Top 10 Plants for Cutting Gardens

By Darcy Larum | December 16, 2017
Image by Nikki Tiley
by Darcy Larum
December 16, 2017

A simple bouquet of fresh cut flowers in a vase has a way of brightening up a room and giving it a welcoming feel. This tradition of arranging flowers is found throughout history in many cultures. Egyptian hieroglyphs dating back to 2,500 BC showed flowers arranged in vases. In Victorian times, friends or lovers conveyed messages to each other with bouquets of flowers – known as Nosegays or Tussie Mussies. In fact, the Victorian language of flowers was used to create these messages; for example, if a man wished to tell a woman he thought she was beautiful and had fallen in love with her, he would have given her a bouquet lilies for beauty or of roses for love.

These days, we still convey messages through bouquets – like a congratulations for a new baby or a job well done, get well bouquets, sympathy bouquets, Valentine’s Day bouquets and wedding bouquets. With your own cutting garden, it can be less expensive to create a personal floral bouquet for certain occasions or just to brighten up a room. Here are top 10 plants for cutting gardens:

1. AlliumAllium is a member of the onion family that bears large purple, white or pink globe flowers on sturdy stems. It is a spring blooming bulb that is generally planted in the fall along with daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, etc. Hardy to zone 4, its most popular variety is ‘Globemaster,’ which has a large purple globe shaped flowers. As a cut flower, they hold up for a very long time. Even after the flowers fade, a beautiful globe-shaped dry ‘skeleton’ remains. Where I work, we have had the same dried alliums in a vase next to the cash register for four years. Many times, people will spray paint these with bright colors. Allium represents good fortune and prosperity.

2. Lily – Though many plants have lily in their name and aren’t actually lilies at all, here I’m talking about the true lilies (Lilium) – Asiatic or oriental lilies. Lilies are a perennial bulb that can be hardy to zone 4, depending on the variety. They come in many different varieties and colors. As cut flowers, their blooms last for over two weeks and they require less food than most cut flowers. In the Victorian language of flowers, each variety of lily had its own meaning but, in general, they symbolize majesty, honor, purity and beauty.

3. Coneflower – Echinacea, or coneflower, is a perennial hardy to zone 3, depending on variety. Today, there are hundreds of varieties available for the cutting garden. Flowers come in single form, semi-double and double with colors in purple, pink, white, yellow, orange, red and lime green. As cut flowers, they last a very long time and even after the flower petals fade and drop, the seed heads provide interest in dried floral arrangements. Coneflowers symbolize strength and health.

4. Sunflower – Most varieties of Helianthus, or sunflower, are annuals. In just one season, some varieties, like the Mammoth sunflower, can grow over 10 feet. Sunflowers can be one single stalk bearing one single stem, or a multi-stemmed plant bearing many flowers. The flower colors range in tones of yellow, orange and red. Sunflowers represent pride, admiration and appreciation.

5. Bells Of IrelandMoluccella bells of Ireland are annuals with no connection to Ireland at all. They make a long lasting, unique addition to floral arrangements. Like allium, long after blooming, bells of Ireland can still look great in dry floral arrangements. Long before the Victorian language of flowers, this flower symbolized good luck for their green colored “flowers,” which is how they became associated with Ireland.

6. ZinniaZinnias are annuals that are easily sown directly in the garden without any special requirements. They perform best in full sun. Zinnia’s colorful, long lasting flowers and thick, strong stems make them great candidates for cut flowers. Zinnia represents lasting affection, remembrance and constancy.

7. Shasta Daisy – There is something always cheerful about daisies. Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum superbum) are no exception. The plant is a perennial in zones 4-8. Aside from being a little needy when it comes to water, Shasta daisies are very easy to grow, and look great in any floral arrangement. Daises symbolize loyalty, purity and innocence.

8. DianthusCarnations are the most commonly used flower for floral bouquets or arrangements. Carnations can last 2-3 weeks as cut flowers. The carnations you would buy at a floral shop are greenhouse grown hybrids, but the annual and perennial garden dianthus also make excellent cut flowers. Carnations symbolize love, fascination, and admiration.

9. Hydrangea – Panicle, bigleaf and smooth varieties of hydrangea make excellent large, dramatic cut flowers. Like allium and bells of Ireland, hydrangea flowers dry into long lasting, paper-like flower “skeletons” that can be keep in dry floral arrangements for years. Hydrangea flowers symbolize understanding and gratitude.

10. Rose – What would a cutting garden be without roses? Hybrid tea roses are florist quality roses, but can be a little finicky or high maintenance in the garden. Shrub roses, like the Easy Elegance series or Knockout series, make low maintenance roses with exquisite blooms for cutting. In the Victorian language of flowers, roses had specific meanings based on what color they were. However, the general symbolism of roses is love and passion.

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