Nothing brightens a room like a beautiful bouquet of flowers. And it can be fairly easy to grow your own.

In Louisiana, there are many types of plants that can be planted in any season that make great cut flowers. Of course, more flowers will bloom and last longer in spring and summer.

First, find a spot in your yard that gets full sun and has good soil. Clear the weeds and, if necessary, enrich the soil with organic matter, which helps improve its nutrient levels, provides adequate moisture for the roots and improves drainage. Compost and leaf litter are two great options for adding organic matter to your soil.

Plan the layout of your cutting garden so it's easy to get to. You can create raised beds or allow wide rows so you can access flowers from both sides. You'll want to place shorter plants to the front and taller ones to the back.

Also, plant a mix of flowers with different bloom times, and throw in some seasonal annuals so you will always have something in flower.

The most common cut flower selections are annuals, but perennials and shrubs also work.

Long-stemmed, single-flower plants make excellent cut flower selections. If you can also incorporate some fragrant flowers, you will have wonderful scents for your home.

Make sure you include some plants with nice foliage to add texture and greenery to your arrangements. Herbs make great fillers, doing double duty of scenting the air while also useful for cooking. Rosemary, lavender, dill and mint are great fillers and look pretty when they flower. Keep in mind that mint is an aggressive grower. 

When harvesting cut flowers, place them in a bucket of water. Add a few drops of bleach to the water in a vase to keep blooms fresher longer by killing off bacteria.

Here's some great annuals that are grown for cut flowers: ageratum, bachelor’s button, blue lace flower, calendula, campanula, celosia, cleome, cosmos, dianthus, dill, forget-me-nots, geraniums, gomphrena, larkspur, lisianthus, marigolds, nicotiana, phlox, salvia, scabiosa, snapdragons, statice, stock, strawflower, sunflower, sweet Annie, sweet pea, verbena and zinnias. Plant when seasonally appropriate.

These perennials are also good options: aster, baby’s breath, bee balm, black-eyed Susan, buttercup, calla lily, campanula, carnation, chrysanthemum, columbine, coreopsis, crocus, daffodils, daisies, delphinium, echinacea, eucalyptus, foxglove, gaillardia, globe thistle, iris, lavender, lilies, lobelia, lupine, orchids, peonies, periwinkle, poppy, sage, Shasta daisy and tulips.

Filler greenery selections include: asparagus fern, baby’s breath, bells of Ireland, coleus, dusty miller, eucalyptus, euphorbia, foxtail ferns, other ferns, Florida leucothoe, hosta, Italian ruscus, ivy, hostas, mint, ornamental grasses, rosemary and sage.

Flowering trees and shrubs include: butterfly bush, deutzia, camellias, forsythia, gardenias, hydrangeas, magnolias, pieris, quince, roses, spirea, viburnum, Virginia sweetspire and vitex. These are more permanent plant selections, but they also provide great cut flower selections.

Also consider plants that produce berries to add to bouquets and holiday greenery such as American beautyberry, boxwood and hollies.

Large tropical foliage plants such as false bird of paradise, caladiums, colocasia, cordyline, gingers and philodendrons can also be used in arrangements for the home.

Rotate annuals each year in their appropriate season. Established perennials, shrubs and trees will provide year after year. Fertilize and prune annually when needed. Remember, flowering plants typically need a good six to eight hours of sunlight for the best flower production. Tropical foliage will need to be shaded.

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