Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Each year, the Association of Cut Flower Growers chooses a particular variety to be the Cut Flower of the Year. A number of those chosen in the past have become long-time favorites. Let’s look at some of them.
Panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) deserves a second look because hydrangeas have become increasingly popular in recent years. This was named cut flower of the year in 2003. However, hydrangeas also make great everlastings as well.
Panicle hydrangea is hardy to zone four. One bush would probably give you all the stems you need. This is a large, vigorous, many stemmed shrub. The white blooms open in large, pyramidal-shaped clusters that are up to ten inches long. The flower heads contain both showy sterile and fertile flowers. Initially, these are white, but they will fade to purple over time.
Sunbright sunflower was named cut flower of the year back in 2001. This has become a preferred variety by floral designers. The seeds are still available seven years later. This is part of the Sun series of sunflowers, which are pollen-free.
Blooming in only 65 days from the time the seeds are planted, this award winner is an excellent choice for the cutting garden. Sunbright plants can be seven feet tall. The exquisite blossoms are up to six inches in diameter. These have brown centers with golden yellow petals.
Indian Summer rudbeckia has become a classic as well. It was chosen as the cut flower of the year for 2000. This Gloriosa daisy is quite tall—up to three feet in height. The stems are strong enough to withstand wind. So they don’t break in the cutting garden. The sunny yellow blossoms are five inches or more in diameter. These range from semi-double to singles.
There are many award winning zinnias. Nearly ten years ago Benary’s Giant Series was chosen as the cut flower of the year. These are still in demand. The exceptionally large flowers are up to five inches in diameter. They’re beautifully double. These open on strong, straight stems. For the cutting garden, the best bet is to buy the Benary’s Giant Mix seeds. It includes seeds of 13 colors. If you want seeds of Benary’s Giant Lime, this has to be purchased separately.
Dianthus Amazon Neon Duo deserves consideration. This was recognized as the cut flower of the year for 2004. This tall hardy dianthus is a hybrid. A perennial, it is hardy to zone five. The exquisite blossoms open during late spring and summer. The Neon Duo is a mix with 50/50 Neon Purple and Neon Cherry.