LSU AgCenter Horticulturist
As February unfolds, hearts beat a little faster in anticipation of two significant events: Valentine's Day on Feb. 14 and National Floral Design Day on Feb. 28. These occasions not only mark the celebration of love but also honor the artistry and beauty of flowers.
For many, Valentine's Day prompts the exchange of tokens of affection, often in the form of cut flowers. While purchasing a bouquet is a delightful gesture, there's something uniquely satisfying about cultivating your own blooms. As we approach the spring season, now is the perfect time to start planning your own cut-flower garden, ensuring a bountiful harvest that can brighten your home and relationships throughout the summer.
But where to begin? The possibilities are endless. From classic roses to vibrant zinnias, the choice of flowers for your garden depends on personal preference and growing conditions. Look for plants that thrive in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 10.
Here is a list of annuals commonly grown as cut flower selections: ageratum, bachelor’s button, blue lace flower, calendula, campanula, celosia, cleome, cosmos, dianthus, dill, forget-me-nots, geranium, gomphrena, larkspur, lisianthus, marigolds, nicotiana, phlox, salvia, scabiosa, snapdragon, statice, stock, strawflower, sunflower, sweet Annie, sweet pea, verbena and zinnia. Plant when seasonally appropriate.
Perennial options include 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, orchid, peony, periwinkle, poppy, sage, Shasta daisy and tulip.
Filler greenery selections such as asparagus fern, baby’s breath, bells of Ireland, coleus, dusty miller, eucalyptus, euphorbia, foxtail fern other ferns, Florida leucothoe, hosta, Italian ruscus, ivy, mint, ornamental grasses, rosemary and sage. These plants add texture to the arrangement and fill in empty spots.
Creating a thriving cut-flower garden requires attention to space, soil and sunlight.
Ensure your chosen plot receives ample sunlight, ideally six to eight hours a day, and is well-drained to prevent waterlogging. Consider the dimensions of your garden, too. Sunflowers, for example, require more space to flourish than delicate blooms such as cosmos.
In our pursuit of floral excellence, we are fortunate to have access to resources like extension specialist Kathryn Fontenot’s cut-flower trials. Through Fontenot’s expertise, aspiring floral enthusiasts can glean valuable insights into flower cultivation. She has published her recent extension research in several publications that include information on marigold, feverfew, paper flower, statis and strawflower gardening. Published this year, this information can be found on the LSU AgCenter’s website under the publications tab.
The allure of cut flowers extends far beyond their visual appeal. They serve as tangible expressions of emotion, symbolizing love, joy and celebration. Arranging them into stunning displays requires a delicate balance of creativity and skill, transforming simple blooms into captivating works of art.
National Floral Design Day on Feb. 28 is dedicated to recognizing the artistry and creativity of floral design. This craft encompasses the arrangement and composition of flowers and foliage into beautiful displays, bouquets, centerpieces and other ornamental arrangements.
It's a time to celebrate the beauty and versatility of flowers as well as the joy they bring to our lives through their colors, fragrances, and symbolism.
National Floral Design Day highlights the importance of this art form and cultural tradition. It encourages people to learn about different floral design techniques, styles and trends as well as to explore their own creativity through floral arrangements.
As we honor both Valentine's Day and National Floral Design Day, let us pause to reflect on the profound significance of cut flowers in our lives. They embody the essence of beauty and fleeting moments, reminding us to cherish the relationships and experiences that bring color to our world.
So whether you're planning a romantic gesture for Valentine's Day or simply reveling in the beauty of floral design, let the blooms inspire you to cultivate love and creativity in all aspects of life.
Yellow and orange marigolds stand tall in this field located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Marigolds are a potential replacement for carnations in some flower arrangements. Photo by Kathryn Fontenot/LSU AgCenter
Feverfew adds a pop of yellow to early spring bouquets. Photo by Kathryn Fontenot/LSU AgCenter
Grow your own cut flowers and take a stab at floral arrangement at home. Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter