The big summer harvest has begun!  We’re just on the very edge, the tipping point, so I still have a little free time to write this blog. 🙂  I thought that for those of you who might have some cut flowers in your yard, some general harvesting tips might be helpful.  

How to harvest cut flowers from your own yard:

First of all, not every flower makes a good cut flower, but why not try your hand at picking a few and testing it out?!  You might be surprised!  Below are some tips for harvesting cut flowers and specific info for harvesting a few popular cut flower varieties. 

  • Cut the stems as long as you possibly can, even if you are cutting off small side shoot stems along the main one.  The plant will then continue to send up stems from the place where you cut, which will turn into more long stems!
  • Cut right above a set of leaves to encourage more stems to grow. 
  • Cut in the early morning or late evening.  Cool temperatures are key to prevent wilting and prolong vase life. 
  • To have the longest possible vase life, change water in your vase daily. 
  • Remove foliage 2/3 of the way up the stem.  If you have leaves in your vase water, that will increase the bacteria in your water, which will shorten the vase life of your flower.
  • Make sure your scissors or snips are clean before you cut to prevent bacteria from getting into your stems – bacteria shortens the vase life of the flowers. 
  • Cut, cut, cut!  To keep your plants producing for the longest amount of time, you must keep cutting them.  If you miss a few days and have some dead flowers on your plant, cut them off, and wait for your new flowers to appear! (This is called deadheading.)  I had the same plants producing from June – October because I was very diligent!

Celosia: It is an exceptional fresh and dried cut flower!  For fresh use, harvest when the flowers are fully developed. For dried use, harvest at the same stage, but remove foliage and hang upside down in a dark, well-ventilated, room to dry. 

Zinnias: Harvest flowers when fully developed and they pass the “wiggle test.”  Grab the stem about 6 inches down from the flower and wiggle it side to side.  If the head is rigid, and doesn’t wiggle, then it’s ready to be picked.

Basil: Harvest when stems begin to toughen, or as soon as flowers begin to form.  Cut during the coolest part of the day to minimize wilting.  Keeping them cool is key.  If it does wilt, place in cool water and give it some time.  They will perk up after a few hours. 

Cosmos: When these guys start to bloom, get ready to cut!! Sometimes even daily! Harvest stems when the petals on the first flower  just begin to lift, but are not yet flattened.

Globe Amaranth: Stay on top of this one and you will have little balls of color all season long!  These guys are a workhorse cut flower and the cutest thing you’ve ever seen.  Harvest when the stems have toughened up and the heads don’t wiggle when you shake them (similar to a zinnia).  They are a little shorter, so remember to cut towards the bottom of the plant so you continue to get long stems.  Globe amaranth is also an excellent dried flower.  Dry the same way as you would celosia.   

Hope this gives you a little knowledge and confidence to try cutting some flowers from your yard.  Be careful because it can become addicting! 🙂