CUT FLOWERS FROM YOUR OWN GARDEN

June 05, 2008

By Marta Q. Chapiewski, Victoria County Master Gardener Intern

Edited by Charla Borchers Leon
PHOTO BY ALYSE QUINTANILLA, VICTORIA COUNTY MASTER GARDENER INTERN
A suitable location for a cut flower garden like this one is a non focal point area in your landscape that could be less attractive when flowers are cut or not in bloom or at their peak. This might be like where you would plant a vegetable garden with ample room for you to walk through and work in it. Choose cut flower plants with colors that you prefer and that will coordinate and accent the colors inside your home or for a special event. Plant a combination of both annuals and perennials so that you will have something in bloom at all times.
What are cut flower gardens?  Cut flower gardens give us an opportunity to bring the beauty and fragrance of flowers and the outside garden into our home, church, weddings and other occasions.  Cut flower gardens can be used not just for personal use, sharing with family, friends and neighbors, but also for business purposes.  The best part of having a cut flower garden is the economical benefits of having your own source and choice of beautiful, fresh cut flowers.

Not A New Concept

In times past, the elite society or wealthier estates would sometimes have a separate garden area especially for planting the family’s favorite cut flowers.  Annual (plants that complete their lifecycle in a year or less) cut flower plants were frequently included in the vegetable garden where they could be maintained and easily harvested.

Designing A Cut Flower Garden

There are many plants available for growing a cut flower garden including annuals and perennials (those with a longer lifespan). In the cut flower garden, both can be conveniently and efficiently grown in rows where they can be easily harvested and maintained.  Certain shrubs such as forsythia, flowering quince, weigela, and mock orange can also be grown in your cut flower garden.  So, instead of removing flowers and foliage from your landscaped yard and leaving unattractive gaps in your borders and other landscaped areas, you can design and create your very own year round cut flower garden.

Planting A Cut Flower Garden


Planting your cut flower garden requires a site with well-drained soil, plenty of sun and access to water.  Plant your cut flower gardens in an area where they are not observed as a main focus in your landscape.  They may be unattractive when not in bloom or at their peak.  Perhaps a good location might be where you would plant a vegetable garden.

Clear the garden area by removing grass and weeds. Apply organic matter, such as compost, into the soil.  Arrange the plants in rows or 3-foot-wide flower beds.  Make sure you provide enough room for you to walk through and work in comfortably.  Choose cut flower plants and colors that you love and will coordinate and accent the colors inside your home.  It is probably best to plant both a combination of annuals and perennials so that you may have something in bloom at all times.

Choose Various Plant Types/Sizes

Choose and combine a variety of cut flower types and sizes.  Choose quality plants that have strong stems and a long vase life such as black-eyed Susan’s, lilies, snapdragons and zinnias.  Also, plant foliage plants in your cut flower garden for additional color and texture. You might consider some of the Texas SuperStar plants that grow well in most any part of Texas and have beautiful blooms. Plant bulbs - they provide eye-catching color and a wonderful fragrance.  Cold-loving bulbs such as crocus, iris, tulips, narcissus and ranunculus should be planted in the fall for your early spring floral arrangements. Many bulbs planted in summer such as gladiolus provide an elegant and luxurious flare to large floral arrangements.  Foliage from trees, shrubs, and vines such as magnolia, aspidistra, elaeagnus, English ivy, and ferns are also used in floral arrangements.  You may already have some of these in your home landscapes.

Cutting the Flowers

When harvesting your flowers, pick them in the early morning or late evening during the coolest time of the day.   Remove the lower foliage.   Cut stems with a good sharp knife or shears.   Always keep your flowers and foliage in lukewarm water and add a floral preservative while designing your floral arrangement.  Always design your floral arrangement in clean containers filled with water to which a floral preservative has been added.  After each use, clean your containers and gardening tools with a mixture of nine parts water and one part bleach.

Cut Flower Techniques

Harvesting of your flowers may differentiate depending on the structure and growth habits of the plants in your cut flower garden.  Avoid using new growth of most plants.  Since the stems are usually not fully developed, the plant or flower is more likely to wilt easily. 

Some flowers should be cut while in the bud stage.  Short-lived blooms such as daylilies, hibiscus, iris, lotus, magnolia, and passion flowers should be cut while in the bud stage.  This allows the flowers to open after they are placed in the completed floral arrangement design. 

Flowers with huge petals and small stems benefit from being submerged in lukewarm water.  Depending on their petals and color, you can submerge your cut flowers underwater (petals and all) for a few minutes (white and pastel camellias, gardenias, orchids and roses) to a few hours (anthuriums, gerberas, hydrangeas, lilacs, dark colored roses and most tropical flowers). Wilted flowers can be revived by CPR (just kidding) by cutting the stem underwater and submerging the entire flower underwater until it is revived and happy.

Satisfaction Guaranteed

There is a wonderful satisfaction and sense of accomplishment out of planting, watering, maintaining and growing a cut flower garden.

Several Texas SuperStars plants could work well in your cut flower garden, so attend the free Lunch and Learn session this coming Monday to learn about them. Note the location and time in the accompanying side box.
Imagine how wonderful it will be to go out into your cut flower garden and cut your favorite flowers and foliage which you personally grew.  So, plant yourself a cut flower garden and design your own fresh floral arrangements with your very own, home grown flowers of choice. You will have satisfaction guaranteed!
CUT FLOWER GARDEN FAVORITES
FOR OUR AREA
ANNUALS

Baby’s Breath
Bachelor Button
Bluebell
Calendula
California Poppy
Candytuft
Cleome
Cockscomb
Cornflower
Cosmos
Feverfew
Hyacinth Bean
Larkspur
Marigold
Nasturtium
Pansy
Pinks
Snapdragon
Standing Cypress
Statice
Stock
Strawflower
Sunflower
Sweetpea
Zinnia
PERENNIALS

Amaryllis
Aspidistra
Aster
Balloon Flower
Butterfly Vine
Butterfly Weed
Calla Lily
Canna
Chrysanthemum
Clerodendrum
Columbine
Coral Vine
Coreopsis
Crinum
Daffodils, Narcissus
Dianthus, Pink, Carnation
Ferns
Garden Asparagus
Garlic, Chives
Gayfeather
Gerbera Daisy
Gingers
Gladiolus
Hardy Ageratum
Hyacinth
Indigo Spires
Iris
Leatherleaf Fern
Lily
Mexican Marigold Mint
Montbretia
Obedient Plant
Oxeye Daisy
Penstemon
Peruvian Lily
Phlox
Purple Coneflower
Purple Loosestrife
Red Hot Poker
Roses
Salvia
Shasta Daisy
Snowflake
Spider Lily
Stoke’s Aster
Sunflower
Tuberose
Yarrow
LUNCH & LEARN WITH THE MASTERS

“Growing Texas SuperStars™”
Presented by Victoria County
Master Gardener Nancy Kramer

WHEN: Monday, June 9 -
Noon- 1:00 P.M.

WHERE: Pattie Dodson Health Center

WHAT: FREE Session
Bring your own lunch and drink.

Coordinated by Texas AgriLife Extension Service – Victoria County