By Kathy Sullivan
In our environment, with deer and rabbits in abundance, we don't often get to grow annuals (or even flowering perennials) for use in bouquets. Anything remotely resembling beauty and color is food fodder for the local wildlife.
If you want a flower cutting garden, first make sure your planting bed is inside a 6 - 8 foot fence. It can be located in the same area as you grow your vegetables.
As always, the soil should be amended for a good, rich growing medium for the seeds/seedlings.
Purchase seeds and direct sow the first of June, or buy six-packs of annuals when they become available and put those in the ground.
Easy-to-grow flowers for a cutting garden:
Zinnias - recommend tall varieties for best bouquets
Sunflowers - recommend "Chocolate Cherry" for it's deep burgundy color
Basil - grow fast, smells divine, and provides pretty greenery in bouquets
Marigolds - look for the tall ones. The tallest are African marigolds which grow in shades of creamy white, yellow, and orange. French marigolds are the compact variety most often used in front of borders or containers, and great in posies and other small bouquets.
Camomile - a profusion of little white flowers with yellow centers on tall 12 inch stems make this a nice filler flower for bouquets. Careful with it though - it re-seeds like crazy.
Sweet William - this is a biennial - blooms once every two years. Gorgeous velvety looking flowers in a profusion of red, pink, white, burgundy and other colors. Blooms all summer. Here's a previous blog post about biennials.
Amaranth - great choice for beginners. The "Love Lies Bleeding" deep rose colored variety is a favorite. Blooms in early fall.
Cosmos - beautifully colored in lilac, white, and deep wine colors. Bees love them and they're easy to grow.
Snapdragons - easiest to grow from six-packs purchased at a local nursery to get a head start on blooming. Again, look for tall varieties.
Strawflower - prolific bloomer and reliable in the cutting garden, these are a cut-and-come-again flower in the most gorgeous summer colors. Choose the branching variety for most flowers. Long lasting in bouquets.