Newsletter Vol. 12, Issue 11, Nov. 2017

WINTER, ENOUGH ALREADY!!

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Did you remember to bring some of your garden indoors last year? Always bring some of your beautiful, flowers indoors to brighten up your kitchens & dining room tables and consider growing flowers you can cut and put in pretty vases all year round. Be sure to invite your friends over!


Lee Valley Newsletter Home

Text and photos by Niki Jabbour

Niki Jabbour is the author of The Year Round Vegetable Gardener, Groundbreaking Food Gardens and the upcoming Veggie Garden Remix (February 2018). Find her at SavvyGardening.com

Homegrown Blooms

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Easy-to-grow sunflowers have beautiful, large blooms with long stems that are easy to arrange.

One of the biggest gardening trends of 2017 that is expected to continue into 2018 is a shift back to cut flowers as gardeners discover the pleasure of growing and cutting their own bouquets. Besides a steady supply of homegrown blooms, there are many additional benefits to a cut-flower garden, including attracting important pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

Making the Garden

If space allows, dedicate a specific garden area to growing cutting flowers. That way, you can make sure they have ideal growing conditions – full sun and well-drained, compost-enriched soil. If adding manure, make sure it is well aged as semi-composted manure has high nitrogen levels and may reduce the number of blooms.

Even small-space gardeners can grow a cutting garden by planting in containers or tucking flowers among vegetables in a food garden. Container gardeners will want to plant in large pots and stick to compact, heavy blooming annuals such as dwarf cosmos, calendula and Red Profusion zinnia, a 2017 All-America Selections winner.

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The Red Profusion zinnia is a 2017 All-America Selections winner.

When selecting cutting flowers for your garden, look for types that are fast-growing heavy bloomers that are bothered by few pests and diseases. Plant a range of early, mid-season and late-blooming flowers so that you have a non-stop supply of blossoms to clip for the vase from spring through late autumn.

For a lower-maintenance cutting garden, include easy-to-grow perennial plants with your annuals. Good choices include coneflowers, rudbeckia, yarrow, coreopsis, peonies, lady’s mantle and bearded iris. Unlike annual flowers, perennials return yearly and require less work and maintenance. Perennials can be planted from early spring until the late-autumn freeze.

When selecting cutting flowers for your garden, look for types that are fast-growing heavy bloomers that are bothered by few pests and diseases. Plant a range of early, mid-season and late-blooming flowers so that you have a non-stop supply of blossoms to clip for the vase from spring through late autumn.

For a lower-maintenance cutting garden, include easy-to-grow perennial plants with your annuals. Good choices include coneflowers, rudbeckia, yarrow, coreopsis, peonies, lady’s mantle and bearded iris. Unlike annual flowers, perennials return yearly and require less work and maintenance. Perennials can be planted from early spring until the late-autumn freeze.

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Rudbeckia adds a burst of color to the garden and to flower arrangements

Annual flowers are grown from seeds or seedlings planted in spring. Experienced gardeners may want to start some of their own seeds indoors under grow lights or on sunny windowsills. This allows you to grow varieties from seed catalogs that aren’t often available as transplants from local nurseries such as ‘Katz’ stock or ‘Queen Red Lime’ zinnias.

Once planted in the garden, annual flowers need regular moisture and fertilizer to encourage healthy growth and heavy blooms. Choose a fertilizer that is specific to flowering plants to boost bloom production. Taller-growing plants, such as cosmos and amaranth, benefit from stakes to hold the plants upright and encourage straight stems.

On multi-branched annuals such as cosmos, sweet peas and zinnias, frequent picking is the best way to keep blooms coming. It’s also important to deadhead spent flowers regularly to prevent seed production. Did you know that most flower farms plant several times over the course of the growing season? You can succession plant in your home garden by planting fresh seeds or seedlings every few weeks. Sunflowers, zinnias, bachelor’s buttons and scabiosa all benefit from succession planting.

Annual Cut Flowers

Sunflowers
Sunflowers are perhaps the perfect cutting flower. They’re easy to grow, germinate quickly from seed and have beautiful, large blooms with long stems that are easy to arrange. There are also many different types of sunflowers: tall, medium-sized or short stemmed, single or double flowered and those with flowers in shades of yellow, white, red, or some combination of bright colors. Additionally, many seed companies now offer “pollenless” varieties. These are often preferred by cut-flower growers because they don’t shed the yellow dust (which can stain furniture and other surfaces) that traditional sunflowers do. Plus, pollenless sunflowers last longer in a vase (up to two weeks) and are less likely to bother people who suffer from seasonal allergies.

Favorites for cutting: ’Autumn Beauty’, ‘Moonlight’, ‘Soraya’, ‘Strawberry Blonde’ and ‘Sonja’

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Many gardeners prefer “pollenless” sunflower varieties for the cutting garden.

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November Newsletter Vol. 12, Issue 11