The purpose of a cutting garden is all about  lots and lots of cut flowers to fill your vases all season long, and to give as gifts and plants that look pretty together. 

I always like to make sure that most of my flowers are scented and compatible.  And long-lasting perennial flowers and bulbs are my flowers of choice. I have some cut flowers that are dried and look very pretty after sitting in an empty vase for months. Some plants keep their colors when dry.The Hydrangea is the queen of the cutting flowers in my garden. It blooms for months. It starts out white, then tinged with pink, then they turn cream and rose in the fall. Two shrubs keep the vases full of flowers all summer, and they need zero maintenance - except for that pruning in the fall part. They grow fast. They can be the center-focus of a cutting garden, due to it's size.

Choosing Your Cutting Garden Plants

Long-stemmed perennials and bulbs make the best cut flowers. Most plants have a specific bloom time, meaning they will not flower continuously. So plant your cutting flowers so that you have a constant supply of bloom for cutting. 

Some perennials will re-bloom if they are cut back after flowering. My fragrant re-bloomers are all varieties of irises, lilac, bee balm (monarda), daisies and coneflowers (echinacea). These are also the plants that last the longest in vases. Having said that, my irises are drop-dead gorgeous in a vase, but only lasts a few days. Those will remain outside in the garden, where they last the longest, and rebloom. Another fabulous cut flower is the dahlia. lthough it does not last long enough for me. Any cut dahlias i've been given, begin dropping all of those hundreds of tpetals within two days. I don't grow them myself, but i do let other folks give them to me as gifts.They're gorgeous.

Annuals (and dahlia bulbs) have the longest flowering season. If you remove dead flowers, they present you with 2-3 months of flowers. I only do perennial plants and bulbs. I want a predictable garden, I don't want to plant new stuff every spring, and i don't want to dig up and store bulbs. Annuals die after the season, so they're not much use to me unless i can winter them over as houseplants. But that's me. Along with repeat bloomers, you want to find those that bloom all season, if you can. In my garden, the plants with woody stems last longest when cut.

You’ll also want to plant flowers that you can use as vase fillers, like baby’s breath, statice,and aster. You can create beautiful arrangements for a vase, or gift bouquets with baby's breath and statice. I'll stick in some grassy foliage plants that are evergreen,  and fern leaves that grow in the garden. I have the same statice in a vase for more than 5 years, and i pull it out when i want to stick it in a vase of fresh flowers. Once they dry, they really don't mind how you use them. 

Roses are awesome, but they take time and care. I'm covering the easy stuff in this article. No cutting garden should be without one rose shrub. Plants that you can cut to your heart's content all summer, and will probably re-bloom without causing bodily harm or take up too much of your time is what i'm concentrating on in this araticle. I include them in my list of cutting flowers, because not much can beat. the beauty and smell of roses in a vase. And all of my roses are re-blooming from May until end of November. I have blooming roses that hang tough in snow showers around Thanksgiving-time. 

Achillea blooms for me in mid-summer and blooms til frost kills it. Very pretty when dried.

Here's a short list of popular cutting flowers, annual and perennial, that are fairly easy to grow. I grow, or have grown, almost all of them successfully.I don't grow those pretty plants  that are considered invasive in my region, e.g., Black Eyed Susan. And i don't grow bulbs that must be lifted before a freeze.

Remember that even though i mention that certain flowers don't last long once cut, the idea of a Cutting Garden is to intentionally over-fill it with flowers to bring in once it's predecessor is finished. You should always have flowers for the house.

Ageratum, amaranth, Bells of Ireland, celosia, centaurea (bachelor’s button), cosmos, lisianthis, gladiolus, baby's breath, strawflower, larkspur, lisianthus, matricaria, nicotiana, orlaya, annual phlox, salvia, scabiosa, snapdragon, statice, sunflower, sweet pea, zinnia.

Lavender, yarrow, aster, campanula, coreopsis. delphinium, foxglove, Echinacea, iris, lilies, lupine, Tall phlox, poppy, peony, rudbeckia (black-eyed susan), I use all sages for their scents, scabiosa, I grow all heights of Shasta daisy, sweet William, veronica. I have many border  lily varieties and peonies that last a good bit in a vase. Taller spider lilies cut don't do well for me for long. They deserve a spot because the fragrance of any lily in the house and garden is intoxicating. I have queen anne's lace growing wild, and that is a nice filler. Chrysanthemums are another plant that blooms late, but prolifically. So many beautiful varieties for fall and Thanksgiving bouquets. 

: acidanthera, alliums, calla lilies, daffodils, dahlias, gladiola (I finally found a truly hardy gladiola. Smaller, but controllable than it's larger annual cousin., hyacinths, tulips. I  have not found most of these, except the gladiolas, callas and alliums, lasting very long in a vase. But they are stunning cut flowers, nonetheless.

-  and evergreens. i like to grow and use the evergreen ornamental grasses for filler and for great height and fan shape design of the space, like dwarf elijah blue fescue and corkscrew grass, blue rush, and other fountain and aquatic grasses. Coleus is supposed to be a good cut plant, but mine do not last for long, dusty miller (artimisia), euphorbia,  hosta (it's got two things going for it.... foliage and blooming stalks). i have several with amazingly pretty blooms on stalks and sweet smells, that last when they are cut, lady’s mantle, lamb's ears, I planted several varieties of dwarf cedars and jumipers that i use as cut flower companions. A vase of oriental lilies or peonies with the grasses or evergreens looks very zen. In fall, an arragement of twigs from bittersweet and other berry-producing plant you might have, also loves to be paired with evergreens.

Plant fragrant woody-stemmed shrubs around the edges or in the centers of your cutting garden beds. I like to use lilac for that purpose. They love a good haircut, smell amazing, and last a while once cut.

Planning and Planting

Forget everything you ever learned about spacing flower plants. The cutting garden should be intensely-planted. You can always move plants later on. might lose some plants to weather or critters, and you want to cut flowers continuously. If you have too many, put them in other places in the garden, inside raised beds or pots. Sell some at a flea market, or gift them to a gardening friend. Plants can grow close together,  as if they were in a field,and if you wish to thin them, that's easy enough. I prefer to multiply them in a cutting garden area and thin them if i have to, at the end of the season.

Dig up a sunny spot with good drainage. Install landscape fabric to keep down weeds. 

I sprinkle the weedless soil with epsom salts as fertilizer when i prepare the bed.

The most efficient way to set up any flower garden is to grow your flowers in rows. I do not usually follow this advice. I
 like to grow things staggered, with stuff in-between, or with adding groundcovers to keep the soil cool and weed-free. I also like to use rubber mulch after the garden is planted, which keeps the weeds down, also. I plant the plants with groundcovers, and empty spaces are filled in or trimmed around it with rubber mulch. A nice idea is to grow fragrant creeping perennial culinary herbs as a ground cover, to allow the garden to produce something continuously. Something to eat is always nice.

When planning what to plant where, you want to know how tall and wide the plant will be when mature. Read the planting instructions on the plant or nursery package. But cut the spacing by at least half. Grow lots of tall flowers, but remember you'll have to stake. Plant them in the back of a garden. Preferably against a fence or trellis, and tied so as to keep them from falling on their shorter neighbors. you don't want them overshadowing or hiding the other flowers, either.

After you've planted the beds, don't forget the paths. Cover them with landscape fabric or cedar pathways to make it easy to get around and cut all those beautiful flowers.

You can certainly utilize raised garden beds on the ground or elevated on legs, and design your garden with those around the edges of the ground-level plants or down the middle. You'll get twice as much space and flowers growing by using raised beds on legs. I use an upper level for most of my pollinator plants so that they can get at flowers easily. They also give you another place to plant veggies with the flowers. If your gardens do well, you should be picking or cutting something all season long.


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