A Cut-Flower Garden For Beginners
Growing flowers for the vase is something you can do yourself with a little planning and know-how.
It is such a delight to see flowers blooming in the garden that it is often difficult to cut them to bring indoors, and that is the beauty of a designated cutting garden. Find a sunny spot in your yard and fill it with plants that are grown specifically to be cut. Spring is the perfect time to prepare an area to begin the process of creating your cutting garden.
How to get started
Prepare your site
For the most prolific, healthy flowers, amend your soil to ensure the plants have the nutrients they need to grow and bloom well. Your cutting flowers will need soil that is rich in organic matter for sufficient water retention and drainage, so you will want to add in a few layers of organic compost and fertiliser before you get started. This will allow for healthy and flourishing blooms all season long.
The area that you select for your cut flower garden needs to get full sun for no less than six hours a day.
Plan your layout
Easy access to your flowers is the most important aspect: you don’t want to have to stretch too far to cut the stems. The ideal bed width is 75cm, with pathways of 50cm between them. This will allow you enough space to navigate between beds for watering, weeding and harvesting.
Determine plants’ needs
Determine what the growing conditions are for each of the flowers you choose to grow, and then group those with similar needs together. Grouping plants with similar growing requirements will help you give them all exactly what they need with less effort.
Arrange flowers in bloom sequence
Flowers don’t all bloom at the same time. Consider laying out your plants in the order they are expected to bloom: early season, mid-season and later in the season.
Mulch doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, you can just mulch with shredded leaves or straw. The mulch helps deter weeds from moving in while also retaining soil moisture.
Maintain your cutting garden
The most important thing you can do is keep cutting! Most plants will set new flowers after you have cut the first flush of blooms. In fact, some flowers produce more blooms when cut more often: the more flowers are cut, the more are produced, so don’t hold back!
Maintenance will be much like any other flower garden:
Keep an eye out for pests and diseases, and remove affected plants before the problems have a chance to spread. Ideally you want to remove pests without any pesticides that will kill pollinators; we recommend Margaret Roberts Organic Insecticide, Margaret Roberts Biological Caterpillar Insecticide, and neem oil for aphids and blister beetles.
Make sure your flowers get watered at least weekly, or more often if you are having particularly hot or dry weather. Ensure that you water the soil and not the foliage.
Start your garden inside
Some seeds are more difficult to germinate than others, so occasionally you will need to germinate seeds with the help of a Ziploc bag and paper towel. That said, don’t be afraid of seeds that are difficult to germinate as there are many methods to assist you. For example, smaller seeds can be planted in seedling trays and then transplanted at 8cm.
You may get despondent if your seeds don’t germinate at first, but we would recommend using a reliable and great quality seed product.
Select your flowers
While the selection of flowers to include in a cut garden is personal and climate dependant, here are some easy-togrow favourites for beginners:
- For visual interest, grow blossoms with a distinct shape in vibrant colours such as gomphrenas, snapdragons, poppies, zinnias and sunflowers.
- If you want to add texture, choose lace flowers, strawflowers, amaranthus and celosias
- For blooms with height, grow delphiniums, bells of Ireland, larkspurs, hollyhocks and foxgloves.
- If you are looking for beautiful floral scents try silver-leaved mountain gum (Eucalyptus pulverulenta) or freesias.
- And don’t forget the filler! Some great options are statice, baby’s breath and yarrow.
After successfully growing a cut garden for a few seasons, consider slowly adding flowers that require more care, such as dahlias.