If you grow your own cutting garden, you’ll have beautiful flower bouquets all season long

by Andrew Wright
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cutting garden

“If you cultivate your own cutting garden, you can enjoy exquisite flower bouquets throughout the entire season.

Every spring, I trim fragrant lilac stems from the two bushes flanking my front gate and place them in a vase indoors. The delightful aroma fills the entire first floor, surpassing the scent of any scented candle or diffuser.

During the summer, I also bring some of my hydrangeas and roses indoors, displaying their captivating blossoms on my dining room table.

While almost any flower can be cut and enjoyed indoors, creating a dedicated cutting garden requires careful planning. The first step is to consider your flowers as a harvestable crop. Just as certain tomato varieties are ideal for sauces, some flowers are better suited for cutting and arranging.

Flowers with short stems, for example, don’t lend themselves well to being displayed in a vase. Similarly, delicate blossoms would wither indoors within a day.

Seed catalogs offer a wide selection, often including information about flowers suitable for cutting and arranging.

Both annuals and perennials can be grown in a cutting garden. Annuals complete their life cycle within a year but produce abundant blooms throughout the season. To ensure a continuous supply of flowers for cutting, employ “succession planting” by sowing or planting new seeds or seedlings every two weeks.

Perennial plants return year after year, but they may not be as prolific as annuals. Some perennials bloom for only a couple of weeks, while others rebloom repeatedly. It’s important to carefully read the descriptions of plants.

Keep in mind that while annuals will produce plenty of flowers in their first and only year, perennials grown from seed usually don’t bloom until their second or even third year.

Some annuals well-suited for cutting include celosia, cosmos, globe amaranth, larkspur, various sunflower varieties, Queen Anne’s lace, annual salvia, and zinnia.

Perennials ideal for growing and cutting include astilbe, bee balm, black-eyed Susan, chrysanthemum, coneflower, foxglove, garden phlox, gladiolus, lily, peony, ranunculus, rose, perennial salvia, Shasta daisy, and yarrow.

There’s another category of plants known as tender perennials. Although technically perennials, they are often grown as annuals because some don’t reliably return or cannot withstand winters outside their hardiness zones.

Tender perennials that are great for cutting include calendula (perennial in zones 9-11), California poppy (perennial in zones 8-10), snapdragon (perennial in zones 7-11), statice (perennial in zones 9-11), and strawflower (perennial in zones 9-11).

Don’t forget about bulbs, tubers, and corm plants such as allium, daffodil, tulip, and dahlias. They can also contribute to your cutting garden.

And don’t underestimate the value of fillers. Adding fern, baby’s breath, bells of Ireland, dusty Miller, flowering tobacco, oregano, pussy willow, silver dollar plant, and unique twigs and branches will elevate your hand-picked bouquets to a professional level.

Both annuals and perennials can be grown in the ground, raised beds, or containers. If space allows, growing them in separate beds simplifies annual planting, but it’s not necessary. If you’re limited on space, plant them wherever you can, even if it means tucking flowers between vegetables or other garden plants.

Most flowers thrive in fertile, well-draining soil, with regular watering and at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily. You can purchase plants from a nursery, start your own from indoor seeds, or sow seeds directly into the garden.

When planting, add compost to the holes to nourish the plants. Alternatively, you can top the soil with 2-3 inches of compost in the fall, and by spring, the bed will be highly fertile.

Keep the beds no wider than 3 or 4 feet to ensure easy access from all sides. Place the tallest flowers at the rear of the bed, mid-size plants in the center, and shorter varieties in front, allowing for convenient reach.

Follow the spacing recommendations on the seed packet or plant tag to accommodate the mature sizes of the plants. Crowded plants are prone to diseases.

After planting, apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer and 2-3 inches of mulch, then water thoroughly. If sowing seeds directly into the garden, fertilize and mulch when the seedlings reach 4 inches in height.

Starting three weeks after planting, apply a liquid flower fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus, such as one labeled 1-34-32, every two weeks.

Jessica Damiano is a regular gardening columnist for the AP and publishes the award-winning Weekly Dirt Newsletter. You can sign up for her weekly gardening tips and advice [here](link to her newsletter).

For more gardening stories from AP, visit https://bigbignews.net/gardening.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about cutting garden

What is a cutting garden?

A cutting garden is a dedicated garden area where flowers are grown specifically for cutting and arranging in bouquets.

What are the benefits of having a cutting garden?

Having a cutting garden allows you to enjoy beautiful flower bouquets throughout the entire season. It provides a convenient and cost-effective way to decorate your home with fresh, hand-picked flowers.

Can any flower be grown in a cutting garden?

While almost any flower can be cut and enjoyed indoors, certain flowers are better suited for cutting and arranging. It’s important to consider factors like stem length and bloom durability when selecting flowers for a cutting garden.

Should I choose annuals or perennials for my cutting garden?

Both annuals and perennials can be grown in a cutting garden. Annuals complete their life cycle within a year and provide abundant blooms, while perennials return year after year. It’s a matter of personal preference and the desired variety in your garden.

How do I start a cutting garden?

Starting a cutting garden requires planning. Consider the type of flowers you want to grow, whether they are annuals, perennials, or a combination. Prepare the soil, sow seeds or plant seedlings, provide proper care and maintenance, and enjoy the blooms throughout the season.

What are some recommended flowers for a cutting garden?

For annuals, popular choices include celosia, cosmos, larkspur, sunflowers, and zinnias. Perennials such as astilbe, black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, peonies, and roses are also great options. It’s best to consult seed catalogs or nursery recommendations for specific flower choices.

Can I grow a cutting garden in containers or raised beds?

Yes, both containers and raised beds can be suitable for growing a cutting garden. It allows you to have a dedicated space for your flowers, even if you have limited garden area. Just ensure that the containers or raised beds provide sufficient space and proper drainage for the plants.

What are some tips for maintaining a cutting garden?

Regular watering, proper fertilization, and mulching are essential for maintaining a healthy cutting garden. Additionally, ensuring adequate sunlight, spacing plants properly, and addressing any pest or disease issues promptly will contribute to the success of your garden.

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