Which Flowers Work Best for Thanksgiving Centerpieces?

Mums, dahlias, and call lilies are all varieties to bookmark, say our experts.

When you plan this year's Thanksgiving tablescape, the reality of our current moment can inspire the flowers in your centerpiece. "Because of COVID-19, this Thanksgiving is still very different from years past," says Rick Canale, a third-generation florist at Exotic Flowers in Boston. "We've been thinking about the phoenix rising from the ashes as perfect thematic colors—crimson, gold, orange, and deep purple." When designing your own arrangements, celebrity event planner and floral specialist David Tutera says to focus on reds and pinks with "pops of dark greens." "I love to celebrate the fall season with deep and romantic colors in my choices of flowers," he explains. And since many flower varieties are more scarce due to this year's supply and demand issues, Canale says prioritizing your color scheme over specific flowers can help you get creative.

Even with access to flowers being more limited, autumn is an exciting time to search for blossoms. "The summer-to-fall transition from August to early September is a weird time for flowers," explains Jackie Miller, floral designer and owner of Penelope Pots in Long Beach, California. "It feels like not many blooms are available, but towards mid-September, all the fun fall florals and large options come out." To help you prepare for your fall holiday celebration, we asked these experts to tell us which flowers work best for Thanksgiving centerpieces. Ahead, find recommendations for seasonal blooms you can find at your local florist shop or garden center.

Thanksgiving table
Johnny Miller


Miller warns that you may need to search for flowers other than roses due to COVID's impact on the supply chain, as well as weather conditions resulting in a global shortage. However, if you are able to find them, certain buds are especially striking in Thanksgiving centerpieces. Canale suggests iterations from Ecuador, known for having the fullest heads in the world. Specifically, she recommends blooms in shades of crimson, orange, and yellow, inspired by the phoenix theme. Tutera points to darker rose buds, including deep purple and the black baccara, known for its velvety burgundy petals. Additionally, the fragrant plum rose can add a lighter lavender shade to your centerpiece.


"Mums are always a big hit this time of year," Miller says. "You'll start to see mums in dusty rose tones and golden tones, as well as white mums," all of which can be incorporated within a stunning fall floral arrangement. "Heirloom mums bloom around this time," adds Lindsey Norton from Indigo Blooms Flower Farm in Connecticut. If you can't find these pink flowers at your local florist or garden center, Norton says bronze spider options—with their distinctive long, thin petals—are stunning fall flowers that will liven up your Thanksgiving arrangement.


"Dahlias come into season in the fall," Miller says. "Dinner plate dahlias are great and last a long time. They're huge, so they're super impactful in a centerpiece." You can find their segmented petals in burgundy-and-blush tones that look beautiful during this time of year, she adds. Tutera recommends the warm shades of peach dahlias, named for their likeness to the stone fruit.

Calla Lilies

The calla lily, a beautiful trumpet-shaped flower commonly included in wedding bouquets, is also perfect for your Thanksgiving tablescape. To speak to fall's thematic color scheme, Canale and Tutera both suggest eggplant calla lilies for their deep black-and-purple tones.

Textured Varieties

Color is a crucial component of floral arrangements, but don't forget about texture. Canale recommends Dutch hydrangeas for their coarse cluster of petals, as well as orchids from New Zealand. (Canale celebrates the latter for the "oomph" they bring to a centerpiece.) Spiky thistle flowers, flowing amaranthus (also known as the tassel flower), and the fern-like astilbe—some of Tutera's favorite fall flowers—will bring dimension and unique designs to your table.

Dried Options

Some of the most striking fall flowers also happen to be commonly dried and preserved, Miller says, so it's easy to incorporate them into your arrangements. He loves fun strawflowers (they resemble daisies), the "big, fluffy plumes" of pampas grass, and dried lunaria. "That will make for a really nice statement piece in the middle of your table," she says, noting that you can add fall tones to these dried arrangements with preserved foliage, Miller notes. Specifically, copper beech leaves are available in warm gold tones this time of year. "It's really good for traditional fall centerpieces, and since it's preserved, it can last for years and years," she explains.

Seasonal Add-Ons

"I like to accent floral centerpieces with fresh fruits in similar color ranges, such as figs and berries," Tutera shares. Beyond these accents, you can add succulents into your arrangement for some exciting variety. Some of Tutera's top picks include the velvet aubergine cactus and the string of hearts plant. Kiwi vines, which Miller loves for their "dark brown, twirling branches," will complement the flowers in your centerpiece (and you can easily preserve them for next year!).

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