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Cut Flower Gardening For Beginners



Have you ever wanted to start a cut flower garden of your own? This post is for you!

This is for the person who wants to dip their toe into growing their own cut flowers but isn't ready for starting seeds indoors or planning months and months ahead.


I believe the easiest and most cost effective way to start growing your own cut flowers is by directly seeding straight into the ground once the risk of frost is over. (I'll say this again, for us here in Southern Manitoba that is typically the last week of May)


Before you decide to start a cut flower garden, it's important to have the right spot for them. Most cut flowers like full sun, well drained soil (sloped or in raised beds so that water can drain), and moderately nutrient dense soil (heavy clay soil is usually too heavy, sandy soil is also not great for growing). If you have a spot like this, you can grow flowers!


In Manitoba's short season, we can still grow beautiful blooms directly seeded into the ground. Of course these seeds take time to develop into flowers, so if you're looking for flowers starting in June, this won't help you. In order to take advantage of a full summer of blooms, I suggest you plant bulbs in fall for spring (tulips, daffodils, etc...), and early summer perennials like peonies, veronica, yarrow and lilies to fill the gap before your seeded annuals start to bloom. Perennials are an investment, so I always suggest trying seeding for your first year and then perennials for your second season once you know you want to do it.


My top choices for easy flowers to grow by direct seeding are;


Zinnias - A easy to grow focal flower that blooms more the more you pick! (They come in many varieties so if you want to pick them, make sure they are tall varieties)

Cosmos - A whimsical airy flower that adds a special feel to a bouquet (again, check the days to maturity here. Some varieties take too long to start from seed, you're looking for ones with the shortest days to bloom or maturity, and decent height)

Queen annes Lace and/or Dara - A beautiful lacy filler flower

Sunflowers - A Cheery focal flower that can be seeded every 10 days for multiple cuttings until frost. Be sure to choose non-branching varieties as they make the best cut flowers

Calendula - Easy to grow filler flower that self seeds year after year

Amaranthus - Adds texture, height, and interest to bouquets


Zinnias, Green Mist Queen Annes Lace, Cosmos



Amaranthus, Calendula, Sunflowers


If you'd like to add a few plants from a garden centre my top recommendations are;


Snap Dragons - Add height and dimension to bouquets (chose a variety like rocket mix which grows taller than most varieties found at the garden centres)

Lisianthus - The prettiest flowers and the longest lasting but terribly hard to grow from seed. Again, pick varieties that have a height suitable for cutting

Mint- Makes a wonderful scented greenery!


Lisianthus, Snap Dragons, Apple Mint


Summer bulbs and tubers that are great additions to cut flower bouquets include;


Dahlias - Get your hands on a few tubers from almost any garden centre or local grower and you'll have stunning late summer blooms. You can also dig them out in fall and store for the winter to keep for next season


Gladiolas- Glads add height and elegance to bouquets and come in some truly stunning varieties


Diana's Memory Dahlia, Arabian Night Dahlia, Ruffled Gladiolas


If you're wanting to grow enough flowers to cut a few bouquets from, I usually recommend at least dozen plants of each variety. Make sure you space them in groupings (for example all the zinnias together, all the cosmos together...) This helps them support each other and causes less issues with staking, watering, and crowding of plants. Plant them close together .... and in blocks. For example, if you are growing 12 zinnia plants, make it 3 or 4 rows of 3 or 4 plants each about 6-9 inches apart. For larger plants give them a little more space (dahlias) and for smaller plants plant them a little closer together (lisianthus)


Before it comes time to plant, do a little research on each variety you are growing so that you know at what depth to plant your seeds and how far apart they should be. Most cut flower varieties require full sun, but some varieties have different water requirements so I like to group based on water needs. Things that like lots of water go together and so on.


Once the plants are seeded, be sure to keep the soil moist until you see them germinating above the soil. Then water as needed. Once they are blooming and have stems long enough to cut, start picking and enjoying them inside! For more in depth information about how to cut flowers, pinching, watering etc... check out our other blog posts!


Happy Flowering!


M


My favourite garden centres for adding a few extra cut flower varieties are ; Ron Paul Garden Centre, Lilystone Gardens, and Lacoste Garden Centre







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