By Amber Dietz
OSU Ext. intern
Do you love setting fresh cut flowers on your kitchen counter top?
How about putting a bright bouquet of zinnias on your dining room table?
Did you know you can actually grow a garden of flowers that are specifically meant to be cut and placed in a vase?
A cutting garden provides beauty outside and inside.
Here are a few tips for growing this particular garden, including what will make it flourish to ensure beautiful, vase-ready flowers for you all next season.
It’s time to start planning.
Similar to any other garden, productivity is what we’re looking for.
According to a Penn State Extension “Creating a Cutting Garden” article, flowers may be planted in widely spaced rows to allow for easy maintenance.
You need not be concerned with color combinations or how the plants look together.
It is a good idea to plant flowers with similar requirements of sun or shade, water, and nutrients together.
Placement is important, as you don’t want taller plants to shade out shorter ones.
When maintaining your cutting garden, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
First, you want to make sure your plants are always getting the water they need. You can help keep track of water by using a soaker hose. This will lessen the chance of disease issues within your plants.
Next, try to keep down the growth of weeds around your plants. Trim down your flowers frequently and remove all dead blossoms as much as possible for continual bloom. This helps plants focus on new flowers, rather than setting seed.
Lastly, when your plants show no more growth and development, pull them from the bed and replace them by planting other flowers. This will help maintain the health and prosperity of your flowers and flower bed.
When your flowers are ready to be harvested, it’s best to cut them early in the morning before it gets too hot outside.
You also want to make sure you cut them when the buds are just opening to get longer lasting blooms while in the vase.
Make sure to have clean water and a floral preservative in the vase where you want to put your freshly cut plants.
Floral preservatives contain carbohydrates (sugars) that help open buds, kill bacteria, and keep the water clear.
Re-cut each stem before placing it in the vase so that your plants have a fresh end to soak up the water more efficiently.
Lastly, check the level of water in your vase several times a day and trim back the stem as needed. Refresh the water every two days to extend the life of the flowers.
Both perennials and annuals are good options. Consider a perennial bed of indigo, yarrow, daisy, columbine and more.
Plan the perennial garden based on having at least three types of flowers blooming at all times during the year.
Don’t forget to add plans for foliage such as sedum, lamb’s ear, feverfew, mountain mint, hostas, artemisia and herbs with unique colors of green.
Annuals to consider are celosia, cosmos, snapdragons, sunflowers, delphinium and asters. Foliage-type annuals for filler include bells of Ireland, dusty miller, basil, rosemary, scented geraniums and coleus.
For a starter list of plants to order/buy for next year’s cutting garden, check out your seed catalogue or go to http://go.osu.edu/cuttinggarden.