One of the greatest pleasures of gardening is to stroll out, bucket in hand, and cut richly colored, fragrant bouquets for your own home or to give to family or friends. Having a bad day? Walk outside and cut some flowers. Having a really bad day? Cut enough blooms for every room and snip a bunch to give away. The more blooms you cut, the more flowers will be produced by your plants. It’s economical to grow your own bouquets and because they’re fresh from your own garden they’ll be long lasting.
Flowers that lend themselves to cutting ( long stems and a long vase life) can be incorporated into any spot of the garden. if you really enjoy cut flowers indoors you may want to consider setting aside a small bed primarily for an old-fashioned cutting garden. A seldom used side yard would be an ideal place as long as it receives at least a half day of sun. Or how about that narrow bed along the fence you never know what to do with? if your never planted in the soil of your future cutting garden, amend the soil generously with organic matter or compost. Then water to germinate weed seeds and hoe them off. Don’t turn the soil again as you’ll bring up more weed seeds. Now you’re ready to plant.
Perennial flowers are among the most prized of all cut flowers. Many annuals are good as well as grasses or the straplike leaves of flax or cordyline. Prunings from the smoke tree, oakleaf hydrangea, grapes and Japanese maple look handsome in bouquets, too.
What can you still plant this time of year for cutting?
- Roses- Many colors and fragrant. Attract butterfly larvae. Buds open best with sugar in the vase solution.
- Foxglove- ‘Foxy’ blooms first year. Attracts hummingbirds.
- Delphinium- vivid shades of blue. Pick spikes when 3/4 of the buds are open. Attracts both hummingbirds and butterflies.
- Kangaroo paw- Low-water use perennial with unusual fuzzy tubular flowers of pink, orange, red or yellow.
- Alstroemeria- showy flowers attract hummers and butterflies. To pick, pull stems gently to break cleanly away
- from the rhizome.
- Penstemon- Tubular flowers attract hummingbirds
- Coreopsis- Double yellow flowers attract butterflies. Watch for flowers going to seed. remove spent flowers to prolong blooms.
- Dahlia- Huge showy blooms, all colors
- Gloriosa daisy- Bold gold, orange and mohogany daisies 5-7" across with a brown center. Pick when center is just starting to get fuzzy. Double forms have a shorter vase life.
- Coneflowers- Pinkish or white flowers attract butterflies.
- Snapdragons-Provide spiky accent that attracts butterflies. Pick off lower blooms as they wilt.
- Zinnia- Pompons 1-5" across in a rainbow of colors. Pick when flowers open but before pollen shows. Buds don’t open well. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
These are just a few of the many flowers that are good for cutting. Marigolds, cosmos,and lisianthus are other annuals to try. Perennials like coral bells, scabiosa, gerbera, mimulus, hosta, aster, yarrow and shasta daisy can be planted now,too.
To make cut flowers last, pick them early in the morning before heat stresses them. Flowers cut in the middle of the day will have difficulty absorbing enough water. Take a bucket of tepid water with you and place stems in it as you cut. Indoors, fill the kitchen sink with cool water and recut each stem underwater. The pull off any foliage or flowers that will be below the water level in the vase. You’ll be amazed just now long your flowers will last when you cut them under water. It’s worth the extra step. Now fill a clean vase with 3 parts lukewarm water mixed with 1 part lemon-lime soda, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and a crushed aspirin. Another recipe for floral food to add to the water is 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 tablespoons white vinegar , 1/2 teaspoon bleach in 1 qt water. The sugar helps buds open and last longer, the acid improves water flow in the stems and the bleach reduces the growth of bacteria and fungus. Change the water and recut the stems every few days to enjoy you bouquets for a week or maybe even two.