Ideas & Inspiration
Plant Perennials in a Cut Flower Garden
Fill your garden with beautiful blooms this year when you select colorful, durable perennials. You can fill your home with abundant bouquets when you add the best flowers for cutting to your garden.
If you're a new gardener, it's important to understand the difference between annuals and perennials. Annuals complete their life cycle in a single season. They add abundant color to your garden beds and containers. Popular examples you’ll find in the Garden Center include impatiens, zinnias, marigolds and begonias.
Perennials, on the other hand, bloom in season, go dormant through winter, and emerge again the next spring. Roses are probably the most popular perennial for bouquets, but the category is expansive, including herbs like lavender and bulbs like lilies.
Popular perennials for cutting include daisies, asters and chrysanthemums. Even shade lovers like hosta, heuchera and hellebores can be used in cut flower arrangements.
There are many ways to grow a cutting garden. You can add rows of favorites like peonies in a vegetable garden; after all, they thrive in the same full sun and well-drained soil that most veggies need.
Perhaps the best way to add perennial flowers for cutting is to mix them into a flower bed. When they emerge, you can enjoy them in the garden and cut some flowers for bouquets for your home and to share.
Know Your Site: Perennials don’t always need full sun; still, the rule of more sun equals more blooms almost always applies. Most blooms appreciate protection from summer’s hot afternoon sun in the form of shade from a house or trees. Learn How to Make the Most of Your Yard’s Site and Light.
Know Your Soil: Perennials require well-draining, loamy soil to thrive. You can test this yourself: In the garden, scoop up a handful of soil and squeeze it. Ideal soil is loamy and friable and will hold together. Sandy soil will fail to hold a shape, and damp clay soil forms a solid clump.
To create quick-draining but retentive soil, amend with organic compost and perlite or peat moss. In a new bed, work 3 to 4 inches of amendments into the top 10 inches of soil before planting. In an existing bed, carefully work the amendments into the soil around plants.
The Garden Center carries garden soil in bags that are designed to improve the native soil in your garden. Add garden soil and amendments like compost to improve soil structure and revive tired soil.
The best advice for choosing perennials is to do your research and plant what you love. Read plant tags and note light and watering requirements, and be sure to note mature size. You don’t want to plant low-growing sedum in a space that needs coneflower.
In the Garden Center, look for plants that are grouped together, as they will need similar amounts of sun, shade and water when they get to your yard. Check the seed selection, too. Many perennials can be grown from seed, like coneflower and butterfly weed.
Consider these perennials for your cut flower garden:
• Baby’s breath (gypsophila)
• Bee balm (monarda)
• Blanket flower (gaillardia)
• Black-eyed Susan (rudbeckia)
• Butterfly weed (asclepias)
• Columbine (aquilegia)
• Coneflower (echinacea)
• Gerber daisy
• Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla)
• Lenten rose
• Sedum (stonecrop)
• Spider lily
• Stoke’s aster
• Yarrow (achillea)
In the garden, arrange the tallest in back, bulbs and mid-size plants in the middle, low growers, biennials, self-sowers and annuals in front.
Our best advice to get the most out of your cut flower garden:
- Harvest blooms in the cool of the day, before the sun's heat stresses the blooms.
- Carry a bucket of warm water into the garden with you.
- Use clean, sharp snips or scissors to cut blooms.
- Plungle stems immediately in warm water.
Bring your blooms inside and finish your bouquets. Begin by filling clean containers like bottles and vases with warm water and a floral preservative. Make a clean cut on the flower stem just a little bit longer than you think you'll need and trim off bottom foliage.
Arrange stems in containers, trimming as you create the arrangement. After use, clean tools and containers with a diluted bleach solution. Refresh the water in containers at least every other day.