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Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved
Cutting gardens are designed to grow flowers to cut for floral bouquets and for sell at farmers markets and for crafts. These gardens are designed and planted differently because cutting the flowers is destructive and it needs to be convenient.
Optimal spacing varies between species. Dense spacing leads to higher incidence of disease as air circulation is limited. Too much space lets weeds grow in between the plants. Thin rows to proper final spacing if direct seeded.
Depending on the species vigor, space perennials1 foot x 1 foot and 2 foot x 2 foot or 1 foot between plants and 2 to 3 feet between rows.
Tall species require stem support. Rig beds with adjustable wire or plastic netting. Be sure the netting and supports are in place before the plants get too tall. Many species benefit from pinching to encourage branching and obtain the maximum number of stems per plant. Pinch as soon as the plants are well-established and elongating.
Harvest field-grown flowers early in the morning. Harvest when plant moisture is high and temperatures and transpiration are relatively low. Wait until dew or other moisture has evaporated, if possible. Wet flowers and foliage are more susceptible to postharvest diseases.
Avoid harvesting at midday when light level and temperature are highest. Keep cut flowers in the shade to prolong their life.
Harvesting at the proper stage of development for each species is very important. Too early, and some species may not open; too late can result in drastically reduced vase life. Keep harvest knives or shears, buckets and vases clean and sanitized and use a floral preservative or change the water daily.
There are numerous ways to preserve and make use of extra flowers. Air drying, oven drying, silica gel, glycerin are a few methods.
Proper care of cut flowers is essential for maintaining high quality and a long vase life. The plant's life processes continue even after the stem is cut; respiration, transpiration, growth and development still happen. The cut stems and flowers remain sensitive to damage and disease.
Ethylene is another important consideration affecting postharvest longevity. Flowers cannot be stored with any kind of fruit or vegetable. The ethylene produced by the fruit or veggie will result in premature floral senescence. Good ventilation and removal of dead and dying flowers are essential to maintain a relatively ethylene-free environment.