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October 13, 2011 8:08 AM   Subscribe

What are some good plants to place in our wedding garden? We've recently joined a community garden a few miles away and are hoping to use the plot to grow our own flowers / ornamental for our beach wedding this upcoming Memorial Day.

The plot: I'm in northern Florida (Hardiness zone 9, borderline 10) and the plot will be irrigated with drip tape and receives plenty of direct sunlight (full sun all day long). The surrounding plots will be mostly veggies and the soil will have been freshly double dug (what a work out, but I think it's worth it).

The couple: We're simple people doing a beach wedding at a large beach house. However, the soon to be Ms. Eld wants things to be nice. We're also on a budget, environmentally conscious, and I have a bit of a green thumb when it comes to veggies/peppers/etc. so the 'grow your own' thing really fits us. However, one of the skills I'm still lacking is the ability to time/plan my plantings/starts and/or select appropriate varieties. This is where y'all come in! Please help me select varieties/flower/plant types and time the planting such that I can harvest blooming flowers around memorial day.

Again, we're not expecting award winning orchids that have a one day window of blooming or something, just simple flowers that'll meet the following criteria, in order of importance:

A) are able to be grown by mortals like us, where we are.
B) will hold up to a car ride and a harvest up to a few days before the event, more margin of safety here is better. Blooms are great, but cool plant/greenery is ok too.
C) will look nice.
posted by RolandOfEld to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Lillies will look nice, are available in many colors and can be planted in the fall as bulbs. I think we planted ours in the spring as plants, but we are up in Minnesota. Lilly pollen can stain though, so remove the stamens when you harvest them.
posted by soelo at 8:10 AM on October 13, 2011

Peonies? Fragrant and they are great in vases or bouquets.
posted by jerseygirl at 8:22 AM on October 13, 2011

we grew a bunch of ornamental kale for our wedding. It worked out because you don't have to worry about them flowering too early or too late, they come in a bunch of green/pink/white shades, and they're really tough, so even with a crazy aphid infestation, we were able to just pull off effected leaves after cutting, wash the centers, and move on.
posted by juliapangolin at 8:23 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Not peonies, you're never going to be able to have plants big enough to harvest anything but a single bloom or two if you plant them now. Similarly, stay away from perennials, they grow too slowly for your purposes and you'd have to spend a lot of money to buy mature plants anyway.

I'd shoot for long stemmed annuals, from seed, like these from Botanical Interests. Look through them and match them up to your zone. You should be able to start sowing most as soon as the ground can be worked (which is early for you guys - like Bishop's Flower and larkspur, which I think would look wonderful together for a spring wedding - and look for things that bloom in summer or late spring.
posted by lydhre at 8:49 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Peonies require a chill--Zone 8 is the warmest zone they'll tolerate.

I think you're best off growing semi-tropicals in pots, rather than growing something you can cut down (unless you need bouquets.) Canna lilies, etc. Tom McCubbin's column might be useful as reference.
UF Extension has a guide to "easy cut" flowers.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:49 AM on October 13, 2011

I was also going to suggest potted plants for decoration, too. We went with plastic terra cotta-colored pots with a variety of annuals in them for the table centerpieces at the wedding. It was inexpensive and they were a lot more durable to transport than vases of roses or fishbowls with floating candles or whatever. (And you don't have to worry about them dying as much.) Afterwards parents got to take them home and still use them for yard decoration. (We also had wildflower seeds as favors so it kind of fit a theme.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 9:01 AM on October 13, 2011

Basically you're looking for anything that can survive in your zone that's suggested as a "cut flower". Coneflowers, baby's breath, cockscomb, bachelor's button, gladiolas, yarrow, zinnias, asters, poppies, sunflowers, those are all some that I know, but here's a good long list of perennials and here's a nice list of annuals. This list is super-comprehensive by season. Even if you just walk into your local Wal-Mart and look at their seed selection this upcoming spring, some packets will say, "GREAT FOR CUTTING!" That's what you want.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:30 AM on October 13, 2011

You want annuals. Ask your local nurseries and ag extension. They will have the best idea of what will most likely be ready (and when to plant it). Zones are large and vary widely, so look to the most local information you can get.
Don't plant bulbs, by the way. Bulbs are very reliant on: size, planting depth, and temperature to produce a good bloom- and then the bloom is nice for a very short window of time, with no chance of re-bloom in most cases. Not worth the trouble for a wedding.

also: don't forget about nice greenery in different varieties and textures.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:06 AM on October 13, 2011

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