MY FIRST YEAR CUT FLOWER GARDEN – WINS, FAILS AND RESOURCES ON GROWING YOUR OWN

Mar 18, 2021

 



HOW MY FIRST CUT FLOWER GARDEN CAME TO BE

I grew my first flower garden in 2020. I really had no clue what I was doing, but yet, flowers grew. Nothing too extravagant, but enough florals to fill my home + gift to others all Summer long. Which was very satisfying. This post will walk you through my beginner’s journey on my cut flower garden and mostly will just be an account of me winging it through gardening. I’ll share resources I found helpful when starting and as I continue to learn for year 2 – mostly I just want you to walk away from this knowing if I could dabble in this, so can you. I’m not an expert, but I tried and now know it can be done.


I had wanted to start a cut flower garden for a number of years & finally took the plunge in 2020 to JUST START. We had 8 month old twins and the world was on lockdown due to COVID, so it probably wasn’t the greatest time to attempt this for the first time – but we were home more than usual, so I figured why the heck not.


We already had two raised garden beds and I figured I’d claim one for flowers and the other could remain for vegetables. So, no extra cost there for building anything there. Overall, I mostly worked with what I already had on hand. I had a stash of misc. flower seeds and decided to just start there that way I wasn’t investing a lot of money in something I had no clue on what I was doing. I read articles and devised a plan that was both equal parts thought out & winging it. I attempted to start some seeds – again, we were quarantined and not going into stores – so I just worked with household items I had on hand like egg shells, egg cartons and toilet paper rolls for starting seeds. Heavy on the winging it when it came to seed starting – I just stuck these things by a window and hoped for the best – it was a FLOP. A big flop. But that was okay, because I had invested nothing and I knew I could direct sow my flower seeds too.


Direct sow = starting the seeds in the dirt outdoors after the first frost. The seed packets provide you with this information on the back. Honestly, I wouldn’t advise to bother with seed starting indoors for your first garden.


To start, you will need to know your growing zone – you can find it here by entering your zip code. Knowing this helps you determine the last frost for your area and knowing when you can plant your seeds.


The cut flowers I attempted to grow

I’ll start with a rough list of everything I attempted to grow and then I’ll highlight everything I actually grew. I didn’t log exact varieties of everything. I would definitely recommend keeping a little notebook to log what you start, what variety you grow & when you start it. I started strong by doing this and then threw caution to the wind halfway in – which is fine too. There’s no right or wrong…But, it makes it a little harder to write this post and tell you what I did when my log fell by the wayside…but hey, again, I was heavy on the winging it.


So, some of the seeds I attempted to start indoors were – nasturtium, sweet peas, zinnias, some herbs and carnations – FAIL. That’s on me, not the seeds. These would all be great to attempt to start.


So, then I then direct sowed – portulaca moss roses, marigolds, daisies, gypsophila, cosmos, zinnias, holly hocks, “cut flower garden” seed blend, & sunflowers. I planted gladiolus bulbs - but they didn't do anything, I think something dug many of them up soon after I planted them and messed with their success.

Again, I don’t have an exact log of the varieties I tried. Better luck this year, Jess.

So, now for what actually grew…. Some from plant starts (from local nurseries) and some from seed -  I’ll signify which is which.

 


What I grew in my first cut flower garden–


+ cosmos – from seed

+ zinnias – from seed

+ marigolds – from seed

+ sunflowers – from seed

+ chamomile – from plant start

+ coleus – from plant start

+ gerber daisies – from plant start

+ dianthus – from plant start

+ calendula – from plant start

+ baby tut - from plant start (greenery filler)

+ dusty miller - from plant start (greenery filler)


+ I also grew herbs and celosia and sweet potato vine from plant starts in a separate raised garden bed on our patio. I occasionally snipped herbs here and there to add to arrangements, but overall didn’t use much of this in floral arrangements.



 Where I grew my cut flowers –

In a 4x16 raised bed we already had built.

I wanted to ward off as many weeds as I could, but with as minimal work as possible in year one. So, I went with our raised bed.

It seems many use landscape fabric when planting flowers in the ground and I didn’t want to hassle with that. I think keeping things as approachable as possible in year one is key. So, if that means a raised bed, or even just a few large pots – do what works for you.

 

Where to buy flower seeds –

+ Anywhere! Hardware stores. Wal-Mart. Dollar General. Dollar Tree.

+ Floret Farm has specialty varieties you can buy online. This farm is very popular and most seeds sell out quick, but I didn’t have any of those my first year.

+ MI Gardener has fun varieties and affordable options. I learned of them through Lindy and purchased some seeds there this year.

-    Abigail has a blog post on her site with more options for purchasing seeds too!


My Top Tips For Starting a Cut Flower Garden –

+ Just Start!

Don’t overcomplicate it. Keep it approachable. Grow in containers or whatever space you have, but just start. I guarantee it will bring you joy and you can start learning as you go!


+ 3 easy flower seeds to start on year one – zinnias, cosmos, marigolds.

I had success with all of these on year one and I direct sowed each of them in my raised bed.


Grow at least one plant to use as filler in your arrangements.

This post by Floret goes over options to grow for foliage and filler. 



Cut Flower Garden Resources I found Helpful –

Here are some resources I found helpful when starting my garden.

 

Articles I read –

+ how to start a cut flower garden – by Abigail Albers

+ how to create a cut flower garden for beginners – by Rain on a Tin Roof

 

Instagram pages I follow –

+ @adventuresinabbyland – I LOVE her garden, she wrote one of the articles above on her blog that I found helpful too.

+ @peoniesandpeppers – she has a beautiful backyard garden and a gorgeous cart she fills with free florals for her neighborhood.

+ @smalltowngardenlife – Lindy is a must follow. She shares tons of helpful posts and tips. She was a HUGE help to me and was the reason I decided to ultimately give my garden a go.

 

HELPFUL POSTS BY LINDY

+ in this post she talks about the varieties she’s growing this year

+ tips on winter sowing seeds, less work than starting seeds indoors. I haven’t tried this personally, but her posts on the topic make me want to try.

+ 5 tips for a beginner gardener

+ and once you do start harvesting your blooms - she has this post on how to make your cut flowers last longer in arrangement


ADDITIONAL  - 

+ I read this fish fertilizer worked well and I used it on my flowers – smells terrible but seemed to work. I had nothing to compare it to from *not* using it, but I’ll use it again this year.

+ I joined the Growing Kindness Project last year as a gardener. This is a movement to grow flowers and give them away in your community. They provided a few resources, but overall I enjoyed the sense of community I gained from it. I learned of some Instagram pages who then proved to be helpful resources full of tips for me.

+ I have a 2020 Garden story highlight on my Instagram - you can click here to watch through it.

If you have any tips to add or questions you’d like help answering -  send me a DM on Instagram and I will work on it!

+ See what I am growing in my YEAR TWO Cut Flower Garden in this post.

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6 comments

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