This was my first year growing a cut flower garden and I learned so much! I wanted to share what I did, what I should have done, and what I will do next year, in case any of you are thinking of adding a cut garden to your yard in the future. There is a tour of my cut garden and more info in the video farther down in the post!
Growing A Cut Flower Garden
I had always wanted to a cut garden. I kept putting it off because I wasn't sure where I was going to put it and was worried it would cost a lot of money. I finally decided to just go for it! After researching it over the winter (my favorite winter pastime is thinking of gardening), I had a plan.
Starting From Seed Indoors
I knew if I bought seedlings from a nursery it would be too expensive so I bought supplies to start the flowers from seed. I have done this before for veggies so I had some things on hand already. I have a whole post dedicated to starting seeds indoors that you can read HERE.
What I Planted
I started off this first year with just planting a few varieties. I knew I would grow more eventually, but to start, I wanted to keep it simple. I wasn't sure I was going to like growing them in my vegetable garden or not or if they would do well. I grew zinnias, globe amaranth (gomphrena), billy ball (craspedia), sunflowers, stock, cosmos, and feverfew. The stock flowers and feverfew were planted in my secret garden.
What I Learned
I knew this first year was going to be one where I experimented and learned so I improve for future planting seasons. I like trial and error (hands on) learning. Part of why I love gardening is trying new things and seeing what works. I definitely learned a lot about growing a cut flower garden!
Staking Your Plants
I knew that flower farmers used netting and/or ropes to stake their flowers. I even bought some netting. But I ended up not using any of it because I don't like the look of it. I didn't want large stakes and netting ruining the overall look of my garden. Since this was for my personal use and enjoyment and not a business (yet), I didn't see the harm in experimenting with things a bit.
The only flowers that had a problem were the cosmos. Towards the end of the growing season they started to fall down. Some cracked when we got wind. So I will be using the netting on the cosmos next year. Everything else was great without. We do not typically get a lot of wind, so that may factor into why my zinnias did so well without.
Grow a Good Variety Of Flowers
I feel like I had a good variety of shapes and sizes but I did not have a lot of blue flowers. I have a few perennials in a regular flower bed that are blue/purple like delphiniums and salvia. But not enough for a cut garden. Those varieties also bloom heavily in the spring and don't provide a lot of blooms throughout the whole growing season. I also discovered that I did not like the magenta color of the "purple" zinnias and globe amaranth. I will be planting more blue and purple options next year.
Filler and Greenery
You can't just focus on the stars of the show (the big showy flowers like dahlias and zinnias). To have a good bouquet, you need small flowers (filler) and greenery. I only wanted to focus on planting a few varieties of things for this first year, so I knew I would have to use plants I already had in my yard for the greenery. And it worked just fine for this year, but I do want to add some things to my grow list like dusty miller and eucalyptus.
Growing a Cut Flower Garden Video
Plans for Next Year's Cut Flower Garden
I will plant annuals like zinnia, and globe amaranth in the vegetable garden again. They drew a lot more pollinators like hummingbirds and bumble bees and made working in the garden more cheerful.
I am also adding another flowerbed to our backyard in the spring that will house the majority of the perennials. The flower bed was going to be added regardless of if I grew cut flowers or not (It is part of a larger landscaping project) but since I am growing cut flowers, that helped determine what would be planted there. I will plant things like roses, delphinium, lupine, lavender, and more peonies.
If things go well with germinating them this winter, I should have a whole 20 foot row of eucalyptus. It could be a big fat fail, but it is worth a try! I will be growing more mint, dusty miller, and growing some bushes for their leaves.
Do you grow cut flowers? What are your favorite varieties?
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It's always fun to read your blogs. I have had a "cut flower garden" in my backyard for years and really enjoy experimenting. I like things that reseed so it eventually gets a "wild look". Some flowers I've had good luck with: black-eyed susans will reseed every year and they bloom late in the summer/fall so that's good. There are many exotic varieties so I have bought those in pots but haven't tried growing them from seed. Bachelor buttons were always growing in my Mom's garden and they are a nice blue color, but they have pretty weak stems. This year I grew "apricot lemonade" cosmos (seeds from Burpee catalog) and I LOVED the color. I started with a six pack of Shasta Daisies and they tried to take over the whole bed. Several times I have potted up 30-40 plants and given them away and they are still going strong. Very pretty but they only bloom for a short time. This last year I added Statice and Scabiosa and the bees LOVED it. Last but not least I got a plant of Lemon Verbena from a nursery awhile ago to use it in potpourri and I've been using it as greenery in bouquets and people really like the smell. Thanks again!
I actually grew a few apricot lemonade cosmos as well! I really like them. I will be growing them again next year. I have considered growing statice so good to know the bees like it! Sounds like you have a beautiful garden :)
Beautiful!! Many of the flowers you mention are great nectar plants for pollinators, especially butterflies. I would recommend adding a few Milkweed plants which is the host plant for Monarchs and Fennel, Parsley or Dill for the Eastern Swallowtails.
I have a butterfly garden which includes many of the cut flowers. It's wonderful to see the butterflies visiting but more than anything to see their cycle from Eggs to Caterpillar to Butterfly. It's amazing to see God's creation in your own backyard!
Great suggestions! We have plenty of swallowtail butterflies visit but only a few monarchs each year. It will never cease to amaze me that whole plants can grow from a tiny seed and the cycle of life with insects and animals. Nature ROCKS :)