Plants for a Fall Cutting Garden

Welcome autumn with a bouquet of fall favorites. Make room for these easy-growing beauties.
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Dahlia (Dahlia hybrids)

Dahlias are the divas of the fall garden, bringing explosive color to autumn bouquets. For longest vase life, pick blooms when they’re three-quarters to fully open—but before any outer petals start to fade. Take water to the garden and plunge stems into it immediately after cutting. Research shows that professional floral preservative in the vase is the secret to long life. Packets are available from any florist. Average vase life: 5 to 11 days.

Goldenrod (Solidago)

Add goldenrod to arrangements for a cheery pop of filler color. Use a wide mouth vase or Mason-type jar to counterbalance the strong horizontal flower form. Harvest stems when half of the blooms on the entire flower stalk are open. Average vase life: 7 to 10 days.

Garden Mum (Chrysanthemum hybrids)

Few flowers signal fall like pretty garden mums. Plant a variety of types in a rainbow of bold hues for easy-to-create bouquets. Cut daisy-type mums (shown) when flowers are fully open but before petals start to fade. The center disk should be tight when you harvest. Average vase life: 7 to 21 days.

Swamp Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius)

You’ll have bouquets for sharing when you include swamp sunflower in your cutting garden. This perennial opens blossoms all autumn long. Pick stems as long as you want, but aim to harvest flowers just as they’re almost fully open—but before pollen grains appear in centers. Average vase life: 6 to 14 days—or more.

Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’)

Clip a few blooms of beautiful oakleaf hydrangea for a spectacular floral show indoors. Harvest stems when half of the blooms on the entire flower head are open. Take water to the garden to submerge stems immediately after cutting. After bringing stems indoors, boil water and dip stems into it for 30 seconds. Return to room temperature water and arrange. Average vase life: 7 to 14 days.

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

Look for autumn colored sunflowers you can easily grow from seed, like ‘Shock-O-Lat’. Pollen-free sunflowers are best for bouquets—they don’t make a mess indoors with pollen dropping from blooms. Harvest when flowers are just newly fully opened. Average vase life: 7 to 14 days.

Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii)

Butterfly bush pumps out sweetly fragrant flowers until frost. Cut stems when half the blooms on a flower head are open. After harvest, cut the base of stems vertically 1 inch, plunge into 3-inch-deep boiling water for 30 seconds, then place into buckets with deep water for 8 hours. Average vase life: 5 to 8 days; light colored blooms (pink, white) last longer than dark purple ones.

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