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Plan garden now to grow summer wedding flowers
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Imagine this: It's late winter, you love growing flowers, your child is getting married this summer and the costs from required deposits are already mounting. As financial worry awakens you during the night, those 2 a.m. feedings of long ago seem like a pleasant dream.
This is the voice of experience, because my daughter has a July 21 date with Holy Matrimony. Compounding my “father of the bride” concerns, a friend recently added pressure by saying, “Well, we know you'll have great flowers.” In panic I worry, “Do I have to be the horticulturist for this event, too?”
Maybe I could save a few precious dollars by growing my own. You certainly could, too.
If you have a June wedding, there is a lot you can do with flowers. First, think of the colors chosen by the bride. More than likely there is a wonderful zinnia in that particular color. Renowned as cut flowers, Benary Giants would be the perfect place to start.
In Mississippi State University trials, the Benary Giants reached from 39 to 42 inches tall and had huge dahlia-shaped blossoms. They are truly a marvel when it comes to vase life. Here is where planning is critical. The maturity date is about 75 days from seeding. My daughter's wedding is in July, so I am safe.
I go on a lot of garden tours in June and know that flowers like ox eye daisy, Shasta daisy, coreopsis, yarrow, blue salvias, and purple coneflowers are hitting their stride, so to speak, at this time. These are all perennials, so if your wedding is a year or two from now, you'll have even more flowers if you plant this year.
Another choice flower for the vase would be the angelonia, sometimes called Summer Snapdragon. Kerry Johnson, MSU Extension Service area horticultural agent in Lucedale, has been working a lot with cut flowers in recent years and has found success with the angelonia.
Angelonia flowers are usually 24 to 30 inches tall. Taller varieties like Angel Face and Angel Mist would be best as cut flowers in a wedding. They would be ideal for giving a spiky texture to arrangements.
This year, the cut flower of the year is the Limelight hydrangea. Guihong Bi, research horticulturist at the Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station, included this one in her hydrangea research and told me she is very impressed with its performance. The Limelight hydrangea can be harvested at three different stages: immature with some green showing, fully mature with all bracts white, and past mature with rosy pink bracts. You could not ask for a more exquisite flower for a wedding.
I have three garden and patio shows, a pack trial in California and a Mid South Greenhouse Growers Conference I must attend before the wedding, so growing my own flowers may not be an option for me. Your schedule may be as harrowing.
If you have the time, you can have some fun growing and harvesting, not vegetables like much of the state does, but rows and rows of cut flowers. Save some for me.