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					                        College of
                        Agricultural Sciences      HortReport     Cooperative Extension                 Capital Region
                       A PUBLICATION OF THE CAPITAL REGION HORTICULTURE TEAM
                                                                                                                       ISSUE #5


                                                                     of flower varieties available, there are many that have yet
                                                                     to be tested. Your gardening friends and neighbors can
            G r e a t C u t F lo w e r s f r o m                     probably add to the list of flowers offered in this publication.
               y o u r H o m e G a r d e n
    By: Steve Bogash, Regional Horticulture Educator
Vases full of fresh cut flowers add a beautiful and positive
touch to almost any space. Having great cut flowers in your
home all through the local growing season is within the
reach of every gardener if you will just follow a few simple
rules.
1. While some bedding plants make decent cut flowers,
using varieties that are specifically bred for cutting will
increase your success many fold. Some flower varieties
are too short for most vases and many simply will not hold
their looks once cut.                                                    “Double type sunflower, Double Solar cv.”
2. Cut flowers require sufficient water for their stems to
stretch. One of the best ways to grow dwarf cut flowers is
to withhold water at the critical time when they are getting
tall. Using soaker hose or an irrigation system is the simplest
way to get plenty of water to your flowers roots. See
HortReport, Garden Enthusiast Series #1 “Building and
Operating a Home Fruit & Vegetable Garden Irrigation
System” for more information.
3. Every other year, test your soil fertility. Proper plant
nutrition will result in more flowers that last longer once
cut.
4. Finally, know the best growth stage (partially open or
fully open) to cut each flower.
Since 1998, we at Penn State Cooperative Extension in                  “Cutting zinnias showing support netting and
cooperation with the Horticulture Department at the Main             straw mulch with drip tape under black plastic.”
Campus in State College have been trialing cut flowers at
multiple sites across PA. Through these trials, we have
begun to build a list of those cut flowers that are best suited
for Pennsylvania growers. With the huge number
                      Some Cut Flowers worth Consideration in your Great Cutting Garden:
Annuals:
Flower               Variety                    Notes
Ageratum             Blue Horizon               Cut with some buds fully open with more just starting to open
                     White Bouquet
                     Red Top
Calendula            Indian Prince              Cut when the flowers are fully open
                     & most cutting mixes
Celosia              Cramer’s AmazonCut when the flowers are fully open
                     Flamingo Feather
                     Sparkler Series
                     Chief Mix
China Asters         Matsumoto Mix            Cut when the flowers are just fully opened
                     Serenade Mix
                     Benary’s Princess Formula Mix
Cosmos               Versailles Series          Cut when the petals are just open
                     Picotee
                     Sensation Mix
Dahlia               Karma Dahlias              Most dahlia have very short vase life
                                                Karma series last somewhat longer
Ornamental Peppers   Black Pearl                Cut once fruit have colored.
                     2005 AAS winner            Most varieties will hold fruit but not leaves once cut
Statice              Sunset Mix                 Cut when 2/3 of the flowers are open.
                     Pacific Strains Mix
                     and many others
Salvia               Marble Arch Mix            Cut when several of the lower flowers are fully open
                     Salvia farinacea reference
                     Blue Bedder
Snapdragons          Rocket Mix                 Cut these when they are 50% open
Strawflower          Salsa Mix                 Cut when fully open. These can also be dried easily
                     and most others strawflowers are great cut flowers
Sunflower            Autumn Beauty              Cut when just fully open.
                     Brilliance                 Avoid giant types as they tend to get weather damaged
                     Double Quick Orange
                     Full Sun
                     Golden Cheer
                     Joker
                     Moonbright
                     Premier Lite Yellow
                     Sunbright Supreme
                     Soraya & Sunbeam
Zinnia               Benary’s Giant Mix        The new Profusion Series are wonderful bedding plants as they are nearly
                     Oklahoma Mix              mildew free, but they do not make the grade as cuts due to very short stems .
                     State Fair Mix and others Cut when fully open
                                                            2
Perennials:
Flower                    Variety                             Notes

Black-Eyed Susan          Indian Summer                       Cut when fully open
                          Cherokee Sunset
                           Autumn Leaves

Columbine                 Heidi                               Cut when 1/2 of the flowers are fully open
                          Ruby Port
                          McKana’s Giants
                          Tower Series

Bellflower                Champion Series           Cut when 1-2 flowers are open and others are swelled
                          Telham Beauty
                          Tall Single Series

Wild Indigo               Baptisia tinctoria                  Cut when 1/3 flowers are open
                          B. bracteata

Yarrow                    Summer Pastels Mix                  Cut when fully open
                          Colorado
                          Silver Queen

Shasta Daisy              Giant Marconi                       Cut when 2/3 open

Cornflower /             Centaurea macrocephala               Cut when open, but flower centers are still tight
Bachelors ButtonC. dealbata
                         Aloha Rose

In general, if you look for the scissors icon in your seed catalogs or on seed packets you’ll have varieties that are better
suited to a cutting garden. These varieties have stems long enough to make cutting them useful. They should also have
better vase life than bedding types. Most flowers will continue to push additional blooms from healthy plants if you keep
cutting them. The best method to apply water is by using drip, trickle or soaker hose to the plants root system. Not only
do you get more water where it is actually needed and waste very little, but your flowers will be look better when kept dry
as much as possible.

The last step to great cut flowers is in knowing how to handle your flowers once they are cut. Try to cut them after the
morning dew is dried off but before the heat of the day has soaked in. This will prevent mildewing of the flowers and
stems while avoiding unnecessary cooking of the blossoms. Be sure to immediately place the cut flowers into clean
water in clean buckets. Use a solution of one part household bleach to nine parts water to clean your buckets and
prevent disease buildup between uses. The water that the flowers actually go into should be acidified. Recut flower
stems as you prepare them for a vase in order to insure that they have fresh tissue exposed to take up water. You can
either use floral preservative (follow label directions) or add citric acid. 1 Tablespoon of powdered citric acid (available
from bulk food suppliers) will acidify 4 gallons of water enough to greatly improve vase life. Floral preservatives have the
added benefit of supplying a little carbohydrate (sugar) which will help unopened buds to open along with bactericides
which will help to keep the water clear. There are many home recipes available to make your own floral preservative;
none work as well as the commercial preparations when mixed properly. Do not be tempted to stretch a floral preservative
by adding extra water. This usually results in substantially shorter vase life as there is enough carbohydrate present to
feed the bacteria, but not enough bactericide to control them.
                                                          3
Additional information
-Kansas State Website at www.oznet.ksu.edu
-Franklin County Cooperative Extension office at 717-263-9226 and request: Field Grown Cut Flowers, Sources of Horticultural
Information and Cut Flower Resources. These three handouts are free of charge and will get you going in the right direction.




         “Salvia gruppenblau, an excellent                                     “Lagoon dahlia, one of the
                cutting-type Salvia.”                                           Karma Series of dahlia.”




                                            “Rocket Mix Snapdragons”


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ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities.
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to the Affirmative Action Director, The Pennsylvania State University, 328 Boucke Building, University
Park, PA 16802-5901, Tel 814-865-4700/V, 814-863-1150/TTY.
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