Herbaceous perennials are the mainstay of the herbaceous border. These colourful favourites return year after year to brighten up the garden space. Many are excellent cut flowers as well. Let’s have a look at some popular herbaceous perennials for cut flowers and the vase.
When I first started gardening many moons ago, I was very intrigued with herbaceous perennials. I loved how they shared their magic of regrowth. Plant once and they will regrow, year after year.
I love all perennials in the garden, but was particularly smitten with the herbaceous perennials. Their cottage garden charm was endearing, and they were easy to grow.
As a beginner gardener I soaked up all the information I could about these wonderful plants.
They were perfect garden plants, with flowers that could be cut and taken inside to place in the vase.
They flourished in the perennial border, growing larger mounds with each season.
Here in usda hardiness zone 5 b we have the perfect climate for these plants. The cold temperatures of winter help to kill off all top growth, and the plants then become dormant.
In the early spring as if by a magic touch from Mother Nature, the plants start to reawaken. They begin to put up shoots from the ground to demonstrate their return for yet another season.
What Are Herbaceous Perennials?
Herbaceous perennials are those plants in cottage gardens which die back down to the ground naturally during the autumn and winter months. They then regrow with fresh new growth the following spring.
These herbaceous plants add beauty to the landscape, and also support a diverse pollinator community.
Not all plants will die back completely, although many do, especially in colder climates.
The plants do not develop a woody stem. The new growth that appears in spring is fresh and soft to the touch.
Although many herbaceous perennials return to the garden faithfully year after year, some have a longer lifespan than others, and some are even short lived.
A few of my very favourite herbaceous perennials are not long lasting at all. Some may last for only several seasons in our growing zone.
These plants require replanting, although this is always worth the effort.
Some are treated as biennials, where their best flower display is in the second year of growth.
Others return faithfully year after year, and are split and divided and spread throughout the garden.
Herbaceous Perennial Bloom Time
When planting herbaceous perennials, you will soon realize that they all have their their own blooming time, as well as duration of bloom.
Some will bloom early in late spring, while others will be early summer or mid summer blooming. Then others may return again in fall with a second flush of flowers, if we are lucky.
Knowing these approximate bloom times can help when planning your perennial border and cut flower garden.
Planting different plants throughout the gardening space with different bloom times will help to keep the garden bright with blooms throughout the entire season.
Keep this in mind as well when planning your perennials to use for cut flowers, as you will know when the plants are available to use as stems in your bouquets.
Growing Herbaceous Perennials For Cut Flowers
As a new gardener I was always thrilled to see the herbaceous perennials return to the garden, to share their glorious flowers for another season.
In the beginning I generally let the flowers remain in the garden, mostly enjoying them in the garden space.
On occasion though I brought them inside to enjoy their beauty in the vase.
When I became a flower farmer, I looked at these plants with a slightly different perspective. I wondered which ones could be used as cut flowers and especially which ones would have the longest life in the vase.
While annual and hardy annual flowers are often the most planted for the cutting garden, herbaceous perennials as well as other types of perennials (such as woody perennials or sub shrubs) also have an important place.
Benefits of Cutting Herbaceous Perennials
One thing I love about these plants is that you do not have to start them every year to plant outside. This certainly frees up valuable space on the seedling shelves for other plantings.
Although I do start many herbaceous perennials from seed, once they are outside growing in the garden, I may not have to plant them again for quite a while.
Not All Herbaceous Perennials Are Good Cut Flowers
Not all popular herbaceous perennials are used as cut flowers however. Sometimes the flowers are not long lasting or are not tall enough for arrangements.
Some of my favourite flowers have blooms that only last for a day, so although beautiful in the garden, are just not great as a cut flower.
Some popular herbaceous choices that are not great cut flowers include daylilies and Siberian Iris.
Milkweed is also a popular herbaceous perennial, however it is preferable to leave the blooms in the garden for the pollinators.
What Is An Example Of A Herbaceous Perennial?
One example of a herbaceous perennial is the Lupine.
Here in Nova Scotia large colonies of lupine grow back every summer to put on a magnificent display year after year. We look forward to the lupine display, and it seems to kick off gardening season every year.
The seas of blooms are visible along highways and roadways throughout the province, with large drifts of colourful pink and purple flowers.
The plants grow from herbaceous roots, and also spread from reseeding. Our temperate zone is perfect for natural stratification of the seeds, which helps to perpetuate the growth of the colonies.
Popular Herbaceous Perennials For Cut Flowers And The Vase
Here are some of the popular herbaceous perennials that we grow for both the perennial border and as flowers for the vase. These are just some of the varieties that produce the best cut flowers in our garden.
Most are full sun perennials, although some can grow in partial shade as well.
Campanula returns to our garden every year, and is a popular herbaceous perennial. Those blooms that are left in our garden freely reseed themselves.
The sweet bell shaped purple flowers last for quite a while, and we can use them as cut flowers for about two to three weeks.
The blooms are long lasting in the vase, and they make good cut flowers. They offer a country cottage charm to arrangements with a wild flower look.
There are many different varieties of Echinacea purpurea, which is also known by it’s common name purple coneflower. We grow several types in the perennial border.
We grow the traditional cottage garden style variety with pink flowers, and well as a brighter orange, pink and yellow variety called Cheyenne Spirit.
This flowering herbaceous perennial blooms for about a month in mid summer, and puts up occasional stems as well throughout the summer months.
Echinacea are great plants for the vase, and give a wildflower and simple look to bouquets.
As mentioned, Lupine grows wild along highways and roadways here in our province, but it also grows in perennial garden beds. The bright colors are very eye catching and draw attention to the garden.
Lupine in an interesting flower in the vase and adds a touch of colour and fabulous shape to arrangements.
Blooms will last for about two weeks in the garden.
Lily Of The Valley
Lily of the Valley is a flowering herbaceous perennial that has been grown in shady perennial gardens for many centuries.
Gardeners often connect the memories of these sweet smelling fragrant flowers to earliest childhood memories of family gardens.
The small white flowers are bell shaped with ruffled edges, and are best grown in the shade garden.
The blooms are very highly scented and have a unique sweet and pleasant smell that’s unforgettable.
Although not very tall, they are perfect in a small bouquet or arrangements with complimentary flowers from the garden.
Yarrow, or Achillea millefolium, grows both in our perennial garden as well as in a row for cutting for the vase.
This herbaceous perennial has a lacy disc shaped flower, and is a good compliment to other wildflower or cottage garden styled flowers from the garden.
There are many newer varieties of Yarrow available these days, and using it as a cut flower always adds a romantic touch to the arrangements.
Yarrow tends to release some sap into the vase after cutting, so remember to change the water in the vase daily.
Black Eyed Susans
Black Eyed Susans, or rudbeckias are short lived herbaceous perennials in our garden.
Second year blooms are fabulous, and in the second year the plant is in it’s glory.
Black-eyed Susan blooms in the garden for about a month in mid summer, and then may rebloom with a smaller flush again in late summer.
The flowers are amazing in the vase and they are long lived as cut flowers.
The bright yellow flowers are like beacons in the garden, and it’s no wonder that they are such a popular perennial to grow. The flowers aren’t always yellow or orange, as demonstrated by the fabulous shades of Rudbeckia Sahara.
We grow a number of species and varieties, some of which include Rudbeckia Hirta and Rudbeckia Triloba.
Liatris has a glowing feathery spike shaped bloom which makes a great accent in floral arrangements.
It is also amazing growing right there in the garden, with it’s bright purple plumes. A fabulous plant for attracting pollinators, the showy flowers are usually covered with bees in the garden space.
Liatris is a popular and valuable herbaceous perennial in the cottage garden, and also makes a great cut flower.
My first Sea Holly, or Eryngium plant grew from a package of birdseed, accidentally spilled out onto the ground. The plant grew in gravel, and showed it’s resilience to this beginner gardener.
Many years later I grow this herbaceous perennial in the garden, and harvest stems for cutting.
It’s unique blooms are fabulous in arrangements and add an interesting touch to the vase. The spiky blue flowers last for about 7 to 10 days in the vase.
They also come in a white variety, and we grow both in our garden.
The flowers bloom in the garden for about a month in mid summer, and can rebloom in the fall with a smaller display.
Delphinium is an amazing and attractive herbaceous perennial with tall stems and large spiked flower heads. It is one of the best perennials to use as a cut flower.
The tall statuesque blooms make a statement both in the garden and in the vase. Flower color is most often seen in shades of pink, purple or blue.
The blooms require support in areas where it is windy. Delphinium flowers tend to get top heavy because they are so large and full of blossoms, and they easily blow over if they are not well staked.
If they blow over however, all is not lost. Just cut the broken stem, and bring it inside to enjoy as a beautiful cut flower.
Delphinium has a good vase life.
Peonies are a great addition to the herbaceous perennial border or garden bed.
Peony plants make an excellent cut flower, and are a great choice for the vase. These beautiful flowers are large, round and soft and add a touch of romance to any floral arrangement.
Peonies are wonderful in the perennial garden, as they seem to last forever if planted with the right care.
The plants can last for generations, so you will be able to harvest the peony stems for many years to come.
Shasta Daisies are great cut flowers, with their large white flowers and prominent centre eyes. These flowers are popular in informal arrangements, and are beautiful in summer displays.
The Shasta daisy also makes a statement in the garden, as a bright light every where it has been planted.
The stems are tall and the blooms are large, and have much more substance than the common wildflower daisies growing in our fields.
Oriental poppies are herbaceous perennials that return faithfully to the garden every year.
They can be a little more finicky than some of the other more easy care perennials, however once they receive the right care they will happily return to the garden year after year.
The flowers are beautiful and so intriguing to see up close. The petals are like tissue paper and bring a beautiful delicate feel to the floral arrangement.
The colours of Oriental poppies range from a very bright palette of neon orange, to more subtle pastel shades of pink and apricot.
As with all poppies, the perennial species can be used as cut flowers. The blooms are not long lasting in the vase, and are best picked in the cracked bud stage for the longest vase life.
Searing or burning the ends of the freshly cut stems can also prolong vase life.
Silene Blushing Lanterns
Silene Blushing Lanterns, or Silene Vulgaris, is a perennial wildflower in our province.
The plant is unremarkable in the garden, and therefore not a common perennial in the garden.
It can be grown as a cut flower however, and used as an interesting filler. The muted colouring on the bell shaped blooms adds a subtle contrast to bouquets.
The flowers are tiny and interesting, and of course adds that wildflower look to cut flower arrangements.
We grew Silene in a large row, and used it for cutting. The planting returned the following year even larger, with taller stems and more prolific blooming, as many herbaceous perennials will do.
Astilbe is a wonderful plant in the herbaceous border, returning every spring to produce spirals of feathery blooms in mid summer. Usually in shades of pink or white, these flowers are long lasting in the garden.
There are many varieties of Astilbe to chose from, some with shorter stems, and others with taller more prominent blooms.
Some varieties produce a wonderful floral fragrance, while others have no scent.
The flowers of Astilbe are similar to those of celosia, the plume shaped varieties. Celosia is an annual flowering plant, while Astilbe is perennial and returns to the garden year after year.
Astilbe makes wonderful cut flowers and is a great filler or accent plant in bouquets.
Queen Of The Prairie
Queen of the Prairie, or Filipendula rubra is a plant which is similar to astilbe, however is much taller and has much larger blooms.
This herbaceous perennial is very attractive yet not widely known or grown.
Queen of the Prairie plants are large and are best grown at the back of the border. They can really make a statement in the garden by their sheer size alone.
The flowers are large and airy as well, and look like balls of cotton candy. They can be used as cut flowers and make a whimsical statement in any arrangement.
Growing herbaceous perennials in the garden is a rewarding experience, and is easy even for the beginner gardener. Most are hardy perennials and survive even the most challenging of winters.
Using those same plants as cut flowers adds another dimension to the value that these great flowering plants have to offer.
There are many popular herbaceous perennials, grown in the perennial border for their beautiful flowers from which we can cut flower stems. In this post I have touched on just a few that can be used for floral design.
Other herbaceous perennials can also be used as fillers in arrangements, such as ornamental grasses and perennials with beautiful foliage.
Then there are those herbaceous perennials which are grown in the perennial border and are used as cut flowers, which are not as well known. A few of these include Silene Blushing Lanterns and Queen Of the Prairie, among others.
I would encourage you to bring some flowers from your perennial garden inside, and put them in a vase. Give them a little time, and see how they do.
See which ones you enjoy, and combine them with other flowers and fillers for a well balanced arrangement.
There are many more popular herbaceous perennials for cut flowers to chose from, along with the ones I’ve mentioned. Grow what you love and enjoy them both in your garden and in your vase.
Do you grow popular herbaceous perennials for cut flowers in your own cutting garden? Be sure to leave a comment below to share your experience.