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Tips for Growing a Cut Flower Garden

Everyone has an important memory that involves flowers. Perhaps it is the memory of your wedding bouquet full of beautiful roses, peonies, or wildflowers. Perhaps it is the memory of the funeral of a loved one and seeing the greenery cascading over the casket. Perhaps it is 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.

Why Grow a Cut Flower Garden?

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.

There are several great reasons to grow your own cut flowers:

  1. Beauty: Flowers will make your garden and landscape a more captivating environment, even if just for enjoying the view.
  2. Cost Savings: Buying flowers on a routine basis can quickly add up. If you grow your own, you can save a ton of money.
  3. Chemical-Free: 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.
  4. Freshness: Flowers grown in your own backyard will be much fresher than those shipped from far away.
  5. Variety: You can grow rare or unusual varieties that you won’t find at your local florist or grocery store.

Planning Your Cut Flower Garden

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, so 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 to make 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’s time to plan out your cut flower garden.

Seasonal Flowers for Your Cut Flower Garden

Cut flowers 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. Here’s a look at some common and easy flowers to grow in each season:


  • 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 Buttons (seed)


  • 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)


  • 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)

To give you a visual, here’s an example of a 4ft x 3ft cut flower garden bed that covers all the categories and maximizes your space:

Season Flowers
Spring 5 Anemones, 2 Snapdragons
Summer 4 Sunflowers, 1 Zinnia, 2 Celosia, 2 Cosmos, 1 Basil, 1 Gomphrena
Fall 4 Sunflowers, 4 Amaranth, 1 Orach, 1 Salvia, 2 Marigolds

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’ll 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 until 60 days before your last frost.

Zinnias (1 per square foot), 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 or transplanted after the last frost.

The fall 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.

Where to Find Supplies

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’ll 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, Halden Garden, The Flower Hat, Brent and 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.

Caring for Your Cut Flowers

There are a few key things to keep in mind when caring for your cut flower garden:


Certain cut flower varieties like sweet peas, dahlias, cosmos, and snapdragons benefit from pinching. Pinching is a pruning technique to encourage the branching of young seedlings and plants. When you pinch or snip a plant’s early buds, you remove the center main stem, which forces the plant to grow two new stems below the cut leaf nodes. This can help the plants become bushier and full with larger blooms, and it also prevents them from becoming leggy and lanky.


Be sure to deadhead any spent blooms regularly to help encourage the plants to focus their energy on producing new flowers instead of maintaining the old ones. Deadheading is when you prune and remove spent, faded seed heads.


Avoid overhead watering your perennial and annual flowers. When using a drip system or soaker hoses, your plants will only need a quarter of the water they need with overhead watering. Overhead watering can also make the plants more susceptible to fungal disease. Water in the early morning before the sun starts heating the garden, as watering in the afternoon risks the water evaporating before hitting the plants’ roots, causing the leaves to burn.


Tall flowers like dahlias, snapdragons, sweet peas, cosmos, and daisies will need staking, trellising, netting, or corralling to help prevent damage from the wind, rain, and heavy growth.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to growing a thriving cut flower garden that will provide you with beautiful blooms all season long. And don’t forget to check out the Today’s Gardens website for more gardening inspiration and resources.

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