A Cut Above the Rest

Spring is here, which means it’s time to start decorating your home with beautiful cut flowers! Local landscapers give us their favorite breeds as well as tips and tricks on keeping them beautiful for longer.

Edited by Moe Godat


Scabiosa and Ammi are two annual favorites that we grow in our own cut-flower garden and sell in our flower bar. It’s easy to remember when to start them: Scabiosa, start inside right around Valentine’s Day, and Ammi, sow directly on April Fool’s Day! Scabiosa is also known as Pincushion Flower and is usually pale blue, pink or white, but we really love the velvety wine-color of “Black Knight” that adds depth and contrast to any arrangement. Ammi, or False Queen Anne’s Lace, is a majestic plant with strong stems that brings butterflies to the garden and adds a wild airiness to bouquets. Scabiosa blooms continuously all summer long, especially if you remember to cut-and-come-again.—Kathie Hoyer, Bowood Farms.


Adored for their exuberant blooms and heady fragrance, peonies grow easily and thrive for many years. Peony flower colors include white, pink, red, coral, maroon and yellow.


Phlox feature vibrant colors and forms with some being two-toned or marked with stripes. New varieties have been developed that exhibit exceptional blooming power producing armloads of flowers all summer well into fall.


From late summer through fall, Asters take center stage with their foliage smothering flowers. Their jewel-toned blossoms of pure white to shades of blue, pink, red or purple look fantastic in formal settings, yet they also work well in naturalized areas and rain gardens. —Ann Lapides, Sugar Creek Gardens.

Hydrangeas, specifically the macrophylla variety (also known as mophead or lacecap), are a favorite among the cut-flower options! This particular variety has lusher blooms that hold up longer and also dry better. You will be able to tell it’s time to cut the blooms when the petals become less lush and perky. When cutting your hydrangeas, the best way to maintain the color is through leaving some of the stem on them and letting them sit in a vase or jar of water first and allowing them to dry out from that point. For the best results, do not put these cuttings in direct sunlight. Unlike other cut flowers, you do not have to replenish the water, simply allow it to evaporate. Only add more water if the flowers have not yet dried. —Andria Graeler, Chesterfield Valley Nursery.

Hydrangeas are the best flower to grow in a landscape and cut and enjoy in a vase with water for a week or so. Then, pour out the water and let the blooms dry for year-long beauty. Both Macrophylla and Paniculata varieties do very well. Another cut flower favorite is the classic Paeonia or Itoh Paeonia. Cut these in tight bloom and leave blooms for a couple of weeks inside a vase with clean water. Change water every couple of days.—David Sherwood, Sherwood’s Forest Nursery.

Top picks for cutting garden —Dana Maltagliati, Greenscape Gardens.

Annuals – Celosia, Dahlia, Sunflower, Zinnia

Herbs – Basil, Lavender, Rosemary, Sage

Perennials – Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), Coneflower (Echinacea), Penstemon (seed pod), Phlox,

Rattlesnake Master, Yarrow (Achillea)

Shrubs – Hydrangea, Gingerwine Ninebark

Tips for long vase life (5-7days): Harvest flowers when they are just about to open or a quarter of the way open in the coolest part of the day; early morning is the best. Place in cool water as soon as you harvest, removing the foliage from the stem and cutting at an angle maximizes rehydration. Keep vase water fresh and free of debris.

Tips for drying arrangements: Dry an arrangement by simply removing it from water before the flowers begin to wilt. Tie the stems together with twine and hanging upside down will keep a straight and tidy bouquet.