Planning a Cut Flower Patch
Updated: Feb 23
Believe it or not, it’s time to start planning and ordering seeds for your garden! I know that not all of you are gardeners, but many of you are and I love that you both grow and support local growers.
Before I started Morningside Blooms, I never quite got the schedule down and would scramble to get seeds and start plants when the first hints of spring got me excited which was often late. Now, ever since the lockdowns, hobby gardening has exploded and the demand for seeds has skyrocketed. There are always new things to try, but if you have a plan in mind, you’re more certain to secure high demand items if you order early.
The old me never would have given up space in my garden to flowers. That would have been too extravagant and you can’t eat the flowers! (Although now I’ve learned that many flowers are actually edible!) I’ve learned that the presence of flowers is beneficial to vegetable gardens by attracting pollinators and healthy bugs. If you add in the positive effects of having fresh flowers in your home, you can't go wrong.
My first cut flowers were zinnias and cosmos and I recommend the same for you. But before we dive in, here's a couple of things to think about.
1. Seasonality: Most flowers are not meant for all seasons. We know this for vegetables but we are still learning for flowers. For example, spring is for daffodils, tulips, irises, and peonies. Summer is for zinnias, celosia, rudbeckia and sunflowers. Fall is for dahlias, cosmos and mums. Certainly, there are things that cross over a little on the edges, but flowers have their preferred temperatures and sunlight requirements. Learning about this and giving the flower what they prefer ensures success.
2. Reblooming: Some flowers can be cut from repeatedly like zinnias and cosmos. Some flowers are cut once and done like irises and certain sunflowers. Both have their place in the garden. Know which is which and plan accordingly. If you love a certain single cut sunflower, plant new seeds every two weeks, for example.
3. Annual or Perennial: Does the flower survive winter here or does it need to planted again? If it is an annual, pay close attention to dates. Our last frost here in Kansas City is usually about mid-April. Warm weather plants are best planted closer to Mother’s Day to avoid danger of frost, but cold weather plants can be planted a month earlier. Perennials usually bloom for about 2 weeks and then they are done so it's good to choose perennials with good foliage or plant annuals around them to cover up when they aren't as pretty.
If you’re just starting out, focus on summer flowers and put together a bouquet that you can enjoy together or in single stems throughout the house. Branching sunflowers give you repeated blooms on a single plant and give you great vase life. You can try Procut sunflowers for their great colors and pollenless centers but know that it’s a once and done flower.
Zinnias are also a fan favorite for their dahlia-like blooms and rich colors. Choose Benary’s Giant, smaller Oklahoma series, or the florist favorite Queeny series for good cutting varieties. Avoid short, bedding plant size zinnias. Just a heads up: you will get powdery mildew on your zinnias. You can pop some seeds in the ground every 2-4 weeks so you can have fresh plants and fresh flowers all summer long.
Cosmos are also easy to grow and actually don’t like rich soil. These plants are extremely generous with their blooms and will grow up to 7’ tall! They add a magical airy touch to gardens. Taller flowers like zinnias and cosmos benefit from some sort of staking and support so they don’t topple over.
Even if you have a small space that’s 4x4, you can grow a handful of flowers that will give a bouquet for you and a bouquet to give. There’s nothing better than heading out to your cutting patch after dinner and bringing in a handful of flowers. While they look great on the plant, when you cut them and put them in a vase, the effect is multiplied.
Remember cutting gardens are meant to be cut, so you might not want to put them in a very visible area or you could feel bad about cutting them!
My favorite places to buy seeds are Johnny’s Seeds but with a $200 minimum for free shipping, it can be more challenging for the home gardener. Try going in with some neighbors or friends. Baker Creek is another fabulous heirloom seed company right here in Missouri and offers quality seeds that work in our area.
Check out the picture for some other companies I have ordered from. Reputable seeds companies are important so that you get fresh seed which means you will have a higher germination rate and therefore, higher success rates! Set yourself up to succeed. I avoid places like Etsy and Amazon for seeds.
For a "Pretty in Pink" summer bouquet recipe, here's a shopping list recommendation from Baker Creek Seeds:
Mazurkia Zinnias: all zinnias are pollinator magnets
Polar Bear Zinnia: a little contrast and visual rest in your bouquet.
Asian Garden Celosia: also makes pink tea and lemonade! Pollinator magnet. Beautiful spikes in your bouquet.
Covent Garden Gypsophila: cut once and done. Resow for more harvest. Airy filler.
Rose Red Soba: Yes, buckwheat, but the flowers are also amazing. Once and done. Pollinator magnet.
Coreopsis Incredible Swirl: Bonus--self sows readily for new plants next year.
Fizzy Rose Picotee Cosmos: These will bloom later in the season.
All of these seeds can be sown directly on soil which makes it perfect for beginners. Keep the soil moist until the little plants are established.
If you have any questions about growing, feel free to shoot me an email or DM me on Instagram. If you’re reluctant about giving up vegetable space for flowers, I highly recommend “Vegetables Love Flowers” by Lisa Mason Zeigler. It also has great tips for growing in general. You can squeeze in some umbellifers like Queen Anne’s Lace and Dara in your vegetable garden to attract beneficials and some colorful flowers like zinnias to bring in pollinators.
New to growing? A great podcast to learn about gardening is "The Joe Gardener Podcast" with Joe Lamp'l. He shares great information in a very digestible format.
Of course, I’ll be growing plenty of flowers if you decide not to grow flower or not to cut your flowers, but if you do, I know it’ll bring you so much delight.
Go ahead and get those seeds and supplies in and happy growing!