While gardeners cultivate many different species of flowering plants in their gardens, not all flowers are suitable for cut flower arrangements. Common cut flower varieties feature colorful, showy blooms on strong, sturdy stems that won't droop or bend when fresh.
Native to Canada, North America and northern Mexico, the common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is a popular member of the aster/daisy family that commonly finds its way into cut flower bouquets. Sunflowers boast large yellow flowers, many of which have edible seeds. Though there are many cultivars available, most sunflower species grow on tall, stiff stalks and reach an average height of between 8 and 15 feet. The common sunflower is a warm season annual and can be grown during the spring and summer just about anywhere in the United States. The plant does best in full sunlight, in well drained, slightly alkaline or neutral soil. Gardeners with acidic soil can grow sunflowers by adding a dusting of neutralizing lime to the soil. Water sunflowers frequently for best results.
The national flower of Mexico, the dahlia (Helianthus annuus) is a striking perennial that boasts large round flowerheads in colors ranging from creamy white to lavender, yellow, red, pink and purple. Dahlias can reach heights ranging from about a foot to 6 feet, though they are more commonly in the 3- or 4-foot range. Dahlias have sturdy stems and attractive fleshy foliage, making them ideal as long lasting cut flowers. Dahlias grow best in USDA zones 9A to 11A, in partial to full sunlight. The plants will thrive in a well drained neutral loam, provided they are watered frequently.
The mum (chrysanthemum hybrids), also called a garden mum or a chrysanthemum, is a flowering garden hybrid created from parent species originally native to China and Japan. The plant is available in a variety of sizes, from less than a foot tall to up to 5 feet. Mums sport fluffy, brightly colored flowerheads in a spectrum of warm pastel colors. The plant also has leafy dark green foliage. Mums are easy to grow and a common sight in cut flower bouquets. The plant grows best in USDA zones 5 to 9, in a slightly acidic soil. The plant will grow in partial sun or full sun. Though moderately drought tolerant once established, mums should be watered on especially hot summer days.