Beautiful blooms year-round

Tips for planting a cut flower garden

By Nan Fischer
For Taos News
Posted 8/8/19

Do you cut flowers from your borders to bring inside and end up leaving empty spaces that affect the overall design? Do you spend too much money buying bouquets? Would you …

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Beautiful blooms year-round

Tips for planting a cut flower garden

Posted

Do you cut flowers from your borders to bring inside and end up leaving empty spaces that affect the overall design? Do you spend too much money buying bouquets? Would you like to have unique arrangements that no one else has?

Consider planting a flower bed specifically as a cutting garden. From spring daffodils to autumn mums, you can have fresh flowers decorating your home for the growing season. Add everlastings to the mix, and you can have homegrown flowers all year.

Choose a sunny spot in your yard, not too far from your other gardens, for ease of maintenance. A cutting bed only needs to be 2 feet wide. The space you have will determine how long it can be, or if you should make two or more shorter beds. Leave room between multiple beds for moving around during maintenance and harvesting.

Always do a soil test on a new bed and add the recommended amendments for the appropriate crop. Install drip irrigation or soaker hoses, because overhead watering will shorten the lifespan of the blooms.

Start small and grow flowers you love. Choose perennials, annuals and bulbs, using basic design principles of color, shape, texture and height. Plan the bed according to bloom times and remember to add deliciously aromatic varieties, such as sweet peas and stock. Also include foliage plants to use as filler in bouquets.

Buying nursery starts for a varied cutting bed can get expensive, so consider starting your flowers from seed. Aside from the savings, you will be able to make unique bouquets. Growers breed varieties made specifically for cutting. Flowers have long, sturdy stems and a long vase life. Seed catalogs have notations for flowers best suited for cutting.

Plant in rows or blocks, keeping plants with similar growing requirements together. Put taller flowers on the north side so as not to shade shorter varieties. Plant more densely than you would a flower border, and use supports to keep tall stems straight, especially with our winds.

Water your new plantings, and put mulch on top of the irrigation system to keep down weeds and retain moisture.

Do regular maintenance as you would on any other bed. Use a 5-10-5 fertilizer for copious blooms, deadhead flowers to keep the plant producing, pull weeds and water deeply and regularly. Deal with insects and diseases as they arise. Healthy soil loaded with compost cuts down on pests and gives your plants the most balanced nutrients. Plan on adding it in the fall and spring.

Cut flowers in the morning after the dew has dried but before they are stressed from the heat. Use clean sharp snips or scissors, pull the leaves off the bottom of the stems and put them in a bucket of warm water with floral preservative in it that you brought with you to the garden. You can use commercial preservative or make your own.

To extend their vase life, let the flowers rest and rehydrate for at least an hour before creating your one-of-a-kind designs.

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