It’s such a delight to see flowers blooming in your garden that it’s often hard to cut them to bring indoors. That’s the beauty of a designated cutting garden area. Find a sunny spot in your yard when planning a cutting garden – and fill it with plants that are grown just to be cut. Then treat your cutting garden as your private flower source for bouquets to brighten your indoor spaces, or to gift family and friends!
Cutting gardens often feature annual flowers because they will repeatedly bloom throughout the season. However, it’s also possible to create a cutting garden with perennial flowers. Many perennials will bloom more than once if the flowers are cut frequently or plucked after wilting. And since not all perennial flowers bloom at the same time, your bouquets and arrangements will take on a seasonal flair and provide you with ever-changing variety.
I like to grow a mix of annuals and perennials in my cutting garden. Then something is always blooming and vase ready! Read on for my favorite easy-to-grow cut garden flowers …
10 Perennials That Bloom All Season for Cutting Gardens
Perennials are plants that go dormant in their off season. Their roots “hibernate” over the winter and the plant may appear dead, but perennials will regrow from the root the next season. Gardeners only have to plant perennials once – unless the plant dies – and it’s not required that you replant them again every year (like annuals).
1.) Perennial Salvia
Hardy salvias have been a popular and dependable garden staple for hundreds of years. The abundance of slender flower spikes in shades of purple, pink, white or blue make great cut flowers and also dry well for winter arrangements.
Salvias thrive in full sun, but can tolerate light shade. They are tough plants that are virtually pest and disease free.
2.) Rudbeckia (also called Black-Eyed Susans)
Black-Eyed Susans are perfect for naturalistic prairie-style planting schemes and provide beautiful, vivid color in bouquets. They are always vigorous, well flowered and showy. Rudbeckia bloom over a long season and are wonderful as cut flowers.
These cheery perennials are easy to grow in sun or part shade. They are drought tolerant for the most part, but look their best with ample moisture.
Yarrow (Achillea) are one of the best perennials for cut flowers. Its stiff blooms also work well for long-lasting, dried arrangements. Their flowers are an important nectar source for many butterflies and other pollinators.
In the garden, yarrow is one of the most maintenance-free plants you can grow in full sun: they resist drought, heat, deer, and rabbits. It’s also a blooming machine, producing flat-topped clusters of yellow, orange, red, pink, or white flowers (depending on variety) throughout the summer.
4.) Clustered Bellflower (Campanula)
Much like the name suggests, clustered bellflower produces showy, bell-shaped flowers that come in shades of blue, purple, lavender and pink. These easy care plants are great for borders and rock gardens for the low growing varieties. There are also tall, upright types for the back of the border.
Campanulas are happiest in full sun to part shade in well drained soil. The cut flowers can last for a week or more in the vase.
5.) Foxglove (also known as Digitalis)
Foxgloves are a traditional cottage garden favorite. The beautiful large, tubular, bell-like blooms are held in a circular fashion (see photo above) around tall stems. They come in a variety of colors from pink, yellow, bronze, purple, peach, purple and white.
These stately flowers grow best in rich, well draining soil in full sun to part shade. Caring for foxglove plants will include keeping the soil moist. Note: All digitalis are poisonous if eaten.
6.) Perennial Sunflowers
Perennial sunflowers are fairly long-blooming, mid to late season flowers, blooming in summer through mid autumn in full sun to part shade. Though the flowers tend to be smaller than annual sunflowers, they make up for it with weeks of showy color.
They are not fussy and make a reliable background plant in the garden. The yellow blooms attract butterflies and birds plus are good for cutting.
Garden phlox is a perennial garden favorite. It produces large clusters of fragrant flowers from summer to early fall. It’s well-suited for the back of borders and in cottage gardens.
The tall upright phlox varieties usually grow best in full sun to light shade. The lovely colors include pink, purple, reddish, or lavender-blue flowers.
Veronicas (Speedwell) are reliable summer bloomers. They come in both trailing and upright forms. The uprights (perfect for a cutting garden) feature tight spikes of small flowers. Colors offered are shades of pink, blue, and white.
Grow in full sun to part shade and deadhead frequently to encourage repeat bloom.
9.) Monarda (also known as Bee Balm)
With dramatic, colorful blooms atop tall stems, bee balm is the perfect perennial for filling your vases in summer. You can find cultivars in red, pink, lavender, violet, or white. Plus, these flowers are a favorite of bees, hummingbirds and butterflies.
It’s best to water bee balm at soil level keeping the foliage dry – this will help prevent any mildew issues. Plant in full sun to part shade.
10.) Purple Coneflower
Purple Coneflower is easy to grow and provides a steady stream of summer’s prettiest blooms. This native perennial has an abundance of daisy-like flowers from midsummer to the first fall frost, which often attract our pollinator friends.
For best results, plant in well drained soil and give them space to grow. This tough native plant is both drought tolerant and wet tolerant grown in full sun to part shade.
10 Best Annuals for Cutting Gardens
An annual plant is a plant that completes its life cycle, from germination to the production of seeds, within one growing season, and then dies. Annuals are a great way to change the look of your garden from year to year, and they tend to have a longer flowering period than perennials.
Cosmos are a great choice for cottage gardens with their showy flowers and the way they sway in the breeze. It’s easy to start them off by seed indoors. They come in assorted colors predominately shades of pink, purple, red and white.
Deadhead and don’t overfertilize Cosmos as they prefer poor soils. They grow best in full sun to partial shade and attract birds and butterflies.
Be still my heart! The beauty of dahlias is there are so many colors and forms available. Some are open and informal, some are tightly packed and intricate. All make excellent additions to an indoor floral display, either by themselves or in a mix.
Dahlias do best when planted in full sun, in rich, well-drained soil. These gorgeous specimens will bloom until the first frosts. In Zone 5 & 6 you need to overwinter dahlias by lifting and storing the tubers.
3.) Sweet Peas
Sweet peas have an unmistakable fragrance and old-fashioned charm. The sweet pea—Lathyrus odoratus—is an annual flower that is at home in a cutting garden, border garden, woodland, or twining on a trellis or an arch. The flowers are now available in a huge range of colors, from pearly white through ice cream pastels to ritzy magentas and inky purples.
In the coldest parts of the country, get a jump on the season by starting sweet peas indoors in a seed tray. Sow in seed-starting containers in early spring about 6 to 7 weeks before the last frost date, then plant out as soon as soil can be worked; sweet peas can handle light frosts.
Zinnias always make me smile! They come in a wide variety of colors with large, profuse blooms and are truly an easy-to-grow annual flower. These cheery flowers in bright hues are pollinator magnets.
Zinnias grow best in full sun and prefer it on the dry side. These flowers are easy to grow from seed by either starting indoors or sowing directly in the soil.
Marigolds are most famous for their yellow color, but cultivars also come in red, white, and deep orange. Full sun and watering the base of the plant (not overhead) will make your marigolds happy!
There are two main species: The French marigold and the African marigold. French marigolds are bushier and have smaller flowers, whereas African marigolds have much larger blooms. Both germinate from seed quickly, and you can expect blooms in as little as eight weeks. Plant them next to your vegetable garden to keep edibles safe from pests.
6.) Burgundy Amaranth
Though the amaranth plant is typically grown as a decorative flower in North America and Europe, it is, in fact, an excellent food crop that is grown in many parts of the world. Growing amaranth for food is fun and interesting, and adds a little bit of something different to your vegetable garden.
Each plant produces a single flower at the end of the tall reddish stem. Colors are usually burgundy, red, pink, or salmon. Amaranth grows well in full sun in any average well-drained soil. Make sure the site you choose has good drainage and air circulation.
Also known as the Floss Flower, the taller Ageratum varieties are much loved for cut flowers because of its distinctive lavender-blue, rose, purple colors and the fuzzy texture that it brings to bouquets. Ageratum is derived from the Greek “a geras,” meaning non-aging, referring to the longevity of the flowers.
Plant 6-8″ apart in a sunny spot. Ageratum prefers a moist, well drained soil but will tolerate dry conditions.
Snapdragons are very popular short-lived garden perennials that are usually grown as annuals. The common name derives from the shape of the individual flower heads, which resemble the snout of a dragon, and which even open and close in a snapping motion.
They will bloom most profusely in full sun to partial shade. Once the temperature heats up, they may stop blooming altogether. Planting them in part shade and keeping them well watered will help them make it through the summer and they will likely bloom again in fall.
9.) Dusty Miller
Every flower garden needs a foliage foil to accentuate its blooms, and dusty miller (Jacobaea maritima) stands out as a neutral go-to plant for any color scheme. The striking silvery leaves look stunning when paired with blue and purple flowers, and it also pairs well with red and orange flowers.
Dusty Miller needs full sun to stay compact and keep their fabulous foliage color. The leaves are covered with fine matted hairs, giving them a felted or woolly, silver or white appearance.
10.) Pincushion Flower
One of the most beautiful and interesting small flowers available to gardeners is scabiosa, also known as pincushion flowers. Native to Europe, the perennial flower comes in a variety of beautiful hues and is easy to grow in full sun.
Best planted in early spring, scabiosa blooms will grow at a moderate pace … the end result is a bounty of button-like flowers atop wiry stems that flutter in the breeze. Colors include white, pink, lavender, red, burgundy, and cream.
Tips For Cutting Garden Success:
Figure Out What the Plants Need
Determine what the growing conditions are for each of the flowers you choose to grow, and then group those with like needs together. Grouping plants with similar growing requirements will help you give them all exactly what they need with minimal effort on your part. It will also prevent you from unintentionally over- or under-watering the plants that are growing near other plants with completely different likes and dislikes.
Yes, even in a cutting garden, mulch is necessary. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. You can mulch with shredded leaves or straw. The mulch helps deter weeds from moving in while also retaining soil moisture. The last thing you need is another garden to weed. If the mulch decomposes to less than 1 inch of covering, it’s time to top it off with some fresh mulch.
You still don’t want your plants to have to compete with weeds for nutrients and water.
Maintain Your Cutting Garden
The most important thing you can do is keep cutting. Many plants will set new flowers after cutting the first flush of blooms.
Otherwise, maintenance will be much like any other flower border.1 Keep an eye out for pests and disease and remove affected plants before the problems have a chance to spread. Make sure your flowers get water at least weekly, more if you’re having a particularly hot, dry summer.