Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
During the summer and fall months, perennials provide lots and lots of cut flower stems. Here are some of my favorite kinds.
Pin cushion flowers (Knautia) provides a novel shape for summer bouquets. This comes in pleasing pastels of white, cream, pink, blue, and purple. Give these drought tolerant plants a sunny spot with well drained soil. It will be happy, and will reward you with lots of cut flower stems throughout the summer months. The unusually shaped flowers are about an inch across. Melton Pastels is an improved variety.
Also known as red hot poker, the torch lily (Kniphofia uvaria) has become a favorite summer flower. These plants can reach two to four feet in height. The flower spikes contain drooping florets that are up to two inches in length. The species plant produces red and yellow blossoms. There are cultivars with coral, scarlet, orange, and yellow blooms as well.
The Shasta daisy has become a great favorite for floral design. These are generally about two feet in height and appear throughout the summer months. The flower heads can be four inches across.
Blazing star or gay feather (Liatris) produces delightful, strong, sturdy cut flower stems. Depending on the species and variety, these may be up to six feet in height. Opening from summer to early fall, the flowers are often rose-purple. Several white flowering varieties are also available. Borne on stately spikes, these have rounded, button-like flower heads. Surrounding each flower are greenish bracts.
In addition to the very dwarf annual lobelias that are sold in the spring as bedding plants, there are perennial ones with very showy flower spikes. Depending on the species, these are mostly blue or red flowered. They open on stately stems that can be up to six feet in height. The flowering time varies. Most do so in late summer and fall.
Like the delphiniums, lupines are reliable perennials that bloom year after year. These can be anywhere from two to three feet in height. The flowers come in a wide array of colors from white and pink to blue, purple, and yellow. There are even bicolors as well. About an inch wide, these showy blossoms open on tall stems. The Russell Hybrid lupine is one of the most commonly seen
What summer bouquet would be complete without the black-eyed Susan? In addition to the annual types, there are several kinds of perennials or biennials. Goldsturm coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida Goldsturm) or the orange coneflower is among the most popular. This was named Perennial of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association some years ago. The center disks of black-eyed Susans tend to be brown or black, while the petals or rays are mostly orange to yellow. Some of these are up to four inches across.
When it comes to statice, there are several perennial species. The German or Tatarian statice (Limonium tatarica) reaches about 1Ĺ feet in height. These rose-pink blooms feature a red corolla and a white calyx with green veins. Even after the petals fall from the blossoms, the colorful calyx will be there to enjoy. These blossoms open on winged stems.
Sea lavender (Limonium latifolium) is a species of statice that is probably better known than the German. This one features lovely, small, lavender-blue blossoms that are less than one-eighth of an inch in diameter. Several feet tall, this plant tends to have weak, heavily branched stems.
Moth mullein and other mulleins make wonderful cut flowers. Depending on the species, these can be either perennials or biennials. The plants are usually two to three feet in height. The flowers vary in color. Typically, these will be yellow, white, red, or purple. Opening in upright clusters on tall stems, they are about an inch wide. These bloom during the summer.
Veronicas go by various common names, such as speedwell. There are numerous varieties and species of these plants. For cut flowers, choose the taller kinds. These blooms open in terminal spikes. Mine never quit blooming throughout the summer until the hard freezes of very late fall. Though the flowers are typically blue, there are also white and pink flowering veronicas. The individual blossoms are about one-fourth inch across. These develop in masses on the crowded spikes. Spike speedwell (Veronica spicata) is one of the more popular kinds for cut flowers. As you would guess from the name, the woolly speedwell (Veronica incana) is known for its gray-green, woolly foliage. Even when they arenít blooming, these stems can add a beautiful touch to a summer bouquet.