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
Ageratum 'Dondo Blue' -- Fuzzy, purple-blue flowers on tall stems. Makes a wonderful companion for other flowers in the garden or vase. 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. Callistephus chinensis (China Aster) -- Single or double flowers on tall stems for cutting. Blooms in shades of pink, rose, purple, lavender and white. 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. 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. Helichrysum bracteatum (Strawflower) -- Colorful mixture of flowers for fresh or dried arrangements. Also known as Paper Daisy, Everlasting, and Immortelle. Lavatera trimestris (Rose Mallow) -- Large, cup-shaped flowers in pink, rose and white. Easy to grow from seed. Linaria maroccana (Toadflax) -- Tiny, snapdragon-like flowers in a wide range of colors. Makes a nice filler in the garden or the vase. Marigold -- Brightly colored flowers in shades of orange, gold and yellow. Nasturtium -- Long-stemmed or trailing types are best for cutting. They come in a range of vibrant, warm colors. 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, cream 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
Allium christophii -- Huge balls of mauve flowers. One stem in a tall, narrow vase makes a whole flower arrangement, which lasts for many days. Aquilegia (Columbine) -- Spring-blooming perennial with flowers in a wide range of colors, heights and forms. Campanula (Bellflower) -- Perennials or biennials with bell-shaped flowers in shades of blue, pink and white. Excellent cut flower. 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 for dried flower arrangements. 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. 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.