Growing cut flowers at home is an amazing addition to any garden, and Erin Benzakein of Floret Flower Farm shares her tips for creating a blooming cutting garden with minimal upkeep requirements.
Before sowing seeds, it’s important to determine your hardiness zone and prepare the soil. Most annual cut flowers should be seed started indoors at least one month prior to their last frost date.
When thinking of cut flower gardens, it can be easy to imagine rows of daffodils or beds of roses as the centerpieces. But these flowers can also be integrated into vegetable gardens and landscape plans as a means to benefit pollinators populations while adding seasonal color throughout.
Flower gardens should ideally be situated in areas that receive ample sun and have healthy soil. Consider adding compost or building raised beds, which may make weeding and picking easier than ground beds.
An effective successional planting plan includes annual flowers such as cosmos and sweet peas that can take over once bulbs and perennials begin to fade, as well as hardy or half-hardy perennials like Achillea (Yarrow) that flower early and often. This helps extend picking season.
Cut flowers require rich, well-draining soil that holds enough water. By mixing organic material such as compost or leaf mold into the soil prior to planting, organic matter can help improve its structure and increase its capacity to hold moisture.
Mulching can help regulate soil temperature and moisture levels while also suppressing weeds and adding vital nutrients to the soil. A consistent application of balanced fertilizers recommended on their packaging is also vitally important.
Consider which plants require staking or support. This makes arranging easier, and helps prevent taller plants from flopping over. Group plants with similar growing conditions and flowering times together for easy harvesting all at once. You might also incorporate filler flowers like teddy bear weed and sweet william into bouquets to add texture, height and color.
As part of any cutting garden, it is imperative that sufficient sunlight reaches it in order to promote flower growth and blooming. Furthermore, the area must remain free of weeds which compete with your cut flower plants for water and nutrients.
Consider planting your garden using raised beds, which will aid drainage and soil health by using slow-release organic compost for preparation.
Group flowers according to their cultural needs – such as height, growing conditions and flowering times – in order to more easily provide what they require. Doing this also prevents shorter plants from being shaded out by larger ones.
To extend the picking season, consider planting hardy annuals and perennials with long stems. Foliage that makes good arrangements such as artemisia or coleus might also prove helpful.
By cultivating flowers yourself, you can avoid pesticides, chemical fertilizers and other potential contaminates found in commercially grown flowers. Organic matter such as compost or animal manure makes an excellent soil amendment, providing primary nutrients while simultaneously improving soil structure.
If you grow a wide variety of flowers, group those with similar cultural requirements together. This will allow you to provide each plant with exactly what it requires without accidentally over- or underwatering other nearby plants.
Remember that different flowers bloom at different times. To prevent your cutting garden from looking lifeless during certain parts of the year, stagger planting so you have fresh blooms all season. For instance, plant spring-flowering bulbs and summer annuals in separate beds. This makes weeding, pruning and picking easier when one set of blooms has finished blooming.
When planting a cut flower garden, choose easy-to-grow blooms with an intoxicating floral fragrance, such as baby’s breath or coral bells. Furthermore, filler plants such as these should also be included for maximum visual impact and functionality.
Most cut flower varieties require full sun. When selecting plants, read the descriptions on seed packets or plant labels to learn their specific requirements for sunlight exposure. Grouping similar plants together will enable you to provide each with the care they require – for instance zinnias and sunflowers should be separated from those that need staking or growing on vines (dahlias or delphiniums) or vines (sweet peas).
Cut flower plants should ideally be grown from seeds; however, perennials may need to be divided in the spring.