Home & Garden

How to plant a cutting garden

How to plant a cutting garden

Author: Canadian Living

Home & Garden

How to plant a cutting garden

Plants aren't like cake – you can have your flowers and pick them, too. All you need is a cutting garden. Like a vegetable garden, this plot is all about function. The flowers are planted – usually in rows or blocks – strictly for their best growth, and easy cultivation and cutting for bouquets.

Choose a level, well-drained and sunny location that's sheltered from the wind. Dig the soil deeply, amending it with compost or well-composted manure (add this organic matter regularly, early every spring and last thing every fall).

Whether you're sowing seeds directly into the soil or planting seedlings from nursery flats, check the stats for each variety. Mature height is important here: to guarantee they will all get enough sun, plant the tallest flowers along the northern or eastern edge of your cutting garden, and the rest in descending order as you work toward the opposite edge.

Because they're such vigorous producers – and respond to heavy harvesting and deadheading by making even more flowers – annuals are the mainstays of most cutting gardens. You can try ageratum, cockscomb, cleome, cosmos, eustoma, snapdragons (Rocket series) and zinnias, as well as frost-tender dahlias and gladiolus. For fragrance, add sweet pea, nicotiana, verbena and scented geranium.

If you've got room, you can include some perennials, too – my favourites are delphinium, coneflower, Shasta daisy and peony. And don't forget about foliage: I love any variety of hosta. Harvest flowers and foliage first thing in the morning, using clean secateurs, and immediately plunge the stems into water. For longer vase life, cut flowers that are just emerging from their buds. A cutting garden is your best way to a blooming great time.

Annuals for the cutting garden
Zinnia 'State Fair Mix' (Zinnia elegans) These long-stemmed, multicoloured bloomers are excellent in mixed and stand-alone bouquets. Can grow to 120 cm.

Aster 'Meteor' (Callistephus chinesis) Showy pink, white and purple blooms make an impact in any arrangement. Can grow to 100 cm.

Dianthus 'Sweet Mix' (Dianthus barbatus) An old-time favourite that produces long-lasting flowers. Best in cooler summer months and in fall. Can grow to 91 cm.

Stock (Matthiola incana) Stocks are truly one of the few very fragrant flowers that are perfect for cutting, too. Can grow to 64 cm.

Salvia 'Black and Blue' (Salvia guaranitica) New to gardens, very easy to grow and one of the few blue-flowering plants. Can grow to 150 cm.

This story was originally titled "Plant a Cutting Garden" in the June 2009 issue.

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How to plant a cutting garden