Colorful cuts

It's easy to brighten the indoors with flowers from your garden — use your imagination

Few things give gardeners more pleasure than enjoying the fruits of their labors. While this may please your tastebuds in the case of fruits and vegetables, flowers cut from your yard will lift your spirits and add a bright spot of color indoors.

Delphinium, gladiolus, larkspur, daisies, columbine, coneflower, lilies, roses, phlox, peonies, iris, rudbeckia — these perennials are but a few of the flowers that do well in a vase. Annuals, including bachelor buttons, cleome, cosmos, calendula, salvia, sweet peas and zinnias, are colorful, easy to grow and last well indoors.

Shady places will provide you with hellebore, coral bells, lily of the valley and tuberous begonias. Ferns and coleus, both shade plants, add interest to your bouquet as fillers. Fillers growing in the sun, such as baby's breath, astilbe and ornamental grasses, will add personality, too. If you have a tree or shrub with small leaves, snip a stem or two to add to your creation.

Try using some herbs such as rosemary, dill, lavender or thyme with annuals, which often do not have much fragrance. Asparagus's fern-like growth, which comes after the asparagus spears, is another favorite of mine.

Flowers should be cut in the cool of the morning, while they are most filled with the water and plant sugars that help extend their lives indoors. Use sharp shears, and put the cut flowers immediately into the bucket of water you have brought with you.

As a rule of thumb, cut flowers that are just beginning to open. The only exceptions are Shasta daisies and zinnias, which should be cut after they are fully open. If you notice any aphids or other insects on your harvest, spray with a diluted solution of dishwashing soap before bringing them indoors. Rinse the flowers with a room-temperature spray of plain water.

Be creative with containers. Besides regular flower vases, try old canning jars for a country look, wine or other bottles, or float some large flowers, such as dahlias or peonies, in a bowl. Use your imagination!

To keep flowers fresh longer, remove any leaves or buds that would be in the water. Add a teaspoon or so of sugar to a quart of water, or use a mixture of half lemon-lime soda (not diet) and half water in the vase. The slight acidity discourages mold growth. A quarter teaspoon of bleach will do the same thing.

Also, changing the water every few days, removing wilted-looking flowers, and re-cutting the bottom of the stem will extend the time you can enjoy your indoor flower garden.

Coming up: Learn about growing a winter vegetable garden from Master Gardener Janet Rodkey from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, July 26. Rodkey will discuss what can be grown in the winter months in the Rogue Valley and when to start planting. The class will be at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road, in Central Point. Costs is $5. Call 541-776-7371 for information.

Carol Oneal is a past president of the OSU Jackson County Master Gardeners Association. Email her at

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