How to start a cutting garden, part II
Find out what grows best in your region of the country.
Tue, Oct 22, 2013 at 05:46 PM
To help you get started on your cutting garden, we’ve included a region-by-region guide to popular plants. If you don't see your region here or you missed the initial steps, check out part one, or continue reading for the rest of the regions:
Annual: Ageratum. The cultivar ‘Blue Horizon’ is an excellent choice for the Midwest. The 14-inch stems are loose and airy and long lasting in a vase. In addition, the purple color pairs well with other many other flowers in a display.
Perennial: Stokesia. These pink and lavender daisy-like flowers are on the shorter side, which makes them excellent accent plants when used as fillers around the longer stems of more showy flowers.
Shrub: Knockout roses. The foliage is disease-resistant so the leaves can be left on the stems when places in an arrangement, unlike many rose varieties. The flowers, which are available in a range of vibrant pinks and reds, regenerate quickly to provide a continuous flow of flowers during the growing season.
And plenty of others, including Eucalytpus ‘Silver Drop’ (grows quickly from seed as an annual in the Midwest, maintains well in water, only gets about 20 inches tall and the foliage adds a wonderful silver color and unusual texture to arrangements), snapdragons, especially the Liberty series, which is an old series; sunflowers, particularly the types with several lateral branches because they offer so many options with making an arrangement; Asclepias silky mix; Ammi majus ‘Green Mist’, a non-invasive cousin to Queen Anne’s lace that holds up great in a vase. (Suggestions from the Missouri Botanical Garden)
The Mountain states
Annual: Zinnia. The variety of colors, ease of culture and long life in a vase make zinnias a universal choice for a great cut flower. The Benary series is an excellent choice because of its long stems and large flowers.
Perennial: Echinops bannaticus ‘Taplow Blue.’ The unique texture of the prickly, grey-green leaves and powder-blue pompon flowers of this variety of globe thistle make it a show-stopping architectural choice for the back of a summer border. It also works well planted in drifts in a wild garden. In addition to cutting it for summer arrangements, the flowers can be dried for winter decoration if cut while immature.
Shrub: Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’. The ninebark variety ‘Diablo’ has dark maroon-colored foliage and unique shreddy bark on the stems that add bold color to indoor arrangements. If cut when the plant is in bloom from May into June, the white flowers that fade to reddish-pink seedheads stand out dramatically against the foliage and add a new dimension to ‘Diablo’s’ bold accent in a vase of cut flowers.
And there are plenty of others including Paeonia ‘TopHat,’ Kniphofia ‘Pineapple Popsicle’ and a wide variety of dahlias. Also consider this small tree: Salix ‘Erythroflexuosa’ or contorted willow. The unique twisting branches have a variety of uses in flower arrangements or when grouped together in a vase. (Suggestions from the Denver Botanical Garden)
African daisies (Photo: JKleeman/flickr)
Annual: Osteospermum (African daisy). These daisy-like flowers have a wide range of colors and varieties, including some with wonderfully unique petal habits such as the lovely pinwheel varieties. Recommended cultivars include 'Margarita Supreme,’ ‘Sundora,’ ‘3D’ and ‘Flower Power.’
Perennial: Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile). This sturdy bulb thrives in the southern half of the state. Flower colors range from white ('Albus', 'Getty White') to deep purple or violet ('Elaine', 'Storm Cloud'). The flowers are versatile for placement in arrangements because they come in sizes ranging from dwarf to fairly large (four-foot tall inflorescence).
Shrub: Buddleia (Buddleja). Butterfly bush is another versatile flower for arrangements because of the range in size of the plant groups (dwarf, 'Lo & Behold' and 'Buzz,’ to large shrubs six feet and up) and the variety of flower colors (a clear, fragrant white, B. asiatica, a winter flowering variety, 'White Ball' and 'Ice Chip') to the deepest, nearly black purple ('Potter's Purple' and 'Black Night'). Newer varieties being offered now include variegated flowers. The bottle brush-like blooms add a dramatic dimension to arrangements.
And there are plenty of others including Gerbera daisies, warm climate lilacs, Viburnum macrocephala (Chinese Snowball Viburnum), grevilleas, cosmos, reed-stem orchids (Epidendrum) do very well in outdoor pots, salvias, roses, camellias, Justicia carnea, hibiscus, Alstroemeria (Peruvian lily), Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise), and amaryllis. (Suggestions from The Huntington)
The Pacific Northwest (including northern California)
Lathyrus (Photo: douneika/flickr)
Annuals: Lathyrus. Who doesn’t love sweet peas? Everything about them makes you smile. ‘Spencer’ varieties are a great choice because of their long vase life, wonderfully long stems and great scent. If spring in your area tends to be wet, wait until June to plant. Do not condition the water for the cut stems. Place them in cool water only.
Perennials: Paeonia. Peonies scream for attention and they get it with their huge fluffy blossoms. The blooms are gorgeous when displayed alone in a large vase or mixed with other flowers. Use marbles or rocks in the vase to offset the heavy blooms and keep the stems anchored. Cut as soon as buds get good color and are starting to open. Never cut them all the flowers from one plant at the same time and leave at least three leaves on each stem to keep the plant alive and nourished for next year.
Shrub: Skimmia japonica. This Northwest shade-loving shrub is a favorite when it comes to using greens in arrangements. It has it all: shiny finger-shaped leaves, red berries, white flowers and a nice scent. Branches are segmented and easy to use and also look great in the garden year-round. Female flowers hold up better than the male flowers.
And there are plenty of others including lilies, dahlia, goose-neck loosestrife, delphinium, snapdragons, sedum and sarcococca. (Suggestions from The Bloedel Reserve)
Don't worry: If you don't see your region here, check out the first part of the story.
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