Perennial Cutting Garden


Strategy for Designing Your Perennial Cutting Garden

perennial cutting gardenWhen planning a perennial cutting garden, consider some important factors and devise a strategy for choosing and growing flowers for cuttings. Group together plants with like conditions for light, soil, water and fertilizer. Make separate lists based on a combination of these growing conditions.  For example, one list for full sun with well-drained soil, frequent watering and fertilizing. Another list for partial shade with well-drained soil, infrequent watering or fertilizing. Specify your list of growing conditions to your area’s climate and soil type. Your area may provide better conditions for drought resistant plants, able to grow in depleted soil.


Select cultivars based on the color, shape, texture, and time of blooming to make beautiful arrangements. Consider the height and width for placement with other plants in the garden so all receive adequate light. As you make selections, list them in your growing categories. Then, if you must, narrow down the choices.


Perennials Differ from Annuals

Perennials are herbaceous plants that differ from annuals. They complete their life cycle in two or more years, dying back in the winter and reappearing in the spring. The duration of the perennial’s lifetime varies; some increase in size and flower production with each new season, while some die after a few years and need replacement. Perennials that reproduce by division, like Shasta daisies and bee balm, need dividing and replanting in fresh soil every few years. Perennials produce flowers for only a few weeks in a year. However, the blooms are abundant, full of color, and distinctive. Choosing plants that bloom simultaneously and at different times throughout the season provide constant flower arrangements. Some perennials reproduce by seeds, though most new plants reproduce by cuttings or division.


Perennial Characteristics for Cutting Gardens

The best perennial choices for cutting gardens are those whose growing characteristics are native to where you live. Find the right cultivars, ones that do not take over the garden nor struggle to survive. Many popular genera of perennials contain several cultivars that differ in foliage, flower details, and hardiness in many climate zones. Some species of the same genus vary in hardiness zonesand duration in those zones. Always use the Latin botanical names with perennials. Their growing conditions differ in significant ways, and ordering these plants by their botanical name is imperative to receiving the correct perennial.


Variety in Your Perennial Cutting Garden

perennial cutting garden 2Observing the way your selected perennials grow is helpful when it comes time for cutting and conditioning flowers for arrangements. Flowers are shocked when cut, so quickly submerging them in a bucket of water and conditioning them extends their beauty often beyond their life on the plant. The most important factor in prolonging the blossoms is water retention. Conditioning the stems involves ways to retain water inside the stem for a long vase life. Depending on the type of stem, different procedures are employed. Some stems are green and thick, others hollow, and others delicate. Each requires different approaches. Early morning is the best time to cut flowers, although evening is appropriate, too. If you can wait a few days after a good summer rain for a sunny day, you may be greeted by a burst of flowers. In dry climates, soaking perennials the night before help retain water in the stems for cuttings.


Characteristics for Flower Arrangements in Your Perennial Cutting Garden

Having some knowledge of designing flower arrangement influences what to grow and cut. Consider the design elements of proportion, balance and color harmony. Use this criterion to choose flowers to plant that bloom at the same time and provide contrast in texture, shape, and height. Usually, the height of the cut stems is twice or more than that of the vase. Consider measuring the vase before cutting the flowers. Contrast the texture and shape of the bloomscreating a focal point supported by smaller, differently shaped flowers and greenery.


Color combinations that adhere to color theory also apply to floral arrangements. Analogous colors, two or three colors next to each other on the color wheel such as violet and blue, or orange, red, and yellow, will harmonize beautifully. Likewise, contrasting colors, opposite on the color wheel – red and green, blue and orange, and violet and yellow harmonize, as well. When using contrasting colors, proportion them with one color dominating over the other. For example, several violet-blue spikes with one or three yellow-orange flowers harmonize well and enhance the few yellow-orange flowers as the center of interest. These are just a few aspects of floral arranging to help in choosing selections for your perennial cutting garden.



Perennial Cutting Garden Candidates

When choosing any plants for your garden, check whether or not they are poisonous to people and pets. Many beautiful perennials are poisonous to both cats and dogs.


Listed below are some popular and favorite perennials ideal for cutting gardens. Explore the genus’ many species, varieties, and hybrids for the flowers best suited to your location’s climate and growing conditions. The botanical names are listed before the commonly known names. Some are commonly known by their Latin names. In the two-part Latin name, the first consists of the genus, the second is the species. The first name is capitalized and the second name is not. Both are in italics. The genus refers to geographic origin or natural growing conditions, and the species relates to either a particular plant characteristic, person of discovery or additional information relating to natural habitat. Often it is followed by a subspecies name (indicated by ‘subsp’), then varieties, then cultivar.


Achillea, Yarrow

Aquilegia, Columbine

Artemisia stelleriana, Silver Brocade or Dusty Miller


Dendranthema grandiflorum, Chrysanthemums (mums)

Echinacea purpurea, Purple Coneflower

Gerberajamesonii, African Daisy, Barberton Daisy

Helianthus, Sunflower


Leucanthemum, Daisy

Monardadidyma, Bee Balm – Marshall’s Delight, Violet Queen, Mahogany

Paeonia, Peony

Phlox paniculata

Physostegiavirginiana, Obedient Plant

Scabiosa, Pincushion Flower

Thalictrum, Meadow Rue




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