Cut Flowers for Cool Weather
While many gardeners take advantage of Florida's temperate winters to grow vegetables, our cooler weather also provides lots of fun to be had with flowers.
Winter weather might drive us indoors, but that doesn't mean we can't take some flowers with us. Most flowering plants can be cut to enjoy inside, but some produce longer-lasting cut flowers than others.
Many Florida gardeners think to bring camellia blooms indoors to enjoy during the winter, but there are many other wonderful plants that will give you great flowers, both outside and inside your home.
Snapdragons are lovely in the garden; they make great borders, are beautiful when planted in groups, and can even thrive in containers. They range in size from six inches to three feet tall and come in reds, yellows, oranges, and even maroon, so you can select a variety that fits your landscape. The interesting flowers are also lovely in a vase. You can plant snapdragons once weather cools in the fall.
Delphinium is treated as an annual in Florida. What makes this plant so exceptional are its true blue blooms, which are rare in the plant kingdom. If blue is not your hue you can find delphinium in other colors like yellow, pink, and white. Delphinium also has delicate, lacy foliage that can add a soft texture to garden beds or container plantings. Starting in March, delphinium produces spikes of blossoms that are great for cutting and using in arrangements.
Dianthus, or Sweet William, is a great cut flower that provides you with cheerful color and a pleasant fragrance. Other Dianthus species include "pinks" and carnations. Most parts of the state should wait until October to plant it in flower beds. Dianthus will flower through winter and spring, only stopping when temperatures rise, usually in May.
Pansies, violas, and Johnny-jump-ups are charming cold-tolerant annuals that you can plant in winter and enjoy through spring. Pansy flowers can be two to three inches wide, while violas are smaller. They come in a range of colors, including red, white, purple, yellow, and apricot. Some pansy flowers are a single bright color, while others have a dark "face." Not only can pansies add a splash of color to your table in a vase, these edible flowers can also be used to adorn your plate!
Calendula, or pot marigold, produces cheerful, daisy-like flowers. It can be planted in sun or partial shade, and forms a dense, rounded shape. Calendula flowers are either single or double and can be yellow or orange. They hold up well in floral arrangements. The flowers are also edible and can be used whole as a garnish.
Long-lasting Cut Flowers
Once you've brought your flowers inside, remove any leaves or blossoms that will end up underwater. Cut one-half to one inch off the stems with a sharp, clean knife. Place them in a clean vase filled with fresh water and, if you have it, flower food.
If the water eventually turns yellow and cloudy, wash the vase with soapy water and replace fresh water with flower food. Re-cut and rinse the stems before placing them back into the container.
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