Kelly Kellow, Horticulturalist, Spring Creek Gardens
One of the many pleasures of summer gardening is cutting flowers and making a fresh bouquet for the counter kitchen. As a professional horticulturalist and avid home gardener, growing cut flowers is a staple in my garden every year. Not only do they look pretty in the garden, but they also add pops of color throughout the house throughout the season.
Cut flower gardens are easy and fun for any level of gardener. As with most plantations, choosing the right location will be your first step. Choose an area with full sun and well-drained soil. Many gardeners put their cut flower garden in the ground, but raised beds are also a great option for a cleaner garden. They can be added in almost any way, so add them in open spots between perennials, shrubs, and rows of vegetables. They can also be a great display in any type of container gardening.
Choose plants that appeal to you! This is what makes cut flower gardens so fun – you can grow and enjoy the plants you love the most. Your plant list can include annuals, perennials, herbs, fillers like grasses, or attractive foliage that adds texture and color to bouquets. Tall flower varieties selected so that when you cut the flowers they will fit in a mason jar. On plants like geraniums, once you cut the flowers, the stems are too short to fit in any type of arrangement. Also, consider that the plants have a long flowering period.
When designing the garden, be sure to put tall flowers in the back, medium flowers in the middle, and shorter flowers in the front. This will help prevent plants from competing for light. If you are growing vines, make sure you have a sturdy trellis they can climb on. In the northern Colorado region, it’s best to plant cut-flowered annuals after the risk of frost – mid-May is always a good time. Prepare the area by loosening the soil, adding a two-inch layer of rich compost, and mixing the two. Adding a slow release fertilizer will also help keep the plants healthy and flowering for a long time. Then, during the flowering period, provide a general purpose fertilizer every two to four weeks.
Remember, the more you cut, the more the flower will produce. Flowers like cosmos and zinnias that are constantly blooming will look best in the garden and provide consistent fresh blooms when often cut or harvested. Cut the stems longer than you need to fit in your vase. Make a final cut at a 45-degree angle two inches from the bottom of the stem before placing it in the water. This increases the surface area for water supply, which prolongs the life of the flower in the vase. Be careful not to crush the white stem cutting, as damaging it could cause the plant to wilt faster.
With these simple steps, you will enjoy your garden indoors and outdoors all summer long!
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