Get Blooms From A Small Space: Planning A Cut Flower Garden

small space mixed flower garden

Not everyone has a huge yard to fill with cut flowers. That includes me! I currently rent a house with a small yard, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to pack it full of cut flowers to use in my home. It does mean that I need to be thoughtful when designing my garden. What exactly goes into planning a cut flower garden for a small space?

When planning a cut flower garden for a small space, get creative to find the most space available and choose the best, most productive varieties for your climate. You’ll also need to plan ahead for the watering needs of the various flowers, the size of your plants, and the bloom times to take full advantage of your limited space.

First, let’s dive into accessing the space you have, no matter how small.

Make the most of every bit of space you have

This is where you may have to get creative. If you have a small backyard that has a bare patch of grass, it’ll be easier to get started and convert that to one main garden area. If you have a few random pockets throughout your yard, then you might have to design a few separate flower gardens. Those combined areas can provide the same square footage as a single designated cut flower garden patch.

flowers growing in small raised bed
Utilize containers to add more space to your yard when traditional beds won’t fit.

If you’re dealing with awkward-sized beds or grouping together pots to make your cut flower garden, choose the most appropriate plants for the space. For example, single stem sunflowers would be a poor choice for a pot. Those sunflowers would be better suited to a long, narrow bed on the side or back of your house. Then that pot would be a great home to a few zinnia plants that will grow in bushier and produce many blooms over the course of the summer.

If pots and planters are the way to make space for your garden, get some tips and flower recommendations in this article, 12 Cut Flowers To Grow In Containers (Plus tips for success).

Personally, I am cobbling together a few raised beds in my side yard, a bit of flower bed in the front yard, and a bunch of pots throughout. Even though I’m working with various planting areas, when put all together I can still squeeze in a decent amount of flowers that will provide me with fresh-cut blooms from spring until fall, as long as I plan accordingly.

Don’t let a lack of garden space slow you down! Get more tips here: 11 Hacks To Maximize Space In Your Small Garden.

Choose flowers that will produce abundant blooms

This is a key area of planning to make the most of a small space cut flower garden. There are some cut flowers that are considered “one and done,” while others are known as “cut and come again.” Understanding the difference will help you avoid wasting precious space in your small cut flower garden on plants that won’t be productive enough to justify the space they take up.

One and done cut flowers will produce one bloom per plant. Once that bloom has been harvested, the plant will not produce anymore and will need to be replaced with a new plant. Some examples of these types of cut flowers include single stem sunflowers, some celosias, and bupleurum.

To get a list of my favorite cut and come again flowers, bookmark this list: 10 Cut And Come Again Flowers That Are Easy To Grow.

If you want to be able to harvest these throughout your growing season, you’ll have to plan ahead to succession sow. This means that every two weeks or so you’ll put out new plants to replace the ones you’ll cut blooms from.

On the other hand, cut and come again flowers are the productive workhorses of the cut flower garden, especially in small spaces. These flowers love to have their blooms picked, and will continually send out more to replace the cut ones. You can get away with planting these flowers just once and enjoy their blooms all summer, both in the garden and in the home.

Examples of cut and come again flowers are cosmos, zinnias, basil, and foxgloves. Between the productiveness of the plants and the many varieties and colors available, you’ll have no shortage of fresh-cut flowers to decorate your kitchen counter.

Zinnias are an excellent cut and come again flower for the small space cutting garden.

By growing mostly cut and come again flowers you’ll get maximum production from your small space cut flower garden. If you have the room, flowers which will produce only one bloom are still worthwhile, just be sure to account for the succession sowing mentioned above if you want to have those blooms throughout the summer.

Keep the spacing & size of mature plants in mind

Planting for cut flower production requires much tighter spacing than traditional flower gardens. Instead of placing plants a foot or so apart, you’ll likely be putting most flowers about 9 inches apart. On the other hand, some plants mature to a larger size and will need up to 18 inches of space between plants.

Here are some of the ideal spacing for popular cut flowers. It’s especially important in a small space cut flower garden to use this spacing to fit in as many plants as possible.

single stem
zinniasbells of
black eyed Susan
The measurements indicate the inches needed between plants on all sides.

For even more detail about how to space your annual plants, be sure to read this post, How To Space Annuals For Cut Flower Production (With Chart).

As for mature height, most cut flowers you choose to grow will reach at least a couple of feet tall so you can harvest long stems. Taller plants can reach as high as five or six feet, so it’s important to think about your garden layout so that every plant gets its fair share of sunlight.

If you’re planting a new bed for your cut flowers, it’s easy to plan according to plant size and ideal spacing.

You can design your beds to have rows to accommodate the tighter spacing of cut flowers such as zinnias and scabiosa, while also leaving beds with larger spacing for bushier plants such as dahlias. Taller plants can be positioned at the back of the bed and shorter plants toward the front to avoid being shaded out.

Cut flower seedlings spaced 9 inches apart.
Nine inch spacing between plants is the most common for cut flowers

For planting into existing beds, such as a landscaped area, you’ll have to work between the mature plants. Plan to squeeze the taller or larger plants between shrubs or established perennials and plant the smaller cut flowers at the front of the bed. If you want to have cut flowers that need more space, it would be best to put those in a separate large pot, or a grouping of pots.

Group together flowers that have the same water and sunlight needs

To keep the plants in your small space cut flower garden growing well, they need to receive the proper amount of water and sunlight. Before even putting a plant in the ground, you can set them up for success with a little planning.

Some cut flowers prefer to have their soil on the drier side, and some are simply drought tolerant and are forgiving if you forget to water on a hot summer day. Some examples of these cut flowers include rudbeckia, yarrow, cosmos, and lavender. Of course, these plants will still need regular watering, but not necessarily as much as other types of flowers.

If you live in a drier area, or if you know there will be times during the summer that you’ll have to skip watering, make sure to plan ahead for that by planting some of the drought-tolerant flowers listed above. There’s no point in taking up valuable space in your small area with plants whose watering needs you won’t be able to meet.

Otherwise, just plan for regular watering of all your flower plants to help them really flourish and to maximize the potential of your small space.

As for sunlight, the vast majority of cut flowers just prefer full sun. While there are plenty of landscape flowers that don’t mind partial shade, to get the long stems and strong blooms of cut flowers, a standard 8 hours of sunlight per day are required. That makes it easy to plan for your entire small space garden to be located in the sunniest area of your yard.

If all you have is partial shade, check out this article for some suggestions of which cut flowers you can get away with planting: Can Cut Flowers Grow In Part Shade? (Yes! Try These 9 Types).

Plan ahead for continuous blooms

You don’t want to plant 10 different varieties of cut flowers, only to have them all bloom in July and nothing else. Instead, there are ways to plan out your garden to ensure that you have blooms from as early as May and as late as October.

Even in a small space, you could have a pot of sweet peas growing up a trellis to flower as soon as the weather warms. Follow those with a raised bed of zinnias to produce for all the summer months, and finally, harvest the fall blooms of cosmos and celosia to keep your vases full of flowers.

Here are a few cut flowers (out of many, many possibilities) that could produce blooms for all your vases from spring until the first frost of fall:

Sweet PeasSweet Peas
This chart can help you plan ahead for your season to make sure you always have something blooming.

Now plan your small space cut flower garden

With the above information in mind, you have the basics you need to make a plan. Choose a handful of cut and come again flowers that will bloom over numerous months. Find the sunniest spot you have, then make sure to space your plantings according to their mature size. Give everything a regular drink of water and you’ll be on your way to a season full of countertop vases from your small space!

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