Disney Princesses in the Garden

At the end of my post about plant pet names, I mentioned that my little granddaughter had bested me in the creative-plant-nicknames department and promised to tell more. So, without further ado, here’s the story, morning-glory! 😊

Last month, my son texted me a photo of the lilies in his front-yard planting. Very impressive they are, so of course I asked for the names. He said he’d have to look them up, because my four-year-old granddaughter Brienne had given them names herself, based on the flowers’ resemblance to four of the Disney princesses. (If you have a young daughter, granddaughter or niece, you probably already know how obsessed they are with the Disney princesses and so this will be perfectly understandable.)

Brienne’s Disney-Princess Lilies

(I promise that I will add the lilies’ actual names as soon as *ahem* my son looks them up!)


Of course, she named this lily Snow White: “Lips as red as a rose, hair as black as ebony, and skin as white as snow”.


Her Belle lily perfectly matches Belle of Beauty and The Beast with her signature golden-yellow dress, auburn hair, and blush-red rose.


The rich pink lily with white petal edges naturally became Aurora, from Sleeping Beauty. (Yes, I know there was a fight between two of the fairy godmothers over the dress color, pink versus blue; but Aurora is most often shown in pink.)


A white lily, surrounded by green buds and leaves, presented no problem: She named it Tiana, from The Princess and the Frog.

A Hypothetical Disney-Princess Planting

My granddaughter’s creative matching of flower-color-to-princess got me thinking about what a Disney Princess planting might look like. There are currently a dozen official Disney princesses, with a thirteenth waiting in the wings. In addition to the four assigned by my granddaughter, what could the other ‘princess-match’ plants be?

Okay, let’s all admit that the Himalayan blue poppy, Meconopsis betonicifolia, is the most absolutely perfect match for Cinderella. Let’s also admit that 90% of us wouldn’t be able to grow it successfully, so we shall return to gardening reality with:
..the two closest true-blues which are Tweedia caerulea and Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’. Of course these don’t bloom at the same time – the muscari is months earlier – and the Tweedia would need to be started from seed or overwintered in a greenhouse if your garden is north of Zone 8. There are very few true blue flowers, as we know, but at least the colors of these two are reliable (especially ‘Valerie’.)

On the other hand, blue hydrangeas aren’t as reliable color-wise because they are critically dependent on soil pH. However, if you garden on acid soil, or are extremely conscientious with soil acidifiers every year without fail, you may get a fair Cinderella-blue on either of these before they begin turning toward mauve. My blue hydrangeas actually become almost a turquoise color as they age, but I have no idea which ones they are because they came with the house. The cultivar name is no guarantee, anyway; in my previous garden I had Nikko Blue which supposedly is less pH-dependent. Balderdash! Finally in year four it began to start out as sort of a lavender – but it was never ever truly blue and it quickly turned mauve and then pink.


I mean, really: How perfect is this plant for Merida, of Brave, with the flower matching both her dress and her hair?! This is Puya alpestris which is native to Chile and really does have flowers of this incredible, can’t-believe-it’s-real color. This is a member of the pineapple family and will bloom in its second year if you grow it in Zone 8b or warmer. The rest of us would need to grow it in a large container because it gets to three or four feet tall and would have to take it indoors once the temps start getting down into the 20s F.


The tall bearded iris ‘Champagne Elegance’ would represent Pocahontas quite well, although there are other bearded iris combining shades of tan, cream, and white that could also work. I have a similarly-colored miniature tall bearded named ‘Pixi-Wan Kenobi’, which would be a great way to combine Disney with your Star Wars fix. Now, about Baby Yoda….hmmm…


There are even more choices for Rapunzel, but I think that Verbena ‘Homestead Purple’ is one of the most adaptable and easy to come by. Several lilacs and a few buddleia cultivars (if you don’t mind the re-seeding) might also work.


Because Moana wears orange-red, many daylilies could audition for this one but these two ‘toothy’ cultivars also mimic the fringe on her skirt. They are ‘Beastman’ and ‘Dangerous Expectations’, both from Heavenly Gardens and hardy almost anywhere.


Jasmine’s dress color is tricky because some (not all) photos of Puya alpestris show a match. It may be that this aqua color is what the flowers fade to, or perhaps it’s just a hard color to get correct in a photo. Another close match could be Tweedia caerulea, again depending on cultural conditions and photography; it does have a bit more blue in it, but there are very few flowers to choose from in this color family.


The waiting-in-the-wings Disney Princess is Raya, from the 2021 movie Raya and The Last Dragon. Rumor has it that she will be officially joining the princess ranks sometime this year. Her outfit is basically red and green, she wears a pointed hat, and carries a wicked-looking sword – so my pick for a plant match is Spigelia marilandica ‘Little Redhead’.  Hardy from zones 5 to 9 and amenable to full sun or part shade and average soil, it will even tolerate wet soil although not requiring it. This cultivar grows to 2 ft tall and wide and is more floriferous than the species.


This leaves us with two ‘problem gals’ among the princesses, as far as a matching flower goes: Ariel and Mulan. The challenge is the combination of colors they wear. You could make a case for the Tweedia or (faded) Puya for Ariel, I suppose, but it would be a bit of a stretch; at least the Puya would also match her hair color, as it does Merida’s.
This Disney-licensed toy figure of Mulan illustrates the challenge. There are several blue flowers with yellow centers, but in this princess’s signature dress the yellow is predominant and so it would need to be a yellow flower that also has dark blue. That’s a problem. There are two violas, ‘Helen Mount’ and the common Johnny-Jump-Up, that have yellow lower petals but the uppers are undeniably purple rather than blue. Stumped by ‘true blue’ again!! Suggestions??

You may be idly wondering (or not) what qualifies a character to be designated as an official Disney Princess while others – such as Elsa and Anna in Frozen – are not. The first rule is that they have to be human, and also be a central character in their movie. Another rule is that she has to “perform an act of bravery worthy of a princess.” But a very important rule is that the movie (and therefore the character) needs to be a box-office success that will generate sufficient licensed merchandise revenue and/or profitable spin-offs. This is why Kida, the princess of Atlantis who checked all the other boxes, never made it.  Atlantis: The Lost Empire was pretty much a bomb in theatres despite having some very well-known voice talents including Michael J. Fox, James Garner, and Leonard Nimoy. No big box office receipts = No princess status. As the old saying goes: Money talks! 😊

  2 comments for “Disney Princesses in the Garden

  1. August 13, 2022 at 7:27 pm

    Your knowledge of Disney Princesses is impressive! Love the plant choices too. Your granddaughter has done a great job with those lily names–spot on!


  2. August 14, 2022 at 5:54 am

    What fun!

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