Who doesn’t love to receive fresh flowers?
When I recently got a vase of Peruvian Lilies, aka Alstromeria, I realized, it’s time to plant a few of them in my garden to have fresh flowers that really last. These stay fresh up to 3 weeks!
First, to begin your cutting garden, figure out the location, the sunlight and the soil, if it holds water or drains quickly. Perennials are the backbone of any cutting garden because these guys live and bloom for years. Staggering the bloom time you will have plenty of fresh cut flowers from Spring, to Summer to Fall!
Consider making it part of your vegetable garden. This is a production garden; created to be cut down, so do not worry about design correctness.
Here are some of my favorites:
Alstroemeria, also known as the Peruvian Lily, is a perennial flowering plant native to South America. The plant flowers in the garden in spring thru summer and produces lily-like blooms in colors of white, yellow, orange, pink, red and purple. The flowers are often streaked with darker colors and appear in loose clusters. Alstroemeria flowers are commonly used in arrangements and as cut flowers but are quite easy to grow. Plants can be left undisturbed for years once planted, and require only minimal maintenance once established.
From April to June, columbines are beautiful. The petals have spurs that project behind the flower which gives them an unusual look. And the long stem is great for cutting and in a vase. In cooler climates the plants can tolerate sun, but require shade in warmer climates, and enjoy rich well drained soils. Cut when the blooms just begin to open.
From lowly groundcovers to the taller varieties, dianthus performs well in almost any garden. They bring a spicy fragrance to your garden and now your home when you cut them for display. Dianthus do best in full sun and come in colors ranging from pure white to purple. The lovely grey green foliage makes a nice contrast to the flowers
These are a must for any cutting garden, easy and hardy. They love full sun but can handle some shade.The colors range from white to red with a few yellow varieties. The double flowers tend to be the most fragrant, but single flowers have a lovely form.
These look like large crepe paper and are very showy. They love full sun and well- drained soil but only bloom a few short weeks. Cut the flowers in the cool morning before the flowers fully open.
As the warmer weather of summer approaches, the spring bloomers slip away, replaced by the incredible array of summer bloomers.
White daisies compliment any flower arrangement and the perennial Shasta daisies are great bloomers. As a cut flower it is excellent due to its sturdy stem that holds up well in arrangements. Plant is full sun, and be prepared to share this plant with friends since the clumps will grow quickly.
The tall stately beauties of the cutting garden, these plants produce masses of flowers. Strong stems make them great cut flowers in arrangements. Known best for brilliant blue flowers, they also come in pink, red and white. Plant in full sun and well-drained soil for the best results.
Native to the North American plains, coneflowers have lovely flowers with drooping petals. These hardy, adaptable plants produce excellent cut flowers and deserve a place in any cutting garden. The standard coneflower has bright pink flowers, but ‘White Swan’ is an excellent cultivar with white flowers. Exciting new coneflowers varieties now come in shades of mango, orange and gold. Look for ‘Sunrise’, ‘Sunset’, and Sundown’ if you want these colors in your garden. Coneflowers tolerate many different conditions but do enjoy a fair amount of sun, and can be cut at any time. At the end of the season, don’t remove the spent flowers, the birds love the seeds.
If fragrance is a must in your garden, be sure to plant phlox! Ranging from white to purple, you are sure to find a phlox that fits your garden needs. Look for varieties resistant to powdery mildew, a common problem of this plant. “David’, has wonderful white flowers and is very disease resistant. ‘Robert Poore’ has rosy purple flowers with strong stems for cutting. Lovely lilac blooms and sweet scent make ‘Franz Schubert’ one of my favorite phlox. When half of the flowers are open is the best time to cut to take in for arrangements.
zones 4 to 8
This plant packs a punch! The silvery green foliage contrasts nicely with the lovely spikes of lavender blue flowers and an added bonus is the herb like fragrance of the plant. Russian sage blooms till frost and produces plenty of flowers. Plant size reaches four to five feet tall by three to four feet wide, with an open airy look. Tolerant of poor soil, drought and a range of pH, Russian Sage can grow in a variety of conditions. This plant deserves a sunny place in any cutting garden. Cut when most of the flowers are open.
zones 3 to 9
For your garden border, try coreopsis. Growing from 8 inches to 2 feet, these sun loving plants produce flowers for a long period of time. Thread leaf coreopsis, has fern like foliage and blooms profusely. The yellow, pink or red flowers are small but the foliage adds a nice texture to an arrangement. Taller growing ‘Early Sunrise’ has large, bright yellow semi-double flowers and is one of my favorite coreopsis. Harvest when the flowers are open.
Easy to grow Blanket flower is a lovely addition to the cutting garden. The daisy like flowers have yellow tips and rust centers and a long bloom time. For dwarf plants look for ‘Goblin’ and ‘Baby Cole’. ‘Burgundy’ is taller and has solid red flowers while Dazzler’ had the bicolor red and yellow flowers. ‘Red Plume’ has a dark red, double flower .Plant them in full sun and well drained soil then sit back and enjoy. Cut the flowers when they are fully open.
When cool weather arrives, the summer perennials decide they are done, and the fall bloomers begin their show.
Once used in place of snuff to induce sneezing, this wildflower is finding a home in the fall garden. The yellow, orange or red daisylike flowers open in late summer and the plant grows 3 to 5 feet.. This plant is excellent if you have clay soil and enjoys a sunny spot. Cut when the flowers just open.
zones 3 to 9
Because ragweed and goldenrod bloom at the same time, goldenrod has long been wrongly blamed for causing hay fever. This incredible plant is finally getting the respect it deserves in the fall garden. Unlike native goldenrods, the new varieties are more compact and less invasive. ‘Fireworks’ grows three feet and blooms vigorously till frost .’Golden Fleece’ is a more compact variety that grows about 18 inches tall. Give goldenrod plenty of sun and once they are established, they are tolerant of drought. Cut these flowers when some of the florets are just opening
In shades of pink, red, purple, blue and white, these delicate daisy-like blossoms add punch to the autumn garden. There is an abundance of varieties available, with dwarf plants and ones that grow 3-5 feet. I particularly love the dark purple of the ‘Purple Dome’ and the brilliant red of ‘Winston Churchill’. The airy foliage is a nice contrast to the flowers and helps fill in fall bouquets. Give them a sunny site and enjoy the show. Cut the flowers when most of the flowers are open.
Don’t let the name of this perennial put you off! Nick-named for blossoms shaped like turtles heads, this plant adds a lot of interest to the fall garden. Coming in shades of white, pink or red, turtle head has attractive foliage and generally, the plant is 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Partial shade to full sun and a consistently moist to wet, organic soil are ideal conditions for growth. Cut the flowers when they are just opening.
Tall and stately, the anemones add pink or white flowers to the fall garden. An excellent selection is ‘Honorine Joubert’. This vigorous plant grows up to five feet and produces masses of single white flowers. ‘Max Vogel’ is another tall plant with single pink flowers. Where you need a shorter plant, look for ‘Prince Henry’. It only reaches two feet and had semi-double flowers that are rosy pink. Japanese anemones need well draining soil and shade. Cut the flowers as the buds open.
zones 5 to 8
Sedum makes a great cutting garden plant. It requires minimal attention and is drought tolerant. ‘Autumn Joy’ is the traditional variety but newer varieties such as ‘Bertram Anderson, ‘Brilliant’ and ‘Matrona’ are excellent choices. Give sedum full sun and well-drained soil and sit back and enjoy the show. Cut when most of the florets are open.
Tips to keep your cutting garden plants alive longer!
- Use clippers or shears instead of household scissors to avoid crushing the plants vascular system and prevent proper water uptake
- Remove all the lower foliage that would be submerged in water. This will retard bacterial growth, which shortens the vase life of flowers and makes the water smell foul.
- Professional florists and commercial growers always use lukewarm water for their cut flowers. The water temperature should be 100°F to 110°F. (An exception is when you are using bulb flowers, such as hyacinths and tulips, which need cold water.) Warm water molecules move faster than cold water molecules and so can be absorbed by flowers with greater ease. The objective is to get water and nutrients as quickly as possible to the head of the flower.
- Remember flowers need 3 ingredients to survive: carbohydrates, biocides, and acidifiers. Carbohydrates ( sugar, 7-up) are necessary for cell metabolism; biocides ( bleach, aspirin) combat bacteria and are necessary for maintaining plant health; acidifiers ( vinegar) adjust the pH of water to facilitate and increase water uptake.
Homemade Flower Preservative
Home mixes can be as effective as commercial preservatives. This easy-to-make recipe is my favorite.
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon household bleach
2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
1 quart lukewarm water
- Cut the stems underwater always – When you cut it in open air it exposes the veins, and prevents the plant from absorbing the maximum needed water.
- Cut stem at an angle to open up more stem to pull in more water
- Put freshly cut flowers in container full of water that is slightly acidic to prevent the cuts on stems from sealing up – add vinegar or lemon juice.