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 blooms to use in my home. The small space means I need to be thoughtful when planning my flower garden.

To plan 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.

Key takeaways

  • Use every bit of space you can find: raised beds, containers, hanging baskets
  • Grow cut and come again varieties to get the most flowers in the smallest space
  • Use tighter spacing than normal for the most flowers
  • Group plants together with the same growing requirements to keep everything thriving

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Make the most of every bit of space you have

Challenge yourself to think outside the box. Or, in this case, the garden bed.

A big garden plot is awesome, but if you don’t have the space for that, you can still grow plenty of flowers. Try some combination of:

  • Raised beds
  • Containers and pots
  • Hanging baskets
  • Side yard
  • Sidewalk strip
  • In-ground garden beds

Getting started with the space you have is the most important step. Combine a few different areas, and you’ll end up with the same square footage as a single designated cut flower garden patch.

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. 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.

toddler watering garden pots
My garden is a mix of raised beds, pots, and in-ground growing.

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.

Some of the best flowers to grow in containers that will produce tons of stems include:

  • Zinnias
  • Cosmos
  • Scabiosa
  • Salvia
  • Nasturtiums
  • Calendula

There are plenty more to choose from. If you have a pot large and deep enough, you can grow almost any flower.

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).

Choose cut and come again flowers for the most blooms

To really hedge your bets on production, plant cut and come again flowers. These types of flowers are the workhorses of the cut flower garden, especially in small spaces.

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

Cut and come again 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.

On the other hand, some flowers are considered “one and done,” meaning that they produce one bloom per plant. Once that bloom has been harvested, the plant will not produce anymore and will need to be replaced.

Some examples include single stem sunflowers, some celosias, and bupleurum.

Understanding the difference will help you avoid wasting precious space in your small garden on plants that won’t be productive enough to justify the space they take up.

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

Plan your layout according to the size of mature plants

Cut flower production requires much tighter spacing than traditional flower gardens. Instead of placing plants a foot or more apart, you’ll get more blooms by planting 6-9 inches apart.

The exception is for larger plants such as dahlias and cosmos, which will need up to 18 inches of space between plants.

These are the industry standards of flower farmers when spacing out plants in their gardens. It looks a lot different than what you’re probably used to, but remember that you’ll be harvesting frequently, keeping the plants smaller than if left untouched in the landscape.

6×69×912×1218×18
single stem
sunflowers
zinniasbells of
Ireland
dahlias
sweet peassnapdragonscosmoseucalyptus
marigoldstaticescabiosabranching
sunflowers
staticeblack-eyed Susanbasil
9×9 is the most common cut flower spacing, but there is variance on either side.

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).

Most cut flowers will grow at least a couple of feet tall, producing long stems that are ideal for arrangements. 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.

For new garden beds

  • Design your beds with rows to accommodate the tighter spacing of cut flowers such as zinnias and scabiosa. Leave some beds with larger spacing for bushier plants such as dahlias.
  • Taller plants should be positioned at the back of the bed, and shorter plants toward the front to avoid being shaded out.

For existing beds

It’s easy to plant into a landscaped area. You’ll just have to work between the mature plants.

  • Situate taller or larger plants between shrubs or established perennials.
  • Plant smaller-sized flowers at the front of the bed.
  • Larger flowers such as dahlias need more space, so it would be best to put those in a separate large pots, or a grouping of pots.

Danielle of Northlawn Flower Farm has an excellent video about planting into landscaping that I learned a lot from:

Group together flowers that have the same water and sunlight needs

The proper amount of water and sunlight will be one of the biggest factors in your garden’s success. In general, full sun and regular water will take care of all your flowers.

But if you don’t have those ideal conditions, the following tips will keep your garden growing well, regardless.

Watering needs

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 low-water cut flowers include:

  • Black-eyed Susan (rudbeckia)
  • Yarrow
  • Cosmos
  • Lavender

If you know there will be times during the summer when you’ll have to skip watering, plan ahead 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, regular water for all your flower plants will help them flourish and maximize the potential of your small space.

Sunlight needs

The vast majority of cut flowers prefer full sun. To get the long stems and strong blooms of cut flowers, a standard 8 hours of sunlight per day are required.

Some flowers will tolerate partial shade, but be prepared to get fewer stems from your plants. The less sun the plants get, the less energy they will have to pump out the blooms. Doens’t mean you can’t still enjoy your fresh bouquets, though!

If your garden space is in 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:

MayJunJulyAugSept.Oct.
Sweet PeasSweet Peas
Bachelor
Buttons
Bachelor
Buttons
FoxgloveFoxglove
AmmiAmmiAmmiAmmi
SnapdragonSnapdragonSnapdragonSnapdragon
YarrowYarrowYarrowYarrow
CosmoCosmoCosmoCosmo
ZinniaZinniaZinniaZinnia
This chart can help you plan ahead for your season to make sure you always have something blooming.

Learn more

You now have the basics you need to make a plan, but a few more resources will help fill in any gaps. Here are my most popular articles to keep your planning going strong:

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