Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Ageratum is often grown as an annual bedding plant. Also known as floss flower, this deserves a place in the cutting garden. Taller growing varieties make great cut flowers.
Ageratums are native to the New World tropics. They originated in Mexico, South America, and Central America. Their beauty and adaptability means they are an excellent choice for floral design.
A member of the daisy family, ageratums are often used as fillers during the summer for mixed bouquets. The fuzzy flower heads add a delicate texture to floral designs. Though it can vary somewhat from one variety to another, most stems last for about a week.
Depending on the variety, Ageratum grows from about six inches up to over 1Ĺ feet in height. If you donít have a separate cutting garden, grow some in flower beds and borders to use as cut flowers.
Though they thrive in full sun, ageratum will also tolerate partial shade as well.
The small, fluffy blossoms open in large, ball-shaped heads. Blooming throughout the summer, these reliably produce large numbers of stems for cutting.
If you are planning to grow these, the easiest method is to buy plastic packs of the plants at local garden centers. If you have a long growing season, it will be worth your while to grow them from seed. In addition, ageratum can be grown from cuttings.
The tiny seeds should not be covered. They need some light to germinate. Germination will take place in about eight to ten days. Generally, I would recommend starting seeds in pots or trays indoors. The seeds are just too tiny to do well if direct sown outdoors in cutting gardens.
For the best quality cut flowers, space ageratums about a foot apart. A well drained, organic garden soil is best.
Ageratum will begin blooming several months after the seeds are planted. So, it will save you time if you buy transplants or start your own seedlings indoors.
For the most part, ageratum flowers will be some shade of blue. However, there are white and pink flowering ones as well.
So far as problems are concerned, ageratum rarely suffers from insects with the exception of a few aphids and perhaps leaf hoppers.
Regarding fertilizer, I usually use a general garden fertilizer, such as 5-10-10, or a slow release fertilizer. That gives the plant enough to get started so it will bloom throughout the summer. Avoid applying high nitrogen formulas (the first number listed on the label). This can interfere with flowering.
I recommend the following varieties of ageratum for cutting gardens. Leilani Blue ageratum grows to about 1Ĺ feet in height. Its blooms are a mid-blue. A bushy, well branched plant, the stems are suitable for bouquets.
Horizon Blue is somewhat taller than Leilani Blue. Red Sea ageratum is a color you donít always see. This reaches 2Ĺ feet tall. Its blooms are burgundy red.