16 June 2016

Top Flower Picks for a Summer Cutting Garden

If you have a flower garden you’re probably all too familiar with this quandary: You spend a lot of time and energy creating a dazzling summer flowerbed only to rob it of cuttings to create beautiful indoor arrangements. So what to do? This summer try planting two separate beds—one in the front strictly for aesthetics and one in the back for cuttings.

Now that we’ve got that problem solved, it’s time to pick flower varieties that will make the most of your summer bouquets and your home’s curb appeal. We’ve researched the top flowers that not only look fabulous in the garden but also in an arrangement. Our favorites were chosen based on their bloom times, vase life and unique appearance.

Asters
Few flowers will brighten a bouquet like these hardy little perennials. They produce from summer into fall supplying you with continual blooms. People often mistake them for daisies because of their long slender petals surrounding a bright yellow center.

Choose from 180 aster varieties in a lovely range of colors including purple, pink and white. Asters are perfect for fresh summer arrangements and can be dried and used during any season.

Sedum
These perennials feature succulent leaves and stems crowned with tight clusters of small blooms. Sedum is an easy-care plant that tolerates summer heat and drought conditions. Raspberry, blue, yellow and variegated varieties are just a sampling of your color options.

“Autumn Joy”, “Frosty Morn” and “Matrona” are some of the taller varieties that make the best cut flowers. Choose stems with clusters of full blooms and the base of the stem at a 45-degree angle. Place the stems immediately in water and they’ll up to a week or more.

Peonies
These flowers resemble roses on steroids with their ample, lush blooms that herald the beginning of summer. The perennials easy to grow and require little maintenance. Peonies are quick growers and seem to produce masses of flowers overnight. This means you must be resourceful in order to extend the blooms for cut arrangements.

When the blossoms first show a tiny sliver of color, cut the stems and remove most of the leaves. Wrap several stems together in tissue paper, indicating the cutting date on the outside. Place them in a very cold refrigerator and take the stems as you need them. Recut the stems and place them in water. Within a couple of days you’ll have full peony blooms!

Even though they’re early bloomers, you can enjoy their lush greenery all summer. The deep green, mounded plants are beautiful on their own. You can also use their foliage in your mid to late season flower arrangements.

Yarrow

Yarrow’s delicate and aromatic blossoms are well suited for floral arrangements and a great addition to your perennial garden. This drought-tolerant plant features flat-topped flower clusters in shades of yellow, white and pink, just to name a few.

Most yarrow plants are roughly 2 feet tall, making them the perfect size for flower arrangements. Cut the stem at about 18 inches and remove the leaves. Keep the stems in cool water and they will last a week to ten days.

Dahlias
Big, bold blooms and a rainbow of vivid colors are the hallmarks of dahlias. These tuberous flowers are spectacular in the garden and in an arrangement all to themselves. They possess the best characteristics of both annuals and perennials. They bloom continually and will come back each year if protected from freezes.

Dahlias are ideal cutting flowers. The more you cut them, the more buds they will produce. Their vase life is between four to ten days. Beginning in late spring, you’ll find dahlias at the nursery in 1-gallon pots, or you can plant them from tubers in early spring.

Russian Sage
While not commonly recognized as a cut flower, Russian sage is a unique filler for floral arrangements. Their tall silvery stems are covered in hundreds of tiny deep blue blooms that contrast beautifully with dense, gray-green foliage.

Russian sage produces blooms from mid to late summer and resembles a low growing shrub. It is a very easy plant to cultivate—in fact they almost thrive on neglect making them perfect for dry, hot zones with minimal irrigation.

Penstemons
These dense plants may not produce for long, but from early to mid summer they will provide you with prolific tubular flowers along their tall stems. Penstemon, a western U.S. native plant loves heat and sun. Also known as beardtongue, this prairie flower attracts hummingbirds and looks right at home in wildflower gardens.

Penstemon spikes grow 1 to 3 feet tall and come in a range of colors including blue, pink, purple, red and white depending on the variety. They are an easy care and low maintenance plant and great source for cut flowers. Penstemon’s unusual trumpet-shaped blossoms work very well in simple arrangements.

Begonias
We’re used to seeing begonias in pots or as border plants, but not necessarily in flower arrangements. These annuals are highly regarded for their exquisite colors such as red, salmon, yellow and pink. They thrive in warm, moist climates and bloom throughout the summer months. They do particularly well in shade and partial shade making them a versatile addition to north-facing gardens.

You may not realize it but begonias make fabulous cut flowers. They mix well with other garden flowers but really shine when arranged in a casual bouquet of begonias in varying colors. Also consider using fancy begonia leaves as foliage filler for your flower arrangements.

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