Flowers are nature’s jewelry. There’s no doubt about it, the bright blooms that pop up on a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and plants paint the world in color. I’m so thankful that fruit grows and seeds spread through the beautiful process of blooming. Can you imagine a world with no flowers blooming? Me either! And if you want to learn how to plan a cutting garden, then you clearly want all the benefits that come with growing flowers that can be cut. While the purpose of planting a flower garden is to derive enjoyment from the colorful (and often fragrant) blooms the garden will produce. You can double that enjoyment by planning and planting a flower cutting garden so your indoor space benefits as well.
The Benefits of a Cutting Garden
Knowing how to plan a cutting garden can reap many rewards for you (and your neighbors)! And recently an article was released in Southern Living Magazine stating Gardening is Just as Good as Going to the Gym. I’ll take it! But beyond these physical and emotional benefits, you can also add multi-purpose use to the list of benefits of having a cutting garden.
With careful planning and plant selection, you can enjoy blooms outdoors and indoors throughout the growing season. If your outdoor space is large enough, you may even have enough blooms to create a bouquet to share with someone else from your flower cutting garden. I have personally known people who have donated blooms from their yards to use in weddings, banquets, and other occasions where blooms are needed. It’s a wonderful feeling to grow beautiful blooms and to be able to bring them indoors and/or share them with others. Before I begin with the cutting garden planning, here’s a bouquet from my garden last summer. (If you look closely, you can even see some mint I added in for a pop of green.)
So what does it take to have beautiful blooms ready for cutting?
How to Plan a Cutting Garden
I feel like I mention location a lot, but honestly, in gardening, it’s important! Most flowers that bear colorful blooms are sun-lovers, so start by selecting a location that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. If you haven’t yet drawn a Sun Map of your house, I can’t recommend it enough. You create a sun map once and then you can reference it forever. And while flower beds are the likely place to grow flowers, don’t rule out containers, especially if the sunniest part of your yard is a porch or patio.
No flower garden space? A flower cutting garden can be included within your vegetable garden if space is limited. The blooms will attract beneficial pollinators, plus many flowers provide natural pest control for garden plants. Taller blooms, like zinnias and smaller varieties of sunflowers, can be place near shorter, wider plants, such as squash.
Prepare the soil for a flower cutting garden just like you would for a vegetable garden. Incorporate organic material, like compost (learn how to compost here!) or well-rotted cow manure, into the soil to improve drainage, aeration, and fertility prior to planting seeds or plants. If you’re planning to grow in containers, choose a good quality potting mix to get your plants started off on the right foot… or root.
Planning The Layout
Easy access to all plants is needed in a flower cutting garden since you will be inside the garden frequently to cut blooms. Wide rows with walkable paths in-between is ideal if you have a large area.
Plant groupings that will place plants with the same sun/water/food needs together is essential for healthy plants. Grouping plants together according to their needs will also make maintenance work easier for you during the growing season. Think about tulips and hyacinths, both which are grown from bulbs planted in the fall. Their care and needs are similar, so they would work well in the same area.
After grouping the plants together according to their needs, plan their planting location according to mature height. Place the tallest plants in back, medium height in the middle and shortest plants in front so all blooms can be seen in the garden.
Bloom sequence should be considered also when planning the layout of a flower cutting garden. Flowers have varying bloom times and can be grouped in early, mid and late season arrangements. For example, in our front flower bed, our daffodils always bloom first, so they’re planted up front, and the day lilies, which pop up soon after are behind them.
Annuals and Perennials
Both annuals and perennials can be a part of a cutting garden. As the annuals begin to fade, dig them up, replenish the soil with more organic material, then re-plant the space with another round of annuals or fall flowers. Annuals give you a chance to play around with different types of blooms each year. Some of my favorite annuals for cutting are:
- Ageratum (Red Sea variety)
- Prairie Sun Rudbeckia (Black Eyed Susan)
- Sunflowers (small varieties)
- Zinnias (State Fair mix is my favorite)
You want something in bloom at all times so you’re never without ready-to-cut blooms, so be sure to check each package for how long the seeds will take to germinate, and then reach maturity. For perennial blooms, I love to choose flowering shrubs that provide big blooms with very little effort. I know my time is limited, so fussy plants are out and low maintenance is in. Here are my picks for perennials blooms:
- Hydrangea (particularly Dear Dolores and Limelight)
- Camellia (these late winter/ early spring blooms are easy to bring indoors)
- Gardenia (the fragrance is indescribable… amazing!)
- Bearded Iris
Flower Choices- Long Stems
While many flowers can be cut and used in bud vases, if you’re looking for full bouquets, you’ll need blooms with longer stems. Flowers with long stems are ideal for planting in a flower cutting garden because of their versatility of use and ease of cutting. Long stemmed varieties perfect for bouquets are
- sweet pea
- snap dragons
- Mexican sunflower
With all of the choices for a cutting garden, I know it will be difficult to decide. My husband thinks I’m going to slowly turn our yard into a jungle of blooms, and he may be right. I’d love to know what your favorite varieties of flowers are for cutting gardens. Do you have any that you wish you’d stayed away from? Let me know in the comments below.
Have a great week and happy flower gardening!