Growing Flowers for Cutting

Fresh flowers are a great way of bringing the garden indoors and brightening any space during the hot summer months.

November 26, 2010

Flowers grown for cutting offer more than beautiful bouquets for your home. They also provide great benefits for the garden: Many of them attract butterflies, they’re much less susceptible to pests and diseases than edibles, and with annuals a lot of flowers bloom out of a typically small investment. The fussy reputation of roses or peonies may scare some gardeners off, but with few exceptions, cut flowers need only periodic watering and a bit of care when sowing. Otherwise, cut (or leave in the garden) and enjoy!

Almost every cut flower requires full sun, though gardeners in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9 and warmer would do well to give them afternoon shade. Average, well-drained soil is also best, and leafier varieties should avoid overly moist soil, which will cause an overgrowth of leaves and leave little room for flowers. When choosing the spot for your flowers, keep all of this in mind.


The most variation in cut flowers is when they should be sown, but they all involve the last frost date. The last frost date is dependent on your hardiness zone, so check yours before you begin.


1. Sow indoors around 8 weeks before the last frost. Keep at moderately warm temperatures, and transplant after the last frost. Plants include: strawflower, golden drumstick, globe amaranth, bells of Ireland, starflower, flossflower, Mexican sunflower, snow on the mountain, and marigold.

2. Sow outdoors before the first frost, when soil has become workable again. Plants include: larkspur, love-in-a-mist, and sweet peas.

3. Sow outdoors after the threat of frost is over, covering with a light layer of soil. Plants include: cosmos, yarrow, globe amaranth, forget-me-nots, starflower, marigolds, and Brazilian vervain.

Once the flowers are sown and begin to germinate, pinch buds to encourage branching. Keep plants watered.

To enjoy the flowers outdoors, deadhead or remove spent flowers to encourage continued blooms. If you plan on taking them indoors, cut flowers before they have fully bloomed to ensure longer life indoors. Recut stems under a running faucet once indoors, and add a little sugar to vase water to extend blooms.

In hot areas, certain flowers will stop blooming in the dead of summer; continue to water and care for these plants, and the blooms will return when the temperature drops.

Gardeners in Zones 9 and warmer can sow many annuals in the fall before the first frost, including larkspur and yarrow. This promotes early blooms and less work during the busy spring planting season.

Mulch, mulch, mulch. In order to create the perfect soil for flowers, keep your garden mulched during the winter so the soil will retain nutrients and stay as warm as possible for spring planting.

Flowers in this Article
Bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis)
Brazilian vervain (Verbena bonariensis)
Cosmos (cosmos bipinnatus)
Flossflower (Ageratum houstonianum 'Blue Horizon')
Forget-me-not (Myostis sylvatica)
Globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa)
Golden Drumstick (Craspedia globosa)
Larkspur (Consolida ajacis)
Love-in-a-mist (Nigella spp.)
Marigold (Tagetes erecta)
Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)
Snow on the mountain (Euphorbia marginata)
Starflower (Scabiosa stellata)
Statice (Limonium sinuatum)
Strawflower (Bracteantha bracteata)
Sweet peas (Lathyrus spp.)
Yarrow (Achillea)