This comprehensive guide for beginners will take you step-by-step through the process of creating your own cutting garden, from selecting the right flowers to harvesting and arranging them like a pro. You’ll learn essential tips for growing healthy cut flowers, extending their vase life, and attracting pollinators to your garden. Embrace the beauty of nature and bring the splendor of fresh-cut flowers into your home with these simple tips.
And once the gardening bug bit me. It bit me HARD. My love for gardening and all things flowers started with one garden and grew to well over 13 at my former home.
Over the last few years, I started branching out and trying my hand at growing a cutting garden. Most of the flowers I wanted to grow as cut flowers were not available at the local nursery, so I started them indoors from seed.
There are so many cut flower species you can grow. So don’t limit yourself to just what’s available at the nursery. Because starting flowers from seed is SO EASY and you can really grow some fun plants.
Discover the joy of cut flower gardening and transform your home with fresh, vibrant blooms!
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Why You Should Grow a Cut Flower Garden
A cut flower garden is a spot in the landscape where you can grow flowers to cut and make arrangements. Cutting gardens are grown specifically to harvest flowers instead of growing them purely for the aesthetic.
Blooms grown are cut and come again flowers. So the more you cut, the more flowers you’ll get.
Throughout most of my gardening life, I hesitated to cut flowers from my gardens because I enjoy watching them grow and change in my landscape.
To change that mindset, I started growing a garden with the specific intent of cutting the flowers. And you know what?
IT IS AWESOME!!!
I love cutting flowers daily and making garden bouquets. And you will too. Here’s how to do it.
Cut Flower Gardening FAQs: Answers to Your Most Burning Questions
If you are ready to dive into growing a cut flower patch, I got you! Here are some cut flower gardening FAQs with answers that will help you grow a thriving cutting garden.
How Do You Start a Cut Flower Garden?
The best way to grow a fresh-cut flower garden is to start it with seed. But you can also purchase plants from local garden nurseries. So if you’re not interested in starting cut flowers from seed, you can still purchase flowers that are ready to plant from the nursery.
That said, I recommend starting them from seed if you can because:
- You can grow so many more options and unique cut flower species from seed.
- It’s a rewarding experience to grow plants from seed.
- And it’s a fun indoor gardening activity to do.
What Are the Best Cut Flowers to Grow in a Cutting Garden?
There are so many flower options to grow in a cut flower garden, but here are some of my favorites to grow.
- Sweet Peas
There’s so much more, but these are just a few of the best cut flowers that I enjoy growing.
Cut Flower Garden Layout: How Much Room Do You Need For a Cut Flower Garden?
The cut flower garden layout and how much room you need depends on how much room you have and what you want to grow.
Research the sizes of flowers you wish to grow and see how much gardening space you have that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. Because most flowers grown for cutting need lots of sunshine to grow well.
When Is the Best Time to Cut Fresh Flowers From the Garden?
The ideal time to cut fresh flowers is in the early morning because evenings are cool and they have some morning dew.
That said, it’s OK to cut flowers in the evening as well. Just avoid the heat of the day because they won’t last as long in arrangements.
Select flowers that recently opened, closely looking at the petals and foliage. Choose ones that have some buds because they’ll extend the bloom time in your arrangements.
- Bring a bucket of warm water with you to the garden.
- Avoid using cold or hot water.
- Using clean sharp pruners or snips, cut flowers slightly above a side branch or where you see another flower branch forming.
- Cut the foliage off of the stems as you work so they don’t sit in the water.
- Then plunge the cut flowers directly into the bucket of water.
It’s best to let them sit in the warm water for a few hours in a cool shaded location to acclimate them to life in an arrangement before making garden bouquets.
How to Grow a Cut Flower Garden: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners
It is so fun to grow a cutting garden. While these steps may take a little while to do, it is fairly simple and worth the process if you want to enjoy garden bouquets all season long.
Here is what you need to know.
Choose a Location
Before beginning, find a spot in your yard that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. Because a vast majority of cut flowers require full sunlight.
If you aren’t sure where that is, study different areas of your yard throughout the day to find the best spot.
And if it’s too cold to physically make the garden (like you are in the middle of winter), create a cut flower garden layout by planning the size and shape so you know how many types of cut flowers to order.
Ordering Seeds to Start Indoors
Have you ever started seeds indoors before? It’s not hard to do and with the proper equipment, you can have great success growing lots of flowers intended for cutting.
Last year, I started over 1400 flowers in my basement!
Whether you have a greenhouse or not, starting seeds indoors allows gardeners to get a jump on the season and grow varieties not readily available at local nurseries.
When starting seeds indoors, it’s important to purchase high-quality seeds. While some sources sell year-round, you’ll see the best supply in December and January.
Note about Floret: Watch their site like a hawk, because they sell out of their gorgeous seeds super quick!
Before ordering seeds, think about how you want your cutting garden to look. Consider the colors, bloom time, and heights so you can plan where everything is going.
- Seed Starting Potting Soil
- Seed Trays
- Bottom or Drainage Trays
- Clear Dome Lids
- Grow Lights
- Table or Shelf System for Seedlings
- Heat Mat
- Plant Labels
- Oscillating Fan
- Programmable Timer
As an aside, if you need some garden design tips and ideas you can get some inspiration HERE.
Sowing Seed Outdoors in Winter
As an alternative to starting seeds indoors, you cut down on using all those indoor seed starting supplies by sowing seeds outdoors in winter.
I shared a whole tutorial on how to do this here. And it works best with cool-season annual flowers like sweet peas, snapdragons, foxgloves, larkspur, calendula and more.
How to Sow Seeds
So you’ve got your garden planned out, you ordered seeds, now what? Read the seed packet directions to determine when and how to start sowing them.
Know when your last frost date is because that date will drive when to start sowing seeds. Some seeds, like larkspur, will have a chill requirement before sowing. Others like sweet peas, need to be pre-soaked and sowed 10-12 weeks prior to the last frost date.
Starting a New Garden
When the ground can be worked in early spring, it’s time to start your new cutting garden.
If you plan to grow your new cut flower garden in the ground, be sure to remove all of the existing grass and make clean edges around the bed so grass roots don’t grow back into the new garden.
To follow a step-by-step tutorial, learn how to start a new garden here.
Did you know there’s an easier way to start a garden in the ground without breaking your back?
Yes! You’ll need to plan ahead to do it though because it requires laying down a barrier that will break down over time.
CLICK HERE for a step-by-step tutorial to start a garden the easy way. For a cutting garden, I recommend doing this at least 6 months to a year ahead of time.
Can I Use Weed Fabric in a Cut Flower Garden?
I’ve been asked about using weed fabric as that barrier in flower beds and I do not recommend it unless you plan to remove it before planting the bed.
To me, it’s much easier to use cardboard or newspaper that will break down over time and enrich the soil.
I use weed fabric in very limited situations. Such as this raised bed garden for vegetables. Since I used the fabric as a barrier beneath the raised bed and applied pea gravel on top, I won’t ever need to dig in it, nor will I want my plants to self-sow there.
Hardening Off Seedlings for a Cutting Garden
The hardening-off process is when plants are transitioned from growing indoors or in a greenhouse environment to the outdoor elements of fluctuating weather to help prevent shock from environmental changes.
It’s a two-week process that involves acclimating tender seedlings to outdoor living. While it sounds like a lot it’s very easy to do. And it is something that you can’t skimp on either.
I shared an easy guide to hardening off seedlings in this post.
Direct Sow and Purchasing Plants From the Nursery
When the last frost date arrives, direct sow seeds that you didn’t start indoors. I prefer starting some seeds this way, such as sunflowers and nasturtiums.
Direct sow seeds in the garden according to packet directions. If seeds require sowing before the last frost date, follow that.
Start shopping your local garden nursery for plants you may want to include if you have some planting space.
If you are direct sowing, consider succession planting where you sow seeds a few days to a week apart to get an extended bloom time from flowers that are typically one-and-done, such as sunflowers.
Planting the Cut Flower Garden for Beginners
When plants are hardened off, it’s time to plant your cut flower garden. Be sure to plant smaller varieties in the front and taller varieties toward the back. If you pre-planned your garden design, plant according to your garden layout.
And if you are following a general design but sort of winging it?
Consider the color combinations of flowers you are growing and group plants together that are aesthetically pleasing.
Finally, protect young seedlings from harsh weather conditions such as extreme heat and wind until they acclimate after planting.
When I grew my cut flower garden a few years ago, New Jersey experienced extreme heat for about a week, so I kept my flowers well-watered so they would not dry out.
Staking and Supporting Tall and Heavy Flower Varieties
When planting, it’s important to know which plants will require support as they grow and mature.
Cut flowers requiring more support will generally be taller varieties, typically over two feet tall, and have heavier flower heads.
Typical plants that need additional support are dahlias, zinnias, snapdragons, delphiniums, peonies, cosmos, and several others.
Of course, it depends on the cut flower species, so make sure you read the seed packets or plant tags for direction from the grower.
Why We Need to Stake Plants
It is necessary to provide additional support for taller and more substantial flowers from heavy rain, strong winds, and the weight of blooms.
Because without that extra support?
They will topple over. And we don’t want that! There are a few ways to stake or support cut flowers including:
When is the Best Time to Support Cut Flowers
Now that we know we need to support taller and more sizeable flowers, when do we stake plants?
Because growth happens quickly, it’s best to start whatever support system you choose either when you plant or before the plants reach about a foot tall.
I suggest staking when you plant because growth happens fast in spring and if you aren’t paying attention, it can be tough to support plants later.
And trust me when I tell you, I tend to put off staking thinking I have plenty of time and that’s a huge mistake.
Because growth sneaks up on you in spring!
So I am trying to be better with it and setting up my support systems early when in the growing season or when I plant seedlings. I know it won’t look great until the plants mature, but because I know how I garden, I need to start this process early!
Therefore, my best advice is to consider doing it when you plant versus waiting until it’s about a foot tall.
Fertilizing Cutting Garden Flowers
Fertilizing is necessary to provide the nutrients needed to grow healthy and bloom. When seedlings are planted in the ground, fertilize with a fish emulsion fertilizer like THIS for the first week or two.
After plants acclimate, which is usually around a week or two, add a slow-release fertilizer like this.
As an aside, I feed both my annuals and houseplants with this same slow-release fertilizer too. It lasts about four months. And in New Jersey, that’s pretty much the growing season. So for me, the slow release fertilizer is a set-and-forget approach to feeding my cut flower garden.
Easiest Cut Flowers to Start From Seed For Your Cut Flower Garden
As with plants, there are some flowers that start easier from seed than others. If you are just starting out with growing a cut flower garden, start with these plants.
7 Essential Lessons I Learned from Nurturing a Cut Flower Patch
As with all things, we all make mistakes, right? From cutting corners to learning as you go, cut flower gardening is a learning experience.
Here are 7 mistakes I made growing a cutting garden.
- Not taking good notes in a garden journal
- Trying to grow every seed in the seed packet instead of saving them for later
- Not planning a cut flower garden layout
- Supporting flowers too late
- Not using the best garden supports for taller, heavier flowers
- Not following the seed packet directions
- Getting lazy and not labeling EVERYTHING
CLICK HERE to learn more about the best ways to address each of these mistakes so you don’t experience the same gardening fails I did when growing a cut flower garden.
How to Arrange Flowers From Your Cutting Garden
So now you’ve grown a beautiful cut flower patch and you want to make garden bouquets that you can decorate inside your home or give away to friends and family. Here is what you need to know to arrange flowers and enjoy cut flowers from your garden!
- Once fresh cut flowers acclimate (usually after about 2-3 hours), it’s time to make the arrangement.
- Choose a container like a vase, bowl, etc.
- Strip off any leaves that sit lower than the waterline.
- Be sure to remove any leaves that will sit below the waterline because they will decompose and contaminate the water which will lessen the life of the arrangement. And if you are going to do all this work, you want these flower bouquets to last!
- You can use a floral frog, floral tape or even scotch tape to help keep the flowers sturdy in the arrangement. If using tape create a grid pattern, then drop your flowers in.
- Re-cut stems on a slant so the flowers can take in fresh water better. And the general rule of thumb is to cut flowers roughly 1.5 – 2x the height of the container you are using.
How to Keep Fresh Flowers Longer
Now that we’ve grown and made a gorgeous flower arrangement, how do we keep fresh cut flowers longer?
Follow these simple tips to prolong the life of your fresh cut flower arrangements.
- Always Start With a Clean Vase or Floral Foam
- Prepare Each Flower for the Arrangement
- Feed Fresh-Cut Flowers to Prolong Their Vase Life
- Keep the Water Clean
- Re-cut Stems When You Change the Water
- Keep Fresh Flowers Out of Direct Sunlight
- Remove Wilted Blooms and Petals
My Best Advice for Beginner Cut Flower Gardeners
If you are just starting out with cut flower gardening, my best advice is to start small, get your feet wet, and build some confidence.
Our eyes are always bigger than my stomach when it comes to growing plants and flowers, but trust me when I tell you, the larger the garden the more work it is.
And if you are a beginner gardener or new to cut flower gardening, starting with a smaller garden will help manage the beds better, grow plants with more confidence, and enjoy the experience more.
You’ll look back on the experience feeling like it was rewarding and likely wanting to do more instead of collapsing in a chair frustrated that it was too much work. Because growing a cut flower garden is a rewarding experience that you’ll enjoy for years to come.
Thanks so much for growing stuff with me!
I hope you found these tips on cut flower gardening for beginners helpful.
See you in the garden.
More Cut Flower Gardening for Beginners Tips
Do you have any cut flower gardening tips for beginners that you’d like to share? What are your favorite cut flowers to grow? I would love to know more in the comments below.
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Want to Learn How to Grow Flowers With Ease?
If you’ve always wanted to grow flowers but struggled with where to start or how to create something beautiful, I got you. I wrote a book that shares all the things you need to know to grow a beautiful and easy-care flower garden.
- Have you never met a plant you couldn’t kill?
- Have you dug around in the dirt with nothing to show for it except a sunburn and a sore back?
- Do you currently enjoy growing flowers, but are looking for more tips and ideas to level up your gardening game?
Then the Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy Care Garden Book is for YOU!
What’s in the Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide?
- Gardening basics to set you up for success
- Great garden design ideas with ready-made plans for you to follow
- Easy-care instructions for a wide variety of flowering annuals, perennials, and shrubs
- Helpful how-tos for container and cut flower gardening
- Graphs, charts, and lists to help you stay organized
My book publishes on February 6, 2024, but you can preorder now and get a special pre-order bonus chapter you can’t get when the preorder period closes.
Preorder your copy here and get a free, downloadable guide that shares bonus information with tips and unique garden designs to get year-round color in your landscape. Offer ends 2/5/24.
Garden Supplies I Use
I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites in no particular order.
- I like to use a good-quality, potting soil, garden soil, compost, and perlite when planting. While I make my own compost, you can easily buy it ready-made for use.
- I have used this deer repellent with great success. But now, I’m all about this deer repellent that is systemic instead of topical. This means the plant takes it in as opposed to it just smelling bad.
- Hands down this is my favorite hand-weeding tool. You can use it to get underneath roots and loosen soil, and it cuts down on the weeding time because you work much faster.
- But I also love this long, stand-up weeding tool to really get around roses from afar.
- I use THIS ORGANIC FERTILIZER for roses because the blooms are more prolific and it’s organic.
- And I use this organic fertilizer for my vegetables and herbs in the potager garden.
- You’ll need a sharp set of pruners when working with plants and flowers. I buy a few so I can stash them around.
- I use these garden snips to deadhead and cut flowers from my gardens.
- Where pest and disease problems are concerned, if I need to, I generally use this insecticidal soap or neem oil to help control infestations depending on the issue. When using, only apply when pollinators are less active.
- This is my favorite set-and-forget slow-release fertilizer for houseplants, annuals, and container gardens.
- Whenever I stake my peonies or other plants, I generally use these grow-through garden supports because they work really well and keep the blooms upright.
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Enjoy a beautiful day! xo