If you’re like me and can never have too many flowers, now is the time to plan a cutting garden so you can have your flowers and cut them too!
To avoid stripping your front flower beds bare of bloom, plant an area of your garden just for cutting. If you have an empty spot out back or in the vegetable garden, why not fill that space with flowers?
Your cutting garden needs to get at least 6 hours of sun a day for optimum flower production. If you are using a section of your veggie patch, it probably has good, deeply dug, fertile soil already.
If not you can jazz it up by digging in some compost or aged manure. Go easy on the fertilizer though because a lot of flowering plants bloom best in poor soil. Plants grown with too much nitrogen will have lush green growth at the expense of flower production or the flowers will be so tender that they will fade very quickly when cut.
Plant your garden in rows or blocks, whatever makes for ease of picking and maintenance. We plant in long, three foot wide beds and suspend wide mesh nylon netting horizontally over the beds so that the plants grow up thru the mesh. This supports the stems so they grow straight for better cutting.
Don’t worry too much about the arrangement of colors and heights here. You will be cutting the flowers for your bouquets when they bare about 1/2 to 3/4 open. Keeping annuals picked encourages more blossoms to form so don’t hesitate to strip the patch of all the flowers every few days.
As far as what to plant goes, there are hundreds of flowersfrom ageratum to zinnias - that are perfect for your cutting garden. Look for annuals that have long strong stems and long-lasting flowers.
A few of our favorites from A to Z are:
- Ageratum ‘Blue Horizon’ has true blue flowers. This is a tall variety and as you cut it, more branches form.
- Asters come in a range of colors - pinks, blues, purples, and white. They are long-lasting cut flowers. Look for extra fluffy peony-types such as ‘Opus’ or ‘Duchess’, a quilled variety like ‘Princess’, or a pin-cushion type such as ‘Seastar’ or ‘Tiger Paws’.
- Amaranth ‘Love-lies-bleeding’ forms hanging clusters of chenille-like dreadlocks in red or green. These flowers make a statement in a bouquet!
- Celosias are extremely long-lasting as cut flowers or they can be dried to use in winter arrangements. There are lots to choose from but we like ‘Punky Red’, yellow ‘Sylphid’, and ‘Pampas Plume’.
- Snapdragons are stunning flowers in a bouquet. Look for tall varieties such as ‘Madame Butterfly’, ‘Chantilly’, ‘Majestic’, or ‘Rocket’.
- Sunflowers come in lots of unexpected colors like black! We prefer the double forms since they hold their petals longer. They do not produce any pollen and last a long time in a vase. Look for ‘Golden Cheer’ or ’ Giant Sungold’.
- Zinnias are my all-time favorite cut flower. We grow tall varieties that branch after cutting and by the end of the season thye have formed a tall hedge of flowers. Try growing ‘Benary’s Giants’, ‘State Fair’, or ‘Giant Cactus’.
Plan to start a cutting this spring and soon you’ll have armloads of flowers to brighten your home and share with friends!