So many of us delight in the endless variety of colors and shapes of the blooming flowers in our gardens. Although we equally enjoy creating and placing live flower arrangements indoors or giving colorful bouquets to our friends, we are sometimes reluctant to rob our gardens of their beautiful displays. A guilt free solution is to plant a cutting garden – a separate garden, whose sole purpose is to provide cut flowers for arrangements and bouquets, providing all the flowers and actually benefits from all the cutting. It’s simple and easy… it’s a production garden. You don’t have to be concerned with design elements or color compliments. Just do a little planning, prepping, shopping, planting, and plenty of cutting!
Select your spot – Most flowers you use for cutting require lots of sun (6 hours or more per day) and of course, well-drained soil. This garden can be out of sight, out of the way. No one has to see it but you.
Choose your selection of plants – Work with a color theme or just your favorites. Generally long-stemmed annuals and perennials make the best cut flowers. Don’t forget your foliage plants! They add texture and interest to your arrangements or bouquets. Think of seasonal bloomers, so you have flowers that bloom in spring, midsummer, and late summer. Consider your design elements in arranging: thriller (ex: calla lily), filler (ex: dianthus), and spiller (ex: ferns). You can also select by distinct shapes: linear, rounded, and airy. Linear flowers, such as veronica, are great for creating a strong line and providing height. Rounder flowers, such as peonies, add a focal point to draw you in. Filler flowers, such as yarrow, have an airy look and help pull everything together.
Prepare your area. If it’s a new bed, you have a little more work to do with removing turf grass and roots. I would add organic material (compost, chopped leaves, etc.) to the top 4 to 6 inches of soil to enrich the bed. If it’s an existing bed we’re talking cleanup or you could go with raised beds with amended soil, such as Bumper Crop.
If you are like me, when you go to the nursery you want everything. It would be a good idea to sketch out your plot, so you know how much to purchase. Generally cutting gardens are planted in rows, similar to vegetable gardens. Remember in your sketch to allow room for your plants and yourself. Don’t forget that you need to get in there between the rows. There will be deadheading, fertilizing, staking, weeding, and of course, cutting to be done. Seeds will work fine, but you will get the quickest bang for your buck with potted plants.
Planting can begin in the spring, after the last frost. Just before you plant, you can add some time-release fertilizer into the top few inches of the soil. Place the taller plants in the back so they won’t shade out their shorter ones. Water each plant thoroughly and spread around mulch. When the early season annuals and bulbs are finished producing, dig them out and replant with later blooming annuals, such as zinnias and chrysanthemums. Water and fertilize as needed throughout the growing season.
Cutting stems and removing faded flowers will encourage your plants to keep blooming. The more you cut, the more you can cut. Do your harvesting during the coolest part of the day – early morning. Place your cut flowers in tepid (room temperature) water immediately after snipping them. Once you bring them inside, make a fresh cut before placing them in your arrangement.
- Calla Lily
- Celosia (Cockscomb)
- Gerber Daisy
- Gypsophila (Baby’s Breath)
- Sweet pea
- Achillea (Yarrow)
- Balloon Flower
- Bell Flower
- Coral Bells
- Echinacea (Coneflower)
- Speedwell (Veronica)
- Dusty Miller
- Lamb’s Ear
At Bucks Country Gardens, we carry lots more varieties of plants! Our Greenhouse experts are more than happy to help you find the perfect plants for your cutting garden.
So get out there! This summer you can have flowers inside and out without guilt or hesitation. Here’s to a beautiful flower filled summer. Happy gardening!
Marilyn Fanning | Greenhouse Design & Sales