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 basalis -- Native wildflower. Bright yellow, daisy-like flowers with maroon centers. Coreopsis tinctoria -- Native wildflower with golden-yellow and 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. 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 (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 damascena -- 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. Snapdragon -- Tall spikes of flowers for cutting in a wide range of colors. Easy to grow from seed. 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 azureus -- Masses of small, lavender-blue flowers with yellow centers. Native perennial that blooms in the fall. 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 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. Feverfew -- Small, white, daisy-like flowers for cutting. Makes a terrific filler. Gaillardia aristata 'Bremen' (Indian Blanket Flower) -- Native perennial wildflower. Showy, scarlet-red flowers edged in yellow. Easy to grow from seed. Hesperis matronalis -- Long-stemmed bunches of fragrant, white or light violet flowers in early summer. Lavender -- Tall wands of fragrant, lavender-blue flowers for cutting. 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) -- Large clusters of glowing, scarlet-red flowers on tall stems. Attracts hummingbirds. Tanacetum niveum 'Jackpot' (Silver Tansy) -- Masses of small, white, daisy-like flowers on a large, bushy perennial. Makes a great filler. 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.