How to Start Your Own Cut Flower Garden: Ideas, Tips, & Tricks
If you love to arrange fresh cut flowers, consider planting you own cut flower garden. There is something so homey and old-fashioned about the idea of bringing some of the beauty of your garden right into your home.
Cut flowers can sometimes shine their brightest indoors, where you get the full strength of their color and smell to permeate your house. Even the most avid gardeners can’t avoid coming indoors sometimes.
If you have ever heard that you can’t grow your own cut flowers – making it seem like you must rely on the flowers produced in Southern California or South America – you are not getting the right information.
It’s true that some flowers will only grow as annuals in more northern climates because they can’t tolerate frost. Professional growers in these regions have the advantage of a long growing season to be able to offer more types of flowers at all times of the year.
However, you don’t have to let that daunt you. There is a whole world of flowers out there waiting to be discovered.
Starting Flowers From Seeds
The idea of starting your cut flower garden from seeds can be intimidating until you know what you are doing and have some experience under your belt. But it can be done! This growing method has the potential to be much more rewarding as you get to see your plant in all of its growing stages and not just at its most mature.
If you are an expert seed-starter from your years of starting your vegetable garden seeds, congratulations! Just keep in mind your limited amount of space on windowsills. Seeds themselves are tiny, but in no time you’re going to have trays full of baby plants to find room for indoors while you wait for the weather to heat up.
What to Plant
Hardy and half-hardy annuals and first-year flowering perennials are the best types of flowers to sew for blooms this year. If you are planning your next year’s garden, there are also a few types of bulbs that can be planted in the fall, to bloom in the spring.
Here are some ideas for flowers you can start from seed once and enjoy year after year.
Speedy Germinators With Big Seeds
These are all great first flowers to try if you are planting from seed for the first time. Big seeds mean you don’t have to fidget with (and risk losing) your seeds, as some flower seeds are very tiny indeed.
They also germinate quickly, which means you get to see the fruit of your labors. In addition, you will feel a sense of accomplishment more quickly. This is an essential element for any gardener – new or old.
- Marigolds (Calendula)
- Honeywort (Cerinthe major purpurascens)
- Sweet Peas
- Stocks (Matthiola)
- Self-Seeding, Butterfly Attracting Blooms
The verbena plant is actually a perennial, but in most parts of our country it will only grow as an annual. The tall, willowy plant makes a beautiful addition to any bouquet and is easy to grow.
Known as a coneflower, Echinacea is prairie plant is also used for its cold-fighting abilities and often planted to attract butterflies.
Coreopsis is also known as tickseed. This is a native plant, hardy in zones 4-9 which grows well by itself once established.
Yarrow is a hardy prairie plant that will come back year after year with bright yellow blooms
Queen Anne’s Lace
Did you know that Queen Anne’s Lace is related to carrots? They do come back every year. This plant makes a lovely addition to any cut arrangement with their delicate white crowns.
Allium – Some of these get giant! They are related to the onion and garlic family. The huge, purple balls are showy all by themselves
Aster – lush, daisy-like blooms make great filler for any arrangement
Larkspur/Delphinium – Popular in English country gardens, these highly toxic plants are nevertheless sought-after for their upright appearance and blue color
Peonies – If you are lucky enough to have an established peony bush, you know the gift these beauties are, both in color and their fantastic smell!
Black Eyed Susan – Hardy perennials that add a graphic dash of yellow and black are not to be missed.
Quick Blooming Annuals
While Zinnias need to be planted every year, they make up for it by giving you mounds of showy, colorful blooms.
Dahlias are trendy cut flowers come in many varieties, shapes, and colors. Some of them grow enormous blossoms.
Dahlias are technically annuals, but they can be overwintered easily by digging up the tubers in the fall and saving them for spring.
Cornflowers are also known as bachelor’s buttons. These plants are hardy in zones 2-11. They need to be planted in cool weather, and then they bloom when things heat up. You can’t beat their characteristic sky-blue color, but they also come in many other colors.
Flowers With Beautiful Seed Pods
The great thing about seed pods is that they’re interesting all by themselves. Additionally, you will get a “second helping” once your blooms have faded. Dried seed pods can be the gift that keeps on giving through the winter.
- Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena)
- Honesty (Lunaria)
How to Start Your Cut Flower Garden From Seeds
It doesn’t take a huge budget to start your seeds. There are several different methods out there that will work: the paper towel method and the starter tray method are very popular.
However, if you’re planning to use larger seeds, you can also use Jiffy 7 peat pellets and avoid having to handle your newly germinated seeds to transfer them to their pots. If you are starting with smaller seeds, you won’t be able to bury them in a ready-made pellet anyway.
Once your seedlings are ready to be potted, make sure you label each pot. You might think you’re going to remember which plants are which. However, you will be surprised to find how quickly you can get mixed up.
Harden off new plants the way you would with vegetable seedlings. This process doesn’t have to be very complicated. If you have a large number of seedlings to transport, consider investing in a rolling cart. That way, you can harden off seedlings by leaving them outdoors all day and bringing them in at night.
Once your seedlings have been hardened – and once all danger of frost at night has passed, they are ready to be planted in their cutting rows!
You do need to do a bit of planning and a bit of learning to make your cut flower garden successful.
Start with a small patch and choose one or two types of flowers. Then you can add to it every year. Pretty soon, you will be filling your house – and your friends’ houses – with fresh blooms all season long!