Consider selecting flowers with long, strong stems and good vase life when curating a cut flower garden. Also keep an eye out for unique combinations of colors, shapes and sizes that create eye-catching arrangements.
Plant flowers with various bloom times throughout the season to ensure a constant supply of beautiful blooms. Grouping them by their growing conditions will help ensure they receive adequate amounts of water and nutrients.
An easily accessible cut flower garden should be located away from vegetable beds or other tall-growing plants that obstruct access. Ideally, the garden should be on a level site with ample sunlight; bed sizes should also be long and narrow for easier planting, weeding and picking operations.
An essential element of any cutting garden should be perennials and annuals, providing a wide range of colors, heights and textures for bouquets or floral arrangements. Also consider aromatic herbs with interesting foliage that add both texture and color. Achillea (yarrow) is an easy perennial that blooms summer to early fall attracting pollinators – perfect as filler flowers in cut arrangements!
“Flowers thrive best in rich, weed-free soil that can retain water well,” advises Cathy Jones from Perrywinkle Farm. To improve water retention and drainage in clay or sandy soils, compost or leaf mold should be worked into the mix prior to planting.
Cutting flower gardeners require a balanced soil mix for success; large rocks or man-made debris should be avoided as this may inhibit waterflow to roots and expose plants to disease. Screened soil is best as any large pieces can be removed using sieving equipment.
Make it easier to maintain cutting flower gardens by creating rows for easy access; wide beds work best. Provide paths between beds so you can water, weed and harvest easily. Harvest at times when stems are still moist to extend vase life.
An optimal system for a cut flower garden would include a drip irrigation system that absorbs water directly into the soil, as this will lower disease risks while increasing bloom production.
Organic compost applications help improve soil structure and nutrition content, particularly for sandy or clay soils. A slow-release organic fertilizer application in spring can also boost flower production.
Assemble succession-planting efforts around flowers that produce multiple blooms per seed or grow sturdy stems for cutting, such as zinnias and dahlias. When selecting single stem varieties like sunflowers, their one bloom may last two weeks in a vase!
For easy maintenance of a cut flower bed, design it into rows or grid patterns for easier access and maintenance. This makes weeding, staking and harvesting much simpler than trying to work around individual flowers that may have spread themselves across your landscape.
Strive to develop an organic soil to maximize flower production. Conduct a soil test and add compost or slow-release organic fertilizer as part of an overall strategy for improving structure, drainage and sustainable supply of nutrients in your garden soil.
Consider including perennials that will return year after year as well as annuals planted from seeds or starts. This will add variety and extend the harvest season for your garden.
Companion planting can help protect cut flower gardens from pests that threaten them, such as marigolds. They naturally repel aphids and squash bugs while working well alongside tomatoes to protect against hornworms. Allowing flowers to set seed is another great way to replenish cutting flower supplies for free the following year.
Cut flowers require a carefully maintained garden to flourish. Create your cutting garden so it blooms from spring through fall with perennials, bulbs, grasses and shrubs with beautiful foliage to be cut for bouquets as well as grasses and shrubs with interesting leaves for bouquets. Plant rows to allow easy weeding, watering and picking access.
Filler plants such as caladiums, euphorbias and petunias do well in most climates and make excellent ground cover to curb weed growth and add color. Hand weed as necessary to keep the flower beds free of invasive weeds that threaten them; ensure pails, vases and tools used for cutting flowers are clean in order to avoid spreading bacteria that causes fast decay of flowers – and cut early morning or evening when temperatures are less stressful for cutting flowers!