Are you thinking about starting a cut flower garden, and have no idea where to start? I’ll show you the process I go through when planning my cut flower garden.
This is my favorite part of growing a cut flower garden…THE PLANNING! I really enjoy the process of planning out the garden. I can’t express to you the importance of going through this phase for the sake of efficiency, and sanity! Trust me…your results will be so much more positive when you invest more time at the beginning, designing and planning your gardening space.
Disclosure: I am not a Master Gardener. I’m a self-taught gardener who shares my opinions and what has worked for me in the garden.
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I’m a VERY, VERY visual person, so I may do things a bit differently than some. Planning the new year’s garden is almost like a puzzle, trying to fit all the pieces together. I use graph paper and print outs of the flower seed varieties I’ve picked for this year’s garden. I lay everything out, looking for possible themes and color palettes.
The Steps in the Garden Planning Process
1. Know What you Have to Work With
The sunlight, soil and space needed to grow a fresh cut garden must be evaluated even before thinking about moving forward with the process of planning a cut flower garden.
The amount of sunlight your garden will have is an important thing to consider before you start. Most of the flowers I grow, both perennial and annual, need at least 6 hours of sun a day. We never even thought of having an extensive garden in our front yard. But we didn’t have a choice. That’s where the sun was, so we changed our plans and moved the garden here.
Calculating the space you have to work with will be an important first step in deciding how many seed varieties you can grow. This is where you can get into trouble! Never, ever shop a seed catalog before knowing how much dedicated garden space you really have to work with.
When planning the location of your garden, you’ll want to make sure you have good soil. Choose an area with adequate drainage, healthy soil and free from any large root systems.
Experts recommend you perform a soil test before planting your seed starts. This will not only give you a better understanding of how your soil will perform, but what amendments are needed to be added to the ground. There are soil test options available. You can buy an inexpensive soil test, or hire a local garden resource center to test your soil conditions.
SHOP SOIL TESTS AND MONITORS
Many beginning gardeners pass on this step, but usually end up never making the same mistake twice. It is such an important part of the process.
I add a fish mulch EVERY APRIL, and a leaf mulch every fall to add nutrients back into the soil.
2. Designing Your Garden Plot
When choosing a garden bed width, make sure you can reach the center when standing on either side of the long sides. Create pathways between beds.
We built 2-8’x 4′ and 2-4’x 4′ raised beds in our flower garden. By adding whiskey barrels and galvanized trough planters around the entire picket fence border, we were able to plant even more flowers in our garden. Creating 4-ft. pathways was strategic, so we could roll a wheelbarrow between the beds easily.
SHOP GARDEN CONTAINER IDEAS
3. How to Decide Where to Plant Your Seed Starts
Cut flower gardens are different from regular flower gardens. They are all about producing flowers that can be cut and enjoyed. They have a purpose. But I still make an effort to keep them looking as pretty as I can. Here are some of the things I consider when determining where to plant my seedlings.
I like creating the flower beds by color. Softer color palettes are usually separated from the brighter ones.
In one bed, I plant seedlings together that bloom at different times throughout the spring and summer. That way, the beds will always have flowers growing in them, no matter what time of the season it is. An example would be to plant sweet peas and globe amaranth together in the same bed. Then when the sweet peas start fading at the end of July for me, the globe amaranth will just be starting to bloom and will take over the bed.
Cosmos and zinnias are always great flowers to place among any variety of flowers as they last for most of the season, at least in my zone, 8B.
Height and Width
Keep in mind what the plant’s mature height and width will be. It’s important to keep the taller flowers towards the back of the beds so they won’t shadow the others around them. I made the mistake of planting very tall sweet peas in the center of the raised bed one year, not realizing that when the afternoon sun hit a certain direction, the flowers on the other side of the sweet peas were completely blocked from the sun.
Staking and Netting
Those plants needing to be staked or netted are usually grown together in one bed so I can corral them. More about corraling coming up in a future blog post.
4. Calculating the Space Needed for Your Seeds
So you’ve planned out your garden beds. Now is the time to calculate how many plants can fit into each bed. Now you are ready to choose which varieties to grow and decide how many seeds to order.
You can find how much space is needed to leave between each plant on the back of the seed packet. However, I tend to space the seed starts just a little closer together than what’s recommended for certain varieties that aren’t as bushy or susceptible to mildew. This gives me a little more room and I don’t get as many weeds growing in the beds. I DO NOT RECOMMEND this unless you’ve been growing flowers for awhile, and are familiar with how the flowers will grow.
5. What to Order
Deciding which seeds to order is the most challenging part of the process for me!!! IT’S SO HARD TO CHOOSE!
I actually ordered every single flower variety I liked my first year of gardening. Let me tell you, it was so overwhelming. There was a lot of waste. I didn’t have enough containers, space in the greenhouse, space in the garden beds…you get the idea.
If you’ve had a garden in the past, look back to your journal to see what worked and what opportunities there were.
- Were there too many flowers that looked alike?
- Was there enough overall color, too much of one color, or not enough?
- Did you have flowers blooming throughout the growing season, with some going away and others taking their place?
- Were there enough fillers to incorporate into your flower arrangements, and not all bright and beautiful blooms?
Of course you are going to want to stick with the flowers that performed best for you. But you may want to think about cutting a couple of varieties from the list. That way, you can try a couple of new ones. It’s always fun to try something new, don’t you think?
Easy to Grow Flowers for the Beginner
If this is your first time starting a cut flower garden from seed, you may be intimidated by the thought of the entire process. But I’m here to make it easier for you! Listed below are some of my favorite easy-to-grow flowers. They may require little effort to grow, but they do not lack beauty by any means.
I hope you were able to take away a few ideas for planning your cut flower garden. I look forward to hearing your thoughts or ideas in the comments below.
The next blog post in this cut flower garden series will be Seed Starting 101.
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