Choosing flower varieties for use as cut flowers is dependent upon the following key characteristics for the most successful options: long plant life, a vibrant vase life of seven or more days, resistance to disease, pests, drought and heat, low-maintenance harvesting and a pleasing aesthetic quality.
Pincushion flowers (Scabiosa atropurpurea), also referred to as sweet scabiosa, are herbaceous perennials that display green foliage and dark pink flowers that bloom during warmer temperatures. A widely used cut flower variety by florists, the North Dakota State University Agriculture and University Extension suggests 'Fama' and 'Complement' varieties. Thriving in full sun, pincushion flowers grow in acid sandy, loam or clay soil. Pincushion flowers grow to a height of 1 foot and have no major pest or disease problems, explains the University of Florida IFAS Extension.
Zinnias (Zinnia elegans) are annual flowers that display blooms in every color except for blue with a flower head diameter ranging from 1/2 to 5 inches. Zinnias are repeat bloomers that will continue to bloom all summer if the plants are deadheaded and provided constant moisture. Zinnias are drought resistant but prefer consistent watering; however, do not water directly over zinnias because excessively wet foliage may create disease susceptibility, according to the Iowa State University Extension. Suggested varieties include 'Giant Mammoth', 'Ruffles' and 'Cut-and-Come-Again'. Thriving in direct sun and well-drained soil, zinnias grow to a height of 8 to 48 inches.
False spireas (Astilbe x arendsii) are perennials that form mounds of green to red/bronze foliage resembling ferns with flowers in hues of red, pink or white. False spirea thrives in partial sun to full shade and is ideal for shaded areas. Preferring moist, well-drained soil, this cut flower variety grows to a height of 18 inches to 4 feet, according to the University of Illinois Extension HortAnswers. Additionally, false spirea is resistant to the animal pests rabbit and deer.
Floss flowers (Ageratum houstonianum) are annual plants that form mounds of green foliage with blooms in blue, purple, pink or white. Thriving in full sunlight, this cut flower variety prefers moist, well-drained soil, but tolerates dry soil conditions. Floss flowers will maintain bloom throughout the summer season provided that soil remains fertile. This tender annual grows to a height of 6 to 36 inches, explains the University of Illinois Extension HortAnswers. The suggested variety for floss flowers is 'Blue Horizon'.