Who doesn’t love the smell and look of fresh flowers in the home? A colorful seasonal bouquet doesn't just improve the beauty of a space, it can lift your spirits as well! Although flowers from the florist or a floral delivery service are beautiful, they can be expensive, especially if you like to update the bouquet regularly. A cheaper and more fulfilling option is to grow them yourself.
A successful cut flower garden takes a good deal of effort and planning, but it's not inherently difficult. Even better news is that the start of the new year is the perfect time to get started so you’ll be ready to grow in the spring. So you're laying out gardening goals to improve your growing skills, add growing a cut flower garden to your list.
Finding space in the garden
Try and incorporate some of your other normal garden chores while you pick out space for your flower garden. If you already garden some common variety plants, chances are this is the time you'll also be choosing spots to plant your annuals and vegetables anyway. You don’t need a ton of space. You can dedicate a whole section to the cut flowers or you can choose to grow them in with your vegetables. The latter may be even more beneficial for your vegetables, as the flowers will attract beneficial insects to your garden.
Some things to consider while you’re planning your cut flower garden include light, water, and soil type. You’ll want a sunny spot that has healthy, well-drained soil.
Planning what to grow
This takes careful consideration. In addition to figuring out what kinds of flowers to grow, you’ll also have to decide whether you’d like to grow them from seed, purchase starts, or plant established flowers. All have their benefits. For example, established plants may be ideal for the impatient gardener who wants blooms now or for flowers that are difficult to grow from seed, like lavender.
Review the latest seed catalogs to get an idea of what to grow. Also, consider what grows best in your growing zone and what grows in each season. For example, you may love tulips, but they don’t grow all year round. Plan for the succession of growing seasons. This means having a schedule to space out the species you'll add to your flower garden. You may choose to plant tulips for spring blooms, followed by sunflowers and dahlias for summer blooms that last into fall.
Pick a Theme
Another thing to consider is a color theme. Since your goal is to advance your gardening know-how, really take some time to think of some theme or criteria for what flowers will or won't get added to your cut flower garden. This editing and attention to detail is what separates an impressive bouquet from a hodgepodge of flowers.
Another way to add visual interest is selecting plants of different heights and textures, as well as choosing plants that grow annually and perennials for year-round appeal. Last but not least, although they’re not showstoppers, be sure to include some foliage and filler plants to fill out your bouquets.
Before you plant, be sure to prepare the site well. You don’t want to put all that work into growing your flowers only to have the plants killed off by poor soil or ever-vigilant weeds.
Regardless of whether you’re planning a separate cut flower garden or interplanting with your seasonal veggies, it’s a huge time-saver to place plastic weed matting down before you plant. It’ll keep existing weed roots from popping up and may prevent weed seeds from taking root. Of course, clear the site of weeds before you lay the matting down, then throw rich soil and compost on top. If you’re using a thicker or cloth-based matting, it helps to cut holes where you expect to plant your flowers before you lay it down.
Once you’ve planted your seeds, starts or plants, be sure to apply a thick layer of mulch to smother weeds and conserve water use. You may need to refresh the mulch a few times during the growing season.
By all means, use drip irrigation to ensure your flowers are well watered. However, still go outside to survey your garden regularly. Keep a lookout for pests, diseases, and dead or dying flowers or plants. This keeps your garden healthy all year long.
Also, remember to pick the flowers often. In many plants, this encourages more growth so you’ll get more flowers. When you cut your flowers, use sharp floral scissors or snippers and cut at an angle. This is less traumatic for the plant and will ensure its continued health.
Since tall plants tend to droop as they get bigger, be sure to stake them to keep them upright. This also improves air circulation and helps them stand out in the garden.
Need ideas? Here are some easy flowers to start with
These flowers are an excellent addition to add to any garden.
Zinnias are a tried-and-true addition to any cutting garden. The flowers come in a variety of shades and colors.
Dahlias are tuberous plants you can plant as soon as the snow melts and enjoy in the summer and fall. They come in a variety of colors and heights so you can find just the right one for your garden.
Sunflowers are an easy-to-grow standout in any cutting garden. They grow all summer and you can choose from a variety of warm and sunny flowers.
Bells of Ireland are tall plants with greenish flowers that complement other flowers in a variety of shades.
Cosmos and Nigella (Love in a Mist) may appear delicate, but they tend to grow quickly in the garden.
Scabiosa (Pincushion flower) is also easy to grow. They’re even more beautiful when the flowers dry.
Sweet peas will fill your home with fragrance in the spring time. They grow quickly and flower profusely until the temperatures soar.