Flowers for Cutting
by Diane Linsley
For some people, the whole point of gardening is to grow cut flowers, either for their own enjoyment or for a business. In general, any flower with a long stem and a long vase life can be used. But some flowers are better for cutting than others. To start with, here are some tips for cutting flowers.
Extending the Vase Life of Cut Flowers
1. Cut the flowers in the early morning, using sharp, clean garden shears. Don't use scissors, which may crush the stems. Bring a plastic bucket or a pitcher of water to put the flowers in as soon as they are cut.
2. Recut the stems right before putting them in the vase. Cut at a 45 degree angle. Remove any foliage that is below the level of the water.
3. Fill the vase with lukewarm water, which is easier for flowers to absorb. It should be between 100 and 110 degrees. You can add a commercial preservative to the water, or make your own using 1 quart of water with 1 teaspoon bleach, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. This recipe is from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
4. Keep flower arrangements away from fruit, which produces ethylene gas that shortens the vase life of cut flowers.
"All gardeners live in beautiful places because they make them so."
Here's a list of our best cut flower seeds.
Annual Cut Flower Seeds
Alyssum -- Masses of tiny white or purple flowers. Makes a good filler. Easy to grow from seed. Calendula -- Cheerful orange, yellow or apricot flowers. Easy to grow from seed. California Poppy -- Comes in a wide range of colors. Cut the flowers in the early morning before the buds unfurl. Centaurea cyanus (Cornflower) -- Pink, white, burgundy, blue and lavender flowers. Easy to grow from seed. Clarkia elegans -- Native wildflower with fluffy flowers on tall stems. Blooms in pink, rose, salmon, white and purple. Easy to grow from seed. Cleome -- Long stems with violet, rose or white flowers for cutting. Coreopsis -- Native wildflower with yellow, gold or mahogany-red flowers. Easy to grow from seed. Self sows. Cosmidium 'Brunette' -- Gold-rimmed, mahogany flowers with delicate foliage. Native wildflower. Easy to grow from seed. Cosmos -- Late summer annual in a variety of colors, heights and styles. Cynoglossum amabile (Chinese Forget-Me-Not) -- Indigo-blue flowers for cutting. Makes a beautiful filler. German Chamomile -- Small, daisy-like flowers with a sweet fragrance. Makes a nice filler for cut flower arrangements. Gilia tricolor (Bird's Eyes) -- Native wildflower. Small, trumpet-shaped, lilac and white flowers with dark eyes. Chocolate fragrance. Easy to grow from seed. Gypsophila elegans (Baby's Breath) -- Highly popular cut flower. Makes a wonderful filler in the garden or the vase. Lavatera trimestris (Rose Mallow) -- Large, cup-shaped flowers in pink, rose and white. Easy to grow from seed. Marigold -- Brightly colored flowers in shades of orange, gold and yellow. Nigella -- Blue, pink or white flowers followed by ornamental seed pods. Can be sown in succession for a long bloom season. Excellent filler. Phlox drummondii -- Long-stemmed flowers with a light fragrance. Blooms in shades of pink, red, rose, magenta and white. Rudbeckia -- Daisy-like flowers with brown centers. Comes in shades of yellow, gold, orange and mahogany red. Salvia farinacea (Mealycup Sage) -- Tall spikes of deep blue flowers for cutting from late summer through fall. Salvia horminum 'Tricolor Mix' (Clary Sage) -- Violet-blue, rose-pink and white flowers (bracts) for a long time in late summer through fall. Good dried flower. Snapdragon -- Tall spikes of flowers for cutting in a wide range of colors. Easy to grow from seed. Sunflower -- Large flowers in shades of yellow, gold, bronze-orange and burgundy-red. Blooms in late summer to fall. Sweet Pea -- Highly fragrant blooms in a wide range of colors. Tithonia 'Torch' -- Orange-red, daisy-like flowers on tall stems. Good for cutting. Zinnia -- Colorful flowers on tall stems. Easy to grow from seed.
Perennial Cut Flower Seeds
Aquilegia (Columbine) -- Spring-blooming perennial with flowers in a wide range of colors, heights and forms. Aster -- Spring or fall-blooming perennials with flowers in various colors. Campanula (Bellflower) -- Perennials or biennials with bell-shaped flowers in shades of blue, pink and white. Excellent cut flowers. Cheiranthus allionii (Siberian Wallflower) -- Lightly fragrant, bright orange flowers in late spring. Terrific with tulips. Self-sowing biennial. Easy to grow. Delphinium -- Stunning blue, purple, pink or white flowers on tall stems. Fabulous cut flower. Dianthus -- Carnations, pinks and Sweet William. Spicy, sweet fragrance. Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) -- Long-stemmed, mauve or white flowers with brown central cones. Eryngium giganteum (Miss Willmott's Ghost) -- Blooms in late summer with cone-shaped, green flowers surrounded by silver-gray bracts. Nice dried flower. Feverfew -- Small, white, daisy-like flowers for cutting. Makes a terrific filler. Gaillardia (Indian Blanket Flower) -- Native perennial wildflower. Wine-red, golden-yellow, or scarlet-red flowers edged in yellow. Easy to grow from seed. Geum -- Scarlet-red or golden-yellow flowers with long stems. Great for cutting. Hesperis matronalis -- Long-stemmed bunches of fragrant, white or light violet flowers in early summer. Liatris (Blazing Star) -- Tall, dense spikes of purple flowers. Great cut flower. Lunaria annua (Honesty) -- Fragrant, purple flowers followed by ornamental seed pods. Shade-tolerant, self-sowing biennial. Lychnis chalcedonica (Maltese Cross) -- Clusters of scarlet-red, salmon-pink or white flowers on tall stems. Attracts hummingbirds. Shasta Daisy -- Single or double, pure white flowers with yellow centers. Tanacetum niveum 'Jackpot' (Silver Tansy) -- Masses of small, white, daisy-like flowers on a large, bushy perennial. Makes a great filler. Thalictrum aquilegifolium (Columbine Meadow Rue) -- Fluffy, long-stemmed flowers in shades of pink, purple and white. Shade tolerant perennial. Verbascum phoeniceum -- Long-stemmed flowers in light pink, rose pink, purple, lavender and white. Lovely cut flower. Verbena bonariensis -- Clusters of rosy-purple flowers on tall stems. Reseeds heavily. Makes a good filler.