Growing a Cut Flower at Home Garden Start to Finish


Macon County, Ill. (WCIA)

Growing a Cut Flower at Home Garden Start to Finish

If you love having vases full of fresh flowers around the house, but not the price tag cut flower gardening is for you. A little planning now will have your home full of unique floral arrangements all summer long.

A cut flower is simply any flower or flower bud that is cut from the plant and used decoratively in fresh or dried vase displays, wreaths and garlands. But not every flower makes a good cut flower.
“For instance, many people enjoy daylilies, however they close up when the sun sets and aren’t very exciting in a vase at dinner time,” said Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator Sarah Vogel. “In addition, some blooms can be too fragile and watery to last long after being cut.”

Cut flowers should be planted in a sunny spot in the garden close to a water source. Flowers mature quickly, so plant them somewhere you’ll see them often in order to cut them at the right time. You can plant flowers in raised beds if you have poor-quality soil. Ground beds are better for large amounts of flowers. Or, you can incorporate cut flowers into your existing landscape to save space.
Growing from seed saves money and more varieties are available, but you need an appropriate place to start seeds indoors. Transplants are more expensive, but they save time and space. Whatever you choose, try to stagger what you plant by bloom times so you always have flowers available.

  • Annual Cut Flowers: Zinnia, Strawflower, Celosia, Cosmos, Black-eyed Susan, Sunflowers.
  • Bulbs: Spring Flowering: Tulips, Daffodils, Lily of the Valley; Summer Flowering: Dahlias, Gladiolus, Lilies.
  • Perennials: Spring Flowering: Hellebores, Bleeding Heart, Peonies, Lady’s Mantle;
  • Summer Flowering: Iris, Liatris, Coneflowers, Eryngium, Poppies, Astilbe, Clematis, Yarrow, Garden Phlox;
  • Late Summer/Fall Flowering: Autumn Joy and Similar type Sedum, Mums, Perennial Black-Eyed Susan.

Hold on to the seed packets or the transplant description for information on when to cut the flower. Some flowers are best to cut as buds or before the blooms fully develop and some are best cut when they’re fully open. It’s best to cut flowers in the late afternoon or evening. Cut the stems longer than you will need and place in cool water for one to two hours to let them take up enough water.

To learn more about how to grow a cut flower garden and instructions on setting up a flower vase, read this month’s Know How Know More blog post at

Sarah Vogel, University of Illinois Extension, Horticulture Educator serving DeWitt, Macon and Piatt Counties, (217) 877-6042 or She specializes in annuals and perennials, greenhouse production, landscaping, and urban forest management. She has a bachelor’s in Forestry and a Master’s in Crop Sciences.

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