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Cut Flower Garden Plan with Colorful Annuals

By: Sherri RibbeySherri Ribbey
Grow your own beautiful cut flower garden with this planting plan full of annual blooms perfect for a back bed or border!

cut flower garden illustration by Gary Palmer: Follow this planting plan to grow a cutting garden that looks nice and has plenty of blooms you can harvest.

Grow your own cut flower garden

Wouldn’t it be great if you could walk out your back door and cut a bouquet of flowers to enjoy on your table or windowsill? With this plan you can do just that. A layered arrangement with taller plants at the back of the bed and shorter ones up front makes it easy to see all the flowers at once. Still, there are bound to be bare spots at times once you’ve cut a few bouquets. So placing this bed at the end of the yard or in an out-of-the-way place, such as next to the garage, makes the empty patches less noticeable.

Design a garden for cut flowers

To keep a cut-flower border looking good, choose a mix of plants for season-long color. The bachelor’s button and thoro-wax thrive in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall but tend to slow down in summer’s heat. That’s OK because the rest of this group gets going in early summer and keeps at it until frost. All of the flowers in this plan rebloom, so by cutting stems for your vase, you’re actually encouraging more to grow.

Give plants protection

Placing this border right next to the garage provides some protection from storms that might flatten growing plants and put flowers in the mud. In addition, the tall amaranth, dahlia and Queen Anne’s lace will dress up what’s otherwise an empty wall.

Add a path

This 20x12-foot border has a mulched path that leads into the middle of the garden, making it easier to tend and harvest. Place a few steppers in the bed where you might need to cut flowers or deadhead. This helps minimize soil compaction.

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GG168-cut-flower-DC-plan-queen-lime-orange-zinnia-D: Zinnias are a great cut flower and come in a wide variety of colors.

Tips for harvesting cut flowers

  • The best times to harvest flowers are after the dew has dried in the morning and in the evening.
  • Cut just above a leaf joint to help new stems form more quickly.
  • If you angle the cut, it’ll expose more surface area, which maximizes water uptake and keeps the stem from resting flush on the bottom of the container.
  • As you gather stems, place them directly in a container of water. This will help them last longer.
  • Once you’re indoors, recut the stems under warm water and let them soak for a half hour to get rid of any air bubbles.
  • Remove leaves or thorns that will sit below the water level in the vase to prevent rot.

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Tips for Growing a Cut Flower Garden
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cut flower garden illustration by Gary Palmer: A bench along the path offers a spot to take a breather and adds structure to the garden.

How to plant & grow this cut flower garden

To get the most flowers, choose a spot that gets full sun (6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day), and water at ground level to prevent foliar diseases that can crop up when overhead sprinklers wet the foliage. A 1- to 2-inch layer of organic mulch, such as bark chips, will help keep moisture and soil temperatures even. Fertilize with water-soluble plant food once a week at full strength to keep the blooms coming.

Some of these plants may need a little help to stay upright. Amaranth and dahlia have a thick main stem that’s easy to tie to a single stake. But thoro-wax has a bushy habit of slender relaxed stems. A half-hoop stake is a great choice for keeping this plant from flopping.

Prepare soil for planting seeds

Loose soil makes it easier for the roots of freshly planted seeds and young seedlings to take off. This is especially important in a bed of mostly annuals like this one. So every spring, pull back last year’s mulch and dig down or till 6 to 8 inches deep to break up the clods. Then rake the soil even and your planting bed will be ready to go.

When to plant flower seeds

You can direct sow these seeds in the garden or start with plants from the garden center, though you may not find these exact varieties there, you can easily order seeds online.

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To direct sow seeds outdoors, choose an overcast day if you can so the soil doesn’t dry out too quickly. The bachelor’s buttons and thoro-wax seeds can go in as soon as the soil can be worked in spring. Sow the tall zinnia, Queen Anne’s lace and amaranth when all danger of frost is past and soil temperatures are 55 to 65 degrees F. Because the globe amaranth, snapdragon and celosia take so long to flower (up to 110 days), it’s a good idea to start them indoors or buy plants in spring. Dahlia tubers can go in when soil temperatures are at least 60 degrees F.

Seedling care tips

Thin seedlings to the distance recommended on the seed packet using a pair of scissors or snips instead of tugging so you don’t pull more than you mean to. After a seedling has two or three sets of true leaves (the ones that look like the parent plant) pinch out the growth tip to encourage branching. You should be able to enjoy your own cut flowers in a couple of months!

Buy Seeds for this Planting Plan:
Chantilly Snapdragon Seeds
Zinnia Flower Seeds
Cut Flower Garden Seed Mix

GG168-cut-flower-DC-plan-siteplan: Overhead view of cut flower garden planting plan with lettered plant labels.

Meet the plants in this cut flower garden

Check out the lettered plan above and see the corresponding plant information in the slideshow below. Click through to learn more about each plant in this cut flower garden design. Although we mention specific varieties in this plan, you can alter the plant mix based on your preferences or what is available to you!

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Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work in the garden. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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annuals tender perennials cutting flower fall garden design garden plan summer

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