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7 Lessons I Learned From Growing a Cut Flower Patch

Are you interested in growing a cut flower patch? Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Here are 7 lessons I learned from growing a cut flower garden this year.

Although I’m an experienced gardener, cut flower gardening is a new venture for me.

Through the years, I’ve grown and maintained low-maintenance, easy-care flowers that I kept in the flower beds instead of bringing indoors.

Sure I could have cut more and brought them inside.

But I enjoy seeing them in my borders and with some plants, cutting more doesn’t necessarily yield more flowers.

Over the last year, I’ve wanted to bring more of my garden inside, so I was inspired to grow a cut flower patch.

With cut flower gardens, the more you cut the more blooms you’ll have.

It started with trying out dahlias last year.

And I was hooked!

Because I enjoyed them so much both indoors and out, I decided to start seeds indoors and grow a cut flower garden from seed.

As a cut flower garden newbie, there are few things learned that I will apply next year to organize myself and the garden a little better.

From seed starting through harvesting flowers, here’s what I learned from cut flower gardening.

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7 Lessons I Learned From Growing a Cut Flower Patch from Seed

To piggyback from these lessons when I started this garden from seed, I’ve learned so much from growing my cutting garden this summer.

While easy to do, it is a little more work than caring for a low-maintenance perennial garden.

And this is what I would do differently next year.

Backyard cottage garden in front of garden shed -cut flower garden in my gardening zone 6a backyard border. This is my favorite cottage garden in the landscape in front of the garden shed
5 Quick Ways to Grow a Cottage Garden

1. Take Lots of Notes

For starters, I would journal with a book like this more or take notes during the growing season.

It’s one of those things that I have every intention of doing but get busy as well as lazy and tell myself, I’ll remember.

But don’t.

So do yourself a favor and write it all down!

It will make it so much easier to remember next year and the garden will be that much better.

Close up of Benary's Giant Wime Zimnia- 7 lessons I learned from growing a cut flower patch
Benary’s Giant Wine Zinnia
Taking Notes before starting seeds indoors- How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse
Taking notes before starting seeds indoors

2. Save Seeds You Don’t Use

Since I’ve never started seeds indoors on this grand scale before, I would sow a little less and save a little more seeds for the future.

Some seed packets have more seeds than my 72-cell tray allowed and I sowed all of them in additional trays.

It wasn’t necessary to do that. Looking back, I’d rather save the extras for the next season.

Oh and I also purchased way more seeds than I could actually grow too.

In fact, I have a few seed packets I didn’t even open!

So set up a location where you will save and store seeds for the following season. For storage, they will need a cool, dry place. I keep mine in a card catalog in our small home library.

cut flower patch with cosmos, zinnias and tall phlox
Cosmos, Zinnias and Tall Phlox
Cottage Garden by the garden Shed with wood picket fence, stone border, sedum autumn joy, dahlias and zinnias
Cut flower garden by the garden shed

3. Plan the Flower Patch Garden

When I purchased all of my seeds, my eyes were a lot bigger than my gardens.

I knew I was overhauling the garden shed border. But I wasn’t sure how I’d lay it all out or what it would look like.

I had a vague idea but decided to wing it.

Now that my backyard vision has come to life, I will plan things out much differently next year.

Cut flower garden in front of garden shed with Sunflower 'Panache' in the cut flower garden
Sunflowers ‘Panache’ in the cut flower garden by the shed

For starters, I would do a patch of sunflowers instead of trying to make a border.

The border didn’t all grow and it looks a little odd. The small sunflower patch I planted did better and I love the look, so I’ll do that again next year.

Because I had some issues with several groundhogs this year, all of my dahlias will be planted inside the picket fence and have their own quad.

I’d move my zinnias to the back of the garden. And plant my snapdragons and larkspur towards the front.

Not to mention, I would stake those better. (More on that next.)

Gardener stacy ling Cutting zinnias - Cut flower gardening is so fun! Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling
Cut Flower Gardening For Beginners

4. Stake Plants Early in the Flower Patch Garden

Start staking plants when they are small and first put them in the ground. It’s much easier to do at that time.

And before you know it, those plants will grow big and need it.

If you stake too late, plants will fall over onto each other and will be tough to recover. Other plants like snapdragons and gladiolas won’t grow upright if not staked early enough.

So read up on what plants you are growing and if they require staking, do it while the plants are young.

'queen lime orange' zinnias in my gardening zone 6a cottage garden
Queen Lime Orange Zinnias

5. Stake Plants Well

In addition to staking early, it’s SO IMPORTANT to stake them well.

I made the mistake of trying a few things to see if they’d work and…they didn’t.

Because we spent so much energy on creating the new vegetable garden and shed gardens, I had less energy to put into this part of the flower patch.

I got a little lazy and did some green garden stakes around each of the quads and then used twine to help hold up the sections.

close up of snapdragons and larkspur in small cottage garden near stone wall

This worked for a little while but as the flowers grew, the blooms got REALLY HEAVY and pulled them down.

So next year, I’ll be using a GRID TRELLIS LIKE THIS for some of the flowers and drive stakes into the ground.

I’ve seen my friend Kim from Shiplap and Shells do it in her cut flower gardens, and I should have done the same.

Lesson learned.

I also recommend THESE plant supports too and use them on my peonies, dahlias, and other flowers.

Close up of Sunflowers 'panache' in the flower patch
Sunflowers ‘Panache’

6. Always Follow the Seed Packet Directions

Whether you are growing flowers, herbs, or vegetables, follow the directions.

The grower knows their plants better than we do. They know more than what a google search will tell you. And they have the experience of what works best for that seed variety.

So follow ALL of the directions for sowing, spacing, and growing!

If the seed packet says space them 9″ apart.

Do it.

Queen Lime Orange Zinnia in the Flower Patch. This is a cut flower garden favorite for me!
Queen Lime Orange Zinnias

For the most part, I followed all the directions.

Because I had so many seedlings with nowhere to put them, some that required full sun were grown in part sun.

As a result, there was a significant growth and bloom difference.

They still grew and bloomed, but not at the same vigorous rate as the others planted in the proper location.

If a seed packet says full sun, that plant needs at least 6-8 hours of sun.

Sweet pea seedlings that are ready to be planted in the cut flower garden in the backyard -How to Plant a Garden After Starting Seeds Indoors
Planting seedlings after hardening them off

7. Label ALL Your Plants

I labeled my seed starts for the flower patch with a few labels in each tray.

And I thought it was plenty. But it was not nearly enough.

Looking back, I should have labeled each cell or at least close to them all.


Close up of benary giant wine zinnia, limelight hydrangea and rudbekia flowers -7 Lessons I Learned From Growing a Flower Patch
Benary’s Giant Wine Zinnia with Rudbekia and limeline hydrangea

I know it sounds like overkill.

But if you do what I did and grow so many flowers you don’t know what to do with them all, you’ll wind up throwing them in anywhere.

And guess what?

In some spots, I’m not sure what I planted because I didn’t write it all down.

There was just too many and it would have taken me too long to do it.

Backyard Flower Patch by garden shed
Cut flower patch in summer by garden shed

So I wish I had a few more labels to drop in the ground when I randomly threw them in around the other flower gardens.

Oh and while we’re on the subject of labels, be sure to put the labels in the ground where you’ll see them when the plant grows.

I planted several dahlias with tags near the base of the plant and I can’t see them at all to know which variety it is.

garrdening zone 6a backyard garden
Backyard cottage garden in summer

Can You Grow a Cut Flower Garden in Containers?


If you lack garden space and wish to grow a cut flower garden in containers, it is possible to do.

If you decide to grow a cut flower patch in containers, use large planters.

Make sure you site them in full sun.

And thin out the seedlings by following the recommendations on the seed packet for spacing guidelines.

sunset in the small cottage garden in zone 6a new jersey garden

More About Lessons Learned

Did you learn anything in your garden this year that you would do differently next year? I would love to know more in the comments below.

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close up of cut flowers

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Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed

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  1. Stacy,
    I had only minimal success starting from seeds. I probably spent more than I gained but these tips really help. Thanks! I’m sharing on tomorrow’s post.

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  3. You definitely brought up some of my biggest lessons too Stacy! I still don’t label as well as I should. And I need to be a better notetaker. I’m glad you’re going to try the netting next year. I love using it!

    1. I totally should have done your netting – it would have been so much better. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know when I created this bed. I’m going to have to think about adding stakes into the ground to use that netting. Thanks for the inspo!

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  5. Stacy, I love to be able to cut flowers from my own garden for bouquets and like you have planted way to many seeds. With the price of these it is much better to plant fewer seeds and save the rest for next year. I keep mine in a small cooler bag in an old fridge out in our garage.
    Next y.ear I will keep my seedlings growing inside till large enough to avoid being eaten by little slugs. I lost over half my zinnias this spring.
    Always something to learn no matter how many years of gardening!

  6. Stacy,
    I’ve saved this information because I’d love to have a more successful cutting garden. Thanks for your meticulous details!

  7. I love these tips, Stacy! I’ve been thinking about starting a cut garden next summer, so this post is very timely. I saved it to my gardening board so I can remember it later. I’m also going to share it with my readers this weekend for my week in rewind post. I know they’ll love it too!