There is something about a bunch of flowers that will always cheer you up. Fresh flowers brighten up any room but having them on display everyday can become an expensive luxury. A simple and much more satisfying alternative is to grow your own cut flowers.
Picking armfuls of home grown cut flowers is a great way to bring a bit of the garden indoors. Not only is growing your own cut flowers from seed so much more personal and fun but you will also have the satisfaction of knowing that that you’ve done your bit to help reduce air miles as you won’t be paying for flowers that have been shipped halfway across the world. Many of the flowers suitable for cutting are also attractive to pollinating insects. They’ll get to enjoy your flowers outdoors, and then you can pick them and enjoy them indoors.
Having large amounts of space available isn’t essential when growing your own cut flowers. Cut flower plants could be easily dotted through your existing garden borders or vegetable plot. Having a designated patch, however small, does have its advantages though as it is much easier to organise and maintain. While having huge amounts of space to grow cut flowers isn’t essential, having enough light is. Almost all cut flowers require a position with plenty of sunshine with shelter against strong winds to prevent damage and plant loss.
When looking for good cut flower varieties look for cut and come again flowers that will keep producing flowers the more you pick them.
Annuals are the backbones of any cut flower garden. Grown from seed, annuals are designed to fully grow and produce a riot of flowers in just one season. If you continually cut the flowers off an annual plant it will quickly produce more buds as it is their goal to flower and set seed to reproduce before they die. Cutting off their flowers tricks them into starting again, allowing you to pick as many flowers as you like without them dying. A small patch of annuals can produce huge quantities of cut flowers from early summer right through to autumn. Aim to grow a range of flowers and foliage with complementary or contrasting colours or textures in an array of heights to allow for plenty of choice. Start sowing hardy annuals now and half-hardies indoors as they require warmer temperatures to germinate. Cut flowers that are easy to grow from seed include Ammi majus, zinnias, larkspur, sweet peas and calendula. A full range of seeds can be found in our garden shop including range of annuals specifically for cut flowers by Sarah Raven.
As well as annuals, bulbs are a great way to add some strong, intense colour to your floral arrangements. Now is the perfect time to start considering summer flower bulbs. Summer flowering bulbs tend to be bold and glamorous. Their brightly coloured flowers will form that little bit of extravagance in your cutting patch. Dahlias, lilies and gladioli are amongst the most popular of summer bulbs. Dahlias are particularly desirable as many of their varieties will repeat flower right up to the first frosts in autumn. Lilies are particularly easy to grow and can be planted outside now but dahlias and gladioli are frost tender. Dahlias can be started off indoors now or you can wait until late spring to plant them directly in the soil with gladioli when the soil has warmed up and the threat of frost has past. These are available in-store or from our online shop.
During the growing season it is essential to keep your cutting patch well-watered and fed as a lot of energy will be required from the flowers if you wish for them to provide you with endless colour throughout the spring and summer. Keep the ground weed free and add plant supports and canes early on to help your plants develop strong upright stems.
Pick your flowers in the morning if possible, when their stems are full of water and they are not under stress from the heat of the day. Otherwise wait until evening. Minimise stress to the flowers by taking a bucket of cold water with you for the cut flowers to be placed into as soon as they are picked. Just remember that the more you harvest, the more flowers you will get!