Tag Archive: Cut Flowers

  1. Annual Cut Flowers for Fall

    Nigella JaKMPM

    Love-in-a-mist flowers are airy, colorful and long-lasting. Their pretty puffy seedheads can be dried for winter everlasting arrangements.

    Some of the prettiest flowers for cutting are annuals that grow and bloom fast and thrive in cool weather. Sweet peas, bachelor’s buttons, sulfur coreopsis, love-in-a-mist and annual baby’s breath are some of the best cool-season cut flowers that flower quickly from seed. Growing them is a snap. Start them in early August, and you should have lots of pretty flowers for cutting by late September to early October.

    If you are someone who already plants cut flowers, you will likely still have annual blooms from summer on hand—like summer zinnias, tall marigolds and purple cosmos—but these tend to lose steam towards the end of the season. Removing old plants and filling in the holes with fresh, cool-season flowers will pay off. Just be sure to turn and smooth the clean ground for planting, and topdress with a good, moisture-holding mix that will allow your new cut flower seeds to germinate easily. Fafard Ultra Outdoor Planting Mix is a great choice.

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    Towering orange sulfur coreopsis is a beautiful Park’s Seed exclusive that is perfect for fall cutting! (photo care of Park’s Seed)

    Once your area is prepared, sprinkle your seeds of choice over the soil, sprinkle some additional mix on top and gently pat the area down. Keep newly sown spots evenly moist by with daily misting or watering. Most annuals germinate quickly, in a week or a bit more. Once the new seedlings have emerged, continue providing them with needed moisture and be sure to remove any weed seedlings. Water seedlings/plantlets every two weeks with a little water-soluble flower food. This will help them grow and flower at top speed.

    Sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus, 74-85 days from seed) are some of the sweetest smelling cool cut flowers, but they require light trellising. This is easily done by securing strong, firm stakes into the ground and lining the spaces between them with trellis netting that the peas can climb up with their tendrils. Renee’s Garden Seeds carries loads of exceptional sweet peas for cutting. The antique ‘Perfume Delight’ is especially fragrant and a little more heat-tolerant, which allows them to forge through unexpected fall heat.  (Read Renee’s article “All About Sweet Peas” for more information about these pleasing flowers.)

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    The classic bachelor’s button for cutting is the long-stemmed ‘Blue Boy’. (photo care of Johnny’s Selected Seeds)

    Colorful bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea cyanus, 65-75 days from seed) come in shades of richest violet-blue, pink white and deepest burgundy. Most agree that the blue flowers are the most remarkable and prettiest in a vase. There are lots of tidy dwarf varieties but these have short stems. Long-stemmed selections are the best for cutting, but the weak-stemmed plants require staking for reliable upright growth. ‘Blue Boy’ is an old-fashioned, large-flowered heirloom with tall stems perfect for cutting.

    Sulfur coreopsis (Coreopsis sulphureus, 50-60 days from seed) is one of the fastest cut flowers to bloom from seed. The long-stemmed ‘Towering Orange’ is a Park’s Seed exclusive that produces billows of tangerine orange flowers that will last a long time. (These look beautiful in a vase mixed with ‘Blue Boy’ flowers!)

    Renees swp-perfume

    Extra fragrant, colorful blooms are the selling point of ‘Perfume Delight’ sweet pea sold by Renee’s Seeds. (photo care of Renee’s Garden Seeds)

    Uniquely lacy flowers make love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena, 63-80 days from seed) especially charming in the garden or a vase. The dried seed pots are also visually interesting, allowing them to double as dried flowers. The flowers come in shades of violet-blue, purple, white and pink. One of the better Nigella mixes is provided by Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

    No flower arrangement is complete without a frothy filler flower to add loft and interest. Annual baby’s breath is the standard choice and ‘Covent Garden Market’ is a tall, airy choice that will bloom until frost. It is very easy to grow and its small, white, cup-shaped flowers make more colorful blooms stand out in a vase.

    Cut flowers make gardens and homes more colorful, so consider planting some of these traditional beauties now for fall. You’ll save money at the farmer’s market and impress your guests.

  2. Zinnias for Colorful Containers & Cut Flowers

    Pink and apricot profusion zinnias add soft color to this midsummer flower garden.

    Zinnias are summer workhorses in the flower garden. They keep producing radiant flowers—even in the worst heat—and come in a wide range of sizes and colors making them adaptable to practically any garden space. Their value as premium cut flowers and favorite bee and butterfly plants makes them that much more appealing to gardeners. No summer garden should be without a few zinnias.

    Tall cactus flowered zinnias are some of the nicest zinnias for bouquets.

    The long stems, large flowers and bushy stature of tall zinnias (Zinnia elegans) have led to their wide popularity. These easy-to-grow Mexican natives will bloom from summer to frost, if they are deadheaded and moderately maintained. Their flowers have single, semi-double, or double petal arrangements and come in many forms including cactus, dahlia, button, button-like pompons and ruffled forms. What’s more, there are tons of colors available. The pallet includes red, pink, white, green, orange, salmon, yellow and lavender. There are also many bicolored and tricolored varieties. One of the best color combos – for garden or case – is a vibrant mix of pink, rose, green and apricot colored flowers.

    Zinnia plants vary in height from 1-4 feet, depending on the cultivar. Shorter “tall zinnia” varieties, such as the many large-flowered, short-statured varieties in the Magellan Series, are perfect for containers and low flower borders while wild, free, long-stemmed forms look great in tall borders, vegetable gardens and cutting gardens. The ever-popular chartreuse green ‘Envy‘, rose and green ‘Queen Red Lime‘ and ruffled salmon apricot Senora™ are three complimentary long-stemmed, double-flowered varieties ideal for making quick, vibrant flower arrangements.

    Double Zahara Fire

    The vibrant Double Zahara Fire is one of the best zinnias for containers and borders.

    Hybrid bedding zinnias are the best for container gardening. These include the wonderfully versatile and lovely single-flowered Profusion zinnias, which come in all colors, and award-winning double-flowered Zahara™ zinnias. The bushy, spreading, slightly taller (18″-24″) ‘Uptown Grape‘ is also a new variety lauded for its prolific blooms and exemplary disease resistance. Another wonderful compact species is the Mexican native Zinnia angustifolia—with ‘Star Orange‘ and the hybrid Raspberry Lemonade Mix being top sellers.

    Getting started with zinnia growing is simple. Each spring, in late April to early May, choose the best sunny spot for your zinnias. Clean out the weeds and debris from the area, then work up and smooth the soil. Amend the beds with Fafard Premium Natural & Organic Compost Blend until the soil is light and friable. Finally, surface-sow the zinnia seed, lightly pat them in and gently water. Then keep the planted area evenly moist. Within a week or so your seeds will start sprouting up. From there, it’s just a matter of keeping the plants reasonably hydrated and thinned to a foot apart. Purchased, container-grown zinnias thrive in large pots filled with moisture rich potting soils, such as Fafard® Natural & Organic Potting Mix. Growing zinnias is that easy!

    Amend zinnia beds with a fertile amendment like Fafard Natural & Organic Compost Blend.

    Zinnia flowers are most spectacular in mid to late summer, so this is the best time to make beautiful table bouquets with long-stemmed varieties. To make a simple zinnia arrangement, choose newly opened, fresh stems and cut them to around 8-12 inches in length. Remove the leaves from the lower part of the stems and then gather the flowers into a tidy, mounded bunch; trim the bottoms uniformly and place them in a vase filled with about 2 cups of water spiked with 1 tablespoon of sugared lemon soda (a great cut flower food). That’s all there is to it!

    Zinnias can have a few troubles. Really tall cultivars can flop in the wind and may need to be staked. The leaves may also develop powdery mildew and leaf spot while also attracting hungry Japanese beetles. To keep my zinnias mildew-free, I gently hand-wash their leaves and space plants well to encourage good air flow. This also discourages outbreaks of fungal spotting. The all-natural GreenCure is also a wonderful remedy for powdery mildew. Another option is to plant disease-resistant selections like the Dreamland Series. To control Japanese beetles, simply pick them off and drown or squash them.

    Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll have spectacular zinnias until frost. Whether enjoyed from a patio or balcony or cut and brought indoors to dress up a table, zinnias will bring rich, easy color to your summer life.

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    Zinnia angustifolia ‘Star Orange’ Flowers growing in a large container.

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    Pretty button zinnias (left) add bright color to this cutting border.