wild flowers

If you want to have fresh cut bouquets of flowers in your home all summer and spring, adding a cut flower garden to your yard or garden space is one of the simplest ways to do that. Starting a cut flower garden is a simple way to bring joy to your day.

While planting and caring for flowers may seem overwhelming, there are many flowers that are simple to grow and very tolerant of drought, poor soil, and lack of attention. This blog post will cover some of the easiest flowers to grow in a cut flower garden as well as tips for caring for your cut flower garden. 

There’s something magical about bringing the beauty of the outdoors into our homes, and what better way to do bring color and life into your home than by cut flowers. There is something about a vase of fresh flowers on the kitchen table that just sparks joy.

Starting a cut flower garden is not only rewarding but also allows you to create your own arrangements right from your backyard. Whether you’ve been gardening for a long time or you are just starting out on your gardening journey, cultivating a cut flower garden is an enjoyable undertaking.

Flowers are a simple, beautiful way to bring color and life into our homes. 

vase of wildflowers and coffee cup on kitchen table

What is a cut flower garden?

A cut flower garden, simply, is a garden designated for planting flowers that can be harvested for display. Cut flower gardens are generally not grown with the idea of having pretty garden space to look at outside, but rather with the intention that the flowers will be cut. When planning  your flower garden, keep in mind the area of ground you have to work with. Here’s some things to consider when planning your cut flower garden:

1. The right location: Most flowering plants thrive in full sun, so choose a place in your garden or yard that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight and has well-drained soil. Consider your geographical location and hardiness zone as well. This will tell you things like your first and last frost date an average high and low temperatures, all important things when deciding what flowers will grow best in your area. Check your hardiness zone here. 

2. Choose your flowers: Before you buy seeds, research flowers that are best for cutting. You will want to consider things like the height and color palette as well as bloom time. Choose flowers that will work well together to ensure that your garden and cut flower arrangements will be visually appealing throughout the growing season. Some of my favorite cut flowers for growing are sunflowers, zinnias, and cosmos.

3. Prepare your flower beds: Before planting you will want to make sure that you take time to prepare your garden area and soil for flowers. Do you need a fence to keep creatures out? A good way to provide water to your garden? Now is the time to address those things. Additionally, you will want to consider amending the soil with compost or other organic matter to improve the fertility and quality of your soil. Healthy soil is essential for flowers to develop strong root system.

4. Planting your flowers: Each flower will have specific instruction for planting depth and spacing, be sure to follow the guidelines on the seed packets when planting your seeds. 

5. Maintaining your cut flower garden: Once your seeds are in the ground, regular watering, mulching, and weeding will be essential to keeping your plants healthy and thriving. Be sure to follow specific growing instructions for the plants that you choose. 

scissors and hand on purple flowers

What are the benefits of having a cut flower garden?

There are numerous benefits to having your own cut flower garden. I’ll share just four things here.

1. Fresh Flowers. The first benefits of having your own cut flower garden is that you will have a constant supply of fresh flowers. This is maybe one of the more obvious benefits. No more running to the store to grab a bouquet of flowers, there only as far as your backyard! Simply walk outside and snip a few flowers, throw them in a vase, add water, and you have a fresh arrangement of beautiful flowers. 

2. Cost effective. One of the more appealing benefits of growing your own flowers is that it is extremely cost effective. While all of those trips to the florist to buy flowers can quickly add up, growing your own flowers will cost very little, especially when you start them from seed. Once you get your garden going and have a few years under your belt, the costs for maintenance and upkeep are minimal. 

3. Personalized arrangements. One of the most delightful benefits of growing your own flowers is that you have complete control over the varieties and colors that you cultivate. This will allow you to make arrangements that appeal to your taste and style and home decor. You can choose vibrant, bold colored flowers or softer, more delicate blooms – whatever you prefer. 

4. Outdoor time. The last benefit to starting your own cut flower garden is the opportunity to be outside in nature. Time outside in the sunshine and fresh air has incredible health benefits and chances are you will reap emotional and psychological benefits just spending time outside. There is something so peaceful and relaxing that comes with putting your hands in dirt, watching a flower bloom and grow, and feeling the sun on your face and wind in your hair.

pink and purple zinnias

How to plan your cut flower garden

When you are thinking about starting your cut flower garden, it is important to decide if you would like to have annual or perennial flowers growing in that space. If you have one dedicated cut flower garden area, you might be able to plant perennial flowers and then add annuals to it again each year. If you are like me, and your flower beds rotate, you will probably want to stick with planting annual flowers. 

Think about how much space you have to work with and how you can maximize that space. Are you planting up against a house or building? You’ll want to be sure to put the tallest plants toward the back and smaller flowers in the front.

If you are planting in a raised bed you have a little more flexibility, but still consider the direction your garden faces and the final height of the flowers you are growing. You don’t want to block sunshine from your shorter plants. 

In general, early spring after the danger of frost is past is the best time to plant your annual flowers. Perennials will vary on this, some like the spring, while others are better planted in the fall. Check the seed or product information for the particular plants that you are growing. 

Here are some of my favorite beautiful and easy to grow flowers in both annual and perennial varieties.

yellow zinnia flower

Annual plants

1. Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers to grow for a cut flower garden. These cheerful, bright yellow blossoms are a delight in any garden and they are excellent for cut flower arrangements. Choose the classic yellow blossoms or choose something with more unique colors. Sunflower seeds can be directly sown in the garden once the soil has warmed in the spring. With plenty of sunshine, you will soon be admiring these giant beauties. 

2. Cosmos are a whimsical delight in any flower garden. With their dainty blossoms and feathery foliage, they are a lovely addition to any bouquet. They are incredibly easy to grow from seed and they love the sunshine. 

3.  Zinnias are another easy-to-grow show-stopping flower and they are excellent cut flowers. Their vibrant colors and long-lasting blooms make them a delight to behold all season long. They produce blooms all summer long and are great for attracting butterflies and bees to the garden. Zinnias would be my first choice to plant when starting a cut flower garden.

4. Marigolds are perhaps best known for their ability to repel pests from the vegetable garden, but their bright colors and cheerful blooms make them a fun addition to the cut flower garden as well. 

5. Calendula belongs to the same family as the marigold and has a small, daisy-like bloom. These dainty flowers will also repel deer from the garden, but they also have incredible healing properties. Grow them for their visual appeal and save the blossoms to make your own skin care products. 

Perennial plants

1. Roses are a classic beauty in any cut flower garden. While it may take a little longer for them to get established, the wait is well worth it. Whether you prefer long stems with elegant blooms or the more rustic shrub rose, roses will add a timeless touch to your cut flower garden. 

2. Peonies are known for their extravagant blooms and delightful fragrance. They come in variety of colors and are perfect for any cut flower garden. once you have planted them in a sunny location with well-draining soil, you’ll have abundant blooms year after year. 

3. Lavender is another favorite for a cut flower garden. If you love timeless, rustic charm you will definitely want to add lavender to your flower beds. Lavender can be incredibly challenging to grow from seed, but most local garden centers will carry it. Once you get it established it is fairly hardy and it thrives in hot, dry conditions. 

4. Dahlias have some of the most beautiful blooms. Coming in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes they are truly a delight in any flower garden or cut flower bouquet. Dahlia tubers should be planted in the spring after danger of frost and will bloom throughout the summer and fall. 

Peruse seed catalogs and online seed companies to find new varieties that interest you and meet the needs of the space you have. It’s always fun to try new things too!

hand cutting peony flower

Bringing in the harvest

So now you have chosen, your garden space, planned exactly which flowers you want to plant, you’ve meticulously watered and nourished them and now its time to harvest. While it might seem obvious to some, there’s more to harvesting flowers than just snipping the stem.

You’ll want to be careful to follow a few specific steps to make sure that you can enjoy fresh and vibrant blooms for as long as possible. 

1. Timing: For almost all flowers, you will want to avoid cutting them in the heat of the day, as this may cause them to wilt more quickly. Instead, flowers should be cut in the early morning or late in the afternoon when the plants are well-hydrated. 

2. Tools: Always use sharp, clean scissors to cut flower stems. Dull blades can crush or tear the stems, making it harder for the flowers to get water. 

3. Stage: As a general rule, you will want to harvest flowers when they are fully open, but not yet fully mature. Look for flowers with vibrant blooms and leaves that have just begun to unfurl.

4. Angle: Aways cut flower stems at a 45-degree angle. This gives them more surface area for to take in water.

5. Remove lower leaves: Leaves that will be below the water line of the vase should be removed as they can begin to decay and create bacterial growth if left submerged in the water. 

6. Water: Immediately after cutting the flowers, place them in water. It is also recommended to re-cut the stems underwater at a 45-degree angle to prevent air from entering the stem and keep the flowers hydrated. Change the water daily to keep it clean and well-oxygenated to ensure that flowers stay fresh as long as possible. 

7. Temperature: Lastly, keep flowers in a cool area and out of direct sunlight. 

Arranging and Displaying Flowers

Once you have planned, planted, watered, tended, and harvested your flowers you are ready to arrange and display them. This is the fun part where your creativity can really shine!

There are no set rules. If this is your first cut flower garden, play around with the colors and varieties of flowers that you put together. Try including a variety of sizes of flowers in your floral arrangements. Experiment with different color combinations. Over time you will figure out what you like and what work with your home and personal style. 

It’s also fun to play with the style of your vessel for holding the flowers. You may like a traditional glass vase or maybe a ceramic pitcher is more your style. Mason jars make great vases for fresh cut flowers too! Thrift stores and antique shops are great places to find various sizes and styles of pitchers, jars, and vases. 

I hope you will be encouraged and inspired to start your own cut flower garden. Fresh homegrown flowers are a delightful part of the spring and summer, one of life’s greatest simple pleasures. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting out, I hope you will add some flowers to your garden space this year!

Related: Homemaking: What it Means for the Modern Homemaker

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