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Cut flowers

for the home garden

 

It is always a bonus to be able to cut and display flowers from your garden in your own home. But if you're anything like me, you're terribly reluctant to cut any flowers from the permanent display gardens. In order to ensure that there are enough flowers to spare and bring indoors, it is a good idea to grow flowers specifically for this purpose.

The vegetable garden is an ideal location to plant flowers for cutting. As with the vegetables, the primary purpose is for harvest rather than aesthetic appeal where they are planted. Using the vegetable garden means that colour schemes, planting distances and appearance after harvest, are less important. Flowers can also be excellent companions to vegetables by deterring pests or attracting birds and beneficial insects. I have found that flea beetles will attack my nasturtiums before they touch the arugula.

There are many annuals, perennials, biennials and bulbs which are suitable for cut flowers. Annuals tend to be the best choices because they have a broader range of flowering time and will re-flower easily after cutting. There are many choices available but my favourites would be tall Snapdragons, Sweet Peas, Zinnias, Asters, Calendula and Baby's Breath.

I have yet to master the art of growing a wall of sweet peas but I haven't, so far, provided them with the ideal location. They need a full southern exposure and a wall or trellis on which to climb. This year, I intend to build a trellis on the north side of the vegetable garden and train the sweet peas to grow up and form a colourful wall which will not shade the rest of the garden. The colour variations are extraordinary and the cut flowers are perfect for a small vase.

Gladiolus are easy and reliable flowers for cutting. They are actually best suited as cut flowers because they can tend to get lost or look out of place in permanent display gardens. Gladiolus can be planted in early May and will produce their flowers 10 weeks later. By staggering the plantings every 2 weeks from early May until July, you will have a constant supply of Gladiolus from mid-July until October. Better yet, the bulbs (properly called corms) can be brought in every fall, overwintered and replanted the following year. A row of Gladiolus can divide the plantings of different vegetables for an attractive addition to the vegetable garden.

There are many outstanding perennials, biennials and bulbs which can be used for cut flowers. Coreopsis, Canterbury bells, Delphinium, Lupins, Gayfeather, Lilies, Foxglove, Globe thistle, Iris and Yarrow are but a few. I tend to avoid planting perennials in the vegetable garden because they will interfere with the crop rotation and soil conditioning. Instead, I plant groups of perennials in the display gardens so that there are often blooms to spare. In future, I hope to make a separate bed of Delphinium, Lupins, Gayfeather and Lilies exclusively for cutting.

The best time to harvest cut flowers is in the morning when they are crisp and turgid with water. Take a bucket of luke warm water with you and plunge the stems into the water immediately after cutting. Use a sharp knife or shears for the best success since a clean cut will preserve the water conducting tissue of the plant and keep the blooms robust longer.

Take the bucket of cut flowers to a cool, shaded area of the garden. Remove the foliage from the lower portion of the stem which will be submersed in water. This not only prevents overcrowding but also reduces the amount of bacterial and fungal decay which ultimately shortens the vase-life of cut flowers. When you are set to arrange the cut flowers, select a container which has been thoroughly cleaned with soap and water. Hold the stems under water and cut an additional 3-5cm (1 inch) off the stem. Change the water frequently and if the flowers wilt, re-cut the stems again while holding it under water.

To add additional flare to the cut flower display, ornamental grasses, ferns and shrub branches can be added.

 

Daisy Moore, 1999.

 

 

Other spring garden tips:

(click on the tip you want to read)

 

Designing Gardens

Fertilizing the Garden
Ready for Spring
Starting Seeds Indoors
Pruning Trees and Shrubs
Dormant Spraying
Planning the Vegetable Garden
Planting Early Vegetables
Early Season Care of Perennial Beds
Plants for an Early Spring Show
Cut Flowers for the Home Garden
Growing the Perfect Potato
Lawn Care in Early Spring.....GRUB DAMAGE!
Spring Lawn Care
The Garden in May
Gardening with Native Plants
Sources of Native Plants
Shade Gardening
Planting Gladiolus and Other Summer Flowering Bulbs
Weed Control
Crabgrass
Thatch in Lawns
Weeds or Wildflowers
Improving Your Soil
Marvellous Mulch
Selecting and Planting Shrubs
Planting Trees and Shrubs
Window Box Gardening
Growing Tomatoes
Fertilizing the Vegetable Garden
 

 

 

Home  |  Garden designs  |  Naturalized gardening  |  Help with your garden  |  Garden Tips Spring  Summer  Fall  | Contact Daisy

 

Daisy Moore 2005