Growing a Cut Flower Garden is one of the most rewarding activities you can do! Once you experience the joy of cutting stems from your garden to arrange for the house or for a friend you can never go back! – And it’s easier than you think!
This is never more true than in a hot summer climate! Having fresh flowers to bring into the house when the temperature outside is unbearable – make the Summer so much more enjoyable!
Here in the low desert of Arizona (Phoenix Area), there are two main planting seasons – Cool Season and Warm Season.
The warm season garden should be planted after danger of frost has passed – this will be different depending on your particular location and even the micro climate of your garden. For instance, for my zip code, the last frost date is February 15, however I know from years planting in my garden that it is closer to the end of January- (if we have a normal winter, which this year was not…)
In general, annual warm season flowers (also known as tender annuals) have a relatively short seed to vase timeline – which is great for the impatient gardener (aren’t we all?!)
If you are planting a garden for cut flowers, you will want to think about what kinds of flowers you would like to arrange for your home and as gifts for friends and family.
Most flowers bloom best in full sun: 6-8 hours of direct sun per day. In a hot summer climate choose a spot that will receive some shade in the late afternoon as this will give them some protection from the harshest sun.
Next, consider color and shape to ensure the flowers you plant will work well together in a bouquet.
Using a traditional artist color wheel is a great way to start to thinking about color and how colors work together and which combinations you like.
Typically, a mixed bouquet or centerpiece arrangement will have focal flowers, supporting flowers, filler flowers, foliage and a few airy stems or vines to give the bouquet movement.
The image above from La Musa de las Flores is an excellent example of using the different types of flowers to great effect!
Annual flowers are the most common in a cut flower garden. By definition, annual flowers are flowers that complete their life cycle in the course of one year: start as a seed, grow foliage, bloom, set seed, die.
They are also very affordable – and a great place to start!
My favorite tender annual flowers by category are:
Focal Flowers: Zinnia, Sunflowers
Supporting Flowers: Cosmos (also great on their own en masse), gomphrena, celosia, lisianthus, Scabiosa,
Filler Flowers: Basil, Cosmos, Yarrow, Hyacinth bean (flower)
Foliage: Boysenberry, Raspberry, Hyacinth bean vine, Basil, Honeysuckle
Airy: Cosmos, Hyacinth Bean Vine, Honeysuckle
When purchasing seeds, buy the best seeds you can find. While seeds at the big box stores are convenient, they are often not stored well or cared for properly – which typically means lower germination rates. The best seeds will be at your local nursery (where they sell through seeds regularly) or reputable online retailers. Renee’s Garden is a great place to start – she has a great selection and quality.
Now that you’ve planned out what flowers you would like to grow and purchased your seeds, it’s time to prepare the soil!
Ideally, test your soil to make sure you are giving it the nutrients it needs. There are many mail in options or you can ask your local cooperative extension for a recommendation as well.
Flowers are typically heavy feeders – they have a lot to do in a short amount of time! I recommend Tony’s Magic Flower from Earth’s Original Organics, or a similar organic fertilizer formulated for flowers.
Now that your soil is prepared, it’s time to plant your cutting garden!
Some cut flower plants do best if they are direct sown (plant seeds directly in the garden) and some do best if they are started in a controlled environment and planted in the garden as small plants (transplants).
I have the best success direct sowing Zinnia, Celosia and Sunflowers. They don’t like their roots to be disturbed – and they grow quickly- so it’s best to get them in the garden straight away.
Basil, Hyacinth Bean, Gomphrena, Scabiosa can be direct sown or transplanted, and I find yarrow does best as a transplant. (Yarrow is actually a perennial and may go year round given the right conditions.)
When direct sowing seeds in the garden, plant about 50% more than you think you need to allow for seeds that don’t germinate, then thin to the appropriate spacing if necessary.
Seeds need consistent moisture to germinate, so its a good idea to give a good overhead spray with the hose every day until you see germination.
Now the hard part…..WAIT for all the beautiful blooms. The best way to pass the time, is to walk through your garden or check on your garden bed/pot everyday. You will get to know your plants and notice any pests or disease right away – and it is so therapeutic!!
Please let me know how your garden grows and be sure to tag me on Instagram @backyardposy!
Are you ready to grow your own beautiful cutting garden – but don’t know where to begin?? I love designing gardens for new and seasoned gardeners alike! Contact me to discuss a garden design option just right for you!
I find so much joy in tending the garden and designing with the blooms I grow - and I love to share them!
This journal is dedicated to sharing all things flower and garden.
I hope you will be inspired to enjoy the beauty all around you every day!