Ashleigh Smith + photo

Ashleigh Smith

May 30
5 min read
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Cut Flower Gardens

What Makes A Good Cut Flower?

There are many characteristics and traits of a flower that put it into the cut flower category. Among these are stem length, stem strength, bloom period, bloom sturdiness, fragrance, ability to preserve, and your personal preference. We would love to see your favorite cut flowers and fresh arrangements from the garden. Share your photos with us by tagging @trueleafmarket on Facebook and Instagram.

Stem Length

When you are considering what kind of flowers to grow in a cut flower garden, you want to plant varieties that give you the longest stems possible. More stem length means you have more options when it comes to how they are used in arrangements. It also helps extend the amount of time you have to use them. By making cuts to the end of the stem, you enable better water intake. Making small cuts as flowers sit in your cool storage area over time will help keep them looking fresh and presentable.

florist cutting stems

Strong Stems

Beyond having long stems it is important that the stems are sturdy. It is difficult to design with flowers if the stem is unable to support the prized bloom. To help support stems during growth, a process such as staking or using a net support system may be used. This can help protect your crops while also helping the stems to grow straight. Be careful not to stake them too tightly though. You may weaken the stem by giving it too much support, as it doesn’t naturally reinforce its growth correctly. Allowing stems to move with either natural or fan-created wind will help them to strengthen.

vase of cut lilac flowers

Long Bloom Period

Because cut flowers are used in arrangements, it is important to get as much life out of them as you can. No one wants to spend a bunch of money for a designer to create a beautiful arrangement that is going to last a couple of days. It is important that your cut flowers are able to endure the time it takes to be transported to the designers, be stored until a designated event or delivery date, then have time to be enjoyed by the end customer.

Some flowers naturally have a long bloom period and are able to endure frequent movement, while others are not. For example you don’t frequently see lilacs used as cut flowers. This is solely because they have a very poor lifespan once cut. Within a couple of days, you can see the blooms start to droop compared to other flowers. To fully enjoy your cut flowers consider planting ones that will live well in a vase.

Hold Flower Shape

A flower can have long, sturdy stems yet have a bloom that is weak. There are very few times when a “floppy” flower is appropriate for a design. If they are used, it is meant to cascade over a container or hang from above. But even then, traditional cut flowers tend to be used more often. Because cut flowers are chosen for their flower shape, it is important that the customer is able to see the blooms in their prime state. Avoid flowers that will get squished and torn apart easily.

Easily Dried or Preserved

I’ve heard from many people that they don’t like being given flowers because they just die. This is true that cut flowers are destined to dry up, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If you are considering a cut flower garden for yourself, plant flowers that will continue to look great even after drying out. I like to prioritize flowers that will hold their color well, as many flowers lose their vibrancy as they dry. These can then be used as wall decor or placed in a container of their own for display.

dried flowers


Fragrance is a tricky characteristic of a good cut flower. With this trait, it really depends on the type of flower. Some flowers are known for having a light and pleasant scent. For this reason, they are desirable. Other flowers have greater instances of people having an allergic reaction, or they are overpowering and unpleasant. For example, lavender is usually grown for its scent, but varies greatly in preference as some enjoy its aroma, while others have a variety of reactions to its scent and natural chemical properties.

After Cutting A Flower:

Cool to prevent aging. When cutting your flowers, it is important to minimize the amount of stress your blooms experience. Harvesting during the cool hours of the day and immediately place into fresh water. Be sure to only use clean buckets or containers. As a good rule of thumb, only use containers you would feel comfortable drinking water from.

Once a flower is cut, it can only access nutrients stored in the leaves and petals. The warmer the flower, the more nutrients it uses. To extend the life of your freshly cut blooms, store them in a cool environment. By reducing the rate at which it uses nutrients, the flower will keep its lively appearance allowing your arrangements to have a longer vase life. This is why florists store their arrangements in coolers until they are ready to be delivered.

Common Cut Flowers for a Home Garden

This list includes flowers that are often included in cut arrangements that can easily be grown in your home garden. Among these are a mix of flowers with tall and short stems that can be mixed for a variety of container arrangements.

Ashleigh Smith's photo

I'm Ashleigh Smith, a native to Northern Utah. I first gained a love of gardening with my grandmother as I helped her each summer. I decided to make a career of it and have recently graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University - Idaho. My studies have focused on plant production while I also have experience in Nursery & Garden Center Operations.


Abby Shook

Interested in hearing more about which flowers dry out the best! I had a small cut flower garden last year, and plan to expand it this year! I hated cutting them though, because the beauty of them out there was so peaceful

Haley H.

I am glad I found this. I like having a list to start with since I am wanting to start a cut flowers garden this year.