Seeds, Fertilizer and More
Daisy-like dianthus plants make up the bulk of a flower farmer’s spring crop. From the playful Dancing in Daisies bouquet to Teleflora’s Sunny Day Pitcher of Cheer arrangement, this eye-catching genus symbolizes new beginnings.
Gladiolus add height to borders and natural landscapes. Choose varieties like Suncredible(r) Saturn(tm), featuring red flowers and bronze-tinted foliage, or the soft double blooms of Toucan(r).
We love houseplants, but having fresh flowers around is good for the soul! And though you could easily order in gorgeous blooms via a great delivery service, how satisfying would it be to cultivate your very own cut flower garden at home? “Growing flowers you love is a way to express your own personal style,” says garden historian Jenny Rose Carey, author of The Ultimate Flower Gardener’s Guide and former senior director of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Meadowbrook Farm. “It’s a creative process that offers a sense of accomplishment as well.” You’ll also make pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds feel happy and welcome.
No matter how much (or how little!) space you have, you can grow your own flowers. “You can interplant flowers into existing garden beds or plant in containers,” says Carey. “Snipping even a single stem allows you to bring the intricacy and beauty of each bloom up close to enjoy on your desk, nightstand, or kitchen counter.”
If you do have an area where you can create a new garden bed, a dedicated cutting garden is a gratifying way to make productive use of the space. “If you plant an area that’s about the size of a picnic table, about 3 feet wide by 10 feet long, you’ll harvest so many flowers that you’ll have enough to give away,” says grower Lisa Mason Ziegler, author of the upcoming The Cut Flower Handbook and Cool Flowers. “The more you cut, the more your flowers will produce.”
Whether you’re a new or experienced gardener, here’s how to start your own cutting garden.
Choose the Perfect Site
Find a spot that receives full sun, which is considered six or more hours of direct sunlight per day. “Most flowers need full sun. This is where a lot of us kid ourselves and try to cheat, but flowers that don’t get sufficient sun will not bloom well,” says Carey.
Watch your yard for a few days to evaluate how much sun each area receives; this also changes during different times of year. For example, an area that’s full sun in spring may be shaded by deciduous trees during the height of summer.
Also, you’ll need a convenient water source. “You may not want to drag a hose 100 feet every day when you need to water, and hauling watering cans during the heat of summer is not ideal,” says Ziegler.
You can add flowers to existing beds. Or if garden space is limited, plant in large containers, such as a half-barrel or several large pots grouped together on a deck or patio. Just ensure all containers have drainage holes because no plant likes wet feet. Containers also are ideal for gardeners with accessibility issues, such as achy knees or backs, says Carey.
If you’d like to start a new bed, you can prep the area in a hurry for instant gratification, says Ziegler. For grassy areas, start by cutting and scraping away the sod. Full disclosure: This is hard work and the most challenging part of the preparation!