Flower arrangers can get fresh flowers of all descriptions from around the world these days, but bouquets from your own garden have a freshness and charm that florists’ flowers just can’t match. Take inspiration from the experts and grow your own bouquets in your back yard. Here are some annual blooms that cut-flower market gardeners say they couldn’t live without:
— Ammi Majus has an airy delicacy in flower arrangements. It looks like Queen Anne’s Lace, but the flower heads are more compact and it doesn’t grow quite as tall. Ammi Majus blooms for a month in spring and early summer, and the blooms last for up to a week in a vase. Combine it with cornflowers, larkspur, poppies, and ranunculus.
— Basil is an astonishingly versatile plant for bouquets. The plants’ sturdy stems help support more delicate flowers. Basil also contributes a crisp, fresh fragrance to flowers in a vase. ‘Siam Queen’ and other basils with purple blooms or leaves give arrangements a dramatic edge. It lasts for more than a week in a vase (in fact, it often sends out roots, and the cuttings can be planted out in your garden).
— Sunflowers of every color and description capture the spirit of summer in a vase. Tall hybrids such as the flashy ‘Solar Flare’ take the stage alone with great style. ‘Strawberry Blonde’ and ‘Chianti’ produce dozens of blooms on well-branched plants. They last up to two weeks in a vase. Try them with ornamental millett or Gloriosa daisies.
— Snapdragons come into bloom in cool spring temperatures and keep going for weeks. Their cheerful colors are welcome in any flower bed, and the plants produce so many blooms, on long, straight stems, that you can cut freely for bouquets, without ever missing them in the garden. Cut the stems when one-third of the flowers are open, and more flowers will continue to open for a week in a vase.
— Zinnias are reliable cut flowers, easy to grow and to combine with other summer blooms in exuberant arrangements. Pure ‘White Wedding’ or pale green ‘Tequila Lime’ zinnias are very stylish; or mix big, bicolored blooms and charming button-flowered zinnias for a cottage garden in a vase. Cut znnias last a week or more. Snip a few in the garden every week, and deadhead any fading flowers without fail, and you’ll have flowers for bouquets all summer long.