How to Create a Simple Beginner Cut Flower Garden

Do you dream of lazy warm summer days, running barefoot in your garden, sun on your shoulders, cutting beautiful fresh flowers for your home? I sure do! Growing a cut flower garden in your backyard is a beautiful dream, but can seem daunting for beginners. When will everything bloom? What are the best flowers to plant? And can I really grow cut flowers even if I don’t live on an acreage?

You can make your dream a reality, even if you've never grown cut flowers before.  All you need is a spot in your backyard that receives at least 8 hours of sun a day, a willingness to weed and water, and a little know-how. 

In these five simple steps, I'll help you cut through the confusion and give you the beginner basics to grow your first successful cut flower garden. I'm assuming you know your last Spring Frist and first Fall Frost dates - AKA the length of your growing season. If you don't, head over to a seed starting calculator to find our yours. 

1. Prepare the Soil

The first step in starting your cut garden is to prepare the area you will be planting your flowers in. 
Once the soil is dry and workable, add in compost to the soil and either rototill or mix it in with hand tools.

2. Choose Your Flowers

Next, choose the flowers you want to plant. It's good to have a mix of greens, small flowers, and large flowers, so that your arrangements look interesting in the vase. Once you become more serious about your cut flower garden, you'll want to order seeds in January and start some of them as far as 8-10 weeks before you intend to plant them. 

For beginners, recommended flowers are snapdragons (purchased as starters unless you're comfortable seed starting), zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers, and both a purple and green basil for greens. There are so many more possibilities that you can grow, but these choices are very beginner friendly and, except for the sunflowers, all cut-and-come-again varieties that you plant once and harvest until the first fall frost.

Whatever flowers you choose, make sure that the stem length will be at least 18 inches or longer, so you have as much flexibility as possible in the type of arrangements you can make with your flowers. 

3. Plan out the Space

When growing a cut flower garden, you want to plant the flowers a little bit closer together than the seed packet suggests to get longer stems. If you're following my beginner recommendations, the snapdragons, zinnias, cosmos, and basil can all be planted about 6-9 inches apart. The sunflowers should planted at least 12 inches apart. Grow at minimum 12 of each type of flower to get a small bouquet a week once the flowers start blooming. Ideally, you would plant even more : 24-48 of each plant if you have the space.

4. Plant & Maintain

After the last Spring frost has passed, plant your cut flowers outdoors. For direct seeded plants, plant 2 seeds in one spot, and thin out multiples later.

To keep your garden as low maintenance and weed-free as possible, put a layer of mulch around your plants when they reach 3-4 inches in height. You will still have to do an initial weeding before you apply the mulch, but whatever weeds grow after the mulch is put down will be minimal and easy to pull. With a good layer of mulch, you may only need to water once a week. However, you should still check your soil once every day or two to see if it needs watering. 

5. Harvest the Blooms!

Now comes the fun part - harvesting the flowers! 
When cutting the flowers, make sure to cut the stems as long as possible, even if you're putting them in a shallow container. The plant will set out a new stem from wherever you cut it. Therefore, if you make short cuts, you'll eventually end up with a lot of short stems. 

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