Designing a flower garden layout can be a daunting task, but you can create a beautiful and functional garden that will provide you with fresh flowers all season long with a few simple tips.
When planning your cut flower garden, the first thing to consider is how much sun and shade your garden will get and any other goals you have for the garden, such as attracting pollinators or focusing on companion planting. From there, you’ll start selecting which flowers you want to grow.
There are numerous layouts for a cut flower garden, each reflecting the specific growing conditions and preferred flowers of the location and gardener.
This blog post will inspire you with three different ideas for layouts that you can try in your own garden, plus provide you with a few essential things to keep in mind through the process of designing your own.
Here is a sneak peek of each sample layout. I provide all the details about each one right after I share tips with you for getting started.
Tips for designing a cut flower garden layout
Designing your garden layout can be both fun and rewarding. There are many different ways to plan and organize your cutting garden. Still, the key to success boils down to these points: keep your garden space simple and easy to care for, and select flowers that are not only beautiful but that can also grow in your climate and garden conditions.
Let’s dig in (pun not intended!) to those points a little further.
Start small. You can always add more later
If this is your first cut flower garden, or any garden, for that matter, it will pay off big time to start small. You can always expand your garden in future years, but trying to do too much at once is a common gardening mistake.
Plan out a small garden bed or two that you can maintain with just an hour or two of work per week to maximize your chances of a productive and enjoyable gardening year. For most gardeners, even new ones, you can do this with a garden of 20-30 square feet.
That amount of space will provide you with 2-3 small garden beds or a collection of containers and planters. Once the busy time of spring planting has passed, they won’t require much maintenance beyond occasional weeding, weekly watering, and regular harvesting.
Let your garden site guide your layout design
Where you place your garden is almost as important as what you plant in it. You’ll want to take into account the amount of sun and shade your chosen plants will need, prevailing winds, access to water, and any preexisting structures or features that might influence your decision.
The results of your observation will significantly influence how you design your garden space and what flowers you choose to include.
For example, if your garden gets full sun for most of the day then you want to be sure to choose plants that can tolerate the heat. On the other hand, if most of your yard falls under the shade of a large tree, select flowers that can produce useable blooms in only partial sun.
Start with easy-to-grow flower varieties
Not all flowers are created equal, and not all plants are easy to grow. It’s important to start your cut flower garden with varieties you know you can successfully cultivate.
There are many easily-grown annuals and perennials that will give you plenty of blooms for cutting throughout the season.
Some of my favorites include sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, marigolds, basil, black-eyed Susans, and salvia. You’ll see how to incorporate these flowers into the sample layouts in this article, but even if you freestyle your own cutting garden, these are some great flowers to include, no matter the design.
Focus on cut and come again flowers for continuous blooms.
Some flowers are one and done flowers, such as single-stem sunflowers. You sow them in the garden in May, and they’ll be blooming by the end of July. Once you cut them, they’ll need to be replanted.
To avoid gaps in your flower productions, make sure to include at least a few types of cut and come again flowers, which are repeat bloomers and will keep you supplied with blooms when your one and done flowers are…well, done.
Cut and come again flowers are the best bang for your buck plants in any garden. Get more details on these powerhouses in this article, Cut and Come Again Flowers: What Are They And Which Should You Grow?
Plant a flower such as cosmos, and they’ll continue to bloom until the first frost. This type of flower can handle repeat cuttings, and rather than falter under the continued harvests; it actually promotes the production of flowers.
Planning a cut flower garden layout
With those guiding principles in mind, it’s time to look at a few different garden layouts to find inspiration. Reference the list of flowers for each garden scenario to see what makes sense for your space.
You can use these examples as shown, or you can tweak them to use more of your favorite flowers.
All suggested flowers are easy to start from seed, whether you direct sow or start seeds indoors. If you do want to start seeds to transplant in the garden, here is a complete resource to get you started: Step-By-Step Guide To Starting Seeds Indoors (Plus a sample setup).
You’ll have to decide how many of each plant you want to grow based on the space you have available. Each sample garden below shows 6-8 different flowers, but this shows you how I would layout the bed. It doesn’t reference any particular bed size or spacing.
When growing flowers specifically for cut flowers, you can pack them in more tightly than when you grow them in the landscape. In general, cut flowers are planted nine inches apart, so you’ll have to do some math to figure out how many flowers you can fit into your space.
Once you have your flowers picked out and have some ideas for creating your layout, jump over to these articles for more about the planning and planting process.
Cutting garden layout for a sunny garden
A cutting garden designed for full sun will yield vigorous growth and robust plants that will produce lots of flowers throughout the season.
Sun-loving flowers such as sunflowers, cosmos, and zinnias will reach their peak height with 8+ hours of sun per day, so you might even need to stake the plants to prevent damage by strong wind or summer rain.
Tall plants such as cosmos and sunflowers should take up the back row of the flower bed to prevent them from casting shade on the rest of the garden. Shorter plants such as basil and scabiosa can be in the front to get full sun exposure.
Cosmos are native to Mexico and the southeastern US, so planting them in a sunny cutting garden will result in large, bushy plants to harvest from.
Zinnias are so easy to grow from seed – just pop them in the soil after the risk of frost has passed, and they’ll bloom all summer long if you keep them deadheaded.
Strawflowers are a fun addition to any cutting garden. The blooms have an everlasting quality to them, and they add texture and interest in arrangements.
Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena)
If you’re looking for something a little different, try globe amaranth. The blooms are small, but they make up for it in quantity. They’re perfect for dried arrangements since they hold their color and shape well.
Basil isn’t typically thought of as a cutting flower, but it can be used in arrangements and makes a great border plant. It’s also useful if you want to attract pollinators to your garden.
Scabiosa is a beautiful cut flower with delicate blooms. It’s perfect for adding texture to arrangements.
Black eyed Susan
Another favorite of mine for the cutting garden is black eyed Susan. The blooms are large and come in a variety of colors, so you can find one that will match your style.
I wrote a series of articles on black eyed Susans, including this one: Growing Black Eyed Susan From Seed: Q&A and How To Start.
Last but not least, sunflowers are a must in any cutting garden. Considering that “sun” is right in the name, it’s a no-brainer to include sunflowers in a full-sun cutting garden. They’ll practically grow themselves.
Cutting garden layout for a shady garden
Not all of us are blessed with a yard that is bathed in sunlight all day. Sometimes the garden gets only half a day’s worth of direct sun, but that is still enough to grow a range of cut flowers. You just need to be more selective when choosing varieties.
For a full write-up on growing cut flowers in the shade, be sure to reference this article: Can Cut Flowers Grow In Part Shade? (Yes! Try These 9 Types).
Black eyed Susan
Even though black eyed Susans prefer full sun, they will still produce many flowers when grown in part sun, especially brown eyed Susan (rudbeckia triloba).
Salvia is a beautiful cut flower that does well in partial shade. Spikes of flowers add height and interest to the border of the garden and bouquets.
Calendula is a great flower to grow in the shade. It’s easy to care for, and the flowers are cheerful and brightly colored. Calendula is somewhat frost-hardy, so it’ll probably be one of the longest-surviving flowers in your garden.
Honeywort is a lesser-known cut flower that does well in shady areas. The blooms are inobtrusive and appear at the end of a leaf-covered branch. The blooms are purple and attract loads of bees.
Foxgloves are perfect for a shady cutting garden. They add height and drama with their tall spires of blooms. Foxgloves are also ideal for low-maintenance gardens since they drop their seeds freely and replant themselves.
Pansies are a classic choice for shady gardens. They come in a wide range of colors, and they’re one of the first flowers to bloom in spring. Pansies will often all season if you keep them deadheaded. They’ll probably sit dormant through the heat of summer, but as long as you keep them watered, they’ll perk back up in the fall.
Cutting garden layout for a companion-planted vegetable garden
If you’ve only ever grown vegetables in your garden, but you want to explore growing cut flowers for yourself, then this is the layout for you (and my personal favorite).
I love mixing flowers and vegetables for the best use of space, increasing the number of pollinators and beneficial insects I see in the garden. The ability to not only grow food in my garden but also beauty is another big win.
This sample layout shows how to build a flower bed within your vegetable garden, with all the flowers planted in one area.
If you want to experiment with planting certain flowers with your vegetables to get specific benefits, then try interspersing a flower or two between your vegetable plants in the same bed.
Bright orange and yellow flowers perk up the garden, and the petals can be used in salads or homemade salves and balms.
The queen of companion planting, marigolds are long-lasting cut flowers and are anecdotally said to repel many pests from the garden.
Big, happy blooms call bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to the garden to pollinate your veggies.
Large lily pad-shaped leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers brighten up any garden. Cut some leaves and flowers for the vase, and throw others in the salad bowl for a spicy treat.
Let some stems produce flowers for cutting and keep others producing leaves for kitchen use.
A favorite of pollinators and beneficial insects, cosmos are cheerful, low-maintenance cut flowers that add a bit of romance to the garden.
Bees love sunflowers, and the more bees near your vegetable garden, the better! Leave some flowers on the plant to go to seed and feed the birds with them in the fall.
The umbrella-shaped blooms are perfect landing pads for pollinators. The flowers are small, but they grow in clusters called umbrils, making them perfect for adding color and texture to bouquets.
Borage is another herb that makes a great addition to the cutting garden. The blooms are edible and make a pretty addition to arrangements. Some people like to make tea with the flowers.
So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your cut flower garden today! Once you have an idea of the layout and flowers you want to grow, it’s easy to get started.
No matter which plan you choose, just be sure to plant varieties that will thrive in your climate and garden conditions. With a little bit of planning, you can have a beautiful garden full of fresh flowers all season long.
For some perennial inspiration, check out this article: Beginner’s Guide To Planning A Perennial Cut Flower Garden