Thursday, May 21, 2015

The must-haves in the cutting garden ... Part One


Benary's Giant Zinnias

Now that David Letterman has retired, I am free to do Miss Eff's Top Ten list!

Yep ....I am going to tell you my picks for the top ten flowers you must have in your cutting garden.  Now -- I realize this is only my opinion.  But it is my blog, so it is the opinion that matters here.  ;)

A good cutting garden will have a mix of perennials and annuals but is always heavy on annuals.  Annuals just keep on giving .... blooming throughout the season.  The more you cut ... the more they bloom.  I also like to toss in some bulbs, corms, and tubers to start the season early and stretch it out as late as possible.

So let's see how my Top Ten Flower Choices compares to your selections.

1) Zinnias ..... Without a doubt, the flower that is the easiest to grow.  Zinnias only ask for one thing .... Sunshine and a little room.  If you over-crowd your zinnias, they become more susceptible to powdery mildew.  My favorite variety is Benary's Giant Zinnias.  They grow up 4' tall and have blossoms that can reach 5" across.

And the colors!!!!!!!!!!!!   How can a simple flower like a zinnia make us so very happy!

2) Snapdragons.....  We all played with the blossoms of snapdragons as a child and made the flower "roar".
There are lots of varieties ... some are trailing, some are very short but the best for cutting gardens is a variety named "Rocket".  It is tall ... almost 24-30" tall.  And by cutting them long ... and leaving just two leaves on the bottom ...... you will continue to have stately tall stems all season.

Rocket snapdragons ... in rose shades

3) Lisianthus.

No .. they are not a rose.  And sometimes, they aren't the easiest to grow.  But when they do .... just stand back in awe.

You should buy lisianthus as a plant ... they are difficult to grow from seed for the average home gardener.  The key is that the plant should never become pot bound.  If the roots are wrapping around the bottom of the pot, most likely the flower will never bloom.

Lisianthus is also confusing to buy as there as single lisianthus... which look more like a tulip.  Double lisianthus which is what is pictured below.  Along with border plants (short ones) and cutting plants (tall).

So you want to make sure what you are buying.  Varieties to look for include Echo, Cinderella and the ABC-series.

These usually start blooming mid-July for me (in Iowa) but they are the last flowers to leave the garden.  They often are still blooming .... slowly .... at Thanksgiving.

Cinderella yellow

4. Black-Eyed Susans or Rudbeckia.


Indian Summer Rudbeckia


What a wonderful sunny flower in the garden!  There are so many colors and configurations but I have to admit that Indian Summer is my favorite.  I love that the center reminds me of a Hershey kiss!  And that is the perfect time to cut rudbeckia.  Never a cut a rudbeckia that has a "hairy" chocolate kiss!!  These are sometimes known as Gloriosa Daisy.

Their smaller size makes them a perfect replacement for sunflowers in mixed bouquets. 

Perennial rudbeckia is a staple in many of our perennial beds but the blossoms are not as showy, the stems are shorter and the vase life does not make it a great cut flower.

And finally, for today ............

Amazon Rose Magic Dianthus

5) Dianthus.  Now if you look up dianthus, you will see all sorts of sizes and shapes.  For cutting, the best varieties come from the Sweet William family. The picture above is the Amazon series in a color called Rose Magic.  Such a beautiful mix of colors on one stem.

They are a long lasting flower ... best cut when only a few of the blossoms are open.  They are not as prolific as some of the other flowers .... but I will get 3 to 4 cuttings per season.  But the first flush of blossoms are always the best!


*****

I will share my other 5 picks for your cutting garden in a couple of days.  You may be wondering why I am telling you all of this.  After all, my income is based on having you cut the flowers that I have grown.  Let me tell you why.


I. Can't. Take. It.


I need to see flowers!!!!!  And all I have in my garden are sown seed, planted plugs and buds that aren't opening!!!

If I have to tell all my secrets to see flowers ..... I will.

Well, maybe ..............

Don't ask about that night in September in 1975.

;)

3 comments:

Kim @ NewlyWoodwards said...

This is such a great resource! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Anonymous said...

This is great resource but where can one buy lisianthus plugs? I live in Wisconsin and would love to plant these.

Miss Effie said...

Anon .... if you are a professional grower, there are many sources where you can buy 125 or 210 or 375 count plug trays. I usually buy 8 or so 125 ct trays. Otherwise ... a good greenhouse will sell lisianthus. The key is to make sure it is not root bound. Buy it early ... don't let it bloom before you plant it.

And if you are in Wisconsin ... they will grow well. They actually like it cool.
I've seen them blooming in Milwaukee at Thanksgiving.