Plants for a Spring Cutting Garden

Celebrate spring by bringing the beauty indoors with these flowers perfect for indoor arrangements.
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©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

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©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)

Cut woody stems of this spring harbinger at any point from midwinter to early spring for forcing indoors. Flowering quince varieties open blooms in shades of red, coral, orange, pink or white. Cut branches to any length. Be sure to place your cut about a quarter-inch above a bud. Buds will open in two to five weeks, depending on how warm inside temps are. Average vase life: 4 to 7 days.

Daffodil (Narcissus spp.)

Daffodils bring living sunshine to vases. Clip single-flowered daffodils when buds are still closed but showing some petal color. Snip doubles when flowers are starting to open. Daffodil sap clogs the stems of other cut flowers. If you want to make a mixed bouquet, let daffodils sit in water for 6 hours before adding them to another bouquet. If you re-cut stems at any point, you’ll need to soak the daffodils separately for 6 hours. Average vase life: 3 to 7 days.

Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus)

Savor the perfume of sweet peas by filling a bud vase with a small nosegay of stems. Clip sweet peas when about half of the blossoms on a single flowering stem are open. In a small vase, check the water level frequently and replace it often. Keep sweet peas away from ripening fruit, which hastens their death. Average vase life: 3 to 7 days.

Garden Peony (Paeonia lactiflora)

Bring this queen of the garden indoors for fragrant bouquets guaranteed to make you smile. Cut flowers when buds are just starting to show color and feel like a large marshmallow when you gently squeeze it. Gather blooms in early morning or evening. Recut stems indoors before adding to a vase filled with floral preservative. Average vase life: 7 to 14 days.

Cornflower ‘Classic Fantastic’ (Centaurea cyanus)

Include cornflowers, also known as bachelor’s buttons, in a cutting garden to keep vases filled from late spring through early summer. Plants keep flowering all summer if you remove spent blooms. Flowers open in a host of colors, including classic blue, purple, pink, rose and white. Cut blooms as flowers are starting to open. Average vase life: 7 to 10 days.

Old-Fashioned Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

Bring the classic beauty of bleeding hearts indoors to savor the blooms up close in a vase. These romantic blossoms last a long time as cut flowers and fit neatly into small vases. Cut flowers when one-fourth of blooms on a stem are open. Dip ends of stems into boiling water after bringing indoors. Average vase life: 12 days for red blooms, 17 days for white.

Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis)

The airy blooms of lady’s mantle make a great filler in spring bouquets. The chartreuse to golden hue blends well with many other blossom colors. Pick flowers when about one-third of the buds are open on a spray. Clip short stems just above leaves. If you need longer stems, snip below leaves, and then remove leaves because they’ll likely fall below the water line. Average vase life: 7 to 10 days.

Lilac (Syringa)

It’s a rite of spring to clip a few lilac clusters and ferry that lovely fragrance indoors. Cut blooms with less than half of the individual tiny flowers opened. Do not mix lilac with other cut flowers because these beauties exude a sap that reduces other blooms’ vase life. Average vase life: 3 to 14 days, with less fragrant types having the longest vase life.

Tulips (Tulipa spp.)

As pretty as tulips are in the garden, they’re even more fun in a vase. Tulips are always changing after harvest, making for a dynamic bouquet. Stems continue to grow after picking, adding as much as 1 inch per day. Blooms are also phototropic (bending toward light) and geotropic (bending toward the earth). Pick when one-half of the blossom shows color. Average vase life: 7 to 10 days.

Variegated Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’)

The white and green variegated leaves on this perennial look stunning in a vase. In the garden, plants form dense colonies. Once established, picking entire stems won’t diminish plant strength or show. Pick stems when at least one-third of flower buds on a stem are open. Stand stems in a bucket of water overnight to help extend their vase life. Average vase life: At least 10 days.

Persian Buttercup (Ranunculus asiaticus)

These spring-flowering bulbs bloom in a rainbow of hues, from jewel tones to pastels. Each blossom is packed with petals, almost rose-like. Harvest flowers when the buds first start showing color. Some gardeners dip the cut stems in boiling water; others do not. Average vase life: 5 to 14 days.

Blue False Indigo (Baptisia australis)

Both flowers and leaves on false indigo make terrific additions to the vase. The blue-green leaf hue blends beautifully with other flowers and can be cut the entire growing season. Look for varieties that open flowers in shades of purple, white, yellow and bicolors. Cut flower stems when one-third of the blooms on the stalk are open. Plunge cut stems immediately into floral preservative. Average vase life: 7 to 10 days.

Crabapple (Malus spp.)

Crabapple varieties open blooms in shades of red, coral, pink or white. When harvesting stems, cut them to any length. For forcing indoors, cut crabapple stems before flowers open. Buds will open in two to three weeks, depending on how warm inside temps are. You can also wait to cut branches as flower buds show color, just before blooming. Average vase life: 5 to 9 days.

Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber)

Tiny red-pink star shaped blossoms are arranged in a loose flower head. Red valerian makes an ideal light and airy addition to spring bouquets. There’s also a variety that opens white blossoms. Pick flowers when the first blooms in the flower head open. Remove spent flowers in the garden to extend the bloom season through summer. Average vase life: 7 to 10 days.