12 Easy Perennial Plants for Cutting and Enjoying

12 Easy Perennial Plants for Cutting and Enjoying

easy perennial plants

Flowers from these easy perennial plants look as wonderful in a vase as they do in  the garden. They have been chosen from a list of the best cutting flowers to grow, in a temperate climate. Yet many gardeners fill their cutting garden with annuals and

perhaps a few shrubs, such as Daphne and Lavender. Perennials aren’t necessarily better for floral arrangements than annuals but they have some advantages that don’t always spring to mind

Perhaps the main point in favour of using perennials in a cutting garden, or anywhere else in fact, is that they don’t have to be replaced every year. This saves you time, effort and sometimes money. They provide structure to the garden and you can ring
the changes with your choice and positioning of annuals.

You might also enjoy a virtue that people tend to overlook. Many of these easy grow perennials obligingly disappear over winter and early spring, leaving room for spring bulbs to provide a seasonal highlight both in the garden and in the vase. Then, as the bulbs finish flowering and their dying foliage looks untidy, these wonderful, easy perennial plants poke through without any effort on your part and become masters of disguise: plants to camouflage the bulbs’ unruliness.

What is Special About This Selection?

  • These are called easy perennial plants because they are easy to grow and care for.
  • They all enjoy or at least tolerate similar growing conditions. Those that prefer less sun are small and can easily be placed in a partly shaded part of the garden.
  • They will all grow from seeds, though some take a several years to reach flowering size
  • They are easy to grow. With some you can extend the flowering time by judicious deadheading.
  • Their blooming time over all begins in winter and lasts until the first frosts. With careful choice you can have perennial plants that bloom all summer.
  • The flowers last well in water and in the garden.

 

12 Easy Perennial Plants For Your Cutting Garden

 

Hellebore (Helleborus). Also called Christmas Rose or Lenten Rose

Hellebores start flowering  late winter to early spring and continue flowering until well into spring. They are the first of the perennials in this list to start flowering. Hellebores are hardy, with leaves filling the space during their non-flowering season. Buds rise from a clump of these leaves and open to long-lasting blooms in colours ranging from white, through pale pink, dark pink, red, purple, green, cream and yellow. Their flowers can be single or double

Growth:

  • These are easy-grow perennial flowers, not fussy about the soil but prefer a  semi-shaded site.
  • They will tolerate full sun but are at their best in a shady border or woodland.
  • With foliage above ground year round, they are excellent plants to camouflage the dying foliage of spring bulbs.

So versatile, and modest with it!

Propagation: Helleborus plants will grow from seeds or plant division. However, two species – H, foetidus and H. argutifolius – don’t like being divided so propagating these species from seeds is more reliable. Plants raised from seeds take 2 – 3 years to reach flowering size.

easy perennial plants helleborus flowers

easy perennial plants helleborus flower seed pods
Hellebore flower with seed pods developing

A Note about Vase Life: Hellebores won’t last in a vase unless they have specific treatment. You need to pick them when the flower is ripe i.e. one that has dropped its stamens and started to produce seed pods – see the image to the left. The more developed the seed pod, the longer the flowers will last. So don’t pick the flowers when they are just opening.

Peony

The Peony is one of spring’s floral treasures. It’s a long-lived perennial – plants are known to have lived for 100 years. It is hardy and low-maintenance once established.

Growth:

  • Plant peonies in a sunny position in fertile soil, rich in organic matter.
  • Don’t bury the root deeper than two inches – the eyes (buds) should be 1.5 – 2 inches below the soil.
  • Peonies take time to develop and establish. They resent being transplanted, so don’t dig them out unless absolutely necessary.
  • Support the plants with stakes as required.
  • Deadhead the blooms once they start to fade.
  • In autumn, cut the foliage to the ground – don’t forget to mark the position of each plant.

Propagation: Division of the roots. Dig out the root carefully and cut the long roots back to 6 inches from the crown. Divide the crown with a sharp knife, taking care to have one bud, and preferably more, on each piece. Return the pieces to the ground, making sure that the buds are no more than 2 inches below the soil.

 

easy perennial plants peonies
Peonies
 easy perennial plants a tip
This tip is from Fine Gardening – “The Best Flowers For Your Cutting Garden”

Alchemilla   ( Alchemilla mollis)

This is a low-growing perennial, 6 – 12 inches tall.The leaves are soft grey-green, scalloped and attractive. They can be used fresh or dried in bouquets, wreathes, or as fillers in a vase. The plants bloom in late spring but the leaves can be used all year round.

Growth:

  • Alchemilla prefers cool, moist shade but will tolerate sun in cooler zones – USDA Zones 3 – 7.
  • Keep it in a shaded area in warmer regions.
  • Deadhead the plant when the flowers start to dry to stop them from self-seeding.

Propagation: The plant will grow outdoors from seed once frosts have passed and after they have been cold-stratified (see Pre-treatment of Seeds – Stratification) You can also start them indoors and take 2 – 3 weeks to germinate. Another way to propagate Alchemilla is by dividing the plant in spring or autumn.

easy perennials plants lalchemilla mollis
Alchemilla mollis – Lady’s mantle, flowers and leaves

Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum)

There are several varieties of Shasta Daisy and they flower at different times during the summer, from late spring to autumn. I had one that flowered almost non-stop throughout summer – I wish I knew its name. There are single semi-double, and double varieties. Some are pure white with a yellow centre and at least one variety is tinged with yellow.

Growth:

  • Shastas grow in clumps 2 – 3 feet tall and 1 – 2 feet in width. They spread over time but are not invasive.
  • Shasta is truly an easy perennial plant, needing very little care
  • Grow the plants in full sun and fertile soil.
  • Taller varieties need staking.
  • Deadhead to encourage more and longer flowering.

Propagation: You can grow the plants from seeds sown in autumn or early spring. They flower after one season’s growth. They also grow readily from rooted pieces dug up or cut from the main clump.

Cut flowers last well in a vase.

 

easy perennial plants shasta daisies
Shasta Daisies

Rudbeckia – Black-eyed Susan

black-eyed susan easy-perennial-plants
Rudbeckia – Black-eyed Susan

The Rudbeckia genus has 20 or more species.  Only some of them are perennials. They have daisy-like flowers, most of which are yellow, and a striking centre cone, which is black, brown or green. Rudbeckia flowers attract butterflies, and the cones provide food for seed-eating birds. Black-eyed Susans are delightful and easy perennial plants with yellow flowers, though I have seen some annuals sold by that name.

 

rudbeckia green wizard easy perennial plants
Rudbeckia “Green Wizard”

 

 

 

Growth:

  • Grow your Rudbeckia in full sun or part shade.
  • It prefers heavy soil that doesn’t dry out but is not water-laden. Leave 2 – 3 feet space between plants.
  • Some taller plants may need staking.
  • You need to divide the clumps every 3 – 4 years and remove old growth before replanting the newer pieces.

 

Propagation: The plants will grow from seed that is sown in early spring. Alternatively, you can divide a clump in autumn or early spring, to produce new plants.

Rudbeckia occidentalis “Green Wizard”  This is an unusual Rudbeckia, not often seen – in New Zealand, anyway. I first came across it in a bouquet of florist’s flowers and fell in love with it. It contrasts beautifully in a bunch of fresh flowers. Green Wizard has  a black or dark brown cone but no obvious petals, just the green sepals. It grows to a height of 120 cm (47 inches) with a spread of 60 cm (24 inches).

Alstroemeria – Peruvian Lily or Lily of the Incas or Parrot Lily

Alstroemeria species come from South America but most of the types we grow are hybrids. While the more modern forms of this easy perennial plant are trouble-free in my experience, you may need to find a way to contain some of the older types, whose spread can extend to where they’re not wanted.

Growth:

  • Grow these easy perennial flowers in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil.
  • Add organic matter before planting or use it as a mulch around the plant.
  • Mulch established plants in spring.
  • When removing dead flowers or picking fresh ones for the vase, pull the stem free of of the plant – don’t cut or break it off!  This action will help to trigger new growth.

Propagation:  You can grow Alstroemeria from seed but it needs to be very fresh, otherwise the germination rate will be low. According to Thompson & Morgan, seed merchants, the seeds also need stratification. This page gives detailed instruction for this process, which requires heat, then cold and then heat again.

The other way to propagate them is by division. Dig up the clump in winter, when the plant is dormant, taking care not to damage the tuberous roots.  The roots go down a long way! Divide the clump into 2 – 4 pieces and replant the pieces in fertile soil. This short video will show you how to do it. See also SFGate Home Guides

Alstroemerias will last 2 – 3 weeks in water.

Dianthus – Carnations, Clove Pinks

These old-fashioned flowers never seem to lose their popularity, and rightly so. I say “old-fashioned” though there are many modern hybrids and cultivars that have extended the range of colours. But some of the newer ones don’t have the sweet, musky perfume of “Mrs Sinkins” and her kind.

Growth:

  • These are easy care perennial plants that will grow almost anywhere.
  • They prefer sun but will tolerate soggy ground or drought.
  • Sometimes the centre of a clump will die and then you need to dig them out and divide the clump, replanting the healthy outer pieces.
  • You do need to deadhead to extend the flowering season.

Propagation: Grow these from seed or division of a clump.

Other Uses: Clove pinks have both culinary and medicinal uses in addition to serving as cut flowers. When you use them for food, though, be sure to remove the white heel at the base of the petal – it has a bitter taste.

Crafters ofter dry the scented petals of Dianthus for use in potpourri, scented sachets and other items.

easy perennial plants dianthus
Dianthus

Echinacea – Purple Coneflower

Echinacea species and hybrids are popular and easy perennial plants that many gardeners grow. Not only do they keep well as cut flowers, but the flowers are also friendly to bees, butterflies and moths. After the flowers die, the protein-rich seedheads feed finches and other seed-eating birds. The species Echinacea has purple flowers but hybridizing has given us pink, white, red and yellow flowers as well. There is some variation in flower shapes as well.

Growth:

  • Plant the young plants outdoors after frosts have finished in a sunny site with good, well-draining soil.
  • Although they are plants that love full sun, they also grow in part-shade.
  • Feed them  with compost in spring and add a good layer of mulch around them

Propagation: Echinaceas are easily grown from seed. Press the seeds into damp seed-raising mix in winter and keep them indoors at a temperature of 18 – 20 degrees (65 – 70 degrees) until they germinate.

If the seeds are started before 25 January they will bloom in their first year.  Presumably, in the Southern Hemisphere a starting date before 25 July would have the same beneficial effect. The plants grow multiple crowns, which you can divide in spring or autumn.

Medicinal Qualities: People have long believed that Echinacea will relieve cold symptoms  and heal other ailments. A tincture can be made from the roots for healing purposes. Follow the link and scroll down the page to find a tincture recipe.

Echinaceas last for up to a week in the vase. An alternative use is to dry the seedheads and remove the petals. The seedheads then make an attractive addition to dried floral arrangements.

easy perennial plants echinacea
Echinacea – Purple Coneflower

Penstemons

Penstemons, are perennial flowers that like sun or part shade and are a mainstay in many gardens and borders. They also make ideal cutting garden plants.

Growth:

  • Penstemons prefer a well-drained, sunny position.
  • In Zone 8 where I live, they need no winter protection but in colder regions they need protection. The video above suggests taking cuttings to replace any frost casualties.
  • The plants need pruning in autumn to control woodiness: cut them back by one-third, leaving the remainder to protect the crowns. In spring cut back the old growth to let the new foliage through.

Propagation: Penstemons can be propagated from seed, cuttings or division.Sow the seeds indoors in early spring and keep them in a warm place until they germinate. However, some Penstemons need stratification and will not germinate readily. Seedlings are unlikely to look exactly like their parents.

Tip cuttings can be taken at any time during the growing season. These will produce plants that are identical to the parent. The process is well explained in this video  

To divide a Penstemon, you dig out the clump then break it into pieces so that each part has a rosette and some roots. You then plant each piece in a selected place. For details on the growth, pruning and propagation of Penstemons, see the Royal Horticultural Society.

easy perennial plants penstemon
Penstemon

Dahlias

Dahlias are available in a huge range of size, colour and flower form. The flowers can have a single row of petals or a head tightly packed with them and just about anything in between; they can range from little 5 cm (2 inches) pompoms to 25 cm (10 inches) dinnerplates; and most of the colours of the rainbow except a true blue.

Growth:

  • Plant tubers and cuttings in spring once the frosts have passed.
  • They prefer a sunny spot with rich, well-drained, neutral to slightly acid soil.
  • Don’t water tubers until the shoots show through – water could cause rot.
  • Deadhead the plants for a longer flowering period.

In cooler regions, dig up the tubers in autumn and store them over winter in vermiculite or dry sand. In Zone 8 in New Zealand, I leave the tubers in the ground all year round. The  drainage where I live is very good and I have never had problems with frost or rot. Ask around if you are in doubt, or play safe and store them in the shed for the winter.

Propagation:

  • Division. Cut the tubers into pieces, making sure that there is at least one eye or shoot on each piece. Store the tuber pieces in vermiculite or peat in a frost free place.
  • Cuttings. Choose a sprouted tuber. With a clean, sharp knife, remove a sprout, cutting out a piece of the parent tuber with it. Remove the leaves, neaten the bottom of the cutting and dip it in rooting hormone. Place the cutting 1.5 cm  (I inch) deep in a pot containing potting mix See Dahlias.co.uk for  more detailed instructions
Pompom Dahlia                                                    Dahlia

Lilies (Lilium)

easy perennial plants cutting liliesLilies grow from bulbs and come in a range of colours and sizes, scented and unscented. They are beautiful bee and butterfly plants and deserve the place they have in so many gardens worldwide.

  • Growth:  Plant bulbs in autumn in soil that drains well and gets full sun.
  • Most lilies prefer neutral to acid soil to which well-rotted organic matter has been added.
  • Plant the bulbs 2 – 3 times as deep as the bulbs are high.
  • Feed the bulbs every two weeks with high potassium fertiliser until six weeks after they have finished flowering.
  • Divide clumps of bulbs every 3 – 4 years.
  • If you are leaving the bulbs in the ground, protect them with a thick layer of organic mulch.

Propagation:

  • Division. The easiest way to propagate lilies is by dividing the bulbs the bulbs in autumn. In my experience, there is never a shortage of offsets and bulbils which you can plant and grow on to become mature bulbs as well.
  • Seeds. Lilies produce seed pods with copious quantities of seeds. Remove these when they turn brown and start to split. Sow the seeds in seed raising mix, barely cover them, and leave them to germinate at a temperature of 15 – 20 degrees (60 – 80 degrees F). Plant out in spring.
  • Scales.  Clean damaged scales from a bulb and then snap off a few healthy scales as close to the base as possible. Prepare a slightly damp mix of 50% peat and 59% perlite. Add the scales to this. Shake the bag, fill with air and seal. Leave this in a warm place – 21 degrees (70 degrees F) – for 6 weeks or longer until bulblets appear at the bottom of the scales. Pot them individually.
  • For more information see The Old Farmer’s Almanac

 

easy perennial plants lilies
Lilies (Lilium)

Calla Lilies ( Zantedeschia sp.)

Calla lilies are beautiful and easy perennial plants with lush foliage and eye-catching, asymmetrical flowers. They are easy to grow and look majestic in a vase. Callas are not true lilies, as you’ll see from their foliage and the shape of the flowers.

Growing: 

  • After the frosts have finished, plant them in friable soil that drains well.
  • They prefer a place in sun or partial shade.
  • Place the tubers 10 cm (4 inches) deep with 30 cm (12 inches) between them.
  • Mulch around the plants.

Propagation:

  • Division – When large clumps form, you can dig them up in autumn and divide them into sections, leaving three or more rhizomes in each. Dust the cut surface with a fungicide – use cinnamon if you don’t have a fungicide.
  • Seed. Start the seeds indoors by spreading them on damp seed-raising mix. Don’t cover them. Keep the container in a warm place –  21 degrees (70 degrees F) – until they germinate. Plant them outdoors once frosts have finished.
easy perennial plants calla lilies
Calla Lilies

 

Tips for Success

  1. This is my choice of easy perennial plants for a cutting garden but don’t be afraid to replace them with ones that suit you or your climate better. You have plenty of options
  2. Start your own seedlings if possible, unless you’re in a hurry – some perennial seedlings don’t flower in their first season. You get a wider choice of varieties if you grow from seeds. If you need plants immediately, my suggestion is to grow the seedlings on in pots and use annuals as place holders in the cutting bed for the first season.
  3. Get a copy of Blooms on a Budget (click here). It has a list and descriptions of 50+ perennials that you can grow cheaply from seed. Free to members.
  4. At planting time dig in compost, well-rotted animal manure or other decomposed organic matter.
  5. Once your cutting garden is blooming, pick the flowers often to encourage the plants to flower longer.
  6. Headhead often for the same reason
  7. During the growing season, feed the plants monthly with liquid fertilizer or water in other forms of organic fertilizer. Keeping the plants well fed and healthy helps them to withstand insect pests and plant diseases.
  8. Make sure you stake plants that need support. Keep stakes in a handy place.
  9. You would like a cutting garden but don’t have space for one? Plant your favourite cutting flowers in containers
  10. Enjoy your garden. Talk to your plants (silently will do). That’s not as crazy as it sounds. I believe there have been scientific studies done (ask me in the comments section if you’re interested).  And this book is well worth reading: “The Findhorn Garden Story”

 

Take Out

Growing the beautiful, easy, perennial plants listed here makes sense. Not only do you save time, work and money by not having to replace annual plants yearly, but you have a range of magnificent flowers that last well in a vase. Think Peonies, Lilies, Callas and the various daisy-like species. For smaller arrangements there are Dianthus, Hellebores and foamy-looking Lady’s Mantle. I’ve left out many I would like to have included but this post is getting long as it is.

All the plants in this list will grow from seed, though in some cases it’s a slow process. Once they’re growing, they need no special treatment. Many are available in a wide range of colours, making it possible to grow plants to suit your household decor well.

I hope you will find something here that will help you grow your dream garden. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have a question.


References

Shasta Daisies  http://www.almanac.com/plant/shasta-daisies

Helleborus   http://www.floretflowers.com/2015/02/the-hellebore-appreciation-society/

Dianthus  https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/dianthus/clove-pink-herb-plants.htm

Alstroemerias   http://homeguides.sfgate.com/alstroemeria-propagation-23077.html

Peonies  http://www.almanac.com/plant/peonies

 

Attributions

Most of the images used in this article are not mine. I’m grateful to photographers who have shared their work so generously. Many of the images come from Pixabay. The rest are acknowledged below:

Helleborus argutifolius – By DHochmayr (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Helleborus orientalis * April 2005 * Photo taken by user de:Benutzer:BS Thurner Hof {{GFDL}}

© Copyright Christine Matthews and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence  Spotted Hellebore

Rasbak 14:39, 19 June 2007 (UTC) own work Fraaie vrouwenmantel bloeiwijze  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License (Lady’s Mantle)

License: <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a> Green Wizard


Please pass this post on to family and friends whom you think might benefit from its content.


Are you a member of The Abundant garden?

If not, join now and download Blooms on a Budget, a booklet devoted to information about 50+ perennial plants that you can grow cheaply from seeds, and the Tomato Cheatsheet, which includes some tips from expert growers. Both of these are available only to The Abundant Garden members.

Sign up today.

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *