Welcome to CutFlowerGardening.com. We are an online community resource for aspiring and flourishing cut flower growers. We hope to help you find the knowledge and inspiration needed to begin your own cut flower garden. Below is a highlight of the important resources spread across this site, tailored for beginning gardeners. Thank you for joining us!
What Is Cut Flower Gardening?
‘Cut’ flowers are flowers grown for bouquets, bunches, or other arrangements, that are commonly displayed in vases or wrapped as gifts. Cut flowers are grown specifically to be harvested without roots for their decorative appeal. Many home growers harvest cut flowers from their own gardens, but cut flower production also occurs on a much larger scale, with industrialized floriculture common in many countries.
The Benefits of Growing Cut Flowers Yourself
Beyond the joy of growing beautiful bouquets yourself, there are also health and environmental benefits to growing your own flowers or purchasing from local growers.
Chemical Uses On Cut Flowers
Store bought flowers are notorious for using harsh chemicals that allow your flowers to be grown flawlessly and survive the long journey across the globe. Unlike with food, chemical use on flowers is often less strictly regulated by government entities, allowing mass-market cut flower growers to remain one of the largest users of agricultural chemicals worldwide. Recent studies have found that florists in Belgium come in contact with as many as 111 different insecticides and fungicides at high concentrations daily. Organophosphates, neonicotinoids, pyrethroids, triazolopyrimidine, carboxamides, and triazoles top the list of harmful substances present on imported and mass-grown flowers.
Not to sound too alarmist, but the typical chemical mixtures found on imported flowers like tulips, roses, and carnations are nasty and hazardous and have been proven to cause harm. If you have the option for a locally grown bouquet, you’ll be keeping proven carcinogens out of your home, and you’ll be able to bury your nose into that bouquet with confidence.
In addition to causing lasting harm to employees and customers, pesticide use on cut flowers has environmental implications as well. These chemicals are hugely damaging to the lands and waters surrounding the areas where they are applied. Wildlife is impacted in water bodies where runoff is common, and neighboring agricultural fields become tainted with concentrated chemical runoff.
The high carbon footprint required to transport cut flower bouquets across borders is compounded by the intense energy usage of refrigerated trucks and planes throughout the journey from farm to storefront. The majority of flowers purchased in the US are imported. Flowers are easily perishable, so across the supply chain there is a heavy energy demand to deliver great looking flowers across the globe and to your door.
Finding Local Cut Flowers
Even if you can’t grow cut flowers yourself or are a small-scale hobbyist, seek out local growers for your cut flower purchases. Buying flowers locally will usually offer you a wider variety of heritage blooms that represent with the seasons. You’ll save your household from the risks associated with the heavy toxic chemical usage of common mass-produced flowers, and help the environment by eliminating needlessly transporting blooms thousands of miles.
How Much Space For A Cut Flower Garden?
Like any garden, the space for a cut flower garden can be as small as a patio or as robust as a full-fledged farm. We recommend plotting a manageable garden that won’t overwhelm your schedule, while maximizing variety and harvest. Overcommitting time and resources is a quick way to make an exciting hobby feel like a chore.
If you have limited space, prioritize plants with small spacing requirements. Thoughtful planning and succession planting will still allow for good plant diversity and continuous harvesting, even with little space. Pots should be used for larger flowering plants to allow for a versatile layout. Planters, raised beds, windowsills,
As your garden footprint grows, you will likely need additional time and equipment to oversee your flower crop through to harvest. Thoughtful planning and proper garden tools will help you reduce your overall time commitment substantially.
Regardless of size, succession planting is the greatest ally to maximizing your garden’s yield per square foot. Succession planting is sowing seeds of similar type at staggered intervals (i.e. each week) so that flowers are continually coming into bloom, giving the gardener a constant supply over a longer period of time. Without succession planting, larger single harvests may dominate the mix of flowers available to create bunches or bouquets, rather than contributing to a balanced diversity.
Your succession plan will depend on your climate and what you are planning to grow, but can be as simple as dividing your seed starts up and spreading out their germination over the course of a number of weeks. Eventually you should begin considering how to interweave the succession plans of multiple varieties so you can develop a broader garden schedule that maximizes space.
Examples of Seasonal Cut Flower Succession Planting (Coming Soon)
Establish Your Growing Zone
Sowing windows are established based on the average daily temperature and daylengths of your garden. The USDA provides maps of growing ‘zones’ that should be used as a guide for determining your growing schedule. Generally speaking, the lower the zone number, the cooler, more Northern the climate is. Lower zones will have to wait longer to plant flowers into the field, and will be facing frost conditions before higher numbered zones. There are options for season extension f0r gardens in the lower zones, but these may be expensive options for the beginning flower gardener. Review the hardiness zones below and follow the planting instructions each flower type.
What kinds of flowers do you want to grow? Are you hoping to arrange bouquets of traditional ______, or are you hoping to harvest more exotic_____. Do you have a color palate in mind? For those starting out, the best way too get going is by simply browsing some seed sites.
Recommended seed suppliers:
If you are looking to create bouquets, you’ll need to plant filler and greenery to add body and a base. For bouquets, a good rule is __% filler and __% flowers.
Seed vs. Tuber vs. Bulb
Annual vs. Perennial
Most flowers are annuals, meaning they will need to be replanted each year.
More on Garden Planning >>
Cut Flower Garden Design
Knowing how much outdoor room you have to dedicate toward flower gardening, you can work backwards to craft a space that is appealing in structure. This is a great opportunity to be creative with your space. Once you have determined how many flowers you’ll be growing and of what type
The more personally appealing you can make your garden space, the more likely you are to spend time among your flowers, and the better your garden will perform. Creating a garden can be a transformative and very personal experience, so use the planning phase to dream up
Make sure the design addresses the needs of your flower varieties. Selecting varieties of all similar type will make for a one-dimensional garden. Incorporate climbing roses, sweet peas, or other unique
Pots and planters:
Small Plots/Raised Beds:
Straight Row: More ambitious gardeners who have the available space can take their hobby to the next level with traditional row gardening. Made to be industrious and space-conscious, traditional row gardening will allow for intensive, high yield planting with neat rows packed closely together. There are many advantages to this type of gardening, including that most support equipment will be compatible with the straight, square rows, and it is simple to construct (especially if using landscape fabric). Stylistically, this layout is a little plain vanilla, but it is fairly easy to keep tidy, and will allow the flowers to be the showcase (isn’t that the point after all?).
What You’ll Need To Get Started
Depending on the scope of your garden, you will want to consider starting seeds indoors and working with transplants. Smaller gardens, gardens that are primarily potted, and gardens in warmer climates can likely skip this stage and sow their seeds directly or work with locally purchased starts. Some seeds are more delicate, germinating sporadically, and requiring more careful attention in the first days of growth. Read more about seeds starting here:
Best cut flower seed starting supplies (Coming Soon)
Soil Preparation and Fertilizer
Once your sprouts are ready to make their way outdoors, you’ll need to have the soil tested and prepared, with adequate compost and liquid fertilizers ready to keep your fledgling plants healthy. The composition of your soil will determine what amendments may be necessary, so be ready to take a soil sample. Properly amending your soil and administering a strict fertilizer schedule will set your transplants up for success.
Amending your soil for a cut flower garden (Coming Soon)
Once in the garden, climate control, pest protection, and ground cover may be required to ensure healthy growth for your flower crop. These techniques will depend on your climate, your environment, and your flower varieties.
Frost cloth, row cover, shade cloth for cut flowers (Coming Soon)
Pest protection for cut flowers (Coming Soon)
Ground cover options for cut flower gardens (Coming Soon)
Hobby gardens will not require the same scope of equipment as a more robust operation. When organizing a space saving growing setup, there are some tools that can help you maximize a patio or small patch of earth. Pots, raised beds, and even planters can help create small pockets of space for added harvests.
Equipment for small scale flower gardening (Coming Soon)
Larger operations will see a drastic time-saving benefits from the addition of infrastructure and simple machinery. Drip irrigation, hand tillers, and harvest tools will all help make managing a backyard cut flower garden much easier, especially if you are worried about time commitments. The less time you have to spend hand watering and preparing beds, the less likely you are to fall behind and the more time you can spend enjoying your blooms.
Best equipment for a backyard flower garden (Coming Soon)
Once it’s time to harvest, you’ll need to consider methods of care that will prolong the life of your new arrangements. Cold treatment is a good first step, but additional techniques and an ample supply of flower food will be required to keep your flowers looking fresh and perky. Drying your flowers will also bring a whole new presentation to your harvest and give you an option for decoration deep into the winter months.
Equipment for post-harvest cut flower handling (Coming Soon)
Equipment for cut flower presentation (Coming Soon)
Full list of garden starting supplies, beginner through advanced (Coming Soon)
Easy to Grow Cut Flowers
Not sure where to start? Here are 5 easy-to-grow flowers that are a great jumping off point. As you become familiar with the growing process, it will be much easier to move into other varieties. Though some flowers may be more temperamental, remember that generally speaking, your plants want to grow. Care and attention will go a long way, so don’t be shy in choosing a few harder to grow varieties if you think you’ll enjoy growing them. Our Growing Guides section contains more in-depth information on growing the most popular varieties.
Looking to take it to the next level? Cut flower farming can be a viable full-time business or side hustle if you take the time to understand the dynamics of running a business. As local cut flower farming has grown in popularity, there is now a plethora of information and resources available to anyone ready to take the leap and make cut flower farming their profession. Turning this hobby into a business is a serious venture and one that this website won’t focus on quite yet, but recommended resources are below: