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Summer Blooming Perennials as Cut Flowers

During the summer months, our perennial beds are typically in full bloom with many of these stems being suitable for cut flowers. Here are some of the best ones.


Bellflower

The bellflowers have long been a favorite for cut flowers. These are sometimes known as harebells. Mostly native to Europe and Asia, the height of the stems does vary from one kind to another. In general, the taller growing ones are preferred for cut flowers. These range from a foot to three feet or so.

Opening during the summer, the flowers are usually bell-shaped. Sometimes, they are more cup-like or tubular. Perfectly shaped, these have an elegant, delicate look. Often, they are nodding. They can reach two inches or so across. Some varieties have double blooms. The flower colors cover a wide array of colors, including all shades of blue and lilac with some whites thrown in for good measure.

Generally, bellflowers do better in cooler areas of the country. They are recommended for zones three through seven or eight. Most don’t do as well in areas with hot summers. When I lived in upstate New York, a blue-flowering one just showed up in one of my flower beds one year. I was not able to identify what species it was or how it got there. If you’re growing these from seeds, realize they are tiny like those of petunias.

Often used in mixed bouquets, these cut stems last for about seven days or so if a preservative is used. For best results, cut as soon as the flowers begin to open.


Jacob’s ladder

This has stems that reach 1½ to two feet in height. The lovely blossoms open during the summer. These appear in drooping bunches at the top of the stems. They range in color from pale to dark blue or purple. There are also white flowering varieties. Very large, the yellow stamens are particularly striking. These flowers reach an inch in diameter.

Jacob’s ladder is winter hardy to zones two to four. Its southernmost limit is about zone seven since it doesn’t like hot summer weather. Native to Europe, this does well in both partial shade and full sun. It prefers a well-drained soil.

Sow the seeds as soon as they ripen. Or divide existing plants.


Lobelias

Totally different than the low growing lobelia used as a spring bedding plant, the perennial lobelias make great cut flowers.

These are noted for their floriferous nature and long blooming season. These gorgeous flowers open in terminal masses on stems that can be two feet or more in height. They are fairly large, and have a novel shape all their own due to the colorful bracts. They remind me of the fanflower, an annual that is used as a bedding plant.

The colors of the blossoms vary widely, depending on the species or variety. Typically, they come in various shades of pinks, reds, blues, and purples. The cardinal-flower is obviously red, while the great or blue lobelia is blue.

For the most part, perennial lobelias bloom in late summer to fall. Their hardiness extends from zones two or three to zone eight. While some lobelias can be grown from seed, certain cultivars won’t come true from seed. For those, it is better to buy plants.

For cut flowers, harvest the stems as soon as the flowers begin to open.

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