Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Each year the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers honors two plants. One is named the fresh cut flower of the year, while the other is selected as the dried flower.
For 2007, Limelight hydrangea was named the fresh cut for the year. Limelight is a very popular variety of the panicle hydrangea. Hardy to zone three, this variety is much smaller than the species. It only reaches about six to eight feet in height. From summer through the fall, the stems are covered with huge flower heads. As the name implies, the blooms are gorgeous lime green before the buds fully open. This can sometimes be more of chartreuse.
The blossoms open on tall, upright stems. As the buds expand, the bracts will become white. As the flower heads ages, they once again change color to a rosy pink. The flower stems can be cut at any of these stages. The vase life can vary slightly, depending on the maturity when you cut the stem. However, it averages about ten to 12 days. The interesting thing about Limelight is that you can increase the number of stems for cutting or the size of the head by pruning the plant properly.
This fast growing plant is very free flowering. Blooming on new wood, you should get some stems the very first year that you plant the shrub. As with other hydrangeas, this can also be used as an everlasting.
This plant can be relied upon to bloom year after year. It grows well in partial sun, but can also tolerate full sun. It prefers a rich, moist, well-drained soil.
Earlier, this plant was named a Gold Medal Winner by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
For 2007, Hot Biscuits amaranthus was named the dried flower of the year. As is the case with Limelight, it can also be used fresh as well.
This species is related to love-lies-bleeding, which is also used as a cut and dried flower.
Hot Biscuits is a very tall, sturdy plant, reaching about four feet in height. The spectacular, richly colored, coppery-orange blossoms are held on upright, crowded spikes. These flowers begin to open about 80 to 100 days from the time the seeds are planted.
Because Hot Biscuits is so tall, it is a good idea to provide support so the heavy flower spikes don’t break before they’re mature enough to pick.
This will usually produce shorter flower spikes from the side shoots once the main stem is harvested.
Hot Biscuits should be harvested once the flower spikes are fully mature but before the seeds begin to form. This annual plant is easy to grow from seed. Just plant the seeds where they are to grow outdoors. The seeds germinate within two weeks.
Like the other amaranthus, this tolerates considerable heat and drought. Suited to full sun in the cutting garden, it thrives in poor soils.