I love having fresh flowers on my kitchen table. They bring such beauty, energy, and life to the room. Every spring I vow to bring fresh flowers indoors all season, but I never seem to follow through very well. Maybe I would do better if I had a cut flower garden dedicated specifically to this purpose. My colleague Candice Hart provides the following tips for creating a cut flower garden.
"The most important thing to consider when choosing a plant for a cut flower garden is the vase life of the flower," says University of Illinois Extension educator Candice Hart. "Some flowers simply do not last long once cut from the plant. Daylilies, for example, have a very accurate name; the flower only lasts for a day, making it a poor choice for a cut flower garden. On the other hand, oriental lily, a perennial bulb, has a much longer vase life."
Listed below is a selection of plant choices for a long-seasoned cut flower garden in Illinois. These annuals, perennials, bulbs, grasses, and shrubs will be easy to grow, and the vase life of the flowers will be at least a week in most cases.
Annuals may be easily started from seed indoors to create transplants or may be direct-seeded right into the garden. Easy to grow examples include zinnias, strawflower, celosia, gomphrena, amaranth, cosmos, blackeyed Susan, and sunflowers.
Bulbs make great additions to an existing garden bed that needs a bit of color. Spring flowering bulbs are perennials and are planted in the fall. Summer bulbs are planted in the spring and dug up at the end of the season. Both types of bulbs can serve as beautiful cut flowers. Spring flowering bulbs like tulips, daffodils, and lily of the valley are all long-lasting cut flowers. Dahlias and gladiolus are beautiful summer bulbs that are worth the effort of digging up at the end of each season.
Stagger out your flowering times when selecting your perennials to have flowers always available for cutting. Hellebores, bleeding heart, peonies, iris, liatris, purple coneflower, eryngium, poppies, astilbe, clematis, yarrow, and sedum are all reliable options.
These plants may not have showy flowers, but they add a unique texture to your garden arrangements. Plant lamb's ear, dusty miller, scented geranium, hosta, Solomon's seal, coral bells, miscanthus, northern sea oats, beautyberry, smoke bush, spirea, Japanese pieris, and ninebark in your garden to have a ready supply of foliage and textural elements to add to your vase.
Learn more ideas for your garden at this year's Gardeners' BIG Day on Saturday, April 14 at Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown. Once again the Fulton and Mason County Master Gardener has a full day planned. Attendees will hear speakers, visit vendors, and see gardening displays. Register at go.illinois.edu/BIGday2018. Early bird registration is $32 by March 26, or $42 by April 6. Registration for the day-long event includes lunch.