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Creating A Cutting Flower Garden For Bouquets

The Magical World of Cut Flowers

Everyone has an important memory that involves flowers. Perhaps it is the memory of your wedding bouquet full of beautiful roses, peonies, or wildflowers. Or the memory of the funeral of a loved one and seeing the greenery cascading over the casket. Maybe it’s a memory of a holiday like lilies at Easter or poinsettias at Christmas. Whatever the memory is, we all have moments in our past that are connected to flowers.

Flowers are the exclamation point of nature. Their many colors, textures, and forms are in and of themselves an incredible miracle of life. To think that something so exquisite comes from the tiniest seed, corm, bulb, or tuber is a special kind of magic. It truly feels magical when you bring to life these beauties yourself in your own garden at your home.

I remember when I saw the first anemone flower from a corm I planted – how gorgeous it was. I was so proud, knowing that I had acquired, planted, and cared for that little plant for so long, and was rewarded months later with weeks of glorious pastel blooms. I have grown countless flowers at my home in my garden over the years, and I become more and more enthralled with this beautiful part of gardening each year.

The Joys of Growing Cut Flowers

When you first think of growing cut flowers, what comes to mind? Perhaps it is a row of daffodils or a small box of tulips, or a bed of rose bushes. Yes, there are definitely traditional ways to grow flowers, as well as traditional flowers themselves, but there is so much more out there these days for anyone wanting to add cut flowers into their gardening journey.

So, what exactly is a cut flower? Simply put, it is a flower that is grown for the purpose of cutting it off and using it for decorative purposes. The bud, full flower, stem, and/or leaves are used, and the plants are grown with this purpose in mind. Not to say that you can’t grow typical cut flowers in your landscape and leave them be, but most people choose these types of blooms with the thought of harvesting them.

Why should you grow cut flowers? Well, first and foremost, they are beautiful. They will make your garden and landscape a more captivating environment, even if just for enjoying the view. Another reason is that flowers can be expensive to buy, especially pre-arranged bouquets. Maybe you enjoy having fresh blossoms on your kitchen counter or dinner table on a weekly basis. Or maybe you have a small business or shop that would benefit from the beauty of fresh flowers as decor. Buying flowers on a routine basis can quickly add up. If you grow your own, you can save a ton of money.

Another big reason to grow your own cut flowers is to avoid unnecessary chemicals and the like that often come with flowers grown far away and shipped into your climate. The majority of the time, these flowers are grown in huge fields and routinely sprayed with pesticides before being shipped with various holding solutions and preservatives to keep them as healthy and fresh as possible. Just like growing your own food, if you grow your own flowers in your garden, you will know exactly what goes into the soil and onto the plant before you bring it into your home.

And stemming from this, if you grow your own cut flowers, you will have fresher blooms and can many times get types or varieties that would not be available otherwise. Think of how far roses from Ecuador and peonies from the Netherlands have to travel to get to you. But from your backyard? Super fast. And things like dahlias, zinnias, and delicate flowers like cosmos and bachelor’s buttons cannot be shipped at all or they will be ruined. So if you want those types in your home, you had better grow them yourself, especially if you want rare or unusual varieties which you definitely won’t find at your local florist or grocery store.

Laying the Groundwork for Success

First and foremost, it’s important to understand your growing climate and space. When are your warm, hot, cool, and cold seasons? How long do they last? Many flowers are going to want a temperate, warm/cool climate, but there are definitely some that flourish in the heat and those that can handle some frost or very cold temps.

Also, where will you be growing your cut flowers? Do you have a dedicated bed or area, or are you going to disperse them throughout your garden or landscape? Will you grow them in rows or bunches, or maybe even pots or large containers? Realize that other than a few outliers, most flowers will want rich, well-draining soil and at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Also consider wind and rain exposure. Lots of flowers grow fairly tall, and a strong wind can easily break them down. See if you can give them some protection from the elements if you live in a blustery or rainy environment.

After your climate and environment, you will want to think about what flowers you want to grow. What flowers do you like? How will you be using them? Do you want flowers that have a long vase life for arrangements? Do you want to grow flowers to dry for crafts? Do you need flowers that do okay out of water for weddings or other events? Do you want flowers that are pollen-less due to allergies? Once you decide on what and where you are going to grow, it is time to plan out your cut flower garden.

Structuring Your Cut Flower Garden

Cut flowers/foliage come in five main groups: focals, spikes, discs, fillers, and airy bits. If you are wanting to put together some really killer bouquets and floral arrangements, you’ll want to think about growing plants that fit into each of these groups.

I know this can be a bit overwhelming, so I will share with you some common and easy flowers to grow in each season, plus how you plan to plant each:

Spring

  • Tulips (bulb)
  • Daffodils (bulb)
  • Anemones (corm)
  • Ranunculus (corm)
  • Snapdragons (seed or transplant)
  • Stock (seed or transplant)
  • Larkspur (seed)
  • Poppies (seed)
  • Hellebores (transplant)
  • Bupleurum (seed)
  • Statice (seed or transplant)
  • Queen Anne’s Lace (seed)
  • Bachelor’s Button (seed)

Summer

  • Lilies (tuber)
  • Zinnias (seed)
  • Sunflowers (seed)
  • Celosia (seed)
  • Salvia (seed or transplant)
  • Bee Balm (seed)
  • Cosmos (seed)
  • Rudbeckia (seed)
  • Yarrow (seed or transplant)
  • Marigolds (seed or transplant)
  • Amaranth (seed)
  • Basil (seed or transplant)
  • Mint (seed or transplant)
  • Oregano (seed or transplant)
  • Cress (seed)
  • Gomphrena (seed or transplant)

Fall

  • Chrysanthemums (transplant)
  • Zinnias (seed)
  • Sunflowers (seed)
  • Celosia (seed)
  • Salvia (seed or transplant)
  • Cosmos (seed)
  • Rudbeckia (seed)
  • Strawflower (seed)
  • Marigolds (seed or transplant)
  • Amaranth (seed)
  • Basil (seed or transplant)
  • Sweet Annie (transplant)
  • Eucalyptus (seed or transplant)
  • Orach (seed)

If you live in a warmer climate, the poppies, Queen Anne’s lace, and bachelor’s buttons are all direct-sown in the fall. If you get frequent frosts or freezes and snow, then you will want to sow these in late winter or early spring. The anemone corms are also planted in the same way.

The snapdragons can be direct-sown in the fall or winter, or transplanted in early spring. You can plant 5 anemones per square foot and 2 snapdragons per square foot.

Sunflowers are direct-sown after the last frost. You can plant 4 sunflowers per square foot, and you’ll want to sow these every 2 to 3 weeks to have continued blooms. You can continue until 60 days before your last frost.

Zinnias (1 per square foot) will be direct-sown or transplanted after the last frost. Celosia (2 per square foot), cosmos (2 per square foot), basil (1 per square foot), and gomphrena (1 per square foot) will be direct-sown after the last frost.

This bed can be similar to the summer bed, but makes more use of flowers and plants that have darker, richer tones. Sunflowers (4 per square foot), amaranth (4 per square foot), and orach (1 per square foot) are direct-sown, but salvia (1 per square foot) and marigolds (2 per square foot) may be direct-sown or transplanted.

Putting It All Together

Of course, there are so many different ways to use your cut flowers, but for our purposes, we’ll stick with simple arrangements. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

There are lots of places you can get seeds, bulbs, corms, tubers, and transplants from. For starters, check with your local nurseries. It is always fun to go see the flowers in person, and most local places will have knowledgeable staff to answer questions.

For seeds, I definitely prefer larger, well-respected companies like Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Floret Flower, Botanical Interests, and Wildseed Farms. You will find way more varieties ordering online than you will in local stores.

For tubers, bulbs, and corms, I have had success ordering from Swan Island Dahlias, Haldeman Garden, The Flower Hat, Brent & Becky’s, and Eden Brothers. Oftentimes, you can find cheaper options for these in places like Home Depot or Costco if you aren’t terribly picky on the variety.

Hopefully this starter guide for growing cut flowers will encourage you to add some to your garden this next year. There really is nothing like growing your own flowers and enjoying their beauty in your home.

Today’s Gardens brings garden design and native landscape services plus one-on-one coaching to Spring, Texas. Their mission is to help people become confident and successful gardeners in their own backyard kitchen gardens.

Today’s Garden is Garden and Landscape Company, provides all you need about Garden and Landscape Design to get better garden decorations.

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