Vase of cut flowers

Top annuals for a summer cutting garden

Throughout the summer, one of my greatest pleasures is to bring flowers in from the garden to enjoy in a vase. The colors, textures and longevity of locally-grown flowers just can’t be beat. A great cutting garden has a combination of annuals, perennials, bulbs, grasses and shrubs alike, but if you are just starting out growing cut flowers, consider some easy annual flowers this summer.

The most important thing to consider when choosing an annual plant for a cut flower garden is the vase life of the flower. Some flowers simply do not last long once cut from the plant. Daylilies, for example, have a very accurate name. The flower only lasts for a day, making it a poor choice for a cut flower garden.

Here is a selection of great annual choices for a summer cut flower garden in Illinois. These annuals will be easy to grow and the vase life of the flowers will be at least a week in most cases.

When cutting flowers from a cut flower garden, be sure to get your stems into water with a floral preservative as soon as possible. Floral preservative packets can be found at your local florist. Remove any foliage from the stems that will be under water and place your vase in a cool location away from direct sunlight or drafts. Change your water every few days, adding new floral preservative each time. This will ensure a long vase life for your beautiful arrangement.

Summer blooming annuals

Cleome— Old fashioned easy-to-grow plants that can add drama to the back of the border.

Celosia— A sea of wondrous texture in a spectacular display of plumed or crested flowers.

Cornflowers— A cottage garden classic in whites and blues that grows easily from seed.

Cosmos— Thin, fern-like foliage with colorful daisy flowers.

Gomphrena— Small round flowers in numerous colors perfect for drying.

Marigolds— Large double flowers that are lifted high above the foliage on strong stems.

Rudbeckia— Annual black-eyed Susans offer an array of bright warm colors with larger flowers than its perennial relative.

Snapdragons— Ruffled blooms in an exquisite color mix create elegant and lush bouquets.

Strawflowers— Papery petals on long, strong stems in a full range of colors perfect for drying.

Sunflowers— Cheerful flowers that can be planted close together to create a bustling display.

Zinnia— Easy to grow annuals with many color options.

By planting a variety of these colorful flowers, there’ll be no shortage of stunning bouquets all summer long. 

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