<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://ct.pinterest.com/v3/?event=init&tid=2613047792988&pd[em]=&noscript=1" /> Skip to Content

How to Plant a Gorgeous Cutting Garden

Sharing is caring!

Flowers are nature’s jewelry and knowing how to plant a cutting garden in your own yard is a great way to enjoy the beauty of fresh flowers. 

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! 

how to plan a cutting garden

And if you want to learn how to plan a cut flower 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 garden that produces the best cut flowers as well. 

The Benefits of a Cutting Garden

Knowing how to plant 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. 

This post may contain affiliate links, which simply means I may earn a commission off of links at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my site!

With careful planning and plant selection, you can enjoy beautiful flowers outdoors and indoors throughout the growing season. If your outdoor space is large enough, you may even have enough blooms to create floral designs 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 homegrown flowers can be used. 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 which makes a great filler.)

So what does it take to have your own cutting garden?

how to plan a cutting garden

How to Plan a Cutting Garden

Location for a cutting garden

I feel like I mention location a lot, but honestly, in gardening, it’s important! Most flowers that bear colorful blooms require full sun or at least part sun, 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 yard, 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. See my full guides for How to Grow Zinnias and How to Grow Sunflowers

Soil Preparation

Most flowers for any cutting garden prefer well-drained soil, so be sure to consider this as well when you choose location. 

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. 

Adding organic matter to the soil will help to enrich already existing soil in your yard or garden area, giving the best results for whatever blooms you decide to plant there. 

Planning The Layout

The first step to planning a cutting garden is 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 and how much space the plants will need to reach full size. 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 with spring bulbs and blooms 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.

how to plan a cutting garden

Using Seeds or Plants for a Cutting Garden

Whether you use seeds or plants to plant your cutting garden comes down to personal preference and availability. For ease of planting and quick results, you can opt to plant seedlings from a local nursery. This is a faster way to get your cut-flower garden, but you’ll be limited to whatever selection the local garden centers have. 

For a wider variety of long-lasting blooms, opt for the seed packets. Seed catalogs are chock full of so many more varieties of blooms and colors to choose from. Using seeds will require starting them indoors in many cases, so you’ll need space for growing and stepping up before they’re hardened off and moved outdoors. See my full post about the Best Seed Catalogs that are all free. 

Annuals for the Cutting Garden

Both annual flowers and perennial flowers 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 (Find seeds at Eden Brothers): one of the only truly blue flowers out there. These soft and fuzzy blooms are beautiful and also known as a floss flower.
  • Prairie Sun Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan): One of my favorite annual flowers. These black and gold beauties self seed each year, so once you plant them, it’s a good idea to prepare for them the next year as well. 
  • Larkspur: This tall and beautiful cut flower comes in a variety of colors and can have a long vase life in cut arrangements.  
  • Sunflowers (small varieties): This classic flower can be a good option for those who love taller plants. 
  • Zinnias (State Fair mix is my favorite): These hardy annuals will re-seed if allowed to dry out at the end of the season. They come in a variety of colors and love any sunny spot. They seem to produce more flowers the more the blooms are cut and used. 

Perennials for the Cutting Garden

Ideally, you want something in bloom at all times so you’re never without ready-to-cut blooms, so be sure to check each package or info stick 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): These are beautiful in stand alone arrangements
  • Camellia (these late winter/ early spring blooms are easy to bring indoors): These evergreen shrubs are perfect for planting beds as anchor plants. They come in a variety of colors including deep red, white, pink, and combination colors. 
  • Gardenia (the fragrance is indescribable… amazing!): These are another evergreen shrub that produces fragrant white blooms during the late spring or early summer depending on where you live. These can be quite large at full size, but you can also look into dwarf varieties if you don’t want anything overly large. 
  • Peony: These classic large blooms are favorites for all kinds of floral arrangements. They come in a variety of colors and do require some cool temps in order to produce blooms, so be sure you’ve checked the growing information before planting. 
  • Bearded Iris: These tall blooms have strong stems and long straight lower leaves. They come in a large variety of colors and will spread year by year. They can be dug up and divided.
  • Daisies: The classic “happy flower” are lovely and a light addition to arrangements. Daisies come in a large variety of choices including shasta daisy and african daisy.

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:

  • Gladiolus: Beautiful long stems with blooms growing along the stem; these are a favorite in our yard.  
  • Dahlias: Very popular, large flower heads.  
  • Zinnia: see info above 
  • Tulip: Classic early spring bloomer. Bulbs should be sown the fall before. See my post all about Tips for Planting Bulbs in the Fall.  
  • Daffodil: Early spring blooms; plant bulbs in fall.  
  • Delphinium: Similar to the larkspur mentioned above. Beautiful blooms.  
  • Allium: Long stems and round purple blooms at the top. Very fun addition to any garden.  
  • Sweet peas: Beautiful blooms in a variety of colors; will require support system.  
  • Cosmos: Thin stems with pink/purple blooms in a variety of shades. 
  • Snap dragons: Many blooms on one stem; comes in a large variety of colors.
  • Mexican sunflower: More compact that traditional sunflower. Multiple flowering stems off of main stem.
  • Ageratum: See info above.

Whatever choices you make for a cutting garden, always consider how much time you have to devote to upkeep and weeding. There’s no shame in sticking with perennial blooms from evergreen shrubs. This is a low-maintenance way to have blooms throughout most of the year. With the large variety of annuals, you can also try something new each year, and never forget that friends may have bulbs they would be willing to share!

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!