Cutting Gardens

Wouldn’t it be lovely to fill your home with fresh flower bouquets? Regularly buying flowers from the florist can become quite expensive though. Growing your own is not only economical, but can become a very satisfying hobby.

Traditionally, cutting gardens are set apart from other gardens and are laid out in rows, similar to a vegetable garden. Because most cutting gardens are designed to be purely productive, many gardeners find this method convenient to care for and harvest the flowers. The newest gardening trend, however, is to include plants that produce beautiful flowers for cutting throughout the yard. To take advantage of this design style, try to incorporate cutting flowers in most of your planting beds.

Choose a location that is very sunny to create the garden. Most cutting flowers require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight to perform their best. Installing a raised bed makes gardening easy. Fill the bed with good topsoil and add plenty of compost. If you do not make your own compost, you can purchase LeafGro, or cow manure at the Nursery.

Making the flower selections is the most critical and the most fun part of planning the garden. Annuals tend to be the most popular choice because they are inexpensive, easy to grow, and bloom a long time. However, diversity is important if you want to have interesting arrangements from spring until frost. Consider bloom colors, leaf textures and plant size. While perennials generally do not bloom as long as annuals, they offer an incredible range of variety. You will find perennials that bloom earlier in the season than annuals and that will bloom past the first frost.

The following plants are excellent cut flower choices:

Perennials

Acanthus (Goatsbeard)
Achillea (Yarrow)
Aconitum (Monkshood)
Aster (Aster)
Baptisia (False Indigo)
Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)
Centranthus (Jupiter’s Beard)
Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum)
Coreopsis (Tickseed)
Crocosmia (Crocosmia)
Dianthus (Dianthus)
Echinacea (Coneflower)
Gaillardia (Blanket Flower)
Heliopsis (Heliopsis)
Iris (Iris)
Kniphofia (Torch Lily)
Liatris (Blazing Star)
Lilium (Lilies)
Lythrum (Loosestrife)
Monarda (Bee Balm)
Paeonia (Peony)
Perovskia (Russian Sage)
Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan)
Salvia (Meadow Sage)
Sedum (Stonecrop)
Stokesia (Stokes’ Aster)
Veronica (Speedwell)

Annuals

Ageratum
Celosia
Cleome
Coleus
Cosmos
Dahlia
Dianthus
Dusty Miller
Geranium
Gerbera Daisy
Gomphrena
Heliotrope
Marigold
Scarlet Sage (Salvia)
Snapdragon
Statice
Strawflower
Sweet Pea
Zinnia

Spring and Summer Bulbs

Asiatic and Oriental lilies
Calla lily
Daffodils
Dahlia
Gladioli
Hyacinths
Snowdrops
Tulips

Most blooming shrubs such as forsythia, viburnum, roses and hydrangea provide wonderful flowers for cutting. You may also want to experiment with the delicate and fragrant flowers from herb plants such as lavender, scented geraniums and chives. Also remember that flower arrangements need interesting foliage and textures. Include plants in your design like ornamental grasses, ferns and hostas (in a shade garden), sedums and any other plant that interests you.

The best cutting gardens provide ample flowers from spring until frost. Keep this in mind when selecting plants. You may want to keep a garden journal to record when flowers bloom in your garden. Take note of gaps in bloom time and plant plants to extend the cutting season.

Maintaining plants grown for cutting is critical to insure ample flowers. Deadheading, cutting off spent flowers, is the most important task. If they’re allowed to go to seed, many plants simply stop producing flowers or the new crop of flowers comes at a significantly slower pace than if the flower heads are not allowed to go to seed.

Another important task is fertilizing. Cutting flowers require a lot of food because they are harvested often. Use a slow-released fertilizer such as Osmocote at planting and then fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro every 2 – 3 weeks. Plants that are thirsty will not produce great quantities of flowers. Be sure to keep the plants well watered during dry spells.

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