10 great cutting flowers for summer


If you love a beautiful vase of fresh flowers, here are 10 great options for a cutting garden.

Bring a little bit of summer garden colour inside this summer, and choose some good flowers for cutting. Varieties of annuals and perennials can make good cutting flowers – you’re looking for a long stem that is sturdy enough to hold the flower in a vase, and that will last.


1. Argeratum


Gorgeous low bedding plant with dense flowers of blue, lavender and white. Sow in seed trays for stronger seedlings; sprinkle seed over a fine potting mix, water gently, then cover (as the seeds need to be in darkness to germinate at a temperature of about 21ºC) until germinated. Keep moist. Transplant seedlings once large enough. Likes a sunny spot, 20cm apart.

2. Amaranthus caudatus (Loves Lies Bleeding)


An old garden flower and known for its beautiful long red weeping flowers, this flower family also has upright hybrids. Grows to 1m, likes a sunny site, tolerates most soil types and drought but not a frost. Part of the edible grain amaranths.

3. Calendula officinalis (Calendula)


Another oldie, and can give you year-round red and orange flowers depending on conditions. Can be direct-sown from early spring to summer, then should self-seed after that. Likes a rich soil and full sun for best flowering conditions but plants are pretty tolerant. If you get dry soil over summer, watering will keep the blooms coming until frost finally hits you. The more flowers you cut, the more you will get – cut when fully open in the late morning, after the dew has dried. From 30-60cm high depending on cultivar.

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4. Cleome (Cleome hasslerana)


This is a bushy plant, up to 1.5m high, with beautiful large white, mauve and pink flowers in spidery drifts. Likes bright sun and an average soil, will tolerate drought although you’ll get more flowers if it is watered. Considered a “catch crop” for shield bugs, so get squishing.

5. Love in a Mist (Nigella damascena)


Fabulous old flower with star-shaped flowers in a froth of foliage, from blue to purple to pink to white. Likes sunny areas and most soils, but not wet areas. Grows to about 50cm or more, will self-seed.


6. Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris)


A stunning range of flowers, known as “granny’s bonnet’ due to their shape looking like an old-fashioned ladies bonnet, from rose to violet to pink and white, doesn’t last long but is very beautiful, grows up to 30cm high. Likes an average, moist soil, fairly hardy depending on the cultivar.

7. Gypsophila (Baby’s breath)


This is a gorgeous cut flower in an arrangement, helping to off-set bigger blooms. It likes a free-draining soil, shelter from wind, in a sunny to semi-shaded spot. If sown in spring, start off in a tray or pots in a warm spot, then transplant. Should be in full flower come Christmas Day.

8. Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)


Gorgeous red-burgundy flowers, grows up to about 1m high, likes a sunny to partially-shaded spot, rich soil. Leaves are edible too, making a medicinal tea (said to relieve nausea, cramps and insomnia), or for use in salads. Cut flowers every few weeks.

9. Phlox (Phlox paniculata)


Strong scented phlox have masses of flowers and a wide range of great colours. They like a sunny site and grow to about 70-100cm when mature (2-3 years). Plant in a well-draining soil, keep watered in dry conditions, deadhead frequently to get an ongoing display. Plants go dormant in winter.

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10. Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus)


Little red, pink or violet flowers, a traditional garden classic. It likes a moist, well-drained soil in a sunny spot, or a shady spot if you have very hot summers. Grows to 30cm high, water well.

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.

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