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New Wives Club #5: how to grow your own cut flowers – what to grow

Charlie / 29 April 2012

cut flowers in brown paper

The idea of growing your own cut flowers seems to be popular at the moment, with many of us dreaming of a small patch of ground dedicated to our own supply of pretty blooms that we can raid to decorate ours homes.  The most difficult part, I find, is translating that dream into a reality.

dream cut flower garden

In a bid to get myself a small patch of cut flowers, and to encourage and help you to as well, I’ve enlisted the help of Chloe from BareBlooms to share some of her tips on how to start your own cutting garden.  Chloe grows many of her own flowers for her business BareBlooms, which provides beautiful seasonal flowers for weddings, you may well have seen some of her work when I featured Rhiannon’s wild September bouquet on the blog.

jug of garden flowers

So it’s over to Chloe to take us through how we might go about taking our dream of a cut flower garden into a real, live, blooming patch of soil…(p.s. you’ll find a handy glossary at the end of the post)

An introduction to growing cut flowers

Now I’m not a gardening expert, nor do I claim to be one, but I am an extremely passionate flower and veg grower, and have been since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Charlie asked me if I could put together a few tips on growing cut flowers as I grow all my own flowers – mostly from seed – for my business, BareBlooms.

jam jars of homegrown flowers

To me, growing from seed is second nature and sometimes I forget that not everyone was born with green fingers or studied horticulture, so I am going to try and go back to basics. Growing your own flowers isn’t rocket science and it needn’t be an expensive process – even if you’re one of those people who say “oh I kill every plant I lay my fingers on,” then I challenge you to sow a few seeds and see how easy and rewarding it can be.

“I’m a seed-aholic”

Before I begin, I will start with a warning – try not to get too carried away seed shopping. I speak from experience: “my name is Chloe and I’m a seed-aholic”.  There. I’ve admitted it! Before you start buying seeds, think about how much space you have and how much time you realistically have to invest. Yes, seeds are very little and you can cram an awful lot of seed trays onto every available window ledge and greenhouse shelf, BUT these seeds will turn into baby plants that may need pricking out and potting on into bigger pots, taking up more room and more of your time.

seedlings

For ‘instant’ gratification I suggest sowing annuals (hardy and half hardy) as well as first year flowering perennials – then you will be rewarded for your efforts this summer. There are so many to choose from, here’s my guide to what to grow.

What to grow

Most importantly, grow something you like!  If you are a beginner, then my advice is to grow something with a nice big seed – if you are using Jiffys you can then just pop one or two seeds in each one.

Flowers with easily handled seeds include Marigolds (Calendula) and Honeywort (Cerinthe major purpurascens).

cut flower growing

As a beginner it’s always nice to grow something that germinates quickly (so you don’t lose heart!).  Sweet Peas are super quick, though I would personally sow these in single pots of root trainers.  Stocks (Matthiola) are quick germinators and also make great fragrant cut flowers.  The above flowers are speedy germinators as well.

how to grow cut flowers

My top recommendations for flowers to grow for lovely vases of cut flowers are:

Larkspur (Consolida) – so beautifully British country garden.

cut flower larkspur

Cosmos – the more you cut, the more flowers you have.

cut flowers cosmos

Annual grasses – give your display a lovely wild meadow look.

cut flowers grasses

Cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus) – so easy, my children grew white Cosmos and blue Cornflowers in their garden patch last year and it was stunning.

cut flowers cornflowers

Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) – not only will you have beautiful blooms but the added interest of lovely seed pods too when they’ve finished flowers.

cut flowers nigella

Honesty (Lunaria) – like Love-in-a-mist you’ll get fantastic seed pods so a longer display, and they dry well.

cut flowers honesty

Most of these flowers will also self-seed nicely around your garden, so you will have flowers next year without any effort from you, and because you have sown them you will recognise the seedlings in the garden and not weed them out!

My final recommendation would be Verbena (Verbena bonariensis).

cut flowers verbena

Although strictly a perennial, but treated as a annual due to our climate, it’s a beautiful tall willowy bloom that costs a bomb to buy as a plant but is easy to grow from seed.  It’s great for use as a cut flower, it will self-seed, and bees and butterflies love it.

Coming next in part 2…Equipment and How to Grow

{ Glossary }

Annual – a plant which completes its life cycle in a year
Biennial – a plant which takes two year’s to complete its life cycle, usually flowering in the second year
Half hardy – non-frost tolerant annual, sow in Spring for flowering the same year
Hardy annual – an annual plant/seed which is tolerant of frost, sow in the Autumn for flowering the following year
Jiffys – a dehydrated plug of compost that can be rehydrated and used as a medium to sow seeds, the whole Jiffy complete with seedling can be potted up
Perennial – a plant that survives from year to year, it may be dormant during the Winter but spring to life again in the Spring
Root trainers – a plastic reusable tray with individual cells, usually deeper than individual seed tray cells, used for seeds with a long root run, the cells can be opened up and the seedlings removed with minimal root disturbance

Images: (1) Flickr; (2) via GardenDesign; (3) Wood and Wool Stool; (4) BareBlooms; (5) Flickr; (6+7) Flickr and Tasty Garderner; (8+9) How Stuff Works and Flickr; (10+11) via Art in Entertaining and Flowerinfo; (12) Flickr; (13+14) Sitting Pretty Images and via We Heart It; (15) Milk and Mode; (16+17) Out Of My Shed and Flickr; (18+19) Flickr and Better Homes & Gardens; (20) Crocus

Comments

Rona on 30. April, 2012

What a lovely blog post…

I grew cosmos last year and can certainly vouch for them giving a never-ending supply of cut flowers.

And this year, I’m growing Verbena bonariensis from seed…so, crossed fingers!

Layla Mayville {Simply Savannah Events} on 28. June, 2012

Thanks for sharing all this information! I’ve been dreaming of having a garden like this!!

bob on 26. September, 2012

Wonderful blog post. Thanks for sharing.

I am also a seed-a-holic!

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