A CUTTING GARDEN for Mother’s Day and Special Occasions

By Robert H. and Hoberley Schuler

CUTTING GARDEN for Mother’s Day and Special Occasions

Q: I am interested in planting a “Cutting Garden” for flowers to bring into the house each week and especially for Mother’s Day. What are the best plants for this garden? Loleta Cruse, San Bernardino.
A: If you do not already have cutting flowers for this month, visit the many florists or grocery store outlets that have bouquets ready to take home for Mother’s Day. You will notice that most of the flowers have sturdy long stems and usually there is some greenery to give the bouquet depth and an airy feeling. To preserve the flowers and give them a long vase-life re-cut the stems under water. This will help keep little bubbles of air from blocking the water uptake. To prevent bacteria from blocking the water intake, change the water daily, use a prepared preservative, or make your own with ¼ teaspoon of household bleach and 1 ½ teaspoons of sugar per quart of water.

Prepare for a “Happy Mother’s Day” next year by creating your own cutting garden. Your garden area includes many micro-climates suitable for a wonderful cutting garden, including full sun to some shade areas. Flowers can be planted in creative rows (not straight) with paths, throughout a small garden or in an out-of-the-way patch.

Since a cutting garden needs maximum flower production, it will need regular feeding, watering, and deadheading. Disbudding can be done when the flower buds are 1/8-inch in diameter, leave the main center one so you will have a large flower on a long stem. You should have at least three plants of each variety; place them in your flower beds by height so the taller varieties do not shade the smaller ones. Plants with similar watering requirements should be planted together as should those requiring full sun or shade.

Annuals for a cutting garden include: ageratum, bachelor’s button, China aster, cornflower, cosmos, dahlia, gerbera, larkspur, marigold, Nigella, salvia, snapdragon, cleone, stock, sunflowers, sweet pea, sweet William, and zinnia. Start new plants every three weeks for continuous flowers.
Perennials include: alstromeria, aster, baby’s breath, bells of Ireland, carnation, chrysanthemum, coneflower, coreopsis, delphinium, dusty miller, gaillardia, iris, penstemon, phlox, sage, Shasta daisy, scabiosa, wind flower, and yarrow. Roses can be the main source of cutting flowers for most of the year, include floribundas as well as hybrid teas and miniature rose buds and flowers.

Bulbs planted throughout the year are great for simple and large bouquets. Remember, that there are spring and summer bulbs with beautiful blooms. They need to be planted at different times of the year, they include dahlias and lilies. Gladiolus should be planted as soon as they arrive at the nurseries in late fall. Place bulbs every two weeks for successive blooming through June or until the weather gets hot.

Filler and decorative material can be planted throughout your garden including: ferns, flax, herbs, and mints. Plants that have colorful leaves such as caladiums and coleus, and plants with seed pods can be a wonderful addition to a bouquet. Plants with a lingering fragrance such as lavenders and Rosemary will last long after the flower arrangement is past its prime.

Many gardeners prefer color coordination throughout their gardens by planting all pink flowers; pink and white flowers; white flowers only; blue and purple flowers; yellow and orange flowers; or other favorite color combinations.

There are three basic flower shapes in an arrangement. Elongated or spike flowers give a feeling of movement and develop the structure of the arrangement and give the arrangement its line. Round flowers naturally become the focal points by joining lines, stopping your eye and getting your attention. Filler, or transition material, softens the arrangement and gives it fullness.

A few tips for making your cutting garden flowers last longer. Flowers should be picked as the buds are opening, either in the early morning or late afternoon when moisture and sugar content are high. Cut the stems at an angle with a sharp knife or cutters and place them immediately in lukewarm water. Bring into the house and re-cut the stems under water. Remove any foliage that will be under water and “harden” off the flowers by placing them in a cool, dark area for several hours or overnight before arranging the flowers.

Finally, there are many, many flowers for bouquets, large and small. Most flowers from your garden can be used in arrangements. The above partial flower lists are mainly for bouquets. With summer, be creative and plant a container of herbs with a place in the center for a vase of flowers. Place it outdoors where you sit. Imagine Mother’s Day outside with a tall elongated wicker basket filled with Rosemary and colorful gladiolus in a container!

For previous articles: www.californiagardenclubs.org/Features/garden_pointers

Robert H. Schuler, M. G.
By Robert H. and Hoberley Schuler
UC Davis &OSU Master Gardeners; National & CGCI
Garden Study and Landscaping Design Consultants