Flowers are a wonderful way to add beauty and life to any garden, and they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and of course, colors. But not every flower is meant to be the star of the show. Some flowers are better suited for playing a supporting role – acting as filler plants to add interest and depth to the garden display and bouquet.
Filler flowers provide background color and texture, and they lend much of the bulk of a bouquet. You can also use them to fill in around other plants, making the garden look more finished and well-planned.
The list of filler flower possibilities is vast, but your best bet is to start small with just a handful of varieties. The ones on this list are some of my favorite filler flowers that are easy to grow from seed, so they’re a great place to start.
|Cosmos||open, airy flowers with delicate stems|
|Bachelor’s Button||small, tufted flowers on shrubby plants|
|Calendula||open, daisy-like flowers in vibrant colors|
|Zinnia||various flower shapes and colors|
|Statice||compact row of flowers on sturdy stems|
|Yarrow||umbrella-shaped blooms with ferny leaves|
|Snapdragon||tall spikes of blooms around a center stalk|
|Scabiosa||small, pincushion shaped flowers|
|Sweet Pea||small, delicate blooms on vines|
Keep reading for more details about each flower and a picture to inspire you!
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What is considered a filler flower?
Filler flowers are not typically the focal point of a garden or bouquet. They are usually smaller than the focal flower and sometimes even dainty. Filler flowers typically have a uniform shape and complementary color and add interest and depth to a display.
Sometimes greenery, or foliage, is even used as filler for a bouquet. Technically these are two different things (which you can read about in this article, What’s The Difference Between Foliage & Filler For Bouquets?). Still, whether you use filler flowers or foliage, the goal is to add volume, texture, and color to the bouquet.
A few of the most popular filler flowers to grow include bells of Ireland, bachelor’s buttons, cosmos, and bee balm. Some produce tall stalks, like a snapdragon, while others produce many flowers on one stem, such as phlox.
Some types are easier to start from seed than others, and for this article, we’re just going to focus on those that are easy to sow. Even if this is your first year planting a garden, you’ll be able to grow your own beautiful flowers successfully.
Why you should grow filler flowers
You probably don’t need much convincing to grow any particular flower in the garden, but if you do, here are a few reasons why filler flowers should be on your list:
Add shapes, sizes, and colors to a garden or bouquet
Flowers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and this is especially true of filler flowers. For example, cosmos are a popular filler flower that produces one flower per stem. Other fillers produce a spray of smaller, dainty flowers such as phlox. Then there are spikes such as snapdragons that add height to any garden or bouquet.
Provide background color and texture
Some filler flowers, such as those mentioned above, have a distinctive color that adds depth and interest to a display. But even those filler flowers with more subtle colors can help to create a cohesive look in the garden or bouquet.
Fill in around other plants in the garden
In the garden, filler flowers can help add interest between plants with larger blooms, like dahlias and sunflowers. It’s an easy way to avoid bare patches of soil or having blooms for only one month of the summer.
Lend much of the bulk of a bouquet
In a bouquet, filler flowers can help to fill in the gaps between more dominant flowers, which is especially important if you’re using a limited number of flowers and want the bouquet to look fuller.
Filler flowers that are easy to grow from seed
On to the list! Here are nine filler flowers that are great for beginners, either starting them from seed indoors or sowing them directly in the garden.
Cosmos flowers are beautiful filler flowers and are easy to grow from seed. Cosmos have open, airy flowers that sway gently in the wind, adding movement to the garden. Some of the most common colors include pink, red, white, and yellow, complementing many other types of flowers.
In the bouquet, they add a fairy-like effect with their delicate blooms. They’re also a main attraction for bees and butterflies. The green leaves are also usable in the vase, and many flower farmers refer to them as one of their favorite foliage for design work. It turns cosmos flowers into double-duty producers!
To grow cosmos flowers, sow the seeds directly into the ground after all danger of frost has passed. You can start the seeds indoors to get blooms a few weeks sooner. Read more about how to do that in this article, Easy Steps To Plant Cosmos Seeds, Indoors and Out.
2. Bachelor’s Button
Bachelor buttons, also known as cornflowers, are small, tufted blooms that grow on shrubby plants. The most common varieties produce blue flowers, but others produce pink, purple, and white blooms. The flowers are about 1 inch in diameter, and the array of petals almost makes them look feathered.
The plants can get tall and bushy, so make sure to leave enough room for this flower. If it gets too overgrown after a couple of months of production and it becomes difficult to harvest stems, don’t be afraid to pull it out and either plant a new bachelor’s button or replace it with something else.
To grow bachelor’s buttons, sow the seeds directly into the ground after all danger of frost has passed. They will grow in full sun and reach 3-5 feet tall. Bachelor’s buttons make a beautiful addition to a wildflower garden, attracting many pollinators.
Calendula, also known as pot marigold, is a brightly colored flower blooming all summer long. It comes in shades of orange, yellow, and gold. The flowers are about 2 inches in diameter, and they make an excellent background for white and cream-colored focal flowers.
Calendulas are best sown directly into the garden. You can plant the seeds a few weeks before the last frost or wait until the weather has warmed a bit. They will grow in full sun or partial shade and reach about 12 inches tall.
Zinnias earn their title as a workhorse of the garden, and for a good reason. These popular garden flowers are easy to grow and are generally prolific bloomers, which is excellent when you need a lot of filler flowers.
They come in various colors, from lime green to rust to white. Some of the most popular varieties for cutting are semi-double and double flowers, which give you a lot of blooms for your buck.
To grow zinnias, sow the seeds directly into the ground after all danger of frost has passed. You can also start seeds indoors a few weeks before the last frost, but many flower gardeners find that direct-sown seeds often catch up with the ones started early indoors.
They need full sun to grow their best and range in height from one to four feet for cutting varieties. Read more about zinnia height in this article, How Tall Do Zinnias Grow? (Popular varieties compared).
Statice, also known as sea lavender, is an outstanding cut flower and dried flower. The plants have stiff, upright stems and combs of small, star-shaped flowers in blue, purple, white, yellow, and more. This year I’m growing Seeker White, which produces white flowers that I can mix with just about any other flower in my garden.
The blooms are also excellent dried flowers with sturdy stems, so save some for dried floral arrangements.
To grow statice, start seeds indoors about six weeks before the last frost date. Once they’re mature enough to transplant, plant them in full sun for the most robust growth.
Yarrow has large, umbrella-shaped blooms that attract hordes of pollinators to the garden. Even if you never pick any for bouquets, it’s worth growing yarrow for its beauty in the garden and its ability to attract bees, ladybugs, lacewings, butterflies, and more to its delicate flowers.
You can find varieties in various colors, from yellow to white to pink.
To grow yarrow, start seeds indoors about a month before planting out or sow seeds directly into the flower garden. Once established, yarrow can be drought-tolerant, though it will produce the most flowers with regular water.
Yarrow dries very well, so save any extras for decorating fall wreaths or creating dried floral designs.
Snapdragons get their name from the way the petals curl backward, looking a bit like a dragon’s mouth. Their shape adds great variety to the garden since they grow upright on spikes. Snapdragons come in many shades, including pink, red, orange, yellow, and white, and some varieties have multiple colors on each petal.
Snapdragons will bloom from early spring to mid-summer, after which they’ll take a break in the summer heat. Some varieties for cutting stay relatively short at 18 inches, while others grow to three feet tall, so find a variety that works best for your garden space.
Snapdragon seeds are tiny, so it’s best to start them indoors about eight weeks before your last spring frost. The plants are cold-tolerant, so you can transplant them in very early spring.
Scabiosa, also known as pincushion flower, are a favorite of bees and butterflies. They come in shades of pink, lavender, white, and many others. They have a puffy center surrounded by small, rounded petals. Some varieties create seed pods that dry well and add interest to bouquets.
These flowers are effortless to start from seed, and they’ll supply you with loads of filler blooms until late summer. They grow best in full sun to part shade and reach a height of around 18 inches.
9. Sweet Pea
I saved (one of) the best for last. Sweet peas are one of my all-time favorite flowers. They have a delicate sweetness about them and an intoxicating fragrance that fills the garden with delight.
There are so many sweet pea varieties to choose from in just about every color. You can grow varieties of just one color, a mix of colors, or some varieties even have variegated petals with multiple colors on them.
Sweet peas are an excellent choice for small gardens because they need to grow vertically up a trellis. If you have a small garden, I have more tips for you in this article, Get Blooms From A Small Space: Planning A Cut Flower Garden.
To grow them, plant seeds directly in the garden in early spring. The plants can handle some cold weather, so don’t be afraid to start them early.
Include some filler flowers in your backyard cutting garden
If you’re new to gardening, start easy by choosing 3-5 flowers from this list. Try to include some different blooms shapes to round out your flower bouquets. For example, have a tall snapdragon, a round zinnia, a cluster of bachelor buttons, and some elegant stems of cosmos for a variety of beautiful blooms to choose from.
If you’re interested in learning more about getting started with these easy-to-grow filler flowers, be sure to read this article on planning your cut flower garden: How To Plan A Cut Flower Garden: Beginner’s Guide. In it, you’ll find information on how to plan for a variety of flowers that will provide plenty of blooms for your bouquets all summer long.