Because the flowers in a cutting garden are often reserved for fresh bouquets, growers frequently rely on repeat-flowering perennials and long-flowering annuals to extend the harvest season for as long as possible.
This garden has the potential to give freshly cut flowers from spring through fall if you use the right plants. In addition, the layout makes the most of the available area (for example, by planting in rows or grids).
Since many bulbs only bloom once, they are frequently forgotten when designing a cutting garden. Despite this, bulb flowers demand little space and maintenance while adding beautiful seasonal variety to home or gift arrangements.
Any existing cutting-garden layout can benefit from the addition of these space-saving plants. You can also use bulbs to experiment with the cutting-garden idea.
You can also designate a temporary cutting garden space that you can put to another use later in the growing season.
For instance, rows set aside for later planting of warm-season veggies could initially be seeded with early-flowering tulips. Once the tulips have finished blooming, you can dig them up and remove the bulbs.
Growing Bulbs for Cut Flowers
Typically, the best yield from a traditional cutting garden comes from flowers grown in full sun or relatively close to it. Like many annuals and perennials grown for their cut flowers, bulbs may have different watering needs.
Tulip bulbs and morning glory among others, benefit from dry summer dormancy. Common in public gardens, with tulip varieties that tend to decline after the first year, the gardener can treat the tulips as annuals by plucking and composting the bulbs after they bloom.
After the foliage fades, you can dig out your tulip bulbs, let them dry out over the summer, and then replant them in the fall. However, summer-flowering bulbs thrive with consistent watering throughout the season.
Tips on Harvesting the Flowers
Harvest the flowers of bulbs in the same manner as the rest of the cutting garden. You can use a clean, sharp tool in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are lower.
Then place the cut stems into a container of water that is at least two inches deep. (Going any lower will make the bucket heavier.) When putting the flowers in a vase, give the stems another trim, cutting on the bias to allow for better water uptake.
Let the flowers rest in a cool, dark place for a few hours before bringing them to their final destination to increase their vase life. To extend the life of your arrangement, change the water every other day.
Choosing What to Grow
The growing season for bulbs used in a cutting garden is the entire year’s warmer months. In the fall, start plants with spring flowers. Those with summer flowers are usually started in the spring.
Sometimes with a head start in indoor potting before transplantation outside, in the spring, flowers with sturdy stems, such as hibiscus flowering bush, alliums, daffodils, Rose of Sharon and tulips, are best for cutting. Then, gladiolus, dahlias (which typically flower continuously), and calla lilies in the hot months
Where you can plant cut flower bulbs
If you know ahead of time that a particular number of your bulb flowers will be used for bouquets, you can more freely choose where and how to plant them.
You still need lots of light and well-drained soil. But there’s no need to stagger the heights of your bulbs by planting shorter ones in the front, medium-sized ones in the middle, and tall ones in the back of the bed.
Moreover, you can hide bulbs for cut flowers in areas that aren’t easily viewed from the street or your windows. You are not growing them for aesthetic purposes, so they can be more noticeable.
Some people with “green thumbs” designate a certain plot of land (or even their entire yard) as a cut flower garden. Here, they harvest blooms specifically for use in vase arrangements indoors.
Here are some things to keep in mind after you bring your freshly cut flowers inside:
- Give the flower plants a fresh watering and some flower food every few days.
- Spring bulbs like daffodils and tulips require cold water. To care for other flowers, use warm water.
- Cut flower stems at an angle so they can take in more water and don’t touch the bottom of the vase.
- Protect your flowers by placing them in a cool, dark location out of direct sunshine and drafts.
- Dead or wilting flowers should be removed from the vase to protect the living blooms.
- Clean your vase before putting your flowers in it; bacteria can spread from a dirty vase and kill the flowers.
- Strip off any leaves from the stem immersed in water, which may cause the plant to rot and emit a foul odor.
Knowing what to plant and how to plant it will allow you to take advantage of the springtime beauty of cut flower bulbs.