Learn how to create a cut flower garden and enjoy fresh flower arrangements all summer long from your very own garden. Here, you’ll learn how to get started, the best cut flowers to grow and more tips for your new cutting garden.
Before motherhood, before the blog became my full-time job, and before life became so busy and hectic, I loved growing flowers – particularly flowers for cutting.
In the first house that Grunt and I bought together, we planted all kinds of flowers – rose bushes, zinnias, and Grunt even planted me a whole row of hydrangeas along the fence, which is my favorite kind of flower.
When we moved from that house, we dug up just about everything we had planted and transplanted it to our new home. And for a year or two, we still had beautiful cut flowers throughout the summer.
But as the Circus grew, our schedule got busier and busier and then trying to get the blog off the ground took up a huge portion of any other time I had on my hands. There wasn’t any time for growing cut flowers.
Early last year, I decided it was well past time to create a little more time for doing things for me. It was kind of like when Allie in The Notebook realized that she didn’t paint anymore. I didn’t grow flowers anymore.
So Grunt Labor helped me to create a spot in our yard specifically for a cutting garden.
And create a cutting garden we did.
It wasn’t elaborate and it was filled mostly with easy to grow flowers, but it made me so damn happy. Going outside planting the flowers, weeding, then cutting the flowers turned out to also be a wonderful stress reliever.
We had buckets and buckets of flowers throughout the summer – more than enough flowers for us and enough to create small arrangements to surprise friends and family with a little unexpected color to brighten their day, which had been another goal of mine with the cut flower garden.
I didn’t write about the garden on the blog last year, but I did share a lot from it on Instagram. A lot of people who followed me wanted to know more about getting a cutting garden started so here it is. As I said, my cut flower garden is not elaborate – it’s mostly filled with easy to grow plants, so this is a good guide for people who are just beginning with growing cut flowers.
Creating a Cutting Garden for Beginners
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Step 1: Find the best spot for your garden.
Most cut flowers need lots of sunshine, so keep that in mind when determining where to place your garden.
We placed my garden along a portion of the outside of our fence in a sunny location. My space is about 6 feet wide x 26 feet long. Your garden certainly doesn’t have to be this big or this small – go with any size your wish!
Step 2: Get your ground ready for planting.
Of course, it didn’t just start out looking like the photo above. To get the ground here ready for planting, Grunt used our tiller to break up the soil a few times, then I pulled out all the grass and weeds from the tilled-up dirt, used a rake to spread the soil around evenly, then planted. I also put landscape edging around the garden to create a barrier from the outside grass and hold in the mulch that I would later add.
No tiller? No problem.
If you don’t have a tiller or don’t want to till up the ground, then you could instead do a raised cut flower garden. You can buy a kit like this one to create a raised bed or use a tutorial like this one to create your own.
Step 3: Select your flowers/seeds.
There are lots of different kinds of flowers that make great cut flowers for arrangements – some easier to grow than others and of course some need specific types of climates to grow well in. As you select your flowers to plant, be sure to look at the growing information and determine if the flower will grow well in your area. Use this tool to determine which growing zone you are in.
This is the flower plan for my cut flower garden this year. For reference, I am in growing zone 7.
Flowers for Cutting Garden:
Most of the area in the front of my cut flower garden layout is kind of my “play” area this year. I’m trying out new flowers here that I haven’t planted before.
- Gladiolus – Gladiolus are bulbs that can be planted in the spring and will bloom during the summer. These are taller plants, so I placed them in the back.
- Hollyhocks – Hollyhocks are perennials, so they will come back every year. These aren’t necessarily great cut flowers, but I love their look so I wanted to add some here anyway. I just planted my hollyhock seeds last year, so I didn’t have any flowers from them last year, but hopefully I will this year. The plants are already starting to make an appearance.
- Sunflowers – Sunflowers are a wonderful option for a cutting garden. I like to plant both taller sunflower varieties and medium height sunflowers to get a good mix. The ones I’m planning to go with this year are Sunflower Sunshine (I did these last year and they were wonderful!) and Teddy Bear Sunflowers (trying these out this year – I love their look!)
- Zinnias – In my opinion, you can’t ever have too many Zinnias! Zinnias are so easy to grow and such beautiful colorful flowers. I tend to plant more zinnias than anything else. Zinnias are foolproof – the perfect flowers for beginning cut flower growers. This year, I’m going with these varieties of Zinnia: Big Red (these were stunning last year!), Purple Prince (always a favorite), Envy (I actually forgot to plant green zinnias last year and was so mad at myself), Dancing Girls (these have a bit of a Dahlia look) and this Cut and Come Again Mix (truly, the more you cut on these, the more they keep coming back!).
- Amaranthus – a few of these seeds came in a mix of seeds I bought last year and I just fell in love with these weeping beauties. I’ve ordered both a green and deep purple variety of this flower to plant.
- Coneflowers – Coneflowers and I have a good history. These are simple, easy to grow flowers that once they are bigger, you can divide over and over again and plant them all over the place. These are perennials as well, so they will come back every year. While I do tend to buy seeds for much of my cut flower garden, I’ve always had more luck with coneflower plants ready to go than growing these from seed.
- Snapdragons – I tried snapdragons a long time ago and it didn’t work out too well, but this year, I’m giving them another go. This Madame Butterfly mix is just too pretty to not give a whirl.
- Cornflowers – these are purely for the Circus. I’ve not planted cornflowers before, but the blues in this mix just scream the Circus’ name!
- Snowman Marigolds – I usually turn my nose up at marigolds and I certainly wouldn’t consider them a cut flower, but this Snowman Hybrid variety stopped me in my tracks. They have a ruffled carnation look and I couldn’t resist trying them. It says they are good for cut flowers, so we shall see.
- Gomphrena – another new one for me. These little globe type flowers are very cute and if they grow well, I think they will make great fillers and accent flowers in arrangements.
- Wildcard – As of right now, I’m leaving this space open. There is a rose bush in this area I planted last year, but I’m not sure if it will stay there or not – we shall see!
Step 4: Planting Your Flowers
You’ll usually have a few options when it comes to planting – you can often choose from seeds, plants and of course, bulbs for some flowers.
If you buy plants of course, you’ll put them right in the ground. Many seeds can go right in the ground as well, depending on the current weather. Always read your seed packets to determine if you need to start your seeds indoors first or if you can put them outside.
Last year, I started my seeds indoors, but when I transplanted them outside, I also put some more seeds of the same varieties directly into the ground. Honestly, I couldn’t tell much difference between the flowers I had started indoors and the ones I started right in the ground. This year, I’ll be putting most of my seeds straight into the ground, unless the package suggests otherwise.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to place your taller flowers in the back and work your way up to shorter flowers. Read the seed and flower labels for details on each flower’s growing height and width.
Step 5: Water. Mulch. Weed.
Seeds just planted and seedlings won’t need a whole lot of water to start with. You’ll want to keep the soil moist, but don’t overwater. As the seedlings get bigger and stronger and turn into plants, water more and you can use plant food as well.
I also recommend that after the seedlings have grown quite a bit and are stronger to put a layer of mulch around around your plants. This helps to keep the water in and if you’re like me and you can’t get to watering every single day, this gives you a little leeway.
Mulching will also help to keep weeds at bay, but you’ll still have some. If you aren’t sure if it’s a weed or a seedling (it’s ok! It’s happened to me too!), wait a while to see. While seedlings and plants are still small, I like to just pull weeds with my hands, but as the plants get bigger and stronger, you can get a hoe or a hand garden tool in there and do some serious weeding.
Step 6: Enjoy all those gorgeous flowers!
We had bucketful after bucketful last summer and we enjoyed every bit of it.
Try to go out and cut at least 2-3 times per week. Deadhead any flowers that died before you could cut them as this will help with reblooming.
This is one of those gorgeous red zinnias I mentioned above.
This color of Zinnia is another favorite.
These sunflowers were beautiful last year!
Here’s a simple arrangement with some of the Gladiolus and Zinnias I grew.
I love doing clusters of flowers and adding height with smaller flowers above them. I also keep as many leaves as I can -they add good interest to arrangements. Unfortunately, the sunflower leaves don’t look good for very long though.
The biggest thing I can tell you to keep in mind is that, especially if you’re a beginner, don’t get discouraged if some of your flowers don’t do well or don’t take at all. Just enjoy what you have and try again next year with some new varieties. I had some that didn’t take at all last year and I’m sure that will be the case this year as well – it’s all part of it!
If you have any tips for growing cut flowers or the best flowers for cutting gardens, please share below in the comments – I’d love to hear them!
Looking for more outdoor inspiration?
10+ Creative Flower Pot Ideas – you won’t believe some of these!
DIY Flamingo Sprinkler – such a fun way to water!
Tips for Beautiful Planters All Summer Long – keep those flowers gorgeous from the beginning right up till the very end!
Our Front Yard Landscape Makeover – it’s a crazy difference!
Want to come back to this flower garden guide later? Just pin the image below!
Get behind the scenes by following along on social media:
I can’t wiat! I’ve been wanting to plant a cutting garden for years and finally have the perfect property. Thanks for the kick start!
Happy to help!! I absolutely love having my cut flower garden – I hope you do too!
I absolutely love this!!! I can’t wait to try this at a new house!
Go for it, Brooke – it brings so many smiles to my face!
Can’t wait to get my garden going! Thanks for the inspiration! About the snapdragons…..they grow in winter in California (at least in Zone 9) and die off as soon as it gets warm….not sure about your climate but that might be the reason they didn’t take last year. Good luck!
Ahhhhh. Thanks so much for that info, Cindy!
Susan the Farm Quilter says
You are making me even more excited to eventually return home so I can plant flowers all around my house…I have an east side that gets TONS of sun! The west is mostly shade, so I’ll have to plant shade-loving plants there. Love the new picture of you!
Thanks, Susan! I’ve got quite a few shady spots at the farm, so I’ve got to come up with a plan for those. 🙂
Ghastly Girl says
I love this! I have been wanting to do flowers in my garden but had no idea how to set it up. Thank you for sharing this information.
Awesome! So happy you found it helpful! It really isn’t all that hard, you just have to jump in, go for it and give yourself some grace!
Visiting from the Pieced Pastimes party where I saw your link and had to come over to learn more. I’ve been wanting to add cut flowers to our perennial beds for a few years now and found your post very helpful. Thank you! Pinned 🙂
So glad you found it helpful, Marie! Cut flower gardens really aren’t all that hard – you just have to jump in there and go for it!
I love cut flowers but we don’t have as many varieties here in southern Florida. I miss my flowers from up north.
Congrats, you are being featured at Over The Moon Linky Party. Please stop by and check it out.
Thanks so much for the feature, Beverly!
Jane Anderson says
Hi Jenna! Thank you for sharing very important tips for all beginners. With the help of your
blog we can cut and arrange flowers to grow in the garden. Thanks and keep sharing!
Glad it was helpful, Jane!
So pretty! I love fresh cut flowers! We planted some zinnias, cosmos and sunflowers this spring. They are coming up so am looking forward to some pretty blooms!
I bet they will be beautiful, Mireille!
Jane Anderson says
Hello Jenna! Your blog is awesome! It’s very difficult to cut and arrange garden. With the help of your tips, we can cut and arrange them to grow our flower garden. Thank you for sharing amazing tips. Keep posting!
Jenna, Do you start all of your seeds early in flats, or can you wait until it’s warm enough to sow them in the ground? I tried that a couple of summers ago with some of the same varieties you’re growing and had pretty bad results. Maybe I need you and the Circus to come wave your Magic Wands over my seeds?
I usually do a little of both, Debbie. 🙂 You can absolutely wait until it’s warm enough and sow most directly in the ground. The ones I start in containers help me to better lay out the garden and then I usually fill in more with seeds straight into the ground. It also staggers the blooming times some, so you’ll get “extra” flowers.
Do you have any issues with ants being on your flowers once you cut them and bring them indoors? If you did how did you keep from bringing bugs inside?
Is this a full sun garden?