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Maintaining a Cut Flower Garden for Beginners

Do you want to add a pop of color to your garden and bring fresh flowers into your home? Growing cut flowers will give you both. Whether you’re a new gardener or an experienced one, these easy tips will help you maintain a successful cut flower garden.

The purpose of a cutting garden is to have a dedicated garden space specifically for growing flowering plants for cut flowers. You’ll be able to enjoy growing your own beautiful blooms to create breathtaking bouquets in the summer months.


white dahlia with yellow center in cut flower garden

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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 have worked for me.

cafe au lait dahlia

For all of you new gardeners out there, growing your own cut flower garden is one of the best forms of garden therapy you could experience.

You don’t have to have a big outdoor space to grow flower gardens and it’s easier than you think. Trust me…if I can do it, anyone can do it. I started mine for the first time knowing nothing! I learned everything from a book and the internet.

Here’s a beginner-friendly guide to maintaining your cut flower garden throughout the summer.

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maintaining a cut flower garden: coral gladiolus

By evaluating your garden’s needs, you’ll be able to give your cut flower garden the care and attention it needs to help your summer flowers thrive throughout the season.

Understanding the fertility requirements of your flowers will help you provide the necessary nutrients for a successful cut-flower garden. The best way to do that is by performing a soil test to determine the pH level and nutrients of the soil.

Amend your flower bed soil with organic matter, compost, or specific fertilizers for the right foundation for your summer flowers.

Different flower varieties have varying sunlight requirements so it’s important to understand the lighting conditions in your garden.

Spend time watching the patterns of sunlight and shade throughout the day to identify which outdoor areas receive full sun, partial shade, or deep shade. Select flowers that match these sunlight requirements for optimal growth.

Sun-loving flowers need a sunny spot in the garden with at least six hours of direct sunlight, while varieties requiring shade thrive in areas with limited sun exposure.

maintaining a cut flower garden: colorful strawflowers against the white picket fence

Choose flower varieties that are compatible with your garden’s hardiness zone.

Being aware of your area’s weather patterns is an easy way to help you prepare for potential challenges such as heatwaves, droughts, or heavy rainfall. Select flowers that can withstand and adapt to these conditions.

maintaining a cut flower garden

Providing the right balance of water for your cut flowers is essential for maintaining your garden. Both overwatering and under-watering can damage your plants.

The frequency of watering will vary depending on soil type, weather conditions, and the specific type of plant you’re growing. Overwatering can lead to root rot, fungal diseases, and the washing away of nutrients while underwatering can leave plants wilted, stressed, and their growth stunted.

By keeping a close eye on the moisture levels in your soil your plants will receive the right amount of water they need to thrive and stay healthy.

Start by checking the moisture level of your garden soil regularly, especially during hot and dry periods. Use a moisture meter or stick your finger into the soil a few inches to check moisture levels before watering. If it feels dry, you’ll need to water.

Visual cues like wilting leaves or dry-looking soil in the garden beds are other sure signs that your garden needs more water.

greenhouse and cut flower garden

Shallow watering can result in shallow root growth, making plants more susceptible to stress and drought. Deep watering encourages roots to grow deeper into the soil, receiving moisture and nutrients more effectively.

Here are a couple of deep watering methods that allow water to penetrate the soil deeply.

A drip irrigation system or soaker hoses deliver water directly to the root zone. This will allow the water to reach the lower layers of soil where roots can access it.

Another method is to water slowly and deeply by using a watering can or garden hose with a gentle flow. Apply water at the base of the plant to soak into the soil gradually.

Water deeply and infrequently, allowing the water to penetrate the soil and reach the roots, encouraging them to grow deeper into the soil.

The best time to water your cut flower garden is in the early morning to reduce evaporation and allow plant foliage to dry before night.

Apply mulch around the plants to help retain soil moisture and reduce water evaporation.

Adjust your watering schedule based on the specific needs of your flower varieties and the current weather conditions.

purple coneflowers

The foundation for a thriving cut flower garden starts with healthy soil.

Consider soil pH, drainage, and nutrient levels before choosing the best cut flowers for your garden. Conduct a soil test to determine which amendments need to be added to your soil to replenish nutrients, such as organic matter, compost, or special fertilizers to create an optimal growing environment.


maintaining a cut flower garden: pink and white sweet peas overlooking the greenhouse

Your flowers for cutting require a steady supply of nutrients to support their growth, development, and the production of beautiful blooms.

By providing regular feeding through organic matter or fertilizers, you will replenish essential nutrients in the soil, promote strong root systems, enhance color and size, and extend the blooming period.


maintaining a cut flower garden

Different cut flowers have varying nutrient requirements so you need to use the right fertilizer so plants will receive the necessary elements to flourish.

Organic Fertilizers

Organic fertilizers, such as compost or well-rotted manure, provide slow-release nutrients and improve soil health.

When using organic fertilizers spread it evenly and work it into the soil before planting or as a top dressing around existing plants. This will allow the nutrients to slowly release and nourish the soil and plants over time.

Synthetic Fertilizers

Synthetic fertilizers offer precise nutrient ratios for targeted feeding. Read the labels and follow the recommended application rates to avoid over-fertilizing.

coral and light pin snapdragons in a cut flower garden

Watering your garden after applying fertilizers helps to activate the nutrients and helps with the absorption by the roots.

Regularly monitor your plants after fertilization and adjust the application as needed.

Composting is a great way to create a natural nutrient source for your garden.

By composting organic materials such as kitchen scraps and yard waste, you can enrich the soil with essential nutrients, improve its structure, and promote overall fertility.

Use compost as a top dressing or mix it into the soil to provide a slow-release, sustainable source of nutrients for your plants.


pink dahlias

Controlling pests and diseases is one of the most important things to do to maintain your cut flower garden.

Here are just a few of the common pests found in a cut flower garden.

  • Aphids: tiny, soft-bodied insects whose presence can be identified by the sticky residue left behind and the curling yellowing of leaves.
  • Spider mites: thrives in hot and dry conditions and suck the sap from leaves, causing discoloration and a stippled appearance.
  • Caterpillars: such as budworms and cutworms can quickly eat through flower petals and leaves, leaving behind ragged holes and missing foliage.
  • Powdery mildew: white, powdery coating on the leaves and stems, thriving in humid conditions and can weaken and distort the growth of flowers.
  • Black spot: black or dark brown spots on the leaves, eventually leading to leaf yellowing and defoliation.
  • Botrytis blight, or gray mold: appears as fuzzy gray or brown patches on flowers and foliage, causing decay and wilting.

Removing affected parts of the plant and giving it good air circulation is essential for controlling diseases. There are also organic remedies you can use. Regular inspections and early intervention are key to preserving the health and longevity of a cut flower garden.

chocolate lace dara in the cut flower garden

Natural and organic pest control methods are an eco-friendly approach to managing pests in your cut flower garden.

Companion planting is when you strategically plant pest-repellent flowers or herbs alongside your cut flowers. A couple of examples would be planting marigolds to repel aphids and deer by their odor, and lavender to deter moths and mosquitos.

Crop rotation helps to disrupt pest life cycles from infesting your garden.

Another organic approach is using insecticidal soaps or oils, which suffocate and kill soft-bodied pests like aphids, mites, and whiteflies.

Physical barriers such as row covers and netting can also prevent pests from getting to your flowers.

Handpicking larger pests like caterpillars and beetles can be an effective way to control their population.

Encouraging natural predators like ladybugs, lacewings, and birds by providing the right habitats or food sources can help keep pests away.

pink and white sweet peas

Many cut flowers have tall, slender stems that may not be able to support the weight of their blooms. Without proper support, these stems can break, bend, or even collapse under the weight.

By staking the stems, the stable structure you’re providing will help them remain upright, and protect them from wind, heavy rain, or even their blooms.

When it comes to staking and support systems for plants, choosing the right methods is essential for ensuring healthy growth and preventing damage.

Here are some of the support methods you can choose from.

  • Netting: Use plastic or mesh netting with 6-inch squares for plants that produce a large amount of branching stems such as snapdragons or zinnias.
  • Staking: A single plant stake is the most common method to support your garden plants.
  • Corralling: Building a corral around an entire bed of tall and bulky plants like dahlias or cosmos is an easy way to support them.
  • Trellising: Support active and fast-growing climber plants such as sweet peas and clematis with a strong trellis or something similar.
  • Grow Through Supports: Tomato and wire cages or grids are a great source of support for heavy-headed blooming flowers such as peonies.

It’s important not to damage the cut flower plants when supporting them. First, be sure to set up the support structure while the plants are still young and not at full growth. Then you can adjust as they grow.

Drive stakes or install trellises firmly into the ground, making sure not to damage the roots or stems. Use soft ties or plant-friendly clips to secure plants gently.

As the plants grow and develop, regularly check and adjust the supports to accommodate their increasing height or weight.

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‘Growing a Cut Flower Garden’ Series


a row of dahlias

Mulching and managing weeds are important parts of flower gardening and maintaining healthy cut flowers. Here are some mulching and weed management tips for beginning flower growers to maintain weed-free flower beds throughout the summer season.

Applying a layer of mulch around flowers is an effective way to suppress weed growth and retain moisture.

Organic mulch such as shredded leaves, wood chips, and straw will create a barrier that blocks the sunlight, preventing weed seeds from germinating. Mulch is also a great way to help regulate soil temperature and moisture.

Manually weeding your cut flower garden is an effective and environmentally friendly way to keep weeds away.

Use a hand trowel or a small weeding fork to pull the weeds out from the base, grasping as close to the soil as possible. For weeds with taproots or deep roots like dandelions, use a weeding fork to loosen the soil and gently lift the weed out of the ground. Be careful not to disturb the soil around the other plants in the garden.

If you can, weed when the soil is slightly damp to make it easier to pull the weeds along with their roots.

maintaining a cut flower garden: shade cloth over flowers

In hot weather, mulch acts as insulation, preventing excessive heat from penetrating the soil and causing stress to the plant roots. It also minimizes temperature fluctuations, providing a more stable environment for plant growth.

By applying a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips, straw, or shredded leaves, gardeners can create a protective barrier that helps regulate soil temperature.

Mulching helps retain moisture by reducing evaporation from the soil surface. This is especially important during dry periods or in regions with limited water availability. The mulch acts as a shield, preventing water loss and preserving soil moisture for the plants’ roots.

The key to proper watering is to water deeply and infrequently rather than shallowly and frequently. This will encourage plants to develop deep root systems that can access water stored deeper in the soil.

Watering in the early morning is ideal to allow plants to absorb moisture before the heat of the day. Target the base of the plant rather than spray the foliage to help prevent fungal diseases.

Regularly monitor soil moisture levels to check the soil for dryness and determine if your plants need watering.

maintaining a cut flower garden: shade cloth over flowers

Providing shade and protection from sensitive plants is crucial to protect them from excessive heat, intense sunlight, or harsh weather conditions.

One option is to create natural shade by strategically planting taller or wider plants nearby to offer shade and reduce direct sun exposure.

Using shade cloth or garden umbrellas can also provide temporary shade during the hottest part of the day. Place over the most sensitive and vulnerable plants or an entire garden bed.

We’ve added shade structure poles with EMT (electrical metallic tubing) pipe to our cut flower garden raised beds that can be lifted out whenever we’re not using them. These structures can support shade cloth or netting, offering long-term protection.

Place delicate plants under trellises, pergolas, or arbors to provide shelter and a shaded environment.

harvested dahlias

Regular pruning helps control the growth and prevent plants from becoming overgrown and unhealthy. The technique involves the removal of dead or damaged branches and trimming back excessive growth.

There are different pruning strategies for specific flower types.

Shrubs that bloom on new wood, such as hydrangeas or butterfly bushes, benefit from rejuvenation pruning in early spring. This will encourage vigorous new growth and abundant blooms.

Spring-flowering shrubs like lilac or forsythias should be pruned immediately after flowering to avoid next year’s flower buds.

Another form of pruning is deadheading, which is the removal of spent flowers. This technique prevents plants from diverting energy into producing seeds and instead encourages them to produce new flower buds.

By regularly deadheading, gardeners can enjoy an extended blooming season.

harvested sweet peas from the cutting garden

By selectively harvesting flowers for a bouquet, gardeners can stimulate the plant to produce more lateral branches and blooms.

Use sharp, clean pruning shears or scissors when harvesting to minimize damage to the plant.

Harvesting should be done early in the morning or late evening when the flowers are well-hydrated.

sunflower

Try succession planting at different times for continuous blooms throughout the summer months.

You can also choose to grow cut flower varieties with staggered blooming periods to ensure that you always have flowers in the garden beds throughout the growing season.

purple coneflower with bee pollinating

Create a welcoming environment for beneficial insects and pollinators in your cut flower garden. Choose flowers that attract them and provide nesting sites and water sources.

Avoid harmful pesticides that can harm beneficial insects, allowing your garden to thrive naturally.

Shasta daises in the cut flower garden

Reflect on your summer garden to see which flowers performed well and which ones fell short. Use these insights to plan for the next season.

Take into account the bloom times and requirements of different types of flowers to ensure a continuous and beautiful garden throughout the growing season.

orange fur Elise dahlias

By following these cutting garden tips and implementing best practices, you will have healthy and gorgeous homegrown flowers throughout the summer season. All it takes is a little planning and the right plants.

If you have any questions or additional suggestions, feel free to share them in the comments below. And be sure to share this blog post link with anyone who may find these gardening tips useful.

Until next time,

Happy Cut Flower Gardening!

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