New Cut Flowers for 2010

New Cut Flowers for 2010
Each year brings a delightful new crop of cut flowers. Here are highlights from some of those.

Blanket Flowers

Gaillardia Georgia Sunset plants will be available at garden centers as bedding plants. This is an Athens Select introduction. Hardy to zone seven, this blanket flower has sturdy stems that reach 1½ feet in height.

Very adapted to hot and humid regions, this cultivar is noted for its semi-double blooms. Two inches in diameter, these are two-toned with deep reddish-orange petals with tips dipped in golden-yellow. This blooms from summer through the fall.

The stems of blanket flowers are ready to harvest when the petals are partially unfurling. These daisies are used as a medium sized mass flower. They’re perfect for mixed bouquets. They have a vase life of about a week.

Blanket flowers need full sun in the cutting garden. Thriving in poor soil, they will grow in most any soil provided it is well drained. Avoid fertilizing these plants as it can interfere with flowering.

China Aster

Johnny’s is offering a new type of China aster seed. The Giant Princess Formula mix includes a wonderful mix of flower colors. These have lovely frilly looking double blooms. There are several shades of blue as well as yellow, salmon, and various tones of red.

The stems are ready to harvest in about 3½ months from the time the seeds are planted. The China asters continue producing fresh stems for cutting over a long period. Harvest the stems when the outer petals begin to open.

China aster flowers have a vase life of about 1½ to two weeks. These are used as a small mass flower. They’re especially suitable for bouquets.

China aster seeds are normally started indoors about 1½ to two months before the last expected frost. They need a minimum temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or so for optimal germination. These spout within 1½ to two weeks. Choose a sunny place in the cutting garden for these plants. They prefer a well drained, rich soil.

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