Everything You Need To Know About Growing Cut Flowers
Love the look of cut flowers in your house but hate the price tag they come with? Well now is the time to start your own cut flower garden so you can fill your house with fresh blooms all year round for a fraction of the price. Read on to find out how.
Why grow your own flowers?
Even a small bouquet will set you back at least $20 and they usually only last about a week. Growing your own cut flowers can be an affordable way to have fresh bouquets more regularly rather than saving it for a special occasion. A packet of seeds or bulbs will only set you back a few dollars and would yield many flowers.
Grow your favourites or hard to find varieties
Depending on the fashion or what is available in your area, you might not be able to get your hands on your favourite flowers. Maybe you want to try growing an unusual colour variation or a certain bloom that holds special memories for you. When you grow your own, you get to choose the flowers that you love.
Bought flowers have travelled some distance before they make it to your home. The flowers can never be as fresh as ones you have grown yourself and as a result, they have a shorter vase life.
Reduce environmental impact
There is a negative environmental impact associated with the cut flower industry. Growing techniques often use a lot of water, fertilisers and pesticides to get perfect blooms. Many varieties are shipped across the continent to get out-of-season stock. Flowers are delicate and they require refrigerated transport which is energy intensive. Growing your own at home means you can remove the impact of transporting flowers. You can also grow using organic or sustainable methods if you choose to.
Not only do you benefit from bringing your home-grown flowers indoors, but you can also enjoy them in the garden. You won’t be the only one too! Many cut flower varieties are attractive to pollinators and beneficial insects. They’ll thank you for growing your own!
It is very rewarding to grow your own flowers. You can watch the plant grow through the season and wait eagerly to see the gorgeous blooms unfold. You can enjoy the flowers in the garden, bringing them indoors, making your own arrangements and even creating bouquets as gifts for family and friends. Growing your own really adds that extra special touch.
What varieties make good cut flowers?
There are so many flowers to choose from but essentially it comes down to two factors for a good cut flower – long vase life and long stems. Some flowers will wilt as soon as they are cut so don’t make good flowers to bring indoors. Long stems are important for displaying in a vase.
There are statement flowers that are an obvious choice when growing your own but don’t forget the filler! All good arrangements have some smaller and more delicate flowers or foliage to really showcase the statement pieces.
Some of the best and most popular cut flower varieties that you can grow from seed are (from A to Z):
Aquilegia, Aster, Banksia,
Calendula, Carnation, Chrysanthemum,
Cineraria, Cornflower, Cosmos,
Dahlia, Delphinium, Dianthus,
Foxglove, Flannel Flower, Gerbera,
Geraldton Wax, Gypsophila, Kangaroo Paw,
Larkspur, Linaria, Lupin,
Nigella, Painted Daisy, Pincushion Flower,
Pincushion Hakea, Poppy, Snapdragon,
Statice, Stock, Strawflower,
Sunflower, Sweet Pea and Zinnia!
Want to start growing your own cut flower garden?
Shop Cut flower seed varieties here
But wait, there’s more! There’s also a huge array of excellent cut flower varieties that you can grow from bulbs. They are (from A to Z):
Achillea, Anemone, Astilbe,
Allium, Bearded Iris, Babiana,
Calla Lily, Chinese Ground Orchid, Daffodil,
Dahlia, Dutch Iris, Freesia,
Gladioli, Hippeastrum, Hyacinth,
Iris, Ixia, Jonquils,
Kniphofia, Lilium, Lily of the Valley,
Leucojum, Lycoris, Nerine,
Ornithogalum, Peony, Pineapple Lily,
Ranunculus, Scilla, Sparaxis,
Triteleia, Tritonia and Tulip.
How’s that for choice!?
Want to start growing your own cut flower garden?
Shop Flowering Bulbs here
Shop Cut flower seed varieties here
Most popular cut flower varieties:
Dahlias come in a huge array of colours and forms. They can be grown from bulbs to be sure what flower you are getting and can also be grown from seed for a floral surprise. Learn more about growing Dahlias here.
Dahlias are perennial so you can plant once for gorgeous flowers year on year. They have a long flowering season from Summer to late Autumn.
Dahlias have a 5-8 day vase life and are best picked when blooms are half open. Smaller-headed varieties such as ‘pom pom’ types will have a longer vase life but the larger ‘dinner plate’ style can be stunning in bouquet. They have hollow stems, so cut the stem on an angle with sharp snips to ensure water can be drawn up the stem.
Liliums are a favourite cut flower for their extraordinary vase life and large attractive blooms. They typically last 10-14 days in a vase and sometimes even longer. Liliums are best harvested while the flower buds are still closed but are showing good colour, indicating that they will open soon. They are thirsty blooms, so for the best vase life recut stems and top up with fresh water daily. There are many varieties to choose from, choose the right one for you garden by following our handy guide.
Some varieties have a gorgeous, sweet fragrance but there are also fragrance free choices for those who find it overpowering. Pollen from lilium flowers can stain clothing and cause allergies in sensitive people. If this is a concern, grow a pollen-free variety. Some pollen-free varieties include Lilium Double Sundew, Lilium Double Red Twin and Lilium Double Must See.
Liliums are highly toxic to cats if ingested, so grow and display with caution if you have cats in your home.
Sunflowers have large cheerful blooms and a vase life of 7-10 days. Harvest flowers when half or fully open and recut stems regularly to extend vase life. Strip lower leaves before displaying in a vase.
Modern breeding means there are a lot of varieties to choose from other than classic yellow - with reds, oranges, bicolours and doubles now available. If you suffer from allergies or just prefer to avoid the mess, opt for a pollen-free variety. Read more about the different varieties and growing tips here.
Sweet peas yield huge bunches of blooms. There are many varieties to choose from in an array of colours. As they are climbers, they don’t take up much space in the garden and can be grown over trellises or archways for a gorgeous floral display. For growing advice check out our Sweet Pea growing guide.
Sweet peas have a vase life of 5-7 days and fill the room with sweet perfume. The flowers are sensitive to ethylene so avoid displaying near fruit as this can shorten the vase life. Harvest when the top two or three buds are coloured and partly open.
Zinnias are prolific bloomers with a long flowering season from Summer to Autumn. The secret to getting many flowers is to pinch out the plants when they are young. Once they have 2-3 sets of leaves, cut out the centre of the plant with sharp snips. This causes the plant to branch and become bushy, producing many flower heads. Harvest the flowers regularly to encourage more blooms.
Zinnia must be cut at the right time to last well in a vase. To test if the flower is ready, grab the stem about 20cm below the flower head and gently shake. If the stem is stiff and strong, the flower is ready to harvest. If the stem bends or is droopy, it is not ready so leave it for a few days before testing again. If harvested at the right time, Zinnias have a vase life of 5-8 days. Strip lower leaves before displaying in a vase. A drop of bleach in the water will also extend the vase life.
Cut flower garden tips and advice
Where should I plant a cut flower garden?
You can plant a specific cut flower garden or plant cut flower varieties amongst existing gardens. Why not plant some in your veggie patch to attract pollinators at the same time?
How much sun does a cut flower garden need?
The most important factor when growing cut flowers is sun. Most cut flower varieties need at least 6 hours of sun a day and more sun will yield more flowers. Prioritise capturing morning sun if you can as it is not as harsh as the afternoon sun.
Do cut flowers need staking or support?
Many cut flower varieties have large blooms and are floriferous. Lot of heavy flowers can weigh down the plant and exposure to winds can easily snap delicate stems. Providing support can prevent any damage to your cut flower garden.
You can stake individual plants with long strong tomato stakes and a soft tie. For bushier plants you can use a tomato or peony cage to support multiple stems. For large scale plantings, you can install star picket stakes at the corners of each garden bed and place two layers of florist netting to support the flowers as they grow.
How tightly should I space plants in a cut flower garden?
Usually it is important to grow plants with adequate spacing to get to their full potential. However, when growing cut flowers, you have the opportunity to squeeze a few extra plants in! The reason being that close spacing can cause plants to stretch to compete with one another for sunlight. This produces longer stems which are ideal for cutting.
How do I get bigger flowers?
Where there are multiple buds on one stem, you can cut off the side flower buds. The plant will channel its energy into the main flower bud, resulting in significantly bigger blooms. This tip works well if you are wanting to grow show-quality flowers.
What fertiliser should I use for a cut flower garden?
Giving your plants proper nutrition will encourage more and better-looking blooms. Feed your plants regularly with a balanced fertiliser until they reach flowering stage. Once the buds are beginning to form, it’s a good idea to switch to a high Potassium (K) fertiliser to encourage more flower production. Avoid high Nitrogen (N) fertilisers at the flowering stage, as you can end up with a large leafy plant and no blooms!
How do I get flowers all year round?
Just like when planting your veggies, it’s a good idea to succession plant your flower varieties to avoid a huge glut of flowers. You can do this by sowing new seeds every 2 weeks in the growing season. You can also select flower varieties that bloom in different seasons to ensure you have flowers all year round.
When is the best time to harvest cut flowers?
Early morning is the best time to harvest fresh flowers from your garden. That way the buds have opened to the sun but haven’t been exposed to daylight for long, meaning they are still fully hydrated. Flowers harvested at this time will last longer in a vase than those harvested later in the day.
What tools do I need to harvest cut flowers?
It is important to use sharp, clean and precise tools to harvest flowers for the best vase life. Thinner flower stems up to 10mm can be harvested with Darlac compact snips. Larger stems and foliage can be cut with Darlac compact shears. Keep tools sharp with the Darlac Fine Grade Diamond Sharpener and clean your tools between plants with alcohol to avoid cross-contamination.
How do I know which cut flowers grow best in my area?
When choosing the varieties that you want to grow, ensure that you choose flowers that thrive in your climate. You’ll have a much easier time getting happy plants and lots of blooms. You can find out more about which varieties are suited to your climate by reading the back of the seed packet to see recommended sowing time and climate suitability. For bulbs, you can check out our handy bulb planting climate guide.