Double Duty Your Perennials: The cheapest way to enjoy cut flower is to grow your own. This doesn't need to be an ongoing expense, because most perennial flowers can easily serve double duty as cut flowers. Here are some good examples: black-eyed Susan (Rudbekia), blazing star (Liatris), chrysanthemum, delphinium, false sunflower (Heliopsis), goldenrod (Solidago), iris, peony (Paeonia), purple coneflower (Echinacea), Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum), and yarrow (Achillea).
Incorporate Alternative Plant Materials: Whether you buy a bouquet of cut flowers at the store, or grow them yourself, an easy way to add more color, texture, and interest to your arrangements is to utilize all of the plant materials that are available to you. This may include incorporating things from around your yard (like branches, seed pods, cones, herbs) or kitchen (like sliced fruit or vegetables) into your arrangements.
Use Flowers That Go From Fresh to Dry: Another great way to stretch your cut flower dollars is to choose long-lasting flowers that can be used when fresh, and then dried and used again. Good choices for fresh-to-dry flowers include globe amaranth (Gomphrena), lavendar (Lavandula), cockscomb (Celosia), statice (Limonium), strawflower (Helichrysum), annual salvia, heather (Erica), baby's breath (Gypsophila), cattail (Typha), and goldenrod (Solidago).
Tip: Some flowers hold their color after they dry better than others. You'll get the best color retention if you dry your plants in a dark location, because light can bleach the colors. Blue and yellow flowers retain most of their color when air-dried, whereas pink flowers tend to fade.
Hunt for Bargain Containers: Anything that can hold water has the potential to be fashioned into a vase for cut flowers. From a simple glass jar, to a pair of old rubber boots, there are plenty of places to find inexpensive and interesting vases and containers: yard sales, dollar stores, antique stores, Goodwill, and your own kitchen cupboards and closets.
Remember, Simple Can Be Beautiful: You don't need to create an over-the-top, show-stopping arrangement for beautiful design. Don't overlook a single beautiful flower alone in a vase-simple, yet effective.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.