Easy, economical, and exciting... bulbs, seedlings and seeds to plant for a never-ending supply of cut flowers.
Love the idea of fresh flowers? All you need is a patch of dirt with plenty of sunshine, the will to improve the soil and you will be able to grow a flower garden to supply you with fresh-cut flowers. Careful planning can result in a steady stream of homegrown flowers – I did this last year and now I’m a little obsessed! You don’t need a fancy greenhouse. You don’t need expensive heating equipment. You just need patience and care. Here are my favourites.
There is nothing lovelier than a vase of sweet- smelling poppies. We grow our poppies from seedlings, a variety from Oasis Horticulture called ‘Matilda’ (pictured). Plant seedlings from April through until end of June. If you prefer to grow poppies from seed, sow them in early autumn, close to the surface. As seedlings grow, keep them well-watered, especially in hot weather. It will take a few weeks for seedlings to put on size and develop flowers. Once flowering, it’s wise to keep cutting the blooms regularly, and dead-head spent blooms to encourage more. Pick them just as the buds begin to crack and expose a tiny sliver of colour. To extend the vase life, briefly sear the cut stems with boiling water and place them in a vase with flower food (Chrysal). To prolong flowering in the garden, we sprinkle pelletised manure around our poppies every month to keep the nutrient level high.
Plant the tiny claw-like ranunculus corms (bulb) into a well-prepared garden bed. Many gardens are saturated at this time because of prolonged rain. For this reason, it’s good to build raised garden beds so the soil is not waterlogged. Your corms will rot in wet soil. You can plant ranunculus from March to June. There are lovely varieties of ranunculus available in garden centres or online (Van Diemens Quality Bulbs and Tesselaar). Plant ranunculus corms in April-June. Be patient as corms put down a root system before they push up their above ground shoots. Maintain nutrient levels with a sprinkle of pelletised manure (Sudden Impact Roses) every month. You’ll be surprised how many flowers you will cut from one tiny corm. Keep cutting the flowers as this will encourage more. We planted the Italian bred ‘Renaissance’ ranunculus (pictured), which have multi-layered blooms like a ballerina’s tutu.
These mid-winter bloomers are lovely to cut for small vases. Most garden centres sell a selection of seedlings. ‘Antique Shades’ (pictured) by Oasis Horticulture is a large-flowered variety with pastel rose and bronze-toned petals. You will need to order it in at your local garden centre. Plant seedlings in pots or baskets, or into the garden. When flowering, water regularly with Yates Thrive Flower and Fruit or Richgro’s Black Marvel Rose and Flower Food to encourage prolific and large blooms.
Queen Anne’s lace (Ammi majus)
This lovely light lace-like flower makes a beautiful filler for vases, pictured here with Shirley poppy. Sow seeds direct into any sunny spot. Once germinated, thin plants to 45cm spacing. They grow on tall lax stems to 1.5m, and produce an abundance of wide, umbel-shaped blooms over a long period. As the plant grows, place stakes or similar support and use string to create a cage like tructure to support the stems. Flowers last 6–8 days in a vase. Look for the pretty ‘Green Mist’ (Ammi visnaga) with green-white blooms that mix well with other flowers.
PREP YOUR BLOOMERS
A month before planting it’s wise to enrich your cut flower garden with good quality, well-rotted cow manure, a sprinkle of blood and bone, bone meal, and seaweed powder. Plant seedlings and water in with diluted seaweed solution. Sprinkle mulch around seedlings to support developing stems, keep roots cool and moist, and to stop weeds growing.