If you are looking for ways to stretch your limited dollars this year, you may want to consider learning the potential of a simple packet of flower seeds. One packet can supply bucket loads of high-quality cut flowers to grace your family home and provide friends with unexpected surprises all summer long.
Renee Shepherd has been running the specialty seed company Renee’s Gardens since 1997. I have long admired their cut flower offering and the beautiful illustrations on the seed packets as seen in area garden centers. As you can imagine, Shepherd reviews many new introductions before offering in her catalog. This season two of the most exciting are new varieties of classic cut flowers.
‘Apricot Blush’ zinnias sport gorgeous quality cut flowers in soft hues of apricot- rose through salmon-blush. Their densely petaled flowers make beautiful and long-lasting bouquets when they are continually cut through the season. Apricot Blush is a selection of the famous Benary's Giant zinnias, known for superb garden performance in tough summer conditions. The multi-branched, 31⁄2 foot tall plants yield armfuls of long-stemmed flowers perfect for eye-catching garden displays all season long. Renee says “the soft and subtle color changes as the flowers unfold making them especially beautiful for bouquets."
Ever since I saw them waving in the opening frames of “The Color Purple", I have been intrigued how such a delicate flower can appear on such a rigorous growing plant. June Dancing Petticoats Specialty Cosmos takes this simple daisy and creates a new level of the load days ago and I name the new think you a mud bulletin boards at 99 and is known for it's about to get those pictures of the mall sophistication for this old-fashioned favorite.
Renee’s Garden’s custom blend of special cosmos dance and sway above lacy foliage. We've combined "Seashells," with dainty tubular petals, "Psyche," whose semidouble frilled blossoms are like softly ruffled crowns, and "Versailles," the aristocratic florist cosmos with perfect form and rich color. Dancing Petticoats paint a color collage of apple blossom pink, deep magenta, soft rose and pure white, some with deeper colored centers. These easy-care, 3 ½ - 4 feet tall flowers bloom nonstop throughout the summer. I love them for casual but romantic, country bouquet."
The last recommendation from Renee’s Garden is an outstanding new Monardo named ‘Bergamo.’ This plant has intense, rose-purple flower spikes whose blossoms whirl in clusters around the stems. Bergamo flowers earlier and longer than any other Monarda varieties. Plants are compact, 2 1/2 feet tall, heat-tolerant and mildew resistant. Renee says "These lovely flowers are true butterfly magnets, bloom abundantly for several months and make wonderful bouquets. ‘Bergamo’ is a beautiful new cultivar of old-fashioned cottage garden flowers."
Closer to home, Alan Stevens of Kansas State University highly recommends
Cramer’s Burgundy Crested Celosia. "This impressive plant exhibits excellent vigor, great stem length and strength; with large, bright burgundy colored, deeply textured flowers." The fresh stems have a 7-10 day vase life and excellent dried flower qualities. The center bloom reaches 4-5 inches across with many more versatile side stems. With approximately 15 to 20 stems, this variety is a strong work horse in the cutting garden.
Stevens surprisingly recommends Rocket Cherry Snapdragon. Stereotypically a cooler season annual, "this is one of the most heat tolerant snapdragons we have tested in our K-State trials. We have planted them out in May and had them bloom all summer. The stems must be harvested or cut back a little more than just deadheading to keep them productive. At 32 inches tall by 16 inches wide, the 8-12 inch cherry red flower spikes sit on top of high quality, strong stems with excellent vase life.
Frequent, light applications of nitrogen fertilizer are required for all these annual cut flowers to keep them producing new flowering stems and for the stems to grow to an optimal length. And come late July when you have some great specimens, you may consider exhibiting at area flower shows or even the Missouri State to, if you're feeling kind of cocky.. Just bring your entry and a clear tall vase to the show and organizers will help you prepare your flower for exhibition. A word of warning, after you enter your first show your competitiveness may bloom into a wonderful new obsession.