Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Though it’s true that many of the common cut flowers are annuals, there are also more perennials than we would think. Even if you don’t have room or time to maintain a cutting garden, you can still include a few of these in your mixed borders and flower beds. By growing some of these, you can have a good supply of stems throughout the growing season.
Yarrow or achillea has fine textured foliage and flowers. Around two feet tall, these are often seen in herb gardens. The flower heads tend to be about three inches in diameter. The flower color can vary from one different variety to another. These stems have a long vase life. In fact, they’re used as an everlasting. So you might want to just save them instead of discarding the stems with the rest of the bouquet.
Bellflowers or campanulas are really catching on as garden plants. In recent years, many improved varieties have been introduced. There are several species available as well. For cut flowers, the taller growing ones are best. Choose upright types for some species have sprawling growth habits and weak stems. Depending on the species/variety, these can be anywhere from six inches up to four feet or so in height. The stems are literally covered with masses of bell-like blooms in delicate pink, white, blue, and different shades of purple and lilac.
Cupids dart or blue succory (Catananche) is not commonly seen. But this deserves a place in floral design. These daisy-like blossoms are very striking. About two inches across, they are mostly blue or white. Amor Blue, an improved variety, reaches two feet in height. This drought tolerant species will not tolerate wet winter soils. It is hardy to zone five. This can be used as both a fresh and dried flower.
The delphiniums need no introduction as a cut flower. Some gardeners find these can be a little more demanding than some perennials. But if your growing conditions are suitable, you will be blessed with as many stems as you could ever want. Typically, these will have1˝ foot tall flower spikes. Pacific Giant is probably the most commonly grown variety. Delphinium stems can be used either fresh or as an everlasting.
I’ve discussed the purple cone flowers elsewhere, so I won’t go into a great detail here. Other than the very dwarf ones, all varieties of this would be suitable for cut flowers. Now there are ones in all sorts of colors from the original pinkish-purple to white and even yellow and orange. These can be used both fresh and dried.
Globe thistles are one of the most unusual blossoms. Used both as a fresh flower and everlasting, these resemble drumsticks. The blue flower heads can be several inches wide. Generally, the plants are about three to four feet in height.
Baby’s breath is a mainstay in floral design, and needs no introduction. In addition to annual varieties, the perennial species (Gypsophila paniculata) is often seen. There is a delightful variety of this called Double. Its stems can reach three feet in height. As with other baby’s breath, this can be used as an everlasting and fresh.
Known as the false sunflower or sneezeweed, the Heleniums bloom during the autumn months beginning around August or so. Various improved varieties of this are available. The species can reach about five feet in height. These have daisy-like blooms that are almost two inches wide. They are in eye-catching colors of yellow and orange. The centers tend to be darker. In the garden, this plant may look gawky and coarse. But for late summer bouquets these are just wonderful.
There is another totally different perennial that is also called false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides). This one blooms somewhat earlier than Helenium. They start appearing late in the summer. These showy plants are up to four feet in height. The flowers are around 2˝ inches in diameter. They have yellow petals or rays that are an inch in length. Most of these varieties will have yellow flowers.