Think of your cutting garden as a separate section in your yard where you only plant flowers that you plan to cut and bring indoors to make floral arrangements. Although you can certainly cut flowers from your landscape plants to fill vases and make centerpieces, your landscape plants won’t be as showy if you’re constantly removing their blooms.
A cutting garden is not typically the focal point in your yard; it serves more of a utilitarian purpose. So think more toward a garden that you can lay out in rows, similar to a vegetable garden, with paths between the rows that are wide enough for you to navigate. Instead of harvesting vegetables, you’ll be harvesting cut flowers!
Any dramatic floral arrangement needs height. Sunflowers, glads and dahlias are flowers with tall, sturdy stems that hold up well in vases. Some flowers are so large that one bloom can fill a vase; for example, “dinner plate” dahlias. Avignon (white flowers with violet and burgundy splashes and stripes), Babylon Red (fiery red blossoms) and Moonlight Sonata (coral and peach-pink blooms) are a few showstopper dahlias.
You may not think of planting hydrangeas in your cutting garden, but there are numerous hydrangea species and cultivars that add great diversity and impact to cut-flower arrangements.
Round Flowers: Nikko Blue and Endless Summer are two hydrangeas with huge, “mophead”-type flowers. The color of these hydrangeas can range from pink to blue (or even purple), depending on the pH of your garden soil. Annabelle also has oversized round flower heads — but in brilliant white!
Cone-Shaped Flowers: Did you know that all hydrangea flowers aren’t round? Some species, such as Limelight and Oakleaf, have panicle flowers, which are cone-shaped. Pair these cone-shaped flowers with round flower specimens for a geometrically diverse arrangement.
A cutting garden wouldn’t be complete without roses. With a rainbow of colors from which to choose, select shades of roses that complement your home’s décor. Although some roses are a bit finicky — and some have sporadic bloom times — if you plant Knock Out roses, you’ll be sure to have a never-ending supply of colorful flowers. Sunny Knock Out brightens up any room in your home with its cheerful yellow flowers. Choose Red Knock Out Roses for vivid color or Pink Knock Out Roses for a softer touch.
To extend the vase life of your cut flowers, use a powdered floral preservative that you can find at nurseries or flower shops. Simply dissolve the powder in water and place your flowers in this treated water so they’ll stay fresh longer.
DIY Tip: Many university websites recommend making your own floral preservative for cut flowers. Mix 1 part regular (non-diet) lemon-lime soda and 3 parts water plus ¼ teaspoon of household bleach per 1 quart of the mixture.
Whether you use a purchased floral preservative or you make your own, replace the solution every few days to keep the water clean.