April showers bring May flowers…but first they must be planted. This is the perfect time of year to plant flowers in Northwest Arkansas, so let’s get started.
If you’ve ever received a surprise bouquet of flowers, then you know the effect a vase of fresh cut flowers has on a space. Some of the most beautiful cut flowers are easy to grow right in your own back yard, and they’re a great benefit to the bees and butterflies.
With your own cutting garden, you won’t have to wait for someone to buy you flowers. You can cut your own, slip them into a vase and instantly brighten up any room in the house.
The downside of growing your own cutting flowers is that someone has to do the maintenance, right? All the bouquets in the world won’t make up for sweating while pulling weeds in July humidity. (And don’t even get me started on the mosquitoes.)
The key to avoiding the drudgery is selecting the right plants and planting them closely enough that there is no room for weeds.
Here are a few low-maintenance flowers I recommend for your cutting garden:
- Echinacea – Also known as purple coneflower, this plant is one of the easiest to grow, blooms throughout summer and fall, and grows closely enough that there is little room for weeds. After the last chance of frost has passed (approximately April 15), lightly rake the surface of the soil in a prepared bed, where all grass and weeds have been removed. Sprinkle seeds about 6-inches apart and water well.
- Zinnias – This popular cutting flower also blooms throughout summer and fall and comes in many colors. In prepared soil after the last chance of frost, plant a few zinnia seeds 6 to 12-inches apart and cover with ¼-inch of soil. Water well.
- Milkweed – There has been a lot of talk lately about severely declining Monarch butterfly populations. Milkweed is the host plant for Monarchs, which means this is the only one which they will lay eggs on because it is the only plant the larvae can eat. There are many different types of milkweed, including many varieties that are native to Northwest Arkansas. A popular variety is tropical milkweed. While not native to our area, this variety grows well in our climate and blooms through summer and fall. It’s a stunning orange and red cut flower. Just be sure to add plenty of plants and leave some blooms for the butterflies.
- Daisies – This simple yet beautiful flower is a staple in any cutting garden. It’s a perennial that also re-seeds, making it a low-maintenance flower year after year. While the white Shasta is the most widely known variety, there are plenty of daisies in different colors. Sow a few daisy seeds in a prepared bed 12-inches apart, ¼-inch deep in March or early April. Water well.
Consider planting several different flowers in one bed to create interest in the space. Combine colors, sizes and textures for a beautiful environment that will attract bees and butterflies.
Consider adding easy herbs like dill or basil to your flower gardens to attract even more pollinators.
What is your favorite cut flower? Post your suggestions in the space below!
Tiffany Selvey is a Master Gardener who writes about her passion for growing, cooking, and living naturally at www.Songbird-Gardens.com. When she’s not elbow deep in soil, she enjoys raising a very active son, laughing with her husband, and wrangling their pets. Follow Tiffany’s gardening adventures on facebook , instagram and on twitter.