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What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

Posted by steve22802 7a VA (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 24, 09 at 1:18

I've noticed in the past when I was just growing perennials as a hobby that there has always been something of a lull for a week or two after my Narcissus finish before my next significant perennials start. Now that I've begun selling cut flowers I'm somewhat desperate to find perennial plants to fill this gap. Does anyone have any suggestions? I've got Brunnera macrophylla and Aurinia saxatilis blooming which are great albeit short, but not much else. :(

Here in my region of the Shenandoah Valley the Narcissus have just about finished. Lilacs are just beginning which is great but I need more. I've seen another shrub blooming around town I think maybe it's Viburnum x burkwoodii but I'm not sure.

What else can you suggest to get me through the next two weeks? Worse yet it's college graduation season in my town so I've got to find away to bridge this period since it's a prime sales time.

Thanks for any suggestions!
- Steve


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

What did last year was grew tulips. I now know it works out best if you can grow them in the greenhouse, if you get hail and have the space. I have the flowers in the following sequence (normally): Narcissus (just finishing), tulips (should have planted lots more) and grape hyacinths; greens available: salal, plum blossoms and quince. Now blooming: wood hyacinths (blue, white and pink). Should have next week: columbine (lots), lilac and lily of the valley. Greens that should be ready in two weeks: variegated privet and hosta.


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

Definitely tulips. Difficult to control when you grow them outdoors as I do. But plant different varieties in different microclimates and you can have reasonable success. I cut mine as soon as any color shows and store in bathroom (cool and dark) - no cooler storage space yet.


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

Thanks for the responses. I do realize that tulips are the obvious choice to fill this gap, but I really have a strong bias against them as a cut flower. In my (admittedly limited) experience the vase life is very poor. Seems like they look great when you put an arrangement together but then they explode as soon as they hit a warm room. :(


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

Steve,

I am in the same predicament as you. I had late tulips that I used. Right now, I have alliums, and some lilacs (I have early, mid and late season bloomers which helps.) I would also look for some early season peonies as they can be cut early and forced. I have several peonies with very fat buds now.

Surprisingly, I have two perennial salvias that are very fat in bud so I will probably be cutting soon. I have May Night and East Friesland. My other perennials (except for peonies) have no buds.

If you have a south or southwestern facing bed, that definitely accelerates the bloom date.

Teresa


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

Teresa, thanks for the suggestion of early season peonies, my peonies don't bloom until mid May so I guess they are just regular (main season?) peonies. I would love to have peonies starting to bloom just as the last of my Narcissus are finishing. Now I'm starting to see how this might be possible.

>> If you have a south or southwestern facing bed,
>> that definitely accelerates the bloom date.

Yes, I'm realizing this year how much difference there is in bloom times for the same plant in different micro climates of my yard. I'm going to be moving lots of bulbs around this summer so that I have a good distribution of each variety in both sun, shade and part shade so as to get a wider range of peak blossom times.

If you've got early peonies with fat buds and you're in zone 6 it seems like I should nearly be able to have early peonies starting to bloom in my sunniest location right now and if I move a bunch of Narcissus to the north side of my house maybe I can bring them pretty close together.

By the way, I was over at my moms garden this morning cutting Creeping Buttercups (Ranunculus repens.) They are just beginning right now during my lull so I think I will plan to move some starts to my house. They do have short stems but I've been making compact bouquets anyway so I think they will work for me to use tomorrow at the Tuesday market. They are also invasive so I will have to choose their location carefully. :(


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

Steve,
I forgot Ranunculus if you can grow it I haven't had any luck.
It reminds me of old fashioned roses, I love it but I think it needs some special care I can't give it. On the other subject buttercups, I wouldn't do it unless you want to plant trollius europeaus.


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

As a matter of fact I'm trying to coax some Ranunculus asiaticus along right now (my first attempt.) Unfortunately I too am in the wrong climate so it takes extra care to keep them cool so that they have a chance to bloom. :(


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

Good topic Steve, I wrestle with this problem every year and keep trying new things. We had some hot weather a few days ago and all my tulips (Darwins through the latest single lates) bloomed within 7 days. They are all harvested and stored in the refrigerator and I'm hoping for the best. I still have late narcissus coming - 'Geranium', 'Winston Churchill' and a couple others.

Other than bulbs, the first perennial for me is Doronicum (starting to bloom now). Camplanula glomerata will bloom soon. I grew a few of these last year and was really happy with them and started a bunch more. Bergenia are starting to bloom now. Mine are in too much sun so the stems are short. I do grow Trollius europeaus and they are nice but the flowers are small so you need a lot of them to amount to anything.

I have some super early peonies that bloom in mid May here in zone 5 - 'Early Scout' and 'Rushlight'. Like most of the really early ones, they are singles. Painted daisies bloom quite early, as do some alliums and irises. I also use bleeding hearts - they last quite well as cut flowers.

Other things I'm trying this year are Centaurea montana and shasta daisy 'May Queen'.

Kirk


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

Thanks for posting Kirk, that Doronicum is a flower I hadn't heard of before. That 'Winston Churchill' Narcissus looks very nice and supposedly has a nice fragrance. Have you noticed that it has a particularly nice scent?

Well my perennial cut list for tomorrow (middle of the lull) looks like this:

- Aurinia saxatilis (this stuff is awesome in small arrangements!)
- one last late variety of Narcissus, it's not a very exciting variety (small white with pale yellow cup) but it does come during the lull so it's useful
- Ranunculus repens
- last of the Brunnera macrophylla
- Aquilegias
- Alliums Aflatunense Purple Sensation and chives
- Convallaria
- Polygonatum
- Perhaps some lilac


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

'Winston Churchill' and 'Geranium' both have a strong fragrance that I like, though it has a hint of that paperwhite scent.
Kirk


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

This is a great thread, even for those of us who just grow our own cutting flowers.

What do you think of chives? Their color is subtle, but they are prolific perennials. I have yet to get garlic chives started, but they are white, and must be pretty. The chive flowers don't give off an onion-y smell that I have noticed. Oh, I see you do have them listed.

This one is a bit informal, and draws up a lot of water when cut, but it is also prolific: lunaria aka silver dollar plant. It comes in white and, most commonly, a rich pink-purple shade. I have seen in a a very dark magenta, in other gardens. It is biennial, which means you need to start them two years in a row, and then you will have them forever, if you let even a few go to seed.

Bridal veil spirea is coming in to bloom now, as the very last daffodils are fading. I second the wood hyacinth and bleeding heart suggestions.

Interesting, how most of the suggestions for now generally have subtle colors. Doronicum breaks that pattern, as do many of the tulips, if you decide to go that route.

I have some burgundy and yellow bi-color primroses, as well as a few solid yellow double primroses that have 6-7 inch stems, and last up to a week in water. They have a nice long bloom season too. These started almost three weeks ago here in mid-atlantic 7a and they will continue another few weeks, depending on the heat. They look nice in small bouquets with buttercups and japanese maple sprigs with baby leaves.

A lush, long-lasting green that I discovered this year comes from my overwintered parsnips!

Siberian irises look like they are coming soon. I wonder if a clear plastic cage over each plant would hurry them along. That said, I do not find that they last well at all as cuts, though some catalogs say they do.

I started growing camassia last year. I see they are starting to bloom now. Not very impressive, I must say, but maybe there are showier varieties. I bought the cheapest, species type. Apparently they naturalize well where they are happy.

Good luck! Hepatica


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

Well, I'm taking some cut flowers to market again tomorrow along with my salad greens but it still seems like my palette is a little sparse. I've got some nice Allium aflatunense 'Purple Sensation', some more Ranunclus repens, a few Lily of the Valley, the last few Narcissus and lots of interesting foliages. I've also got a couple blossoms from two Dianthus plants I just bought at Lowes (Ruby's Tuesday and Rosie Cheeks,) but I don't know if these will bloom at this same time next year once they are in the ground or not. I've got several 'Arctic Fire' dianthus that are just about to bloom so the two new one's may actually be just about on schedule for my region.

I just snagged an interesting foliage today from the roadside where the city road crew reseeded an area. It looks kind of like a wheat seed head but it's chartreuse green. I think maybe it grew from the straw they scattered over the grass seed.

It feels like the lull is almost over but still my perennial beds are more green than colored. :( My Baptisia is showing color, the peonies are getting fatter every day, the yarrows are budding up and my bearded Iris are just about ready to open. Perhaps the dianthus are the key. Maybe if I created an extra warm micro climate for them I could get them to start blooming a week earlier. That would certainly give me a more diverse color range. During The Lull it seems like I have mostly gold, purple, blue and white. The dianthus would provide a wide range of reds, pinks and white.

Hepatica, how do you use Spirea? I keep trying to make it work for me but it seems like it won't do what I want. Perhaps it works best in large bouquets where it can just droop like it does on the bush. I'm making miniature bouquets so it's hard for me to get it to work.


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

Yes, the spirea wants to droop along the edge of a large container. I also make a lot of small arrangements, so I will have to try what it can do. Sounds like you have a lot of experience. I'll let you know if I make any major discoveries.

I like the dianthus micro climate idea. My messenger mix sweet williams (who act more like perennials) are coloring up.


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

>> Sounds like you have a lot of experience.

Well, I have many years of experience growing perennials but very little experience arranging cut flowers so I'm learning as I go. I must be doing something right though as my flowers are selling and I keep getting compliments. :)

I just noticed another bulb blooming in my neighborhood that I'm adding to my list of Perennial Cut Flowers of the Lull. Spanish Bluebells. It looks like the majority of them were at peak a few days ago. Fortunately, I'm on pretty good terms with this neighbor so I should be able to arrange a bulb swap. :)


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

Steve, I just noticed that my dutch iris have nice big colorful buds. they are on a south-facing slope. I wonder if you could speed them up with a mini hoop house. They might even have been earlier had it not been so cool and rainy for the last umpteen days.

I know, that doesn't solve the problem for this year. Is there any way it is worth buying a few cut flowers to add to your garden material?

Best of luck


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

Thanks Hepatica, I do actually have a few (only 6 or so) dutch Iris 'Professor Blauw.' Some bloomed several days ago and one I just cut today as it was opening. You are right, these do arrive during The Lull and are a better cut flower than the fragile bearded Iris. I planted a small row of 'Miss Saigon' this spring but they will come later than their natural perennial season.

My cut list for today was similar to the stems I used at the Tuesday market but I was able to use some of my dwarf Alchemilla mollis which I really like a lot and goes with everything. I was able to take lots of Allium aflatunense 'Purple Sensation' which was quite popular. I also included some Siberian iris in bud stage so hopefully my customers will get a nice surprise in a few days when they unfurl. :)


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RE: What's your next perennial cut flower right after Narcissus?

I had a row of a allium come up that were very nice. It had 3ft. stems a 4in. blossom head and held up a long timme in a vase. It was a variety called His Excellancy.
The pyrethium daiseys are also in full bloom along with the columbine.


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