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Growing flowers to cut and bring indoors to brighten up a room is easy to do. It’s so much fun, why not consider growing some yourself?
Keep reading to find out which flowers bloom over the next few months that hold up well in vases. If you don’t have a garden, grow them in containers.
Two excellent perennial cut flowers, which continually produce flowers, are Gerbera daisy, Gerbera jamesonii, and blue salvia, Salvia farinacea. There are many other salvias to choose from, and here are a few that you can consider growing in your garden.
Saucy Red and Saucy Wine salvias grow vigorously and flower continuously.
There are also Wish salvias developed in Australia. If you like dark purple flowers, try Love and Wishes; for vibrant coral blooms, choose Ember’s Wish; and then there’s Wendy’s Wish, which produces burgundy flowers.
There are also many species of salvia to choose from, such as Salvia urica, blue bush salvia and our native annual tropical sage, Salvia coccinea.
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Tropical sage flowers are usually bright red, but there are recessive traits for pink and white flowers that can appear when the plants re-seed. A quick internet search will help you discover nurseries that sell Salvia species and cultivars, giving you so many tempting choices that you may find it hard to decide which ones to buy.
Be sure to choose plants listed for our hardiness zone 9.
Sunflowers are also an option. They are extremely easy to grow from seed, and those chosen for cut flowers should produce little to no pollen.
If you prefer smaller sunflowers, look for the Elegance cultivar, which grows only 20 to 30 inches tall. They produce golden sunflowers with brown centers. The plants branch profusely, with each flower growing on a long stalk.
Taller varieties include Frilly and Panache with dark centers, or Greenburst, which has green centers. For burgundy flowers, there’s ProCut Red.
When harvesting flowers, harvest them young, when the petals begin to uncurl and straighten.
Another great cut flower, which is also easy to grow from seed, is the Ageratum, commonly known as the Floss flower. Check your local garden centers to see if seed packets are available now.
The Everest Blue cultivar is a tall, 20 to 26 inch plant that was developed for the cut flower market.
Zinnias produce flowers of all colors except blue. These flowers also like heat, which makes them perfect for Florida. There are single flowers (resembling a daisy), double flowers and those resembling dahlias.
Of course, we can’t forget our native blanket flower, Gaillardia pulchella, which is a self-seeding annual that can grow in dry sandy soils. The flowers are produced on long stems and are single, double and even tubular.
Flower colors can be orange-red with yellow tips or reddish-purple, and plants producing solid yellow, orange or red flowers are also available.
Our native Liatris, also called Blazing Star, produces tall, narrow spikes of purple flowers that can grow up to 3 feet tall. Because flowers are a great food source for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators, you may feel guilty bringing the flowers indoors to enjoy them.
Our state wildflower, Coreopsis, also makes great cut flowers. There is a cultivar, Presto, that produces 2-inch-wide flowers that are semi- or fully double, but this hybrid will not reseed like traditional Coreopsis species will.
If you want to grow a brightly colored flower in the shape of a bird, the bird of paradise is your plant. This herbaceous perennial produces gorgeous orange and blue flowers that look wonderful in flower arrangements or simply displayed alone in a vase. The trick to keeping this plant beautiful is to prune all of the faded flower, along with the leaf that produced it, as close to the ground as possible. This will keep the plant thinned out and grow stronger.
When picking cut flowers, it is important to prepare and care for them properly, so that they survive as long as possible.
How to care for cut flowers
- Before going out to pick the flowers, fill the vases or containers you will use with water at room temperature.
- Add a little clear soda (i.e. ginger ale, sprite, etc.) to the water to supply the flowers with sugar.
- Pick your cut flowers early in the morning, especially when temperatures are warm or hot in the morning.
- Remove all leaves and branches so that only clean, straight stems are placed in the water.
- Before placing each flower in its container, cut the stem again, at an angle, so that it does not lie flat on the bottom. This will allow for better water absorption.
- Place your cut flowers in places away from sunlight, drafts and fruit. Drafts can be caused by ceiling fans, air vents and open windows. The cooler the temperatures, the longer the flowers will last. Locations near fruits are also not good because fruits produce ethylene gas, which is harmful to flowers.
- Check the flowers daily for dead leaves or petals that may have fallen into the water and remove them as needed.
- Keep an eye on the water and change it about every two days (don’t let it get cloudy) and don’t forget to add club soda.
If growing a cut flower garden sounds fun, head to the garden center now and check out their seed packets. If growing flowers from seed isn’t your idea of fun, look for transplants to add to your landscape.
No matter how you want to start, bringing cut flowers indoors to enjoy is an easy way to brighten up a room.
Sally Scalera is an Urban Horticulture Officer and Senior Gardening Coordinator for the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Email [email protected]
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