Planning Your Garden: Cut Flowers
Last week, our garden experts shared their tips for planning the perfect vegetable patch. Now, we're shifting our focus to flowers with advice for an abundant cutting garden that will bloom all summer long. We can't wait to enjoy beautiful bouquets fresh from our garden, and give them as gifts throughout the seasons. Read on for the essentials to grow your own flowers this year.
Location & Layout
Even a small garden can offer an abundance of blooms; it's most important to select a sunny location, which is ideal for most cut flower varieties. Start by choosing a focal flower for your bouquets; we recommend a large, perennial bloom that will stand out and reappear consistently in your garden year after year. Our experts especially love peonies, which have the added bonus of a beautiful fragrance. While its signature blooms only appear in the spring, lush peony foliage provides a long-lasting backdrop for later seasonal flowers.
Once you've chosen a focal flower, structure your layout around a color palette for the remaining blooms. This will make for a visually pleasing garden and perfectly coordinated bouquets. Some of our favorite combinations include blue and silver, pink and yellow, or red and white. You could also choose a "wildflower" approach with a mix of many shades.
As with vegetables, soil preparation is key for flower gardens. Take some time before planting to turn over your soil and amend it with an organic, natural compost. For fertilizers, begin with an even, all-NPK formula. Once the flowers are established in the garden, switch to a high phosphorus fertilizer to encourage blooming.
Seed Starting & Planting
Seed starting can be especially beneficial for annual blooms, which often need a head start indoors to flower during the summer months. Use a soil optimized for seed starting, provide plenty of light, and make sure the soil doesn't dry out. Each type of seed has its own germination period, so stagger your plantings and start slow-growing seeds at an earlier date. When the seeds germinate, separate the seedlings into individual pots to continue growing. Once established, your seeds will be ready for transplanting into the garden. The planting time is determined by the last frost date in your region—after the date has passed, it’s safe to move your seedlings outside. To find the date, consult the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, then look up the last frost date for your zone.
Summer-blooming bulbs should be planted in early spring. We also recommend stopping by your local nursery for pre-started plants, particularly perennials, to give your garden a strong beginning.
Along with peonies, some of our favorite cut flowers include zinnias, salvia, dahlias, and sunflowers. These classic blooms will provide beautiful bouquets throughout the summer. For a more unusual garden, try mingling flowers with ornamental herbs or veggies. Their foliage will add texture, color, and scent to the garden-- and you can also harvest them for use in the kitchen! Some of our favorite cutting garden combinations include:
Tulips, hyacinth, basil, sage & thyme
Zinnias, gomphrena & gerbera
Poppies, sweet peas & anenome
Lavender, rosemary, thyme, delphinium & liatris
Herb sage, coreopsis & perennial sage
Yarrow, echinacea & monarda