My Top 10 Cut Flowers To Grow For Spring
If you want spring colour, you need to be sowing those seeds in autumn! There is so much planning and forethought needed when planning your cut flower garden. Some flowers just take the longest time from seed to eventual bloom that it can be easy to miss the prime window for sowing them.
Who is thinking about spring at the end of summer time?? We are! - and all other flower growers too. Seed sowing time is an exciting time but can be an expensive one if you can't control your impulses to buy ALL the seed, like me. This year we are sowing a fair amount of our own saved seed which has been great. We saved Queen Anne's Lace, Chocolate Lace, Lunaria (Honesty), Scabiosa, Chinese Forget Me Not, Nigella, Strawflower, Poppy and I would have had Cerinthe but mice ate all of our collected seed so I'm hoping I find a few plants starting themselves in the garden as they tend to do anyway.
The seed we sow in autumn is from a collection of plants known as hardy annuals. Plants in this category often thrive in the cold and while above ground you may not see a lot of fast, active growth you can be assured that below ground those roots are alive and growing strong. We start all our seed in trays too.
Here are my favourite plants to grow at this time ready for a late winter/spring time harvest. Honorable mentions below because there are just so many to choose from!
1. Stock - The quintessential hardy annual and often one of the first to flower at the end of winter. They welcome you with such a delicious and transportative scent. They come in a range of pastel and rich colours and the doubles are much sought after. Most are one cut wonders so make sure you plant a lot of them and lucky for us, growing them from seed is easy and they transplant really well. The doubles are beautiful but if there are singles in the mix they too are worth rejoicing about as it is these singles that the insects in our garden prefer anyway. Singles make it easier for insects to access what they need from the flowers.
2. Snap Dragons - Chantilly - I love growing the Chantilly variety in particular for something a little bit different from your regular snap dragon. Their petals are turned outward and come in beautiful pastel colours. Unfortunately I have not been able to source seed for this variety this year but have a few plants still in the ground that I am hoping I can save the seed of. If I get regular snapdragons flowering early they grow tall and stately. but they succumb to caterpillars by late spring. So I'm hoping for a strong early flowering before the season tapers off. I find seed germination and the transplanting process is quite trouble free despite the very fine nature of the seed itself.
3. Iceland poppies and Peony Poppies - One of my most anticipated of spring flowers. They are such a labour of love. We start the seed in trays and baby them a lot with bottom watering or very fine mist spraying. Icelandic poppies are worth it for those graceful heads of colour that dance in the wind and they are just so playful with the world. Bees also go nuts for poppies. Peony poppies are a sight to behold in the garden! These plants don't seem to love our climate but if I can get a couple to bloom it's worth it!
4. Strawflower/ Everlasting - They have the double benefits of being amazing both fresh and dried. Their flower heads feel like crunchy paper and don't change much in the drying process. The flower heads close up at night as well as in rainy weather, and they open to let the sunshine in in the day. As the name suggests the flower last a long, long time. Hang them upside down to dry out completely and you have product to use in wreaths or other crafts all year long. They are beautiful fresh and I love the cool colours of light pink, white/silver and salmon for bouquets.
5. Larkspur - Chill seed in the fridge first and away you go. Seed germinates easily after that and they transplant well from my experience. They are beautiful fresh but also dry very nicely for other uses. I love misty lavender in particular and am being picky about the colours I am growing this year. The mixed seed packets had too much of the dark purple variety for my liking.
6. Queen Anne's Lace and Chocolate Lace - She is so prolific and giving with her flowering. When allowed to get going she can tower over your head at her peak. There's nothing quite like carrying a big armful of lace. You feel like you are in a dream. The floaty umbrells catch and hold dew drops and when they are harvested at the right time they dry really well and add that sparkle element to your wreath work. When left to run their course and dry in the garden the tall structures are quite the statement pieces. They also make prime bug hotels.
7. Canterbury Blue Bells - Such an impressive specimen, the Bells! Big cathedral bells in colours blue, white and pink. The blue/purple bell was not as popular in market bouquets as I had expected so I am growing more of the pink variety this year. They are biannual which means that they are supposed to flower in their second year but if you are lucky they will flower that first spring. I have a few still in the garden which didn't flower this year so I'm looking forward to their show this spring!
8. Chinese Forget - Me- Not - Not to be confused with their lower growing variety - the Chinese variety produces long stems with little blue or pink clustered flowers on the ends. They are very graceful and flower for such a long time. The blue is the perfect accent colour in bouquets. Seed collected from them has been easy to gather and with great germination rates. Hoping to grow more of the pink this year too.
9. Bulbs - The earliest we can get flowers to bloom, the better, at the end of winter and those flowers that are synonymous with early spring and the end of winter is bulbs. Daffodil flowering is sporadic where we are but jonquils can be relied on. I buy ranunculus and anemone corms for planting in autumn although I cringe at the outlay and even though they can be left in the ground with next spring flowering potential that can not be counted on solely.
9a. Ranunculus - They come in such a range of colours and quite a price range too. The corms are small so you can fit a lot of them into a small space. I have been reading that to get the most out of their flowering potential I need to make sure to feed them throughout the growing season. All our plants would benefit from that love I'd go so far as to say!
10. Linaria - The humble Linaria has been a main stayer in our gardens for years due to its gracefulness, colour range, longevity of flowering and it is one of the first at the end of winter to flower. She is not a loud, in your face bloom, looking like snapdragon's quiet cousin but she provides the perfect fluttery delicate nature to a bouquet and is a dream to see in the garden especially when accompanied by a nice breeze.
Honorable mentions - Corn Cockle, Nigella and Scabiosa.
Let me know of any spring flowering favourites of yours!?
Keep growing! x