Have you ever thought about growing your own cutting garden but aren’t really sure what you might be getting yourself into? I’ll share some of the cut flower garden “dos and don’ts” that I’ve learned along the way.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always dreamed of walking through the garden to pick summer flowers ANYTIME I wanted.
Whether it’s bringing the outdoors inside, handing a fabulous floral bouquet to the hostess at a party, or delivering beautiful blooms to a friend for her birthday, there’s nothing more rewarding than harvesting your own cut flowers you grew from seed or seedlings.
See all the blog posts in the GROWING A CUT FLOWER GARDEN series HERE.
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I’m a self-taught hobby gardener, not a Master Gardener. Everything I share with you on my blog is my personal opinion and things that worked for me along the way.
A Cut Flower Garden is Different From a Traditional Garden
Producing flowers to harvest is much different from a landscaped garden. There’s a fear that if you pick flowers from your yard, your outdoor spaces won’t look as pretty anymore. So rather than enjoying the summer flowers you worked so hard to grow by bringing them indoors, you just leave them be.
This is exactly why I created a cut flower garden. I could keep the pretty flowers that the pollinators love around the landscaped garden AND harvest flowers from the actual cut flower garden. Now that’s what I call a win-win situation.
Learning From My Mistakes
No matter what level you’re at as a gardener, there’s always so much more to learn, don’t you think? When we moved into our home 9 years ago, all I basically knew was how to pull a weed and plant a window box or outdoor container.
I’ve definitely made my share of mistakes. And the don’ts I’m about to share with you are pretty much all mistakes I’ve made in the past years. Hopefully, these tips will help you not make the same ones I did.
Cut Flower Garden Dos and Don’ts
Average Frost Date
DO know the average frost date for your area. This will give you an idea of when it’s safe to start planting your seeds and transplanting your seedlings. I plant my flowers based on my last average frost date of April 18th.
In fact, I tend to harden my seedlings right after that date and transplant them into the garden a couple of weeks later just to be safe.
When growing cut flowers from seed, refer to the directions on the back of the packet which lists when you should start sowing them based on your last frost date.
DO know your hardiness zone, which is a helpful tool to use when deciding which perennial plants will grow and survive in certain areas in North America. Hardiness zones are determined by your area’s 30- year average last first date.
I live 60 miles SW of Seattle, WA. and am in Zone 8b.
Use Quality Seeds
DON’T use cheap seeds when starting a cut flower garden. Quality seeds that are free from pesticides and disease will be one of the best investments you can make. I’ve been buying my seeds from Floret Flowers for 4 years now and have always been extremely happy with the quality.
Choose Your Flowers
DO choose cut flower plants that produce for several months. Some examples from my garden are hydrangeas, zinnias, cosmos, and dahlias.
A large portion of my flowers are “the more you cut, the more blooms the plant will produce” workhorses.
DO choose cut flowers with colors and shapes that coordinate with one another in a vase.
It’s All About the Soil
DON’T skip a soil test before planting your cut flower seedlings. This is one of the most important steps to take for a healthy garden, and one of the most overlooked.
A soil test will determine what amendments your garden will need before you start planting.
DO add rich organic matter to the soil, such as compost to provide the nutrients your flowers need.
Mixing Vegetables with Flowers in the Garden
DO mix vegetables and herbs in your cut flower garden. The increased pollination from the bees and other pollinators will make your garden even more productive. I love the interest created in the garden with a mixture of flowers, herbs, and veggies.
DO try to create a dedicated garden bed for cut flowers with the same watering and feeding needs if you have the room. Plant seedlings in rows rather than groups.
Pinching and Cutting Your Flowers
DO pinch cut flowers such as sweet peas, dahlias, cosmos, snapdragons, and dahlias. Snip the central stem of the plant to encourage more blooms and taller stems.
DON’T be afraid to cut your flowers from the garden. Remember that the more blooms you cut, the more flowers your plants will produce.
DO deadhead any spent blooms regularly to help encourage the plants to focus their energy on producing new flowers instead of maintaining the old ones. It also keeps the plant from wasting water and nutrients on the end-of-life blooms.
DON’T provide your plants any less than 6 hours of direct sun. Most cut flowers thrive in the full sun. The back of your seed packet should tell you how much sun is needed for each type of flower.
DON’T block flowers from the sunlight by planting tall plants in front of them. I plant my taller flowers in my garden so they’re behind the shorter varieties in the afternoon when the raised beds get the most sun.
Watering Your Cut Flower Garden
DON’T overhead water. When using a drip system or soaker hoses, your plants will only need a quarter of the water they would need with overhead watering. When you get the foliage wet, the plant is more susceptible to fungal disease.
The most efficient way to water your garden is by using soaker or irrigation hoses. They slowly bring the water to the plant’s roots before evaporating.
DO water in the morning hours before the sun starts heating the garden.
When watering in the afternoon, you risk the water evaporating before hitting the plant’s roots causing the leaves to burn.
If you can avoid it, try not to water in the evening. There won’t be enough time for the leaves to dry before the temperatures cool which could create powdery mildew. If you have no choice but to water in the evening, make sure you are only watering the roots of the plant and not the foliage.
DON’T overwater. Just because your plant is wilting doesn’t necessarily mean it’s due to a lack of water. Test the soil by sticking your finger down about an inch to see the condition of the soil.
Supporting Your Cut Flowers
DO support tall flowers. Staking, trellising, netting, and corralling will help to prevent damage from the wind, rain, and heavy growth. In my garden, dahlias, snapdragons, sweet peas, cosmos and daisies need the most support.
I hope these cut flower garden dos and don’ts have given you some things to think about for your own garden. Leave a comment below with any questions or great tips of your own. I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time,
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The Cut Flower Garden Series
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April Hendricks says
Great information for a newbie, Kim. I, like you in the beginning, really have only window boxes and a few potted plants that I can keep alive. I was so in awe of your beautiful cut flower garden, that at the beginning of the season I had my husband build two beds for a cut flower garden. I bought seeds and then got overwhelmed and didn’t do anything. I LOVE all of your tips and tricks, and I would LOVE a blog post with a diagram of what you plant and where. I would even pay for it…a class maybe? Your garden is beautiful and thank you so much for your extremely helpful garden info.
Thank you so much, April for your comments. I can completely understand how overwhelming it can be to start a garden. I hope you will try again next year. Thanks for the great idea for a blog post. I will definitely try to put something together to share where I planted things in the garden. Thanks for following along.
Your garden and home are amazing! I also live in the Pacific Northwest, and I am wondering how often you water your garden during the summer to make it look so lush? Thank you.
Thanks for your comments, Sarah. Sorry it took me so long to respond. We do water every day in the summer, but only because we are so fortunate to have our own well.
The cutting garden looks so pretty Kim! Love all your tips! I need to do a better job at supporting plants – I wasn’t sure how some of these would grow this year but will do better with it next year. xo
Thank you, Stacy! It’s been a great year.
Rachel Harper says
Kim, your posts are so informative! I learned so much and will definitely be referring to your information as I continue to improve my garden. Thanks so much!
Thank you so much, Rachel!
Chas - Chas' Crazy Creations says
I really needed this post, such great information! Thank you so much for sharing.