5 Steps to a Gorgeous Cutting Garden Plus Cutting Garden Tips

You don't need sprawling garden space or a seasoned green thumb to have endless homegrown flower bouquets. Use these tips to keep your vases filled all season long.

Lush flowerbeds overflowing with colorful blooms make you want to snip a few stems and take them inside. But if you're reluctant to pluck stems in your garden and leave bare spots, there's an easy solution: Just plant your own cutting garden. It doesn't necessarily have to be anything fancy; start by designating one flower bed for growing your favorite perennials and annuals for cutting. Then, if you find that you're using more flowers than you can grow in one season, you can always expand later on and plant a larger bed, or multiple cutting beds. You'll have cut flowers whenever you want, plus a full, gorgeous garden!

dahlia varieties in small white vases
Simple white vases show off a rainbow of dahlia flowers. Kim Cornelison Photography Inc.

How to Start a Cut Flower Garden

Starting a cut flower garden is as easy as planting any other bed, but the location is a little more important because you don't want all those chopped off stems front and center. Follow these steps to create a flower bed just for cutting:

1. Choose the Best Spot

Select an inconspicuous location (such as along a garage or in a back corner of your yard) and be sure your cutting bed gets lots of sun and has rich, well-drained soil. A cutting bed offers plenty of planting freedom. Its sole purpose is to produce flowers and even foliage for you to cut, so don't worry about how it will look. You can mix and match colors, textures, heights, and varieties.

2. Keep It Simple

Make the bed simple to weed, feed, and cut by planting the flowers in rows. You might even make your cutting garden part of an existing vegetable or herb garden. The crop-style planting will blend right in, and your "production" gardens will be in one location. If you don't have gardening space to spare, spread cutting flowers throughout your existing beds; don't cluster them, or there'll be noticeable bare spots when you pluck them for arrangements.

3. Plan Ahead

Planning will help you avoid creating gaps if your scissors don't get too much exercise. Draw your existing beds on paper, noting varieties, bloom times, and heights (or use an online garden planner to help you keep track of everything). Then pencil in the flowers you want to cut. Use bloom cycles as your guide to create a mix.

4. Plant a Variety of Perennials and Annuals

Plant a balanced mix of cutting perennials and annuals. Your favorite perennials will come back year after year, while annuals will let you experiment more easily. Both types make excellent cut flowers. The more colors, heights, and textures you grow, the more fun you can have creating indoor arrangements.

5. Consider All Flowering Plants

Annuals and perennials usually get the most attention because they don't take up much space, but there are other plants that will also look beautiful in bouquets. Use flowering shrubs such as hydrangeas and lilacs, aromatic herbs such as lavender, and plants with interesting foliage to add pizzazz to your arrangements.

purple yellow and pink roses in white vases resting on fence
A few interesting leaves help set off the classic beauty of roses. Ed Gohlich Photography Inc

Cutting Garden Tips and Techniques

Once you've planted your garden, here's how to get the most out of your cut flowers:

  • Stagger your planting of each flower variety so the blooms don't all appear and disappear at once.
  • Water, feed, and deadhead flowers regularly.
  • Cut flowers in the early morning or evening, not in the heat of the day when they are stressed.
  • Use a sharp, clean tool ($14, The Home Depot) to cut stems. Cleanliness is key to long-lived blooms. Dirty tools spread bacteria, which will cause cut stems to rot more quickly.
  • Submerge newly cut stems in a bucket of water mixed with a flower preservative. Let the flowers rest in the bucket of water for one hour to rehydrate before arranging them.
  • Before arranging your bouquet, remove any foliage that will be covered by water.
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