Plants for a Summer Cutting Garden

Capture the beauty of summer in bouquets you can savor inside.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

Photo By: Image courtesy of

Photo By: Image courtesy of

Photo By: Image courtesy of

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Clustered Bellflower (Campanula glomerata)

The brilliant purple blooms of clustered bellflower can stand solo in a bouquet and also combine well with other flowers. Clip stems when one-quarter to one-third of the flowers in a cluster are open. Top off vase water frequently; bellflowers are big drinkers. Average vase life: At least 7 days.

‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’ English Rose (Rosa ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’)

Roses easily earn their keep in summer bouquets. Clip full-flowered blooms like 'Princess Alexandra of Kent' when flowers are half open. This rose has a rich fragrance you’ll love indoors. Take water with you to the garden. After cutting, immediately plunge rose stems into it. Average vase life: 4 to 10 days.

‘Prairie Sun’ Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta ‘Prairie Sun’)

For long-lasting color, it’s tough to beat black-eyed Susan. Cut stems when flowers are fully open but before pollen grains are visible in the centers of blooms. ‘Prairie Sun’ has a striking green center. Grow ‘Indian Summer’ rudbeckia for a traditional dark eye. Average vase life: Up to 36 days.

‘Autumn Circus’ Tall Bearded Iris (Iris ‘Autumn Circus’)

Bearded iris bring beauty to the vase, and many offer a sweet perfume. Grow different types to have a host of colorful flowers. Clip stems when the first blossom on the stem is unfurling. If other buds on that stem are showing a peek of color, they’ll open in the vase. In your bouquet, remove faded flowers carefully. As remaining blooms on a stem opens, it increases vase life up to 10 days per stem. Average vase life: 3 to 4 days per bloom.

Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale)

You can enjoy the fleeting beauty of Oriental poppies inside when you discover the secret to long vase life. Harvest flowers just as buds open. After cutting stems, sear them with a few seconds-dip in boiling water or singe stem ends with a match or lighter. This seals the stems and prevents milky sap from leaking. Use commercial floral preservative in your vase. Average vase life: 5 to 7 days.

‘Star White’ Narrow Leaf Zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia ‘Star White’)

Narrow leaf zinnias add long-lasting filler color to bouquets. Look for varieties with white, orange, pink or bicolor flowers. Clip individual flowers or sprays to give arrangements a serendipitous look. Harvest blooms fully open or as buds are opening. Flowers continue to open in the vase. This flower usually outlasts all others in an arrangement and also dries nicely if left upright in a vase. Average vase life: 7 to 14 days.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

This perennial favorite now comes in a host of flower colors. Snip coneflower stems as petals are visible and starting to expand. Longest vase life occurs when you take water to the garden and plunge stems into it immediately after cutting, coupled with using a commercial floral preservative in the vase.  Average vase life: 8 to 21 days.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Long flower stems provide a perfect spiky element to garden fresh bouquets. If using leafy lavender stems in bouquets, remove all leaves below the water line. Clip lavender blooms when one-third to one-half of the flowers are open on a stem. Harvest stems to the length you need, but avoid cutting into old wood on plant stems. Average vase life: 5 to 10 days.

‘Diabolo’ Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’)

The dark leaves on ‘Diabolo’ blend beautifully with many brightly colored flowers. Leaves continue to open at the stem tip in the vase, so you wind up with bronze-green new leaves at stem tips and dark burgundy leaves down the stem. Stems last longest when held in plain water. Average vase life: 12 to 22 days.

Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana ‘Miss Manners’)

Obedient plant flower spikes introduce a strong vertical element to bouquets. Look for this perennial in shades of pink, lavender or white. Clip stems when they have fully elongated but all flowers are not open, blooms will open in the vase. Use commercial floral preservative solution in your vase. Average vase life: 7 to 15 days.

Bee Balm (Monarda)

Tucking bee balm blooms into bouquets is like adding floral fireworks. The unusual flower heads bring long-lasting color to the vase. Clip stems when one-quarter to one-third of buds on an individual flower head are open. Average vase life: 5 to 9 days.

‘Patriot’ Hosta (Hosta ‘Patriot’)

Hosta leaves make a wonderful backdrop for flowers and are also pretty enough to stand on their own in a vase. Clip leaves that are fully formed; shorten stems as needed to fit into your vase. Take care to avoid leaves with slug holes or other insect damage. To avoid decreasing your plant’s life, never remove more than one-third of leaves in a single growing season. Submerge leaves in cool water for an hour or two prior to placing in a vase. Average vase life: 5 to 14 days.

Pink Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

Mature garden phlox clumps have plenty of blooms to spare—and these flowers have enough star power to create a striking bouquet when used solo in a vase. Cut stems when half of the blooms on a flower head are open. Average vase life: 7 to 14 days.

Fernleaf Yarrow (Achillea filipendulina)

The almost solid flower heads of fernleaf yarrow infuse strong texture into bouquets. Cut stems when half of the individual blooms in a single flowerhead are fully open. Slice the base of stems vertically about one-half inch. Remove any leaves below the water line. Average vase life: 10 to 14 days.