Nothing brightens up a room like a bouquet of cut flowers, but enjoying them regularly can be a costly indulgence, right? Well, not if you grow your own cutting garden it isn’t! With a little hard work and without spending a large amount of money you can grow your own flowers and assemble your own arrangements. A cutting garden is simply an area of your yard that you set aside just for the purpose of growing flowers for display purposes. Having a cutting garden is really like “having your cake and eating it too.” You won’t have to worry about impacting the beauty of your formal plantings by snipping flowers from them and you can have cut flowers for your home from spring to fall. Does it get any better than that?
The first step in creating a cutting garden is choosing a spot for it. You want an area that probably gets at least 6 hours of sun a day, but is also out of the line of sight of your more formal garden. You want to look at a cutting garden the same way you would be looking at planting a vegetable garden; how it looks isn’t as important as the harvest you hope to get from it. The area doesn’t have to be that large either. A 3 foot by 6 foot bed can support up to 20 plants and that can produce plenty of beautiful flowers when it gets in gear. After you’ve chosen where the cutting garden will be you’ll want to be sure that you prepare the soil for planting. The soil should be turned over to a depth of 8” to 10” with additional organic matter such as compost or shredded leaves mixed into the soil.
Now you’re ready to choose the plants for your garden. This is all about you and your personal preferences! If you want to save some money you can pick plants that are easily grown from seed such as zinnias, sunflowers, snapdragons and cosmos. You can also try bulbs and tubers such as gladiolus and dahlias. Don’t forget perennials such as lavender, peonies, iris, delphinium, coneflowers and black-eyed susans can give you cut flowers not just this year but for many years to come. You can mix and match any of these, but if this is your first cutting garden you may want to stick to six favorites to start with and you can always add a few more if you have the room.
While a cutting garden doesn’t require the same level of attention as other parts of your yard it still will need a little maintenance as the season goes on. In the beginning you’ll want to be weeding the garden regularly so that your flowers won’t have to compete with those pesky weeds. A layer of mulch can be a good way to keep those weeds at bay while also helping to retain moisture in the soil during the hotter times of the year. A little extra watering might be needed on particularly warm days and some staking might be needed for taller plants such as delphinium, gladiolus and dahlias. The one task that you won’t mind doing is cutting the flowers! The more you cut the more flowers you’ll get so don’t be shy about enjoying the “fruits of your labors!”