A list of the best cut flowers for home gardeners to grow from seed, bulbs, tubers and plants plus some tips about each including which dry and which you can collect seeds from easily!
I’ve been writing a lot of ‘the best’ posts lately. But there’s some things I get asked about so often and I respond with !!!! to those messages, but you just can’t get ALL the information into a DM. So I’m writing this post as a resource for those of you who are looking to grow some cut flowers in your yard to bring some joy into your home decor year round! Yes… year round!
Whether you’re brand new to cut flower gardening (I was a year ago!) or feel like you have a good handle on a few and would like to add some more, this list of cut flowers and an overview of what they’re great for will be helpful for you to plan your own cut flower garden for years to come! You can see a bit more about how I started last year in this vlog if you’re interested.
If it’s not clear yet, I’m not an expert. But I have put in a ton of time to research and have seen some great success so far and want to share that with you! This guide is an easy to read snapshot of all my favourite varieties to grow…. so far ;)
For reference, I live in a Zone 6a region. We get wintery winters and hot summers so in the past 12 months we’ve experienced colder than -30 and hotter than 47 degrees celsius.
If you’d rather learn about arranging flowers, I do have a full video on that as well! Check out my arranging flowers video here.
If you’re looking for more information on growing cut flowers, I’ve found these books really helpful. I know there’s 1000s of videos and blog posts out there, but I enjoy a good physical book while I sip my coffee. The Floret Farms ones are SO informative, I really can’t recommend them enough! Floret’s Cut Flower Garden book and Floret’sDiscovering Dahlias Book (affiliate links) are packed full of beautiful pictures and helpful information. The Flower Garden book is great if you’re just starting growing from seeds at home although it’s not specific to cut flowers!
I’ve organized these into how they are usually grown- from a plant, bulb or tuber, or by seed.
Which Cut Flowers are BEst to Grow from Seed
This is another one of my top two favourite flowers to grow! I grew two varieties and I ordered another couple to try this year. Last year I grew Black Knight Scabiosa and Fama White Scabiosa. These are also known as pincushion flowers and grow well from seed. They are an annual and a cut and come again flower. After you plant them out, make sure you mark where you plant them because they definitely look like a weed at first and I pulled more than one on accident.
The Black Knight Scabiosa was a prolific bloomer for me. It bloomed both in full sun and in full shade. It had blooms on top of blooms and the stems were long and sturdy. They also went to seed and were very easy to collect seeds of.
The Fama White Scabiosa were incredible… like, so pretty. But they didn’t bloom nearly as much and I wasn’t able to save seeds from them (I didn’t want to leave the few blooms I did get on the plant that long). Next year I will plant more of these since I loved the handful that I got so much.
Cosmos are another one that come in so many varieties. I’ve grown chocolate cosmos from corms/bulbs before and loved those, but most of the cosmos I’ve grown for cutting are grown from seed and larger flowers and plants. This year I grew both Rubenza and Double Click White Cosmos. The plants were much larger than I expected but the blooms were constant and the flowers lasted nicely in vases. They prefer full sun, the ones I tried in shade didn’t grow well. They are annuals and I was able to collect seed for next year!
These were such a surprise for me! Amaranthus is actually a grain but it looks crazy beautiful in bouquets and arrangements as a filler and it dries wonderfully too. I had more than I could possibly use so was giving it away in armfuls. Each seed can produce a giant plant- I think I could have harvested more when they were smaller to curb the size, but many of mine got taller than I am! Pinching benefits these plants as well to encourage branching and it gives you more flower heads that are a bit more manageable in arrangements. I grew two varieties- Red Spike Amaranthus and Coral Fountain Amaranthus. They were both so beautiful for different reasons. The Coral fountain trailed out of arrangements and grows on bright, light green stems and the red spike added some height with those deep red leaves we love for autumn decor. You can see them both in action in this tablescape.
These are easy to grow from seed both started early and direct planted. I actually had better production from the direct seeded plants (I tested both). It was easy to collect these seeds as well! Next on my list to try is Love Lies Bleeding.
Zinnias are the flower that got me hooked on growing from seed. My son asked if we could buy a packet of seeds at the grocery store and for under $3 I said, ‘why not!’. We threw them in the gardens late June and I was pleasantly surprised to have an almost endless supply of brightly coloured zinnias for my home and everyone that came to visit me that summer. They are a cut and come again flower so cut them and you’ll grow more on the same plant.
They are easy to grow from seed, hardy in heat, love full sun and come in so many brightly coloured varieties. You can collect seeds from them yourself to sustain this supply for years to come. This year I’ve ordered a new to me variety – Zinderella Peach! Before cutting, make sure that they’re ready by giving them a wiggle. If they wiggle freely, they’re not ready. When the become a bit more stiff, you can cut them and they’ll last in vases at least a week! These are annuals.
Strawflower is not the most lush garden flower you’ve ever seen but they’re beautiful in arrangements… and most impressively they’re stunning dried flowers. They hold their colour once dried and can be used in arrangements year round. I’ve had dried strawflowers in my arrangements since the last of my fresh blooms died off in the fall. I have a post about drying flowers for your home decor right here if your’e interested. These are another one that grow really well in full sun and loved the hot summer. They grow from seed and are really easy to collect seeds from for yourself. The variety I grew is called ‘Silvery Rose’ but they’re very pink. I ordered white ones this year! These are annuals.
Snapdragons are really common in garden as they can be grown as a perennial. Really, what you’re doing is letting your snapdragons go to seed and next year the new plant grows, a self seeding annual. Cut flower snap dragon varieties grow with longer stems and to keep the colours that you originally planted, you will want to grow them as annuals.
You can order so many beautiful varieties but I’m loving the Chantilly, Madam Butterfly and Pontomac varieties. These are great because they also tend to produce multiple stems of flowers per plant so you can be cutting for weeks if not months. Just make sure to pinch them when they are small to encourage branching. If you have a very hot summer like we did last year, your colours wont be true to what you purchased- the sun bleached my snapdragons more than any other flower. That said, they didn’t die back while many others did!
Celosia is similar to Amarathus to me- they’re both plumes of sorts instead of typical flowers. There are so many varieties that I’d love to try, but the only one I’ve grown so far is Celosia Celway Terrecotta. These are sun loving annuals you grow from seed that produce little spikes of blooms that are a few inches each. You definitely should start these ones early if you have a shorter growing season like we do. They dry beautifully for year round arrangements. I grew mine in the shade and ended up with only a few blooms at the very end of season. Next year I will try sun as recommended.
I only tried one variety of aster and they were stunning. I grew King Size Apricot China Asters and wow, they were beautiful cut, lasting so long in vases. These weren’t as heat resistant as some of the other varieties, we had an extreme heat wave last summer. Since these bloom towards the end of the growing season, some of the plants that had been burnt didn’t produce great. The others produced the most beautiful blooms. While China Asters aren’t cut and come again flowers, I did find that each plant gave me a generous handful of blooms! These are annuals, but I wasn’t able to collect seeds from these easily.
Poppies were always one of my dad’s favourite flowers, but they just don’t keep well in vases. Or at least I didn’t THINK they did. Reading Floret’s cut flower garden book this year I learned I just need to sear the ends of the cut stems either in boiling water or by flame, then they will last way longer. I’m so excited to try it as I grew so many lovely varieties last year. These are another full sun lover, but they did bleach out from the extreme heat we had last summer. These ones are so simple to grow, just spread them on your soil in the spring and water regularly. They’re easy to save seeds from too, just wait until the seed head pops and sprinkle the seeds out to store for next spring. While poppies are annuals, they’re again self seeding so will often come back year after year even without your help.
Orlaya is often called lace flower and is a delicate flowered filler. The variety I’ve grown successfully is called ‘White Finch’ and it’s so beautiful and hardy. It is an annual that grows from seed and although it prefers full sun, it doesn’t love extreme heat. I planted it in part shade to full shade since we get very hot and it’s one of the few cut flowers that flourished in the shade for me. These can be dried but I didn’t love the look of mine dried, I might try again next year though. These ones were also very easy to collect seeds from.
Feverfew or matricaria is an adorable spray flower (small blooms on the plant, many to a stem) that look like little daisies. They are easy to grow from seed, I just scattered these in my shade garden and was excited to see them pop up and produce all season long. Feverfew does prefer full sun, but I’m working with what I have for garden space ;) They can be dried although I haven’t tried myself and the seeds can be saved.
Dusty miller is a leafy filler with uniquely light green leaves that are almost fuzzy. I grew these in my shade garden successfully last year (start them early) but they do prefer full sun.
Bunny Tail Grasses
Bunny tail grasses are so dang cute. They’re little pom poms of sandy coloured grass that are perfectly whimsical in fall arrangements and dry really well for use year round. I love them on my table for spring (hello, the name is bunny tails!). These were really simple to grow and you get a heap of seeds in a packet. you start them early and then just let them grow! They love full sun and depending on which packet you get I understand they could be annual or perennial.
Broom Corn Millet
This is a grass I grew accidentally last year. I was sent the wrong packet of seeds and fell in love with this variety for fall arrangements. I dried some and am still enjoying the unique texture in my dried arrangements. These ones I direct seeded in full sun and watered regularly. It survived our extreme heat, but it does look a little like a weed of a grass until it grows the seed heads.
Basil + Mint
Herbs can be a lovely filler as well! Plus, their scent is so beautiful. I was surprised to see several of the herbs I was already growing in containers for cooking in the cut flower seed shops. I’ve doubled down on basil (grown from seed, an annual in our climate) and given my mint a bigger pot so I can enjoy these not just in the kitchen but also in bouquets. Basil has so many different varieties, I love the darker leaved varieties as filler. While you can start these early, I’ve always just sprinkled them out in my pots of soil with success.
I’m adding this here because I know it’s a favourite among so many gardeners. I grew bronze beauty calendula last year and just wasn’t wowed, the plants weren’t as tall as others and I found the colour of them less bronze and more creamy than I expected (possibly bleached out in the sun) so had a difficult time mixing them into arrangements I loved. They grew really easily though! Just pop them in the garden after the last frost and watch them grow! Each plant produces a lot of flowers too and they are easy to collect seeds from.
Which Cut flowers are best to grow from plants
Hydrangeas are a garden staple, but they’re totally wonderful cut flowers too. You buy hydrangeas in a plant and there’s SO many different varieties. We bought ours at the end of the season (october) for clear out pricing and the next summer enjoyed a bush full of blooms. These are nice and easy since they are perennials so you can plant it once and if cared for, enjoy so many years of blooms from this investment! Limelight is a prolific bloomer with giant white heads full of little bright white to almost lime green flowers, but my favourite variety is paniculata hydrangeas… they start out white and as they mature turn a pink then a deep burgundy- magical! Hydrangeas also dry beautifully, so I’ve used them in my dried arrangements over the winter as well.
Forsythia is a blooming tree, we were lucky enough to inherit one when we moved into our current home, but it’s one of the plants I’d purchase for myself if we were to move. It’s one of the first plants to bloom in the spring and you’ll likely recognize them by their bright yellow bloom filled branches before even leaves have popped onto trees. The blooms fade and the branches fill with lush greenery which is perfect for filler. I love cutting handfuls of the blooms for vases full of branches in early spring, it’s the perfect welcome to the flowering season.
Our climate is perfectly suited for lilac trees. They come in trees and bushes and are so happy in our area that they grow wild over fences even with little care. You buy them as a plant and you’re rewarded with the most fragrant purple, pink or white flowering branches mid spring. Prune them once they’ve flowered before they set buds for the next year. It’s an investment of space more than time for this one. I love them for areas that are hard to grow almost anything else.
I know you’re used to seeing baby’s breath with roses at the grocery store, but it’s also so beautiful in a wild bouquet of garden blooms and even dried floral arrangements. I have a small plant I bought at the end of season and it’s been a hardy perennial for me with little care. It also goes by Gypsophila and is available as seeds as well although I haven’t tried that so can’t vouch for it!
Purple Fountain Grass
Purple fountain grass is an ornamental grass that I love in our landscape for curb appeal, but they also make such a fun feathery accent in floral arrangements in late summer and fall. They don’t dry all that well as they tend to fall apart. I collected seeds from these only to realize the seeds from purple fountain grass are not ones you can plant, they won’t grow! Last year, I did buy this in a plant and will have to do that again! Again, they love full sun and are an annual so you will need to replant each year.
These are another one of my top picks! I’m in LOVE with hellebores. They bloom well in the shade which I can’t say for most of the cut flower varieties I’ve tried and they start blooming with the earliest spring flowers and continue blooming into the early summer. They also last incredibly long in a vase. I’ve only grown a few varieties that I picked up on clearance, but have collected 4 of those pretty quickly because they are such a great use of my shade garden. They were one of the first cut flowers I got hooked on, long before I tried seeds. You buy it as a plant and they come back year after year as a perennial. No special care here!
Which Cut flowers to grow from bulbs, tubers and corms
I know it’s not right to pick favourites, but if I had to… Dahlias would be top two for sure. Dahlias are available in so many varieties you might mistake some for peonies and some for anemones. Dahlias are typically grown from tubers which is kind of like growing from root or bulb. You plant them in the spring and in colder climates like mine, you need to dig them up in the fall after a couple hard frost days to store the tuber. At this time you can divide them to end up with even more plants for next year. They love full sun, but I’ve grown some successfully in shade as well.
Dahlias come in every colour and size, from tiny ball dahlias to giant dinner plate dahlias. They come with uniform tight petals that look like a perfect flower ball to wild informal petals that are delicate and unique and they even come with little pom poms in the middle with uniform petals around the outside. There’s truly something for everyone.
What I love about these is that they start blooming in… July? June? And will continue blooming until your first hard frost. I’ve been enjoying them at our thanksgiving dinners for years (Canadian Thanksgiving is in October). They are a cut and come again flower so the more you cut, the more you get. They just don’t stop pumping out the blooms.
You can also grow them from seed but this will be a cross breed of some kind, the only way to guarantee your variety is to grow from a cutting or tuber. I did try to collect my own seeds this past year, but it wasn’t as simple as some of the other varieties I mentioned here. I’ll try again next year.
Calla lilies were new to me last year, again just picked up a couple plants on clearance late season but they are typically ordered online as bulbs. I was so impressed with not just how they bloomed but how long each stem lasted in arrangements. I got weeks out of each of them! Like dahlias, you dig these up after frost and then plant them back in the garden in the spring. There’s so many colours, I love the almost black varieties- they feel modern and fresh even though it’s a classic wedding flower.
Anemones are such beautiful spring blooming flowers. They grow from corms and then you’ll need to dig them up so they don’t rot over the rest of the growing season. They do require a bit more upfront work than other cut flower varieties, but I honestly think they’re worth it. In the very early spring (end of winter), you soak them for 3-4 hours, then put them in a tray of soil to presprout for a couple weeks. Then you can plant them out. They love full sun.
Last year I grew the white anemones with black centres- I’m obsessed with the look of these. This year, I’ve ordered a variety of colours.
There are other types of anemones that are perennials. We have these beautifully dainty japanese anemones in our shade garden we inherited when we moved here. While they don’t last as long in the vase as other anemones, they definitely are beautiful and come en masse.
Ranunculus are grown very similarly to anemones. I soak mine and presprout them and plant them all at the same time. In the same trays. Ranunculus are such a popular flower for weddings, so you’ve likely seen them before! They’re also called persian buttercups and like anemones, you should dig them up after they die off so the corms don’t rot over the season. These also love full sun.
Last year I grew a pastel mix of ranunculus then also bought some plants of ranunculus from the grocery store when they blew them out because I couldn’t pass up $1 plants. This year I’ve ordered some beautiful wine coloured ones.
Who doesn’t love a fluffy peony? These come in so many different varieties and shades from white to pink to coral to red… and I now have most of them, picking them up on clearance at the end of season each year or jumping on garden clear outs from family members. You can buy them as a plant or order as a peony root to plant in the fall. They take a year or two to get consistent blooms from them, but once they’re settled and producing, you’ll enjoy years of blooms from this perennial flower. They bloom early spring and enjoy full sun.
I’ve never loved daffodils… until last year. I found the most beautiful varieties with double blooms and white or peachy colouring… I’m in love. There are so many more options than the bright yellow ones you’re used to seeing at the supermarket! My current favourite is Narcissus Flower Surprise.
Daffodil bulbs are more expensive than seeds so I’m building my collection one type each year for now. These bulbs are planted in the fall with tulips and are some of the first to bloom. They last very long in vases, but the sap from them can cause other plants to die quickly. Let them sit in clean water with just other daffodils for a couple after they’re cut before arranging them with other blooms.
What’s great about these is I can plant them where I will also be planting my plants I’m growing from seed. These grow before the last frost and since they die off before most plants get large, they are perfect to plant along side other varieties- great for us small space gardeners!
Tulips are treated very much like daffodils, they’re sold in bulbs and planted in the fall to bloom in the spring. They come in SO many varieties, again… not just the basic tulips you find at the grocery store! I love the parrot and the double varieties. Again, since they flower so early, you can plant these with the plants you start from seed and once they die off, cut them back and allow the other plant to take over the space.
These are perennials if you leave at least one leaf when you cut your flowers. If you’re cutting just for yourself and you’re growing in your yard- this is perfect. If you read about cut flower gardening, you’ll see that they’re treated as an annual. The entire bulb is dug up and stored in the cooler that way. The bulb is discarded and they plant new ones each year. If you want the longest possible stem and are growing them for production to sell… that’s probably what you’ll want to do, but if you’re like me and want to grow just for your kitchen (and your friends’ kitchens), leave a couple leaves on and watch them come back each year. This allows the plant to get nutrients from the sun back into the bulb to be ready to bloom again next year.
Flowers and Filler I am growing this year (haven’t succeeded at yet!)
- Eucalyptus (these ones you have to start suuuper early and I was a couple weeks late. Hoping they still grow!)
- Sunflower (these should be easy, but I put them out behind the fence and critters ate them last year. I’ll wait til they are bigger to transplant this year)
- Northern Sea Oats, Honeywort, Cress (all beautiful fillers! I’m going to try these in shade)
- Pampas Grass (you have to start very early in my climate but I’ll try it in my rock garden beside my driveway)
- Chocolate Lace Flower (I failed at these last year! The garden bed flooded and I lost any seedlings that were poking up)
- Bachelor Button
- Lisianthus (these ones you have to start suuuper early and I was a couple weeks late. Hoping they still grow!)
- Sweet Peas (the heat wave cooked my sweet peas before I got any blooms last year! I’m trying again though!)
- Purple Majesty Millet (I tried last year, but was sent the wrong kind of seed- ha!)
- Iris (I found a twice blooming iris in a champagne shade I’ve planted. There was a down season in the early spring and when I drove around, this is what I spotted blooming in yards!)
Whew! What a list, right?! It took me a while to write it out, but if we were to sit down and have coffee to talk which plants to start to enjoy cut flowers in your home year round… these are the plants I know we’d talk about. I’m definitely not an expert but between reading a lot and easing myself into things, I’m feeling confident sharing this with you! Let me know if you have questions and I’ll do my best to answer.