Grow Your Own Market Bouquet with a Cut Flower Garden
It’s increasingly popular to grow your own food, but have you ever considered growing your own market bouquet of flowers? We’re not talking about snipping flowers from your front yard—we’re talking about a garden dedicated to flowers for bounteous blooming bouquets. Gardens like these are called “cut flower” gardens, and we visited local South Jordan flower farmer Fawn Rueckert to get tips about how to start a beginner’s cut flower garden.
Cut flowers resting on a garden box corner at Sego Lily Flower Farm.
From Veggies to Flowers
Fawn grew up in California, and has loved gardens and gardening since she was little. She started gardening by growing veggies for her kids. As she planned her veggie gardens she admired potager style gardens that had flowers incorporated among the vegetables. It gave her an idea to start growing flowers of her own. She thought it would be fun to start a cutting garden full of flowers that could be taken inside, or given to friends and neighbors.
After moving to Utah, she missed being able to buy flowers at the farmer’s market, like she could in California. As she continued growing cut flowers, she decided that she would become the person to sell flowers at her local farmers market. That's when she started Sego Lily Flower Farm, in 2017.
You may be wondering what exactly a cut flower garden is. If you're surmising that it's a garden with flowers that you can cut, you're right! The name of these beautiful gardens do not belie themselves. These gardens are often also called "cutting gardens." Like many gardening practices that are enjoying popularity again, cutting gardens used to be common in most home gardens. Now, they are starting to make a come back!
One of Fawn's veggies boxes that has feverfew growing in it as well.
How to Start a Cut Flower Garden in 4 Steps
There are 4 main considerations when starting a cut flower garden. They are:
Location, location, location! As with most garden planning, look for an area that has at least 6-8 hours of sun and that has access to water. Don’t plant the flowers that you plan to cut in your front yard if you think you’ll miss having their blooms on display. A simple way to get started: If you have square foot garden boxes that you are growing veggies in, experiment planting your flowers in a square or two to see what happens!
Prepare your garden by removing weeds and adding compost. Drip irrigation is preferred for a cutting garden, because the water won’t splash on the leaves of the flower. This will help prevent diseases like powdery mildew, and keep the leaves more pristine.
Succession plant your flowers so that you all of your plants aren’t blooming at the same time. Also take into consideration how many blooms will result from one seed. Buying varieties that are “cut and come again” will provide more blooms from one plant. Cosmos, zinnias and dahlias are great cut-and-come-again options. Sunflowers are an example of a flower that will only give one bloom per seed planted, so they definitely need to be succession planted.
Choose the best varieties for cutting, look for varieties that will grow 18-24 inches, so that their stems are long enough for a vase. Zinnias, cosmos and sunflowers can all easily be grown from seed. Grow sunflowers that are pollen-less, because some varieties can drop lots of pollen and make a mess indoors.
Fawn gave us one extra tip about having a great cutting garden: learn about "pinching." She says a lot of plants benefit from something called pinching, which will promote more growth of blooms. Dahlias are great flowers to pinch, as well as celosia, amaranth, and cosmos. For a brief pinching demo, check out our video above!
This fresh looking bouquet of flowers is actually over 2 weeks old!
5 Tips for Making Your Cut Flowers Last
You’ve put months of effort into growing your beautiful flowers, so here’s some tips to help them last!
Make sure the vase is clean. Bacteria can clog the “straws” of the stems. Fawn says that you want the vase "clean enough that you could drink out of it."
Remove leaves from stem that could be submerged in water, so take them off down to the water level. Green material in the water can breed bacteria.
Add floral preservative to the water. Floral preservative will protect the flowers from bacteria, and feed them, to keep their stems and blooms looking their best.
Keep the water filled to the top of the vase. Flowers drink a lot!
Keeping the flowers away from heat and light will also extend the life of your cut flowers. The cooler your house is, the longer their shelf life is. If you want to make an arrangement last, you can put it in the fridge overnight.
Feverfew, a popular bouquet filler that is often mistaken for chamomile, growing in succession at Sego Lily Flower Farm.
Truly Growing Your Own
Fawn really believes that bouquets of flowers makes people feel happier. This year's flower subscription started a few weeks after the COVID-19 virus hit the United States, and Fawn says that her subscribers "were so grateful to have a little bit of joy and beauty to bring into their home. It’s such an emotional thing to be able to spread beauty." We couldn't agree more, and we hope these tips will inspire you to start a beautiful and joyful cutting garden of your own!
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Modern Gardener Host and Author
Lizzi works for PBS Utah as a digital producer and host of Modern Gardener. Read more