The beauty of the summer garden is fleeting, so take full advantage of it by having bouquets of freshly cut flowers in every room. Just a few old-fashioned roses, a sprig of honeysuckle, or one Oriental lily can scent an entire room.
To avoid having boring bouquets, try to pick a variety of flower forms, shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. Spiky shapes like astilbe, liatris, snapdragons, delphinium, salvias, and veronica add height to your arrangements. Composite flowers like asters, daisies, coneflowers, cosmos, calendula, and rudbeckia lend pizzazz, and don't forget the big showy blossoms of dahlias, sunflowers, phlox, zinnias, lilies, and cleome. Sweet peas, nicotianas, stock, carnations, and dianthus can be depended upon for added fragrance. To really make a statement, throw in some ornamental grass - we like 'Frosted Explosion' - or a draping weeper such as love-lies-bleeding to hang over the side. Don't forget the greenery - things like herbs, ladies' mantle, artemisia, and funky seedpods will add even more interest to your bouquets. The best bouquet for you has the flowers you love most in it!
These bouquets are on their way to farmers market.
Luckily keeping annuals like zinnias and snapdragons picked encourages the plants to branch and form even more blossoms. Don't let your annual flowers set seed or flower production will come to a halt. Plants live to reproduce and once they have formed seeds for the next generation, they have no reason to bloom again.
Since we sell cut flowers to local florists and at our local farmer's market, our garden is a utilitarian one. We stretch wide mesh nylon netting (some of it used to be a volleyball net!) horizontally across the beds to give the plants support and keep the stems growing straight.
Here are a few tips to keep your bouquets long-lasting and looking their best:
- Cut flowers in early morning or evening - not during the heat of midday.
- Cut flowers before they are fully open, usually halfway open and showing color.
- Cut the stems as long as possible to give you something to work with when arranging.
- Use sharp, clean scissors or clippers and cut at an angle. Try not to crush the stems.
- Place stems in water immediately and let them condition in a dark cool area for a few hours to overnight.
- When making your arrangement use lukewarm water with some kind of floral preservative in it. You can concoct a homemade one from 1 Tbspn. sugar, 2 Tbspns. lemon juice, and 2 tsps. bleach.
- Remove all foliage below the waterline.
- Recut the stems under water. Split woody stems such as lilacs, buddleia, or hydrangea up an inch or so from the bottom.
- Keep your bouquet out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources and check the water level daily.
- Change the water after a few days and recut the stems. Remove any faded blossoms.
Don't forget to brighten someone else's day by sharing some flowers with them!