Monday, May 20, 2024

Gardening with Dr. White: Developing a Cutting Garden

by BPT Staff
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Dr. Joe W. White is a retired horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter.

I know that there are many gardeners who couldn’t care less about growing a vegetable garden, but do enjoy growing flowers. Some of these gardeners are mostly interested in providing colorful beds of flowers to enhance the appearance of their landscape. Since most flowers need lots of sun, location is important. Even those who are pleased with their flower beds to make their premises more attractive sometimes want to take some of their flowers into the house where they can enjoy the rich colors that only flowers can give. Often, they are a source of decoration for a special event or occasion. Also, flowers that give off a pleasant smell are always nice to bring into the house.

Clearly, flowers that are to be taken into the house need to be in good condition. Although it’s probably not fool-proof, early in the day is a good time to “harvest” flowers because generally their tissues are turgid after going through the night hours while later in the day the sun would have dehydrated the stems just a bit. It’s considered a good practice to take a half-filled bucket of room temperature water when you harvest the flowers and immediately put the flower stems into the water. Sever the stems from the plant at an angle with a sharp knife. Do not make the cut with pruning shears of scissors as this tends to crush the stem and makes it more difficult for the stem to absorb water. Once in the house place the flowers in a draft-free cool space.

Now it’s time to decide which flowers you want to grow, that are suitable for our climate and will provide the textures and colors you need for the use you intend.

The following flowers are suitable for a cutting garden and are divided into their life expectancy:

ANNUALS:  cosmos, zinnias, salvias, sunflowers, asters, larkspurs statice, snapdragons

PERENNIALS:  shasta daisies, purple coneflowers, black-eyed susans, yarrow, dianthus,      

scabiosa, gaillardia, coreopsis, liatris, hollyhocks. phlox

SHRUBS:           roses, hydrangeas

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