Cut flowers (almost) for free

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Nothing brightens up a room or makes a more personal gift than a bunch of fresh flowers. They can be costly, though – I mean really costly, both financially and environmentally. Small arrangements can easily sell from £25 (and up) from a good quality florist. Sadly, the pesticides – often used in greater amounts than on edible crops – and transport miles involved in creating these displays can be considerable, too. Dictated by the demands of the global cut-flower industry, much of this material, despite being 3D-printer perfect in appearance is also boringly uniform. With stems so straight and petals so flawless, they are indistinguishable from plastic, and smell just about as fragrant.

But if you get your species choice right, cut flowers can be among the easiest of all crops to grow. Capable of coming back year after year from just a single purchase of seed, they are far cheaper, too, some arguably free. They will have a stronger scent and longer vase life to boot. It really is win-win all round. Even if you have the smallest plot, there are options to give you months of colour and fragrance. Here are a bunch I am sowing and planting right now…

Sweet peas will offer up months of floral harvests if you keep picking them regularly. Now is still a good time to sow them up north, but if you are in the south pots of seedlings can be picked up at very reasonable prices from garden centres everywhere.

If it’s nose appeal you are after, be sure to check for the word “scented” or “fragrant” on the packet, as not all varieties are scented. My favourite rose breeder, David Austin, has created an astonishing array of varieties far more delicate and olde-worlde looking than any “Dulux-coloured” types sold in supermarkets, all of which are selected for gorgeous scent.

Lavender is easy to propagate from seeds and cuttings and will produce dozens of fragrant flower heads per plant every summer.

In late summer, you can’t beat the blouse, bang-on-trend blooms of dahlias that will churn out a continuous flow of flowers right up to the first frosts. If you pot up a packet of tubers right now, the new growth can be used to make fast-growing cuttings, giving you loads of plants for free. A similar deal is the case with microcosmic that will form a growing clump if left to their own devices, providing more and more flowers each year. Both these blooms have an excellent vase life, lasting well over a week indoors.

For More Information:- James Wong

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