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Kelly Kellow, Horticulturist, Gardens on Spring Creek
One of the many pleasures of summer gardening is cutting some flowers and making a fresh bouquet for kitchen the counter. As a professional horticulturist and avid gardener at home, growing flowers for cutting is a must-have in my garden every year. Not only are they pretty in the garden, but they also add dashes of color throughout the house all season long.
Cut flower gardens are easy and fun for any level of gardener. Like with most plantings, picking the right spot will be your first step. Select an area with full sun and well-draining soil. Many gardeners put their cut flower garden right in the ground, but raised beds are also a great option for a tidier garden. They can be added almost any way, so add them to 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 you enjoy! That is what makes cut flower gardens so fun – you get to grow and enjoy the plants you love most. Your plant list can include annuals, perennials, herbs, fillers like grasses, or attractive foliage that adds texture and color to bouquets. Selected tall flower varieties so that when you cut the flowers, they will be able to stand 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 plants have a long bloom period.
When designing the garden, make 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 to have a sturdy trellis for them to climb on. In the Northern Colorado region, it’s best to plant cut flower annuals after the danger of frost – mid-May is always a good time. Prep the area by loosening the soil, adding a two-inch layer of rich compost, and mixing the two together. Adding a slow-release fertilizer will also help keep the plants healthy and blooming for a long period. Then, during the bloom period, provide a general-purpose fertilizer every two to four weeks.
Remember that the more you cut, the more the flower will produce. Flowers like cosmos and zinnias that are constantly blooming will look better in the garden and provide constant fresh flowers when they deadheaded or harvested often. Cut the stems longer than what you need to fit in your vase. Make a final cut at a 45-degree angle two inches from the bottom of the stalk before placing it in water. Doing this increases the surface area for water intake thus making the flower last longer in the vase. Make sure to not crush the stem white cutting, damaging it can cause the plant to wilt faster.
With these simple steps, you’ll be enjoying your garden inside and out all summer long!