Many perennials, annuals and even flowering shrubs not only make great garden plants but wonderful cut flowers as well. Shrubs such as hydrangea, lilac, viburnum, witchhazel and forsythia work well as cut flowers. Though, generally, they don’t last as long as perennials or annuals. To make flowering shrubs last as long as possible as cut flowers, crush the ends of the stems to increase the amount of water the plant will intake.
Creating a cut flower gardens relies on choosing the appropriate plants. In the perennial border as short list of suitable cut flowers includes; astilbe, balloon flower, beebalm, chrysanthemum, coneflower, coreopsis, daffodil, delphinium, foxglove, daisy, golden thistle, iris, liatris, lily, lupine, lobelia, monkshood, peony, phlox, pinks, rose, sedum and yarrow. Most of these need the general care that any perennial flower would.
Annuals, whether planted in the own bed or mixed among the other flowers in the perennial garden, are a great cut flower since they the act of cutting them encourages more flowers. Annuals which are recommended as cut flowers include; ageratum, aster, calendula, cleome, cosmos, dahlia, dianthus, gladiolus, gypsophila, larkspur, marigold, salvia, snapdragon and zinnia.
Be sure to plant a few shrubs or perennials for foliage which can be added to your cut flower arrangement. Arbovitae, andromeda, ferns, holly (evergreen), iris, juniper and mountain laurel are all excellent for filling in with green.
Cut flowers, like all plants, grow in stages. Flowers start as unopened buds, expand to fully-open flowers and then begin to decline. Avoid using fully-open blooms for instant color in your arrangement; use only those flowers that are just beginning to open or to show color. These will last a much longer time as a cut flower. Perennial flowers should be cut just as they are opening and beginning to show color. The opposite is true of annuals; they should be fully open when cut. Roses should have buds that are slightly open and firm.
Harvesting Your Cut Flowers
Harvest your cut flowers during the cooler parts of the day; evening is fine, as is early morning. In the afternoon sun, flowers can wilt quickly. Be sure to take along a bucket of water to put them in as you cut. Select only the healthiest flowers available.
After harvesting your cut flowers, place them out of the sun in a cool spot for a few hours in a container of warm water with floral preservative. Remove any foliage from the lower half of the stem that will be below water level. Using a sharp knife, recut the stems on an angle, removing about half an inch of stem. Warm water will increase water uptake and floral preservative will help them last longer. Also, be sure to recut the stems frequently and remove blooms as they fade.
Cut flowers have a limited life but with proper care and handling you can increase their length of bloom and your enjoyment.