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Rudbeckias and Penstemons for Cut Flowers

There are more choices than ever when it comes to choosing cut flowers. Here are several new recommended varieties for cutting gardens.


Rudbeckias

Johnny’s is offering seeds of Cherry Brandy rudbeckia for the first time. This is also available from Thompson and Morgan. This flower hardly resembles the usual black-eyed susan. This is the first rich red and maroon variety that can be grown from seed. The blooms are up to four inches wide. These have two toned petals and rich brown cones. The stems are two feet in height. This can behave as a biennial or short lived perennial. It blooms throughout the growing season from early summer through the fall.

For 2010 Park is offering Ruby Gold black eyed susan. This free flowering plant can behave as a perennial. It is hardy in zones five through eight. The stems reach two feet in height. The large blooms come in a variety of colors. All have prominent black centers. Some have sunny yellow petals while others are dark maroon or red.

The first stems of the black eyed susans are ready to harvest about four months from the time the seeds are planted. They’re used as a medium mass flower. In addition to being a fresh cut flower, these can also be used as an everlasting. The stems should be harvested after the blossoms are completely open.

These plants thrive in poor soils. In the cutting garden they need full sun and a well drained soil. Black eyed susans will tolerate partial shade.

The seeds should be sown indoors about two months before the last expected frost date. At a minimum temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, they will take two to three weeks to germinate. Leave the seeds uncovered as they need light to germinate.


Penstemon Twilight

This penstemon is a wonderful new cultivar of the native penstemons. The tall, upright plants are two feet in height. During the late spring and into mid-summer, the delicate looking, two-lipped, tubular blossoms appear. These tiny blooms are purplish-pink with touches of white in the throats and tips. This plant will be available at garden centers. This is hardy in zones four through nine. These are short lived perennials.

As a cut flower, penstemons have a vase life of about a week or so. Harvest when the lower flowers on the stem are open.

The penstemons need full sun, and prefer a relatively dry, well drained, fertile soil. They’re adapted to full sun and partial shade. Avoid overwatering, and don’t fertilize penstemons.


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