’
The Papaver is perhaps more recognizable with its common name the ‘poppy’. However, this is a really unique cultivar that makes the commonly recognized red poppy into a beautiful gem of a flower that will attract the attention of any gardener or passer-by. This is a really great way to make your bouquet super unique.
This cultivar looks really similar to the common poppy, having very similar inflorescence and morphology, but the inner petals have an almost perfect black cross or X displayed on top of the red petals that is rather stunning and certainly makes a statement.
In a Mardi Gras bouquet, not only will this specific cultivar show your adept plant knowledge and arranging eye, but will look particularly great among the usual Mardi Gras colors. The black and red is a perfect collaborator with any of the previously mentioned flowers.
The Final Word
Mardi Gras is a celebration of the new season, so there’s no better time to get creative! There’s so much selection for flowers you could use in a Mardi Gras bouquet or flower display, it’s potentially the celebration that allows the most creativity when it comes to flower arranging.
The common combinations of flowers are something dark with the brightness of summer. We want to keep carnival vibes with sexy, dark colors, but also celebrate the spring with subtle whites but also welcome the summer with exciting brightly colored flowers.
If you combine all the cultivars mentioned, or some variation of the genera, you would certainly get a seriously exciting carnival bouquet or flower bed. But there is also a lot of room for creative liberties too.
Mardi Gras is a great celebration to get some really out there flowers and show off your plant knowledge as well as your proficiency as a flower arranger and understanding of colors. So what are you waiting for?
Start planning your Mardi Gras bouquet and your flowers could draw the attention of all revelers as your float passes by, adding a little sunshine into the lives of everyone – exactly what the Mardi Gras celebration is about!