To Cut or Not to Cut—Flowers that Flourish
Published in the Edmonton Sun - June 2011
As you stroll through your garden admiring the delicate blossoms and bright blooms of spring, you envision a stunning centerpiece for your dining room table. Believing you have gathered exactly the flowers you need to create your fragrant masterpiece, you arrange them artfully in an antique vase and step back to admire your work.
Much to your dismay, half of them have wilted within an hour. Not every flower that thrives outside can live in a vase. Knowing what flowers to cut is the key to creating a striking flower arrangement that will pour forth fragrant beauty for weeks to come.
It is important to know what flowers to plant in your cutting flower garden and which ones to avoid clipping. You should also be aware of your gardening zone and what flowers thrive in your particular area. Below is just a sampling of flowers ideal for cutting gardens in zones 3-4.
Anemone (Buttercup)--This showy flower features large saucer-shaped blooms. It grows best in moist, sandy soil and partial shade.
Columbine—The double layers of star-shaped blossoms are delicate in appearance, but the plant is very hardy. Columbine thrives in well-drained soil with full to partial sun.
Coreopsis—The scalloped blossoms of the Coreopsis make a splendid addition to any flower arrangement. The large, bushy plant prefers well-drained soil and full sun.
Delphinium (Larkspur)—This beauty features tall staffs of spurred blooms. The plant grows best in moist soil with full sun to light shade.
Bee Balm—These large, bright blossoms add sparkle to any bouquet. Bee Balm prefers well-drained soil and full to partial sun.
Sweet William—fragrant clusters of scalloped blossoms add a subtle touch of romance. Sweet William grows best in well-drained soil and thrives in full sun.
Some other perennials to consider include Chinese Lanterns, Foxglove, Gaillardia, Scabiosa, Veronica, and Yarrow. Peonies are wonderful to cut, but be careful of those ants who love to live inside peony blooms. I tend to leave those ones outside but if you must have peonies and don’t want the ants, perhaps call your florist. We tend to carry peonies regularly during the season!
Red Butterfly Milkweed—Clusters of fiery red blossoms with golden crowns adorn this plant. The Red Butterfly Milkweed prefers well-drained soil and full sun.
Celosia (Cockscomb)—The Celosia boasts large fluffy plumes of ornamental blossoms. It enjoys moist, rich soil and full to partial sun.
Forget-Me-Not—The clusters of small blue blossoms with yellow centers are ideal for flower arrangements. Forget-Me-Nots prefer rich, moist soil and full sun.
Reseda (Mignonette)—The Reseda produces dense spikes of small blossoms. It boasts a spicy sweet fragrance and thrives in rich soil. This flower prefers full sun or partial shade.
Painted Tongue—The trumpet-shaped blossoms of this striking beauty make it a splendid addition to bouquets and arrangements. It thrives in rich, well-drained soil and full sun.
Zinnia—Bright and lovely Zinnias add excitement and color. They like well-drained soil and full sun.
Other annuals to consider include Bells of Ireland, Calendula, Bachelors’ Button, Cosmos, Salvia, Statice, Sweet Pea, and Verbena.
What Not to Plant
The best flowers for cut arrangements are those with sturdy stems and long lifespans. While a large variety of beautifully bright and fragrant flowers are ideal for cutting, some flowers simply are not meant to be clipped. Flowers with weak stems, such as poppies and pansies, will wilt quickly once they are cut off from their root systems. Additionally, flowers with short bloom times are better left flourishing in their natural environment. These would include lilacs, canna lilies, and daylilies. The daylily comes by its name honestly, as the delightful flowers only last a single day.
How to Cut Flowers
Even if your cutting garden blossoms forth with multitudes of brilliant blooms, you need to know how to properly cut your flowers to get the most life out of them. Timing is everything.
The best time to cut flowers is in the early morning or evening. Stems should be cut at an angle with a non-serrated blade to expose the surface area of the stem. Cut flowers should immediately be placed in lukewarm water. Remove any leaves below the water line. Do not cut the thorns on roses. Removing the thorns causes roses to wilt faster.
Flowers are generally at their most fragrant in the morning, as they have stored nourishment through the night. Cutting flowers in the early morning hours is likely to produce a more fragrant bouquet.
I hope this helps when deciding upon what flowers you like for your garden. If you are like me, and want flowers in and outside the house than keep these ones in mind!
Award winning designer, Heather de Kok, AAF AIFD PFCI has a passion for all things flowers. Come to 3811 – 99 street, 780-988-8588 or go to her website www.heatherdekok.com to learn more.