This article appears in May-June Family magazine.
Forget expensive floral arrangements delivered or store-bought. Plant a cutting garden and you’ll have blooms to display in vases and bouquets all around your home from spring through summer and into fall.
“A cutting garden is a designated area specifically to cut flowers to bring inside. It’s a great way to bring the outdoors in and keep your garden full of blooms,” said Allison Zeeb, manager of cut flower product development at seed supplier American Takii.
With all the care and maintenance required to cultivate a garden, many people are hesitant to cut flowers to take inside. A cutting garden solves the issue because these flowers are meant to be cut.
“Many people prefer to keep their cutting gardens separate from their ornamental gardens because they’ll be cutting the flowers at their height of beauty,” said Peggy Anne Montgomery, horticulturist and account executive at the Garden Media Group, a boutique lawn and garden public relations agency. “Another reason is that people often use wire and supports to keep each flower standing tall, and that’s not really attractive.”
Many plants do well in a cutting garden, but favorites are often chosen for tall stems and long-lasting blooms. In her Mid-Atlantic garden, Montgomery cuts annuals and perennials and even shrubs with attractive flowers or foliage perfect for filling in a bouquet.
“Shrubs and trees like witch hazel flower in the winter, and I cut branches to bring in the house. The branches of many flowering trees can be cut and forced into bloom early. Think of forsythia,” she said.
For stunning bouquets, gardeners don’t even need a plan.
“This is supposed to be fun, and each person’s idea of beauty is different,” Montgomery said. “Just get a small bucket, like a children’s sand pail, with some water and go for a walk in the garden. Cut what you think is prettiest together. Experiment, get creative, have fun.”
Cutting garden favorites
- Lilies: Long-lasting and incredibly fragrant, oriental lilies fill the whole house with perfume, Montgomery said: “Calla lilies may be an old-fashioned flower, but almost nothing lasts longer in a vase and nothing is more beautiful in its simplicity.”
- Sunflowers: “Everybody loves a sunflower. They’re one of my favorites to grow in a cutting garden,” Zeeb said. The deep orange Sunrich series sunflower is known for its long vase life and smiling face, Zeeb said. Plant over several weeks to space out blooms throughout summer.
- Allium: With their long stems and perfectly round flower heads, allium look super modern in a vase, Montgomery said.
- Snapdragons: The National Garden Bureau declared 2019 the Year of the Snapdragon. Available in a multitude of colors, snapdragons are prolific bloomers, Zeeb said.
- Crocosmia: “Crocosmia can’t be beat for late summer. They thrive in the heat and their warm colors brighten up any arrangement,” Montgomery said.
- Asters: Plant asters in spring for a beautiful fall display. The Daylight Purple variety boasts tiny blooms that begin white then change to a deep purple in autumn, Zeeb said.
- Dahlias: “Wow! There are literally thousands of varieties in every conceivable shape and color possible. They’re a staple in all of my late summer-fall bouquets,” Montgomery said.
Try a container cutting garden. Flowers from daisies to dahlias work and so do sunflowers, which will grow with thinner stems as they stretch up to reach sunlight in a more crowded space.
“It’s actually easier to start a cutting garden in a container,” Zeeb said.
“Maximize production by growing things fairly close together. Fertilize with an organic fertilizer,” Montgomery said.