Cutting Gardens

Why is it so hard for a gardener to cut flowers from the gardens?

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A carefully planned and coordinated garden makes it hard for a gardener to feel free cutting flowers for arrangements.  Planting cutting gardens gives you permission to cut as many flowers as you want, as often as you want.  I know it really is only an emotional trick, but gardeners can become pretty attached to their perfectly planned garden.

Find a sunny place tucked away somewhere to plant your cutting garden.  Don't worry about choreographing blooming or colors, you are cultivating for arrangements to grace your home inside not the yard.  So don't worry about it, even a haphazardly sown wild flower garden is very beautiful.  If you don't have room for a specific bed, just tuck your chosen cutting flowers in where every you can, including the vegetable garden.

If you are creating a specific bed for your cutting garden, be sure to prepare it just as well as any garden bed.  Good soil properly amended and loosened will be necessary to produce abundant blooms for cutting.  And pay attention to the sun, water and fertilizer needs of your cutting flowers of course.  Annuals typically are heavy feeders if you want to keep the blooms producing.  As always, try to group them together according to their preferences to make care easiest.  

Remember that you need easy access to each of the plants since you will be cutting frequently.   Space them well for access and good air circulation, taller plants placed so as not to shade the shorter plants.  Some annuals will produce more blooms every time you cut.  Some will lose vigor and you will want to reseed or replant.  A fading plant should be quickly removed from the bed to allow room for the flourishing plants to continue to develop and produce.  Another hard thing for a gardener to do, but remember why you planned this garden!  Out with non producers!

Be sure to cut, cut and cut some more.  Flowering plants live specifically to reproduce, which means every time you cut a bloom, it wants to produce another which is of course its' means of producing seed.   Annuals tend to be most persistent about that, but most perennials do the same.

Plan for Arrangements

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  • Long stems
  • Some small blooms and short stems to tuck in or for small vases
  • All season fillers
  • Blooms for every season
  • Fragrance may be important to you
  • Color and bloom type to coordinate with your indoor decor
  • Consider flowers that dry well so you can save some for winter arrangements

Plan the Planting Bed

  • Lots of sun for great blooms
  • Rich amended soil for bountiful bloom production
  • Plan for rows for your "crops" since you will not only be weeding but need foot space for frequent harvest.

When selecting flowers to grow for cut arrangements be sure to consider all options as well as maintenance.  For me the most important feature is abundant production of blooms.  There are many plants that increase bloom production the more you cut.  Their objective of course is to reproduce, which they do by producing blooms that ultimately become seed.

HARVESTING AND CARING FOR CUT BLOOMS

The cool of the morning is the best time to cut flowers.  Carry a bucket of room temperature to lukewarm water with you.  Put cut stems into the water immediately as you snip them.  As you put together your arrangement, re-cut the stem using a clean sharp garden shear and immediately put into the water you have prepared in a vase.  Do not submerge foliage - partially submerged leaves shouldn't cause a problem.  Trim foliage off the stems under the water line so it does not start to spoil and make the water murky.  Use floral preservative in the fresh water.  Don't use aspirin or sugar or bleach, they really do not work to preserve your blooms.  Check the water level daily to make sure no cut stem ends are exposed.

To keep your blooms as fresh as possible re-cut the stems every few days.  To make it easy just pull the whole bouquet out together and snip the stems all at once.  Hold on to that bouquet while you fill the vase with fresh water and floral fresh.  Pop the whole bunch right back into the vase.  Trim foliage as it starts to fade and wither as well as any wilting blooms.

Although you need to place arrangements where you will enjoy them most, try to keep them out of direct sunlight and heat.  And, away from fruit!  Some ripening fruits and vegetables emit ethylene gas that will quickly ruin your fresh cut blooms!

Sharon Dwyer