Cutting Garden Favorites

April 27, 2017

As we frantically decide which plants to purchase, or start from seed (or just get them all…whoops), we thought we’d share some of our favorites in the cutting garden that do well in our area.

There are plenty of interesting things that can work for flower arrangements that aren’t “standard.” Lots of plants don’t mind being cut and even wimpy cuts will last at least a day or two in a vase, many plants longer. Here we’ve compiled a short list of some very tough and rewarding plants to grow in a cutting garden.

Cutting garden favorites (in no particular order):

  • Dahlias – favorites include ‘Sierra Glow’ and ‘Cafe au Lait.’ While the larger types do require support, they put on such a spectacular show in late summer and early fall you almost forget that you had to do any work to make them that way. Medium to large varieties are best for cutting, while shorter, bushy single-flowering varieties are better left to enjoy on the plant.
  • Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower) – this native is attractive for birds and butterflies. Try the ‘Pow Wow‘ cultivar for a more magenta hue.
  • Peonies – Herbaceous peonies come in many varieties. If a friend or neighbor has a large patch, ask if they can divide a piece for you – then wait patiently 2-3 years after planting to begin your harvest. You’ll be rewarded with many years of beautiful, heavenly-scented blooms!
  • Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum ‘Variegatum’ (varietgated solomon’s seal) – this is another that is easy to divide from someone else’s garden, and surprisingly difficult to find in garden centers. Colonizes but not aggressive.
  • Hellebores (lenten rose) – One of the first flowers to show its face in spring, hellebores pull double duty with their often-subdued flower coloring and ability to fill in as foliage for arrangements.
  • Verbena bonariensis – can get invasive if left to seed, however seedlings are easy to identify and pull as needed. This is a beautiful filler with little puffs of dainty purple flowers atop branching stems.
  • Basil – Standard genovese basil doesn’t hold up as well for arrangements as cinnamon, thai or other dark-leaved varieties. Plus their scent more like spice – very complementary in a pretty bouquet.
  • Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ – This naturally-occuring cultivar of the native hydrangea was found in the wild in Southern Illinois. Its heads can get quite large (like a person’s head) and also dry wonderfully. Just a few stems in a vase is a statement piece!
  • Pelargonium (geraniums) – My friend said she didn’t like geraniums, until I suggested she smell some of the scented varieties. These types are generally grown less for their flowers and more for their wide array of scents, from coconut, to rose, to citronella. We use ‘Citrosa’ as a sturdy foliage for arrangements (but not for fighting mosquitos as some plant tags claim…sorry it doesn’t work).
  • Ruta graveolens (Rue) – This was a surprise cut from a friend’s garden. The scent is kind of funky, but not long-lasting, while the cut lasts almost two weeks in the vase. Bonus: swallowtail caterpillars love to munch on the leaves, so plant an extra for them.
  • Daucus carota ‘Dara’ (Ammi ‘Dara’) – Another one that swallowtail caterpillars enjoy. We let some of ours go to seed and they have readily come up on their own each spring. Keep in a tight patch if you plan to do that, as they can takeover if left unchecked (similar to queen anne’s lace).

If you need ideas for your garden space, we can help! We do free consultations, as well as garden plans and installations. And if you think you don’t have space, consider joining a community garden. Gateway Greening is an amazing resource to connect you to local community gardening and garden-related volunteer opportunities.

For other plant and veggie options for our area, visit our post, “Ten Plants to Try This Year.”