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How to Grow the Ultimate Cut Flower Garden

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How to Grow the Ultimate Cut Flower Garden

Imagine being able to walk outside your own back door and, within minutes, have a stunning cut flower arrangement in your hand. No running to the store or the florist’s to pick up a bouquet for your dining room or bedside table — everything you need is in your own cut flower garden. You can have that! From flowering perennials to colorful annuals, cut flowers produce blooms that are ideal for creating breathtaking centerpieces, bouquets, and dainty arrangements. So if you’ve been dreaming about adding a cut flower garden to your landscape this is the time to make it happen. Here are our tips for the growing the ultimate cut flower garden. 

 

Choose a great location

Most cutting flowers require a good bit of sun, so take a walk around your yard and determine suitable locations that receive 6-8 hours of full sun every day. You could plant your cutting flowers within an existing perennial bed or border, filling in any noticeable gaps — or you could start a designated cutting garden with a sole purpose being to produce a bounty of flowers to grace the indoors. Whichever space you choose, make sure the soil is enriched and well-drained (more on that below).

 

Select the right plants

Here’s where the fun starts! You'll want to plant flowers with staggered bloom times so that you can enjoy cuts all season long. Here are our top picks by season. 

Spring

Summer & Fall

While it might seem like we've listed every plant there is, we have not. Good cut flowers need to have a long vase life AND not fall apart after they're cut. All of the plants we've listed are cut flower champions!

 

Pro tip: For a long-lasting supply of gladiolus, plant 20 bulbs every three weeks from late May through late July. 

 

Prepare the soil

Cutting flowers do best in rich soil, as noted above — so if your soil is lacking, now’s the time to correct that. Clay, rocky, and sandy soils are not the best candidates for these types of plants, as water either doesn’t hold at all or it gets backlogged, creating a soggy mess. Add compost, leaf mold, or any other organic soil amendment to start off on the right foot.

 

Rudbeckia cutting garden

Plant in the landscape or in a designated cutting garden bed

You have a couple of choices now. If you’re adding cutting flowers to an existing perennial bed or border, aim to spread out your plantings, filling in gaps and open spaces as you go. Resist the urge to cluster your cutting plants in one area, as that will simply continue to appear as a “gap” in your overall bed design after you’ve cut them. On the other hand, if you have a designated cutting garden where its only purpose is growing cutting flowers, consider planting in rows, crop-style. This allows you to grow different plants by height or watering requirement, and makes for easy maintenance and harvesting.

 

Cut and enjoy!

Most cut flowers fare best — and give you a longer indoor display — when cut in the morning before the heat of the day.

  • Bring a 5-gallon bucket with you, filled with water, and a sharp pair of hand pruners.

  • Make stem cuts a bit longer than they need to be to fit your vase, then place them immediately into the bucket.

  • When you bring them inside to arrange, make a sharp 45-degree cut on the bottom of them stem, being careful to avoid crushing the stem’s end.

  • Remove any leaves from the parts of the stem that will be submerged in water.

It’s best to make these final cuts under running water, but if that is not possible, aim to pop those flowers into their water-filled vase immediately after cutting.

 

Ready to get started? 

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  • Katie Elzer-Peters