Carnations are the most fragrant flowers we grow here at vancouver flower shop, and they bloom all summer long from an early sowing. Their long stems and extremely long vase life make them an ideal cut flower. The tufted blooms smell like sugar and cloves and remind me of my childhood. Even a single stem of blooms will fill the entire room with a nostalgic fragrance.
The reason this discovery is so exciting is that carnations are typically grown from cuttings, which are rooted off of a mother plant. But getting plant material for propagation is impossible because all of the domestic carnation growers have gone out of business and importing plant material is very difficult and costly.
We grow our plants in landscape fabric, 9 inches (23 cm) apart with 5 rows per bed. We’ve grown plants both in a hoop house and outside in the field, and both methods worked great. Flowers grown under cover had longer stems, bloomed earlier, and were protected from the rain. But either growing method yields fantastic results.
For wedding work, my two favorite varieties are ‘Chabaud Jeanne Dionis’ (pictured left), which boasts ruffled white petticoat-like blooms on strong gray-green stems, and ‘Chabaud La France’ (pictured right), which has flowers in varying hues of creamy blush and the softest baby pink that remind me of ‘Cafe au Lait’ dahlias.
If you’re looking for warmer, more brilliant colors, ‘Chabaud Aurora’ (pictured left) has the most beautiful range of coral, salmon, blush, pink, and cherry flowers. ‘Chabaud Orange Sherbet’ (pictured right) features flowers that are both single and double blooms in a range of peach, coral, and raspberry with delicate striping, which gives them a more textural quality.
For as many years as I have been growing flowers, I still can’t believe that I’ve only recently come to discover the great variety of China asters. Years ago, when we were growing for grocery store sales, the only varieties on the market were run-of-the-mill ‘Matsumoto’ and spray types. There was nothing beautiful or exciting about them, so I rarely included them in the garden. But a few years ago, I stumbled onto a German grower offering an incredible range of varieties that I had never seen before.
The following summer we grew more than 40 varieties, and the next summer we grew 40 more, and now I am a passionate champion for China asters. What makes these plants so great is that they can be grown from seed, are easy to grow, and flower at a time when the garden is starting to fade. As the day length shortens, this group of plants is prompted to begin flowering.
In addition to lasting an incredibly long time in the vase, China asters come in a dazzling rainbow of colors and a wide range of flower shapes and sizes, including huge feathered blossoms, sturdy sprays of miniature buttons, tight domed flower heads, and soft rose-like blooms.
We grow our China asters in landscape fabric and space plants 9 inches (23 cm) apart with 5 rows per bed. Once blooms appear, plants tend to topple under the weight of the flower display, so be sure to give these guys plenty of support while the plants are still small.
We use a layer of Hortonova netting stretched horizontally about 12 inches (30.5 cm) above the ground. Netting is held in place by metal hoops that we made with our Johnny’s Quick Hoops Bender, but any type of stake, wooden or metal, will work just fine. As the plants grow, they push up through the grid of netting and get the support they need.
After plants are tucked into the ground, they just hang out for the better part of the summer and seem dull in the landscape. I’ve found myself fretting over them, wondering if they are going to do anything. But as summer comes to a close, they start making buds and elongating in the waning light.
As the rest of the garden starts to wind down and fall apart, China asters come into their prime and, along with dahlias, help finish the flower season strong. They are a must-grow for late summer and early autumn bouquets.
Harvest flowers when they are about halfway open, strip the foliage off the lower half of the stems, and place them into water with flower food. Expect a vase life of 7 to 10 days or even longer.
China asters are sensitive to wet weather, and the petals will brown if not harvested on time, so be sure to pick them regularly for the best-looking blooms.
Altogether, we’ve grown close to 80 different mixes and individual varieties. Over in the Floret Shop you will find my absolute favorites. Peach and blush have become extremely popular colors with floral designers and brides, so if you have wedding work in your future, you might want to consider the following varieties.
‘Harlekin Light Rose’: This tall, feminine beauty is smothered in an abundance of the sweetest soft, nearly ballerina-pink blooms. Disc-shaped flowers have a fluffy appearance from the hundreds of quilled, tubular petals covering them.
‘Rose Quartz Mix’: This feminine mix features warm pink tones, including dusty rose, blush, and ballet slipper pink. Delicate ruffled blooms look like pretty, soft pillows.
‘Valkyrie Pink’: The palm-sized blooms on this mauve-pink beauty remind me of the color of sea anemones. Buds are lighter than the mature flowers, giving plants a wonderful color range. Long, pointed flower petals resemble rosy cactus flowers, and as blooms are opening, the center petals are swirled.
‘Lady Coral Chamois’: With the softest peachy-blush blooms, this romantic beauty has a glowing quality. Each plant is smothered in at least a dozen stems topped with ruffled, feminine flowers.
‘Tower Chamois Apricot’: One of the most beautiful and well-loved asters, this is a must-grow. Each vigorous plant is loaded with dozens of glowing peachy-pink blooms that are perfect for flower arranging and wedding work.
‘Valkyrie Chamois’: The palm-sized blooms on this striking variety are stunning. Long, pointed flower petals resemble bird feathers, and as blooms are opening, the center petals are swirled.
If you’re looking for some beautiful, hardworking additions to the late summer cutting garden, look no further. China asters shine when the rest of the garden starts to fade, rewarding you with a bumper crop of glowing, textural blooms.
One of the most common email messages we get is: “I live in a hot climate. What seeds would thrive in my area?”
While I wish that every gardener could grow whatever varieties they wanted, that’s simply not possible. Here in the temperate Pacific Northwest, varieties that love the heat have to be grown in a greenhouse in order to thrive. Meanwhile, some of vancouver flower shopwho live in hot, arid climates aren’t able grow many of the most delicate treasures like sweet peas, foxglove, and stock because their climate is just too harsh.
I thought it would be helpful to share a list of some of the easiest-to-grow cut flowers that can take the heat. If you live where the summers get hot and you are looking for some tried-and-true winners to plant into your cutting garden, here are some great suggestions for you.
Amaranth: Amaranth is easy to grow and a great choice for beginning gardeners. I have grown just about every variety of amaranth on the market, and while all make great additions to large-scale arrangements, there are a few varieties that I grow in abundance every year.
‘Starfire Mix’ (pictured above) is a cheerful blend of miniature-flowered marigolds and a must-grow for mixed bouquets. Each plant produces 15 to 20 branching stems that reach more than 30 inches (76 cm) and are loaded with dozens of penny-sized glowing blooms in shades of red, orange, and gold, with numerous color variations and bicolors. The ferny foliage is wilt-resistant and scented, making it a summer bouquet staple.
‘Tangerine Gem’ is very similar, with glowing tangerine blooms with darker orange centers. It reaches more than 24 inches (61 cm). With each of these varieties, harvest when one-third to one-half of the flowers on a spray are open. Will last 7 to 10 days in the vase.
We are doing a big marigold trial this coming year, and I’m excited to see what we discover. Johnny’s Selected Seeds has a few great varieties available including ‘Giant Orange’ and ‘Giant Yellow’.
These easy-to-grow flowers come in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and forms, ranging from a crested cockscomb that my kids call “brain flower” to spikey, plumed forms that are great accents for bouquets. I love them all.
Flower heads get bigger over time, so pick when they are the size that you want, but before they go to seed. Celosias often last 2 weeks as fresh flowers and also can be dried for later use. Hang freshly cut stems upside down in a warm dark place for 2 to 3 weeks or until they are firm to the touch.
‘Coral Reef’ (pictured above) is a fun new introduction from our breeding program. It’s filled with unique coral-like blooms in shades of orange, salmon, peach, and raspberry that look like they belong in the sea.
If you’re looking for bright, cheerful colors, choose ‘Sunset Mix’, which includes magenta, red, and orange. If you’re drawn to the softer tones, choose ‘Pastel Mix’ (pictured above) for white, rose, soft pink, and pale lilac. It’s perfect for wedding work.
We’re also introducing globe amaranth in individual colors, including ‘White’ and two pastels: ‘Pink’ has beautiful soft-blush blooms that darken toward the base, giving them added dimension; ‘Rose’ is a soft rose-pink that resembles wild clover.
As the flowers fade, long stems covered in vivid, glossy plum seed pods appear. A unique, textural addition to bouquets, these pods add rich color that combines beautifully with almost any color palette.
If plants are left to grow on, you will be rewarded with gorgeous seedy stems by midsummer that are a favorite with designers and wonderful in bouquets. Seeded stems do not need any special postharvest treatment and often last 2 weeks. For a large flush of smaller, more usable stems, be sure to pinch plants hard at 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm). Succession plant every few weeks for an extended harvest.
There are three main colors available: green, burgundy, and a greenish-blush. ‘Ruby Gold’ (pictured above) has eye-catching foliage of glowing acid-green, and stalks are streaked with cranberry. Seeded stems are a blend of dusty rose and sun-bleached moss.
If you’re looking for flowers in the pink tones, ‘Candy Pink’, ‘Silvery Rose’, and ‘Pomegranate’ are all stunning. I love ‘Dragon Fire’ for its rich, nearly black blooms, but ‘Apricot Mix’ (pictured growing above) will forever be my favorite.