In Grandmother's day, cutting flowers were grown in rows like crops in the vegetable garden, where color was welcome but soon forgotten as blooms went indoors with the beans. Today, flowers bring beauty first to beds and borders, then to bouquets. We design cutting gardens much like we arrange flowers in a vase, combining a lively assortment of hues, heights, textures, and bloom types.
Every bloom is worthy of a bouquet, but some of the best cutting flowers are old-fashioned favorites, such as snapdragon, zinnia, heliotrope, sweet pea, cleome, and cosmos. Quick to flower from seed, these annuals perform all summer. Equally at home in a vase are long-blooming perennials, such as liatris, rudbeckia, coneflower, hollyhock, and helianthus.
Snapdragons thrive in cool spring weather, but new hybrids of this annual bloom through summer heat.
Though pretty in pinks, everlasting statice and fresh-as-a-daisy cosmos come in other hues too.
Purple spiked blooms on liatris -- a tough prairie perennial -- can be cut for fresh or dried bouquets. Stately hollyhocks and stocky statice add beauty to both borders and bouquets.
Sunshine and good soil are the essential ingredients to growing armloads of flowers. Turn the earth to a spade's depth, mixing in compost or peat moss to improve drainage.
Ammis with delphinium and Larkspur
After frost danger is past, set in transplants at the suggested spacing. If you're starting from seeds, use bonemeal to outline a clump for each variety. Sow seeds evenly, not in rows; cover with soil to the proper depth.
Paths make maintenance chores easier
Keep the soil moist until seedlings become established. After that, water as needed, each time thoroughly saturating the soil to promote a deep root system. A mulch of straw, shredded bark, or cocoa bean hulls will help prevent weeds. Encourage nonstop blooming by feeding annuals every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer.
The best time to pick flowers is late afternoon, after morning dew dries and midday heat subsides. With a garden full of flowers in every stage of bloom, be choosy about which stems you cut for indoor bouquets. Bypass buds that are so tight they'll never open and fully open blooms that will soon fade.
White lace flower (Ammi majus), an annual, pairs prettily with the purple spires of perennial delphinium. If kept picked, flowers such as larkspur will bloom longer in the season.