Be Your Own Florist: 6 Easy-to-Grow Flowers for Bouquets

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cut-flower gardens used to be the luxury of large estates, where flowers were cultivated in blocks, much as vegetables are grown. This fall, consider making your own garden beds for cut flowers, possibly by enlarging an existing vegetable plot. You will need a reasonably flat and sunny site, and the soil should be free-draining and enriched. If drainage is a problem, create raised beds. The soil will have to be covered with organic mulch or landscape fabric to stop weeds from taking over. Here are six plants that Bob Wollam recommends as easy to grow and excellent for arrangements:

Dahlia Karma Maarten Zwaan: The Karma series of dahlias has been produced for cutting with long stems and a long vase life. Maarten Zwaan is one of the latest releases and features white petals with a creamy yellow center.

Zinnia Benary's Giant Lime: Started from seed in the spring, the zinnia is planted in the cutting garden in late May. A first cut in early summer will encourage further flowering for the vase.

Hydrangea paniculata Limelight : This produces large, green-white mounded mopheads in August that age to a rose-pink in September.

French and Parrot tulips: These tall, late-season tulips should be ordered now for fall planting. Wollam favors Maureen, which is ivory; Avignon, magenta-edged orange; and Big Smile, a golden yellow. His preferred parrot type is Apricot Parrot.

European snowball viburnum: You will need to know the botanic name to get the right plant: It's Viburnum opulus Roseum (or Sterile). This doesn't need its own bed and can be incorporated into a garden border. After several years it will grow to eight feet tall and wide. The flowers open green in April but should be allowed to reach an almost-white stage for proper hydration, Wollam says.

Peony Red Charm: This produces bright red blooms in May and, as an early-season variety, is less likely to be affected by a heat wave. Wollam also likes a variety named Cytherea, which is a bright pink, goblet-shaped flower on long stems, perfect for cutting.

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