By Jennifer Poindexter
Have you ever tried something on a whim? That’s how my disastrous cut flower garden started. We moved our chickens to a new (and updated) chicken coop.
When I took down their old coop and fenced grazing area, I had a plot filled with rich, well-worked soil. I hated to let it go to waste, so I thought, “Why not sow some wild flower mix seeds on it and see what happens?”
What happened was a few pretty flowers growing among a plethora of weeds. I just let the plot grow out of control, once I saw what a mess it was, to feed our bees on the flowers some of the weeds produced.
We’re now coming to the close of a season, and I’ve done a ton of research to ensure I don’t make the same mistakes again next year.
Here’s a few tips to help you avoid the mistakes I made this year when growing a cut flower garden:
What You’ll Learn:
- Crucial steps to successfully growing a cut flower garden.
- Common mistakes to avoid when planning and maintaining a cut flower garden.
- The importance of location, soil, seeding based on zones, and choosing the right flower varieties for different seasons.
- Methods to effectively support, water, and harvest your cut flowers.
- Strategies to control weeds and maintain the overall health of your garden.
How to Grow a Cut Flower Garden
Growing a cut flower garden requires preparation just as if you were growing any other type of garden. It is rare that you can toss any seeds in the ground and watch them flourish.
Here are a few ways you can set yourself up for success when growing a cut flower garden:
1. Pick the Right Growing Location for Your Cut Flower Garden
Most flowers enjoy a growing location with full to partial sunlight. If you live in a cooler climate, full sunlight (around six or more hours of direct light each day) is ideal.
If you live in a warmer area, providing full sunlight in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon is ideal. Consider where you live and the type of plants you’re growing to ensure you provide the right amount of light.
2. Ensure You Have the Right Soil for Your Cut Flower Garden
A cut flower garden should contain nutrient-dense, well-draining soil. Flowers don’t usually do well in oversaturated conditions.
This type of growing space can lead to disease and the death of your plants. Ensuring the soil contains necessary nutrients and is able to retain moisture while encouraging excess to drain away, could be the key to a solid growing foundation.
3. Start Your Seeds Based Upon Your Planting Zone for Your Cut Flower Garden
I live in planting zone 7b. Since I have a longer growing season, directly sowing seeds into a flower bed should work in most cases.
However, if you live in a planting zone with a shorter growing season, it may be wise to start your seeds indoors. This gives you a jump on the growing season.
Understand how much time your flowers have to grow in your location, and decide whether sowing them directly into the growing space or transplanting them after starting the seeds indoors is the better method.
4. Plant the Right Variety of Flowers for the Growing Season in a Cut Flower Garden
There are many flowers to choose from when growing a cut flower garden. Look at the season you wish to plant and your planting zone.
Some ideas for each season are as follows:
Ensure the flowers you grow, have enough time to thrive in your planting zone and ensure you plant them at the right time of the year.
5. Provide Adequate Support for the Flowers in Your Cut Flower Garden
If you grow taller flowers, they’ll need support. Some sunflowers tend to flop over without appropriate staking.
However, there are some varieties with stronger stems that stand on their own. As a general rule of thumb, if your taller flowers are top-heavy or have skinny stems, add support and plant where they’re given a windbreak.
You may also apply netting to protect your plants and their blooms. Take these extra steps to encourage the overall health of your plants.
6. Water Your Flowers Deeply in a Cut Flower Garden
Watering plants deeply is key to encouraging optimal health. When you apply smaller amounts of water each day, the water stays at the top of the soil.
In turn, the plants will grow their roots horizontally to retrieve the water. If you apply larger quantities of water, not only do you not have to water as frequently, but your plants will dig into the soil to retrieve water.
Plants with deep root systems tend to maintain better health. Water your cut flowers deeply to encourage healthier plants.
7. Harvest Your Cut Flower Garden at the Right Time
When your flowers are mature, it’s best to harvest them in the morning. This is when the temperatures are still cool, and it puts less stress on the plants.
Plus, your blooms should be perkier. When cutting the flowers, be sure to cut at an angle and lower on the stem.
This should encourage longer stems for your cut flower arrangements while encouraging the plant to branch.
8. Beat the Weeds in Your Cut Flower Garden
Weeds were my Achilles heel with a cut flower garden. I thought if I over sowed the seeds, there wouldn’t be room for weeds to take over.
Unfortunately, I didn’t account for the lack of barriers around my garden. I also didn’t account for the birds who enjoyed eating my seeds after planting. In short, there was ample room for weeds to end up in my garden.
You can avoid weeds growing in your cut flower garden by practicing the following:
- Planting in rows where you can till the garden
- Use weed barrier throughout your cut flower garden
- Use straw or mulch around your plants
- Solarize your growing location prior to planting
- By using pre-emergent herbicide
- By using the lasagna method in your garden to deter weeds
9. Provide Borders to Your Cut Flower Garden
As I mentioned in the last section, if you’re growing a cut flower garden, you need barriers to encourage order in your grow space.
It’s wise to place a border between your plot and the grass around it. It’s also important to pay attention to which direction you mow.
Don’t throw grass in your flower garden as this only adds to the problem. Yet, barriers can deter this from occurring as easily. Creating a border around your cut flower garden could discourage weeds, grass, and other unwanted items from landing in your garden and making a mess.
10. Remain Alert to Potential Threats in Your Cut Flower Garden
The last thing you should do when growing a cut flower garden is remain alert to potential threats. Every garden faces risks, such as pests and diseases, no matter what you’re growing.
Flowers are especially susceptible to fungal issues and insects. Be sure to treat your plants with an insecticide on a regular basis.
You should also encourage a warm and well-draining growing location to discourage the spread of fungal issues. These are a few things you should take into consideration when growing a cut flower garden.
My Experience with a Cut Flower Garden
As you’ve seen throughout this article, there are things to take into consideration when growing a cut flower garden.
Though I consider myself an experienced gardener, I made the mistake of assuming that over sowing my flower bed would produce a fruitful flower garden.
What I didn’t intend on were the amount of birds that would snack on my seeds after planting. I also didn’t add a border which would’ve been helpful considering I have a teenager who doesn’t always consider the direction he’s mowing when cutting the grass.
I didn’t consider adding mulch to help with weeds. Nor did I plant in an organized fashion which could’ve helped with controlling the weeds.
Sometimes in gardening, we assume if we have the right soil, the right lighting, and the right amount of water, then everything will work as intended.
However, weeds are one of the biggest enemies in gardening, and if you don’t have a plan to stay on top of them, things can quickly grow out of control.
This can turn a beautiful gardening experience into what some around the Internet jokingly call “jungle gardening.” This means your garden ends up looking more like a jungle than a traditional garden.
Take these pointers and my mistakes to create a better gardening experience for yourself should you decide to grow a cut flower garden.
I’m excited for the next growing season because I’ve decided to take what I’ve learned and try my hand at a cut flower garden again.
Mistakes in gardening aren’t bad. They can prove disappointing at times, but it’s also where we learn the most.
Hopefully, these tips help you create a beautiful cut flower garden around your home. However, if you find you make a few mistakes of your own, note them. Then use your experiences to keep improving each growing season you produce cut flowers.
- Proper preparation is essential when starting a cut flower garden.
- Selecting the right growing location and soil are foundational for the health and success of your plants.
- Understanding your planting zone helps in deciding whether to sow seeds directly or start them indoors.
- Different flower varieties thrive in specific seasons, so it’s vital to plant accordingly.
- Regularly monitor your garden for potential threats like pests, diseases, and fungal issues.
- Weeds can become a significant challenge if not managed from the outset.
- Borders around your garden can prevent unwanted grass and weeds from invading the space.
- Mistakes are learning opportunities in gardening. It’s crucial to adjust and improve with each growing season.
Quick Reference Chart: Extending the Life of Cut Flowers
|Preparing Your Flowers||-Best time: in the morning when plants are hydrated.|
-Choose flowers that are about to open or have just opened.
-Use a sharp knife or scissors to avoid crushing stems.
-Directly place cut flowers into a pail of water.
-Remove submerged foliage to prevent bacterial growth.
|Adding Preservatives||A good preservative contains:|
-Carbohydrates: Provides food to the flowers.
-Acidifiers: Lowers the pH, aiding water uptake.
-Biocides: Prevents bacterial and fungal growth.
|Choosing the Right Location to Display||-Avoid drafts or direct sunlight.|
-Keep away from ripening fruit (ethylene gas emitter).
-Cooler locations are preferred as warmth shortens flower life.