How to grow a cut flower garden

My late aunt was known for her love of gardening. I have written about her backyard before in this column because it was overflowing with flowers of every shape and size.  Flower arrangements were her specialty.

Every Saturday until the age of 102 she would put vases together for Sunday morning church from her own yard full of daisies and roses. 

After her journey here had ended, I brought home her favorite vase, broken and mended again and again over many years. It now holds a special place in my china cabinet to remind me of the joy she received when she was able to share her bounty of cut flowers with her friends and family every week.

Even if you have the smallest yard, it is easy to cultivate your own cut flower garden to share with others, or to bring a little bit of the outdoors into your own home.

A cut flower garden can be thought of as that part of your yard or even a container dedicated to growing the specific types of flowers that can be cut and displayed indoors. There are just a few simple guidelines to follow.

Make sure when choosing plants that they can stand up to living in a vase. They should bloom on long, sturdy stems and not wilt easily when cut.

If you have enough room, try and include blooms for each season as well as different evergreens and grasses too for added texture and interest in your arrangements.

When harvesting your flowers, make sure you cut farther down the stem than the length you think you need. You can always trim, but it’s harder (but not impossible) to add back on!

Collect your flowers and foliage in the morning so they are plump with moisture and will last the longest after cutting. Get them into water as soon as possible to prevent wilting and keep in a cool place until ready to arrange.

Watch your pets if you have a curious one like mine. My kitty loves to taste fresh flowers so I have to keep them far out of his reach for the protection of both the cat and my arrangements. 

As long as the blooms will last cut in water, your imagination is the only limit to what you can use in cut flower arrangements.  Here are a few of my own ideas.

I love daisies, and they make beautiful cut flower presentations. Purple coneflower was one of my aunt’s favorites because of their vibrant color and sturdiness in a vase. Shasta and ox-eyes, black-eyed Susans, and gerberas are some other good choices. 

Yarrow, bluebonnets, yuccas (both Yucca and Hesperaloe species), inland sea oats and mealy blue sage are easy to grow natives that make nice cut flowers and foliage options.

You can also trim some trees to use in arrangements, such as mountain laurel (flowers and foliage), red bud (blooms in early spring), possumhaw and other hollies, junipers, and wax and Greek myrtles.

Roses are the traditional cut flower used for many years in arrangements for almost any occasion. While the floral high center roses struggle here in our heat and soil, we still have some good options to include in our arrangements.

Some of my favorites are Belinda’s Dream, Souvenir de la Malmaison and other Bourbon roses, Lafter and other Teas, and using the smaller bendable canes of Red Cascade.

Other flowers and herbs not to be forgotten include rosemary, sage, basil and mint for pretty foliage and fragrance and bulbs (or similar) including irises, daffodils, gladiolas and daylilies.

Just remember that next time you want to fill your home with cut flowers, you may only need to step out of your front door for a world of endless of possibilities from plants that give again and again, week after week. Happy gardening everyone!

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