fresh flower


Take advantage of this delightful blue "wildflower" while it is available.

by Steven W. Brown, AIFD

Tweedia caerulea (syn. Oxypetalum caeruleum) Blue star, Eastern blue star, Heavenly blue, Southern star
Photo courtesy of California Cut Flower Commission

1. out of the blue. Pronounced “TWEE-dee-uh,” these flowers are prized for their diminutive, five-petaled star-shaped blooms, which range from intense glacier blue to bright sky blue to clear pale blue—colors not often found in commercially grown cut flowers. The blue-flowered varieties age to purple. Although they are more rare, there are also white- and pink-flowered varieties. The blossoms are borne in loose clusters atop often twining stems bearing felted heart-shaped gray-green leaves.

2. family ties. Tweedia, also known as Oxypetalum (meaning “sharp petal”), is a member of the Asclepiadaceae, or milkweed, family, which includes Madagascar jasmine (Stephanotis), butterfly weed (Asclepias), wax plant (Hoya) and string-of-hearts (Ceropegia).

3. southern roots. Tweedia is a tropical vine or subshrub native to Brazil and Uruguay. Plants can reach 3 feet tall and may require support structures. In some areas, Tweedia is treated as a noxious weed or invasive plant.

4. summer flowers. Tweedias are usually available from domestic growers from late spring through summer (June through September). Purchase these flowers when about one-third of the florets are open. Watch for any signs of damaged florets or rot.

5. take care. Remove bindings and sleeves from the flower bunches immediately upon their arrival in your shop. If foliage is present, remove any that would be under water in a container. Cut stems at an angle with a sharp knife or pruner, removing at least 1 inch, then dip or place the stems into a hydrating solution. Next, place the stems into a clean container with properly prepared flower-food solution. Place Tweedias into a floral cooler, at 34 F to 38 F, allowing them to hydrate for at least two hours before selling or using them.

6. daily check in. Change the flower-food solution and recut the stems every other day to achieve optimal vase life. Also remove any damaged or faded florets.

7. a good life. With proper care, Tweedias can last up to 10 days. They tend to last longest in vase arrangements. Advise customers to keep Tweedias in cool areas and avoid placing them in direct sun and/or near electronic equipment or other sources of heat.

8. design choices. Tweedias are a noteworthy choice for brides who desire “something blue” in their wedding flowers, and they are excellent for hand-tied bouquets. They also are ideal for garden-style or “wildflower” arrangements.

9. scottish rights. The genus name Tweedia was derived from the surname of James Tweedie, a botanist and head gardener at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland during the mid-19th century. After immigrating to South America, he traveled throughout the continent sending plants that he found during his travels back to his native Scotland.

10. tweedie bird. In gardens, Tweedia plants attract hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other nectar drinkers. The plants are drought tolerant and can be wintered indoors as houseplants. On the plants, Tweedia flowers give way to long boat-shaped green seedpods, which can be used in dried designs, further extending these flowers’ value and versatility.

information from:
Annie’s Annuals;
Botanica; R.J. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Dave’s Garden;
David Repetto; A. Repetto Nursery Inc.; Half Moon Bay, Calif.
   Hortus Third; Liberty Hyde Bailey, Ethel Zoe Bailey and the staff of the Liberty Hyde Bailey    Hortorium; Cornell University; Ithaca, N.Y.
Iowa State University
The Royal Horticulture Society;
Tweedie Genealogy;

Steven W. Brown, AIFD, is a professor and department chair of horticulture and floristry at City College of San Francisco with 29 years of consulting and educational experience in the floral industry. Contact him at or (415) 239-3140.

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