Cut flower gardens make a wonderful addition to any landscape, and can easily fit into existing beds without overwhelming them with flowers.
Choose flowers with long vase lives and harvest them when in full bloom – picking early morning or late evening will help prevent your bouquets from wilting prematurely.
If you want perennial flowers in your cut flower garden, ordering seeds from a specialty seed company could help you discover rare or old-fashioned varieties you might not find at local nurseries. Some perennial varieties that work particularly well for cut arrangements are lilies, dahlias, peonies, sunflowers and zinnias.
Select plants suitable to the climate in which you reside and which will thrive under your care. If space is at a premium, create a cutting flower bed within existing borders rather than making an additional area just for planting purposes.
Your cutting flower bed should be easy to access. That means using wide rows so you don’t need to stretch to reach stems when weeding or harvesting, and should also be located in an area with excellent drainage and no competing weeds. Before planting, loosen up soil by working compost or leaf mold into it for increased water retention and fertility.
Annual flowers form the cornerstone of any cut flower garden, as they’re easy to cultivate, affordable and offer a wide selection of colors and cultivars. Plus, their height can add height to bouquets while filling gaps left by perennials or bulbs that haven’t bloomed yet.
Choose varieties specifically developed for cutting that possess superior qualities such as length of stem and vase life. Carefully read and analyze seed packets when purchasing plants designed for this use to avoid unwittingly overwatering or underwatering your crop. Group plants with similar needs to avoid accidentally over or under-watering your crop.
Check for plants that rebloom once their initial blossom is removed, such as zinnias and calendulas, to extend your picking season. Don’t forget vines like sweet peas (Lathyrus), too; sweet pea vines add height and whimsy to bouquets! Larkspur flowers make another fantastic choice but require vernalization (i.e. exposure to cold temperatures) in some climate zones for best results.
Add herbs to your cutting garden that can add fragrance to bouquets, like mint, rosemary, lavender or dill – which serve as fillers that also add texture.
Plan your planting bed for maximum accessibility and productivity, grouping perennials and annuals according to their cultural needs, such as sunlight exposure, soil type or watering requirements – this way all will receive equal care.
Consider designing your beds around bloom sequence, with plants that bloom early in the season closer than those which bloom later. This will ensure an ongoing supply of cut flowers throughout summer and into fall.
Your cut flower garden needs at least six hours of direct sunlight each day in order to thrive, which is especially crucial given that many varieties require plenty of direct light for proper development. Also consider choosing an area easily reached via hose to water it effectively and efficiently.
Many perennial and annual flowers with long vase life also add great depth and interest to a garden as foliage plants. Echinacea, Rudbeckia and Agapanthus serve as tall focal flowers while others, such as Lilyturf or Yarrow are used as fillers or filler blooms.
An effective cut flower garden requires access to its blooms for cutting. Select a sunny location and plant in rows – this will make weeding, staking, and picking much simpler!
Consideration should also be given to the soil in which you will plant flowers. Flowers thrive best when grown in rich, well-draining soil that contains plenty of compost and slow release fertilizer; then apply plenty of both. Raised beds offer greater control over soil quality while being easier to water using soaker hose or drip irrigation systems.