Do you want to learn how to grow a cut flower garden? This guide can show you how to design, plant, maintain and harvest your flowers from your cut garden.
Cut Flower Garden for Beginners
A cut-flower garden can be a great way to add beauty and color to your yard and provide fresh flowers for your home.
If you are a beginner, start small and choose your favorite flowers. Determine how many you would like to grow for how much space you have available.
Then, choose various flowers that bloom in different seasons to enjoy a continuous supply of fresh blooms throughout the growing season.
What is a Cutting Flower Garden
A cutting flower garden, also known as a cutting garden, is designed for growing flowers that can be cut and used in fresh-cut bouquets.
Cutting gardens often include a mix of annual flowers, perennials, and bulbs that bloom at different times throughout the growing season. This ensures a continuous supply of flowers for cutting.
For more in-depth guides on what to plant in your cut flower garden for cutting flowers, read these posts:
- How to Plant Dahlia Tubers
- Best Places to Buy Cutting Flower Seeds Online
- How to Grow Flowers From Seed
Cut Flower Garden Layout
When designing a cut flower garden layout, it is essential to consider the size of your garden. Also, consider the types of flowers you will be planting and how much sunlight each flower needs.
A flower garden layout should be designed to provide a variety of colors and textures for cutting throughout the growing season.
Choose various plants, such as annuals, perennial flowers, and spring bulbs, that will bloom from early spring through late summer and into the fall.
Consider adding plants with different heights, textures, and colors. Be sure to include some plants that will provide attractive foliage that can be used as fillers in fresh flower bouquets.
Create several planting beds that are three to four feet wide. Arrange the flower bed to provide easy access for harvesting with wide rows between them.
How to Start a Cut Flower Garden
Starting a cut flower is a rewarding and fun project that can provide you with endless blooms to enjoy in your home.
Begin by researching the types of flowers that will do well in your area and the best times to plant them. Some flower seeds are best started indoors to ensure they are ready for planting outside at the appropriate time.
Some flowers, like annuals, must be replanted yearly, while perennials will return each spring.
1. Choose the Right Location
Choosing the right location for your cut flower garden is crucial to ensure the success of your plants.
Sunlight is needed for flowers to grow and bloom, so choose sunny spot with at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.
Observe the area you have in mind throughout the day to determine the amount of sunlight it receives. Make sure no large trees or buildings will shade your garden, especially in the morning.
Aside from full sun, soil quality is also important for growing healthy cut flowers. Make sure that the soil is well-draining and fertile.
You can test the soil pH level using a soil test kit, which you can purchase from a garden center or online. Ideally, the pH level should be around 5.5-7.0 for most cut flowers.
If the pH level is too low or high, you can amend the soil with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve its quality.
Free of Weeds and Debris
It is also essential to ensure that the well-drained soil is free from weeds and other debris that can compete with your plants for nutrients and water.
Clear the area of any grass or weeds and remove rocks or debris from the soil. This will help your cut flowers have enough space to grow and access the nutrients they need.
In addition to sunlight and soil quality, consider the accessibility of your flower garden location. Ensure it is easy to access and you have enough space to move around your garden beds for planting, watering, and harvesting.
You can also include hardscaping features such as paths, trellises, or raised beds to add interest and allow access to flowers for cutting.
Consider placing your garden beds near a water source to make watering easier, especially during dry spells. Flowers require consistent moisture to grow and bloom. Here are some water options for cut flower gardens:
- Hand Watering – this is ideal if you have a small cut flower garden. It involves using a watering can or hose to water the plants directly at the base.
- Drip Irrigation – this is a more efficient way to water a cut flower garden, as it delivers water directly to the plant’s roots,
- Soaker Hoses – these are similar to drip irrigation systems but deliver water through a porous hose that allows water to seep into the soil gradually.
- Sprinkler System – these are designed to spray water over a wide area. However, this can be problematic as it can result in soaking the entire plant instead of focusing on irrigating the soil. When the foliage of the plants remains wet for extended periods, it can create a breeding ground for fungal and bacterial diseases such as powdery mildew.
Flower Garden in Raised Beds
Raise garden beds are an excellent option for growing a cut flower garden. They provide better soil drainage and can be customized to fit your space and needs.
One advantage of a raised bed is that you can control the quality of the soil by adding nutrient-rich compost and organic matter. This is important when growing flowers, as they require fertile soil to produce healthy blooms.
If you do not already have raised beds in your garden, learning how to build a garden bed is very simple! With some preparation, starting a cut flower garden in raised beds can provide a beautiful and bountiful supply of fresh cut flowers all season.
2. Choose your Flowers
When choosing the best cut flowers for your cut flower garden, it is important to select varieties that are well-suited to your climate and growing conditions.
Consider the size, shape, and color of the cut flowers to grow. Mixing large and small blooms in various shapes and sizes will create interest and texture in your garden.
It is helpful to choose a mix of annuals, perennials, fillers, and tender perennials to have a steady supply of blooms throughout the growing season.
Annuals, such as zinnias, calendula, sunflowers, and cosmos, grow, flower, and die in one growing season. They are easy to grow from seed and can be direct sown in the garden after all danger of frost has passed.
Perennial cut flowers are plants that return year after year, such as roses, peonies, and daffodils. They take longer to establish but can offer a reliable source of blooms for years to come.
Then there are tender perennials such as my personal favorite, dahlias. They are reliably winter hardy in hardiness zones eight and higher. In colder zones, dahlias can either be treated as annuals, or the tubers can be dug up after the first frost, stored indoors for winter, and replanted in spring.
Consider adding some foliage plants or fillers to your cut flower garden. These can add interest and texture to your fresh flower arrangements and helps fill gaps between your hero blooms. A few good options include:
It is also essential to consider the bloom time of your flowers. Planting a mix of early, mid, and late-season bloomers will ensure a continuous supply of fresh-cut flowers.
Make sure to choose flower varieties with a long vase life and are well-suited to cutting. Some flowers may wilt quickly or not hold up well in bouquets.
Creating a beautiful flower arrangement is easy when you can have showy flowers that can serve as the centerpiece. While there are many options, long-lasting cut flowers can ensure the arrangement stays fresh for days.
Having lots of flowers means you will not have to rely on the grocery store or florist for purchasing flowers. You can grow your own cut flowers in a regular flower garden.
Sweet Annie, Baby’s Breath, Sweet William, Globe Amaranth and Bachelors Button are all other excellent choices for home-grown cut flowers.
3. Plan Your Garden
When planning your cut flower garden, remember a few key things for a successful and beautiful garden.
Start by deciding on the layout of your garden. Consider grouping flowers by color, height, or texture. For example, you might plant tall flowers like sunflowers at the back of your garden with shorter flowers like zinnias or cosmos in the front.
Make sure to leave enough space between plants for proper growth and airflow. Crowding your flowers can lead to disease and pests, so be mindful of the recommended spacing for each type of plant.
It is also important to remember each flower’s bloom time when planning your garden. Choose a mix of annuals and perennials to ensure a steady supply of blooms.
Some flowers, like zinnias, roses, dahlias, and sunflowers, have a long blooming period, while others, like tulips, daffodils, and peonies, have a shorter bloom time.
4. Plant Your Flowers
To plant your flowers, start by preparing the soil. Clear the area of any weeds or debris, and loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches.
If the soil is heavy clay or sand, add organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve its texture and fertility.
Direct Sow Seeds
Next, plant your flowers according to their specific needs. Some flowers, like sunflowers and zinnias, can be directly sown into the ground after the danger of frost has passed in the spring.
Sprinkle the seeds over the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil, following the recommended planting depth for the particular flower.
Start Seeds Indoors
Some flowers, such as Celosia, Flowering Tobacco, and Black Eyed Susans are best started indoors before transplanting the young plants in the garden.
To start seeds indoors, fill small pots or trays with seed-starting mix. Then, plant the seeds according to the recommended depth on the seed packet. Then, keep them moist and warm until they germinate.
Start Tubers Indoors
Some tubers, such as dahlias, can be started several weeks indoors before the last frost date and then transplanted outdoors once the weather warms up.
When planting your flowers, follow the recommended spacing for each type of flower. Crowding plants can lead to poor air circulation, increasing the risk of disease and pest problems.
Consider adding support structures, such as stakes (for dahlias) and cages (for peonies), as they will need the support as they grow.
5. Maintain your Garden
Maintaining your cut flower garden is crucial for healthy plant growth and a steady supply of beautiful blooms. Here are some tips for keeping your garden in top shape:
Pinch Your Plants
This gardening technique involves removing the tips of a plant’s stem to encourage branching and produce fuller, bushier growth.
When you pinch a plant, you remove the growing tip of the stem when the plant is still young and has only a few sets of leaves.
This is only done on plants with branching forms, such as zinnias, celosia, cosmos, and dahlias.
Deadheading, or removing spent blooms or dead flowers, is essential for encouraging your plants to produce more flowers. Regular deadheading also prevents your garden from becoming messy and unsightly.
Remove Damaged Foliage
Removing damaged or diseased foliage can prevent the spread of disease throughout your garden. Regularly check your plants for any signs of damage and remove any affected leaves or stems.
Water Deeply and Regularly
Watering is crucial for healthy plant growth. Most cut flowers require around an inch of water per week, depending on your climate and soil type. Water your plants deeply and regularly, especially during hot and dry weather.
Regular fertilizing can give your plants the essential nutrients they need to produce healthy blooms. A balanced fertilizer applied once a month is suitable for most cut flowers. Be sure to follow the recommended dosage on the fertilizer package.
Mulch Your Garden
Mulching can help regulate soil temperate and moisture levels. It also helps to suppress weed growth and protect your plant’s roots. Organic mulch, such as shredded leaves or straw, is suitable for most cut flowers.
6. Harvest your Flowers
Harvesting your flowers at the right time is important so they last longer in a vase.
The best time to harvest your cut flower is early morning. At this time, flowers are at their peak freshness, meaning they are full of water and nutrients. You can also harvest in the late afternoon or evening with the temperature is cooler.
How to Harvest Fresh Cut Flower
To harvest your flowers, use sharp scissors or pruners to make a clean cut at a 45-degree angle just above a leaf node or bud. Avoid using dull scissors or tearing the long stems, which can damage the plant.
As you harvest, remove the leaves from the lower half of the stems so they are not submerged in the bucket of water. Immediately place the cut flowers in a container filled with cool, clean, fresh water.
After cutting the stems, placing them in a cool, dark area not exposed to direct sunlight is best. Let them sit there for a few hours before arranging, as this will give enough time for the flowers and foliage to rehydrate fully.
Finally, arrange your cut flowers in a vase or container. Keep them away from direct sunlight, drafts, and heat sources. Change the water every other day, re-cut the stems, and add fresh floral preservatives to ensure your flowers last as long as possible.
Cut Flower Garden Plants
Cut flower garden plants are specifically grown for colorful blooms and beautiful flowers. Homegrown flowers can be cut and used in floral arrangements on the kitchen table or gifted to loved ones.
Some excellent cut flowers include roses, dahlias, sunflowers, peonies, and zinnias. Other good cut flowers include black-eyed susan and sweet peas.
When planning your own cutting garden, it is a good idea to consider the bloom time, length of stems, as well as the colors of the flowers.
What Should I Plant in My Cut Flower Garden?
When planning your cut flower garden, consider planting a mix of annuals, perennials, and bulbs for various blooms throughout the growing season.
In the fall, you can plant bulbs such as tulips and daffodils which will bloom in the spring and provide a burst of color after the winter months.
For cut-and-come-again flowers, the best cut flowers to grow are zinnias, cosmos, and dahlias. These plants will produce multiple blooms allowing you to cut them for bouquets while leaving the plant to continue growing and producing more flowers. These varieties also bloom from summer until the first frost.
Perennials such as peonies and roses are also great choices for cut flower gardens, as they will return year after year and provide a reliable source of blooms.
Best Flowers for Cut Flower Garden
- Spring – Tulips, Daffodils, Anemones, Ranunculus, Peonies
- Summer – Sunflowers, Zinnias, Cosmos, Dahlias, Celosia, Black Eyed Susan, Roses
- Fall – Chrysanthemums, Asters, Sunflowers, Dahlias, Zinnias, Rudbeckia
Where to Buy Cut Flower Garden Seeds
You can buy cut flower seeds for planting a cutting garden in many places.
- Online Seed Retailers – Many online retailers, such as Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Floret Flowers, specialize in selling seeds for cut flower gardens. For dahlia tubers and daffodils, I highly recommend The Farmhouse Flower Farm.
- Garden Centers – Local garden centers and the local nursery often carry a variety of seeds for cut flower gardens.
- Seed Catalogs – Seed catalogs are an excellent resource for finding flower seeds. Many seed companies, like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, offer free catalogs you can request online.
- Farmers Market – Local farmer’s markets and farm stands often sell seeds for cut flower gardens, plants, and fresh-cut flowers.
- Seed Swaps – Seed swaps are a great way to exchange seeds with other gardeners in your community. Check with your local gardening club or community group to see if they host any seed swaps.
Tools and Books for Growing a Cutting Garden
Growing a cutting garden requires the right tools and resources to ensure success. Here are some essential tools and books for growing a cutting garden.
Flower Gardening Tools:
- Garden Gloves – a good pair of garden gloves will protect your hands from thorns and prickly stems.
- Hand Pruners or Scissors – these tools are essential for harvesting cut flowers and tidying your plants.
- Trowel – a trowel is useful for planting and transplanting flowers
- Water Can or Hose – consistent watering is essential for healthy plant growth and flower production. I suggest using soaker hoses or drip irrigation for a large flower garden.
- Garden Fork or Spade – these tools help turn over the soil and add compost or other amendments.
- Floral Preservative – Multi-nutrient formula that helps fresh-cut flowers stay fresh.
Cut Flower Garden Books
- Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: This book provides practical tips and advice for growing a cutting garden, beautiful photographs, and detailed instructions for creating stunning floral arrangements.
- The Cutting Garden: This book guides selecting the best flowers for cutting and tips for arranging them in beautiful bouquets and displays.
Grow Your Own Cut Flower Garden
Growing cut flowers in a cut flower garden can be a wonderful and rewarding experience. Anyone can create a beautiful and thriving cutting garden with some planning, the right tools, and some helpful resources.
Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a new gardener, there are plenty of flowers to suit your needs and preferences. From roses and dahlias to zinnias and sunflowers, the possibilities are endless.
Following the best practices for planting, growing, and harvesting cut flowers, you can enjoy the beauty of fresh blooms throughout the flowering season.
So, roll up your sleeves, grab your tools, and get ready to grow your own cut flowers that will bring your joy.