If I had to choose between growing vegetables and cutting flowers, I would choose flowers every time. I love having flowers in the house more than just about anything. Keeping the house cheery all summer long is way more valuable to me than a million bushels of tomatoes. Cutting flowers are almost always easier to grow than vegetables, so they are great if you ARE just wanting to get your feet wet gardening. Here are the best flower varieties for beauty, ease of growing, and suitability for cutting. They can all be easily grown from seed.
Obviously! But one thing that is so important to know about sunflowers is that there are two drastically different types. They are both very easy to grow. Both have their place in the garden, but they are very different.
Branching sunflowers are the most common in home gardens. They have a very thick center stalk, like a tree truck, and many branches coming off of it. They will produce many flowers over a period of time, and will bloom for a period of months. There are hundreds, if not thousands of varieties, of all different colors. Some will shed pollen, but some are bred to be pollenless.
These sunflowers send up one stalk with a flower on the end. There is a much more limited selection, but almost all colors are available. They are always pollenless.
which sunflower variety should you grow?
Well most people think branching sunflowers are best for the cutting garden because they produce more flowers. They actually have quite a few downsides. First, if they have pollen they are terrible for cutting. It will shed within five minutes of being brought inside, and continue to shed until you throw them out. Also it is hard to time them to get a bouquet of sunflowers all at once, because they bloom almost like a tomato plant ripens: a few here and there of different sizes.
I still grow some of the branching ones because they add beauty to the garden and attract bees. But I rarely cut them.
I love growing single stem sunflowers for cutting because they give you a gorgeous, florist quality bouquet. You can time them to bloom pretty much exactly when you want, and they will all be ready within a day or two of each other. A bouquet of seven or so will really command attention in a room because the stems are so large. They can be grown very close together, and in fact should be, or else the stems will be too thick and the blooms will be huge. Spacing the seeds 4 to 6 inches apart is perfect, so if you plant them in blocks you can quite a few in. They are also ready in under 70 days, so if you live somewhere with a longish growing season you can plant them before or after a spring or fall crop.
Best sunflower varieties
- Procut Orange (THE classic florist sunflower. Everyone should grow this!)
- Procut Plum
- Procut White Nite
- Sunrich Gold
- Jua Maya (classic look and ready in 45 days)
These are some of last year’s single stem sunflowers. See how just a few makes a big statement in the room?
PLanning your Sunflowers
Sunflowers can, and should, be succession planted. The single stem ones are very easy to calculate a harvest date for. Check the packet for days to maturity and they will reliably be ready, all at once. Branching sunflowers will bloom for a few months, but they’ll still benefit from a second planting in late June, if you have a long enough growing season.
Keep colors in mind when planning your sunflower patch. I like the lighter ones early in the season, and the darker plums and burgundies in late August through early October. The orange are welcome any time. If you have a summer party planned, make sure you have a lot of sunflowers ready.
Probably the second most popular cut flower for home gardening, and definitely the easiest to grow. If you are just getting started gardening, zinnias would the best cutting garden flower variety. I grow many varieties types of these and love them all. They are all suitable for cutting, except for the mini varieties.
Here are my personal favorites.
favorite zinnnia varieties for cutting:
Planning your zinnias
Be thoughtful when you are ordering, and consider the colors. Many varieties are pink or yellow. By late August I am not really interested in pink flowers, so I tend to plant the pink ones first and them pull them late in the season. If you are planting sunflowers, you might not want more yellow flowers and might want to skip the yellow zinnias.. Just consider this in your garden planning.
These are beautiful and elegant. They’re not as showy as zinnias and sunflowers, but they are easy to grow and a beautiful addition to your cutting garden. There are two main types: double and single. Double have a ruffly look and singles are more classic looking. The flowers appear slightly different but everything else about them is exactly the same. All cosmos varieties are good for cutting, and they look nice planted in masses too.
They are almost exclusively pink and white. Even the white ones revert to pink sometimes as the season goes on.
Best Cosmos Varieties for cutting
Most cosmos varieties and very similar, and really any will do fine.
PLanning your Cosmos
Just remember that they are almost always pink and white. There is no need to go crazy and plant many of them, as there isn’t much variety. But they are so easy, and so nice to mix in with your bouquets, that you should definitely include a few.
Other Flower Varieties for cutting
I focused on the three easiest to grow and most prolific cutting flowers. But there are many, many cut flowers that I love. Some more favorites that you should try when you are ready:
- Bachelor’s Buttons
- Sweet Peas
I hope that this year you will make room for cutting flowers in your garden. They can go in with your vegetables, or they can have a patch of their own.
Any soil that you have that isn’t yielding well for vegetables will be perfect for flowers, as overly rich soil is not good for them. As long as they have sun and water, they will be happy.
Please give them a try, and see how happy a little thing like fresh flowers can make you.