Starting a cut flower garden and have little time to devote to the growing and maintenance of flowers? Planting perennial flowers could be the option for you. Perennial flowers are generally low maintenance once established in the garden and unlike annual flowers, don’t need to be removed or replaced – unless of course, you’re redesigning your garden beds or its on its deathbeds due to a lack of water, sunlight, disease, or all the of the above!
So if you’re a time-poor, wannabe flower grower, here are 10 perennial flowers to consider planting in your cut flower garden:
A wonderful addition to any garden, these upright perennial flowers are hardy and low-maintenance. The spikey flowers come in many bold colours including scarlet red, lavender blue, pink and even white. Its dense leafy foliage and reliable, long-lasting flowers that grow to 60cm make it an ideal cut flower. Salvias grow in full sun or part shade and will flourish in most growing zones. Some favourite salvia varieties include Salvia Blue Bedder and Salvia White Victory.
Unrivalled in its beauty and one of the most sought after flowers in the world, the peony’s dramatic ruffled fragrant blooms has captured the hearts of many flower farmers and growers. Available in a variety of colours, from creamy whites to romantic pinks, this show stopping herbaceous perennial generally grows to 3-ft tall and 3-ft wide and produces long-lasting cut flowers in Spring to early Summer. Peonies will rarely bloom outside cold zones because they need extended winter temperatures while dormant so growers in the subtropics and tropics take note– peonies won’t grow where you are as your winter is just too warm, sorry!
A grassy perennial that produces dense fluffy, purple coloured spikes in late summer and autumn, the liatris, commonly known as Dense Blazing Star attracts pollinators and other beneficial insects and makes an excellent dried flower as well. The flower spikes can reach up to 100cm tall so plant in an area of the garden that won’t shade out other sun-loving flowers, such as against the wall of your home or fence.
This drought-tolerant perennial plant is commonly used as a medicinal herb but as it also produces erect stems with clusters of pretty flowers, yarrow has become quite the popular ‘filler’ flower. While the common variety of yarrow grows to 60cm, other varieties can grow to heights of 150cm. It also comes in an array of colours from pastels to gold. The Yarrow Summer™ Pastels collection feature stunning pastel blooms ideal for Spring and Summer flower arrangements. While yarrow makes a beautiful cut flower, it also dries well without losing much of its original colour.
Catmint variety Nepeta mussinii is perfect for herbal teas but it also makes gorgeous cut flowers and is low-maintenance garden. The hardy plants produce long lavender-blue flower spikes to 70cm. While the flowers attract bees and other pollinators into your garden, it also attracts cats who love the fragrant foliage of this plant, hence, cat-mint.
The delphinium’s towering spikes of white, lavender and blue flowers makes the plant a great addition to any perennial flower garden, offering a traditional cottage feel with wow-factor appeal. Some varieties can grow up to 6-ft tall so keep this in mind when designing garden beds. Delphiniums make an excellent cut flower with a vase life of up to 8 days if water is changed regularly and it is given some floral food.
A favourite amongst farmer-florists including Erin Benzakein of Floret Farm and Nicole Pitt from Flower Hill Farm, sedum is an easy to grow perennial plant with thick, succulent leaves that make great bouquet fillers. The plant features dense, flat-topped broccoli florets that grow to 60cm and make a spectacular addition to autumn floral arrangements. Popular sedum varieties include Autumn Joy, Lemon Jade and Munstead Dark Red.
Another cottage garden favourite, hollyhocks bring old world charm and romance to any garden with its 6-8 feet tall spikes covered in double blooms that come in gorgeous shades including apricot, yellow, white, pinks and reds. This hardy perennial generally produces leaves in the first year and flowers from the second year though there are some first-year flowering varieties such as Hollyhock ‘Peaches n’ Dreams’ (pictured below). Plant along walls and fences. It is also attracts butterflies and bees to your garden.
Also known as liliums, the lily’s flowering trumpets are a staple in bouquets and come in an array of colours, from soft pastels and vibrant colours. They naturalise well in the ground, are low maintenance once established and will flower in the warmer months of Spring and Summer. Lily bulbs can usually be left in the ground in warmer climates and they will grow bigger and produce more flowers as the years roll on. If your ground freezes in winter, you will need to dig up the bulbs and store if you want to treat them as perennials and not annuals.
A word of warning: Lilium flowers and plants can be toxic to cats and other pets if consumed so take extra care when planting in your gardens or cutting for a floral arrangement.
10. Russian Sage
A member of the mint family, this perennial plant has beautiful silver foliage and produces lavender-coloured flower spikes in the warmer months. A flowering plant reminiscent of lavender and salvia, Russian sage is hardy and drought tolerant and makes a perfect filler in floral arrangements and bouquets. Popular varieties include Perovskia Blue Spire, Sage Advice and Denim ‘n Lace.
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Disclaimer: Before purchasing seeds and plant, consider your growing zone and the plant’s requirements. Some perennial flowers will only bloom in the right climate and under the right growing conditions. Some flowering species may be considered an environmental weed in your local area so it’s best to take these all into consideration before making a purchase.
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Cover image by Daiga Ellaby.