The best old fashioned cutting flowers that you should grow in your garden; both warm and cool season flowers to beautify your home.
Everyone understands vegetable gardening. Even if they don’t like it, at least they get it. It saves money, you grow things you can eat, and homegrown tomatoes are delicious.
But growing cutting flowers? So many people just don’t understand it. Isn’t that a waste of space? Can’t you buy some fake flowers at the craft store? What about the pollen? “You can’t eat flowers, you know!”
And while many people are familiar with sunflowers, zinnias, and other cutting flowers that are good for beginners, if you are looking for something a little different, pick one of these classics that you would have found in grandma’s backyard.
1. Stock is one of the best cool-season old fashioned cutting flowers
For whatever reason, stock has fallen out of favor with modern gardeners, and what a shame. It is beautiful, comes in many colors, and most of all, has a unique fragrance. Its often described as “spicy”, which doesn’t quite capture it. But its definitely unlike the sweetness of many flowers.
It flourishes in cool weather and will survive a light frost. If you want flowers before anyone else on your street, try starting stock plants in the fall and covering them over the winter. They will come to life early in the spring and bloom while the weather is still cool.
You can buy stock in single colors or in a mix. It usually comes in shades of pink and purple, but other colors are available. You can order a beautiful blend here.
2. Sweet Williams for long lasting fragrance
Sweet Williams, a.k.a. dianthus, a.k.a. “pinks”, have sort of a plain appearance but more than make up for it with a sweet fragrance. It is not overpowering the way some roses can be.
They make ideal cut flowers since they have long, strong stems. They will also last in the vase for a very long time, up to two weeks.
If you like a simple look, they are beautiful by themselves in a small bouquet. They also make great filler flowers if you want to add them to showier blooms like dahlias or sunflowers.
Some modern varieties have been bred to be shorter and are intended for containers. If you want a more classic type intended for cutting, this pink variety is a great choice.
3. Strawflower for year-long beauty
As cheap, imported decorations became available, things like dried flowers fell out of favor. Why go through all that trouble when you can pick something up at Target and stick it on your mantle?
Well. We can certainly do better than that.
Strawflowers are easy to grow, easy to dry, and come in the most beautiful summery colors that are perfect into fall as well. To dry them, simply cut a bouquet and hang it upside down. They will retain their bright color for up to a year.
4. Scabiosa for the bees and butterflies
Scabiosa, a.k.a. the pincushion flower, is another fairly simple flower. It has long seems that perfect for cutting, and its a great filler flower in mixed bouquets.
One of the most special things about it is its ability to attract pollinators, especially butterflies. And unlike a lot of the flowers on this list, it will do well even in the heat of summer, drawing butterflies to your cutting garden all season long.
The plants are tall and bushy, with long stems that sometimes droop a bit. The more you cut, the more blooms you’ll get. Purple is the classic color, but I love this seed mix of deeper shades that add something special to bouquets.
5. Sweet peas for beauty and fragrance
Another cool season favorite, sweet peas will be ready for cutting before almost anything else in the cutting garden. And the fragrance is absolutely amazing, unlike any other flower.
Sweet peas do not do well in hot weather, so start them as early as you can. If you live in an area with cool summers, they are likely to bloom all through the summer for you!
The plants look like pea vegetable plants, and need support. They come in all shades of pink, red, and purple, but since they bloom so early in the season, pastel shades are especially appealing.
Choose an heirloom variety like these, and you can let some of the flowers form pods, go to seed, and replant year after year.
6. Daisies for classic beauty
There’s nothing sweeter than a daisy! They appeal to everyone, especially children, and once they are established, they will come back every year.
They are a great flower to fill the lull in between cool season flowers and later bloomers like sunflowers and zinnia. Best of all, they make new plants easily and will spread.
Shasta daisies are the classic that is pictured here, but there are actually many kinds. If you have a friend who grows them, ask if you can have some of their plants. They should be divided every few years, which means they will eventually have some to give away.
7. Bachelor’s button, for any growing conditions
Bachelor’s Buttons, a.k.a cornflower, is cute, but the absolute best thing about it that it will grow anywhere. It grows in clay soil, in the dry conditions, in full sun and part sun. It will often reseed itself as well, and come back year after year.
You will find it covered with pollinators in the spring since it blooms so early.
Bachelor’s Buttons bloom on long, strong stems that make them perfect for cutting. They dry easily but unfortunately they lose their beautiful blue color as they dry, turning white.
8. Snapdragons for charm
Snapdragons are another cool season old fashioned flower that can grow straight through the winter in some warm climates. It’s best to set them out very early in the season so they have time to bloom before the heat of summer sets in. Even if they fade away in midsummer, try cutting them back to see if they re-bloom in fall.
They come in every color imaginable, too. You can certainly find one that will work in your garden.
Be careful, as dwarf varieties have become popular lately. You want one with long stems and big flowers that will look beautiful in a vase, like this mix.
Finally, we have Hollyhock. Unlike most of the flowers listed, it is a perennial, meaning the same plant will come back year after year. Its the epitome of old fashioned charm, and looks beautiful against a fence.
Hollyhock comes in many colors, especially pinks and reds, and grows very tall with very big flowers. It can overpower a mixed bouquet, but cut just a few stems and you have an arrangement ready to go.
You can buy seeds but they are very slow growing. Plants are available as well, but make sure they are perennials, like these.
Everyone needs homegrown flowers
And while nothing on this list is edible, that’s okay. While a tomato might feed the body, cutting flowers feed the soul.
The first time you place some of these flowers in a mason jar and put it in your kitchen windowsill, you’ll understand.