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How to Plant Wildflowers
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As any wildflower gardener knows, come summer there are plenty of Zinnias, Cosmos, Sunflowers, and more to cut for what seems like endless wildflower bouquets. We’re here to help turn your amateur DIY bouquets into photo-worthy professional arrangements!
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to create a photo-worthy wildflower arrangement, the best place to begin is with which wildflowers to plant for DIY bouquets. Although almost any wildflower is pretty enough to cut, there are some varieties that fare much better in a vase than others. You’ve probably seen these varieties in professional bouquets because they are long-lasting, come in a wide variety of colors, and most plants send up fresh shoots and flowers once cut.
Although you may be tempted, stay clear of Queen Anne’s Lace and Poppies for cut bouquets. Queen Anne’s Lace doesn’t transition well from the garden to the vase and may go limp quickly. Poppies are extremely short-lived once cut, but their seed pods add a unique touch to any bouquet.
Once your Zinnias, Cosmos, Sunflowers, and more are in bloom comes the fun part -- cutting! There are a few simple steps and best practices to ensure your cut flower lasts longer and the plant you're cutting it from keeps on producing flowers in your garden.
When to Cut: Early morning and late evening are the best times to cut flowers. You want to cut at these times of the day to prevent wilting from the harsh sun and heat.
Where To Cut: Follow the stem down from the flower until you hit a “break,” which is essentially the section of the flower where new growth emerges (see above). Cut just above this break and the plant will keep producing new growth and bloom at the offshoots that you kept intact on the plant. If you cut the stem all the way towards the ground, you risk not getting a second (or even third) flower off of that plant.
If you were to cut this tall wildflower, follow the stem down to where there is an offshoot of new growth and cut just above it. This allows for the new growth to send up another stem and flower.
Always bring a bucket of water out to the garden with you when cutting flowers. Place each stem in the bucket immediately after cutting to help prevent wilting.
The Best Tools: A sharp, clean pair of floral snips or pruners do the best job for cutting wildflowers. Make sure to clean and sharpen your tools often; a clean cut ensures the flower will last longer in an arrangement. A bucket of water is also a necessity to bring out into the garden with you -- as you cut, you can immediately place the stems in water (which helps prevent them from wilting).
Spring-loaded floral snips, hefty pruners, and even plain old scissors are all good tools for cutting flowers. Be sure to wipe the blades clean as you move from plant to plant, so as not to spread any disease.
Now that you’ve cut the flowers you want to use in your wildflower bouquet, it’s time to get creative. There are a few considerations and simple tips to help turn your amateur bouquet into a professional-looking arrangement.
Before you arrange your flowers, make sure to strip any foliage from the bottom parts of the stems that will be placed directly in the water. Foliage towards the top of the stem adds interest and filler to your bouquet, but leaves and other foliage that sit in water can cause bacteria that will reduce the life of your cut flowers. You can use your hands or snips to gently remove foliage from each stem, being careful not to break or damage the stem itself.
Use your hands or scissors to strip foliage from the bottom part of your cut flower stem. This helps prevent bacteria from forming in the water which can cause the flowers to die quickly.
Don’t worry about cutting your stems to size while you’re out in the garden; it’s best to wait until you’re back inside and have your vase or other container in front of you. Depending on your vase or type of wildflower, there are several ways to size your cut flowers. Flowers with big heads (like Sunflowers) need a tall, sturdy vase or container to keep the heavy blooms supported. If you’re doing a large bouquet with a variety of different wildflowers, you’ll also want to use a tall, sturdy vase. If you have shorter flowers with smaller blooms (like Cosmos or Bachelor Buttons), you can use a short vase or even a bud vase to create your arrangement.
Place each stem on the surface next to the vase to estimate how much of the stem you'll need to cut.
The wider the opening of your vase, the more flowers you’ll need to get a full look. A tall, sturdy vase with a narrow opening can look full with just a few Sunflower stems. The same size vase with a wider opening may require 6-8 to look complete.
Stand each flower up on the surface next to your container to see how tall it will look and then use that estimate to cut your flowers to size. Remember: flowers can always get shorter, but they can’t re-grow! Always err on the side of caution when making your cuts.
The size of your container and the width of the opening will determine how many flowers you'll need for each arrangement.
If you’re making a larger bouquet or want the structure of your arrangement to be just so, use floral tape to help create a support for your flowers. Simply tape a few pieces of waterproof floral tape across the mouth of the container, spacing about an inch to two inches apart depending on the size of the vase. You will want to make a triangle or a grid to help keep the flowers in place as you arrange them.
Use floral tape to create a grid at the top of your vase. This makes arranging much easier and keeps each stem in place. If you don’t have floral tape on hand, you can use foliage-heavy varieties like Bachelor Buttons or grasses to create a natural support for your arrangement.
Another easy option for wildflower arranging is a 'flower frog', which is a small ceramic or pottery holder that has built-in supports to help hold the shape of your arrangement. Flower frogs now also come as screw-on lids for mason jars.
Now that you’ve created your floral masterpiece, follow a few simple steps to keep the bouquet fresh longer so you can show off your hard work:
Learn more about how to keep fresh cut flowers longer.
Whether you want to design a muted bouquet with pale pinks and whites or a vibrant display of fiery red, yellow, and orange flowers, the most important part thing is to be creative. You spent the time growing your own wildflowers to cut and enjoy indoors, so make sure to create something that makes you happy. And if it just happens to be spectacular enough for Instagram, there's no reason why you shouldn't show it off!