12 Cut Flowers To Grow In Containers (Plus Tips For Success)

peach snapdragon in pot

Few things in life are as simple and satisfying as a beautiful bouquet of fresh-cut flowers. And it’s easier than you think to grow your own cut flowers right at home. All you need is a pot, some soil, and a few plants suited for growing in containers.

You can find plenty of cut flower varieties that will thrive in containers, and with a bit of care and attention, you can have a steady supply of beautiful blooms to enjoy all season long.

Cut flowers can be grown easily in containers. They require good drainage, a high-quality potting mix with plenty of organic matter, and enough light. Some of the best cut flowers to grow in containers include zinnias, sweet peas, and dahlias. 

So if you’re looking for a way to create new garden space on your patio or balcony, here are some tips for growing cut flowers in containers, plus a few recommended flowers to try. 

How can I grow cut flowers in containers?

Growing flowers in containers is not only easy, but it’s quite rewarding, too. In addition to the satisfaction of having homegrown flowers to enjoy in your yard, you have easy access to fresh bouquets all summer long just by stepping outside. 

There are a few steps to getting your container cut flower garden set up for success. They include:

  • Choose large enough containers to support your flowers’ growth.
  • Find a high-quality potting mix high in organic matter to feed your flowers.
  • Plant the right number of flowers per pot. Not too many, not too few. 
  • Choose the right flowers to grow in containers. Not all cut flowers are suitable for pots. 

Remember that the steps to start your garden are essentially the same whether you’re growing your cut flowers in containers, raised beds, or in the ground. Learn about the process in this article, How To Plan A Cut Flower Garden: Beginner’s Guide.

With that in mind, here’s how to grow cut flowers in containers.

Select containers and planters for your flowers

You can use just about any container to grow cut flowers as long as it’s big enough. In general, use the largest containers you can find. More volume means more soil for the plant, higher water retention, and more plants grown in one container. 

Pots, planters, and containers can be made from various materials. Mixing and matching can be a great way to blend affordability with style. Here are a few popular options for planters, but there are more out there, too. 

  • Terracotta pots are inexpensive and easy to clean, and you can find them in various sizes. They do tend to crack over time, and they dry out the soil more quickly than other materials, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on the soil moisture when using terracotta pots. 
  • Ceramic pots are beautiful and sturdy. They last longer than terracotta pots because the glaze protects the material. The glaze also helps retain moisture, so you’ll need to water less frequently. However, ceramic pots can be expensive, especially in larger sizes. 
  • Resin pots are made of polyethylene, a type of plastic. They’re lightweight but strong, making them a perfect option if you know you’ll be moving your pots around throughout the season. They come in different sizes, shapes, and colors and are affordable. 
  • Wood planters are available in a wide selection of sizes and work well on patios and decks. You can make a planter in any size you choose, and it’ll be durable for many years of growing, though you will have to replace them eventually as the wood breaks down. 
  • Other ideas include metal containers, upcycling old items like dresser drawers, an old wheelbarrow tray, galvanized buckets, and many more. 

No matter what type of container you choose, make sure it has holes to allow for drainage. Without drainage holes, water can build up and saturate the soil, which is harmful to most flowers. 

Fill your containers with quality soil for healthy plants

Sourcing good potting soil is an essential part of container gardening. This mix of organic materials provides the necessary nutrients for your flowers to grow. A high-quality potting mix will help ensure your plants grow healthy and strong.

When choosing potting soil, look for one that has peat moss, perlite, compost, and vermiculite. These materials will provide the necessary nutrients for the plants to grow. 

  • Peat moss is important in potting soil because it holds water and nutrients while slowly releasing them to the plant.
  • Perlite provides drainage, aerates the soil, and prevents compaction.
  • Compost is organic matter that will help to provide nutrients for the plants.
  • Vermiculite helps improve soil drainage and retains water.
  • Some mixes contain an all-purpose fertilizer. If your plants aren’t doing well, check the label to see if this is included.

Don’t try to use straight garden soil. It will compact too much in the container, preventing healthy root growth. If you need to stretch your budget, you can mix some garden soil with the potting mix, but no more than 25% of the total volume.

My favorite potting soil is FoxFarms Happy Frog Potting Soil. This potting soil has ingredients that promote nutrient uptake and soil biodiversity, including bat guano and humic acid, as well as Mycorrhizae fungi to promote root growth. It’s not the cheapest potting soil out there, but it’s the best quality, so adding even some to your standard potting soil mix can make a big difference.

Find thecorrectt number of plants per pot

Each type of flower calls for a spacing that suits the plant’s mature size, and you can use those same guidelines when growing them in containers.

Each 5-7 gallon container has about one square foot’s worth of garden. So a 7-gallon pot can hold 2-3 zinnia plants that are spaced 6-9 inches apart, which is perfect for cut flower production.

2-3 plants doesn’t sound like a lot, I know. But if you want them to be well-developed and have strong stems for cutting, then it doesn’t pay off to overcrowd them. 

That’s why you should go with the largest size container you can find and fill. You’ll get more plants for your container real estate. 

12 container-friendly flowers for your cutting garden

This isn’t an exhaustive list, just a few suggestions. There are dozens of other types of flowers that can be grown successfully in containers. The ones listed here are easy to get started with and will make a beautiful flower display in the garden and the vase.  

Cosmos

The cosmos flower is a beautiful and unique addition to any garden. This annual plant can be grown easily from seed and will bloom throughout the summer months as long as you keep harvesting the flowers. The cosmos flower is a favorite of bees and butterflies and makes an excellent cut flower.

Many dwarf varieties are suited for containers. For a quick reference of which varieties to choose from, jump over to this article: Grow Cosmos In Pots When You Don’t Have Garden Space.

Astilbe

This perennial plant has attractive leaves and small white or pinkish-white flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Astilbes are drought tolerant and easy to grow, making an excellent filler for bouquets. 

Calendula

Calendulas are very popular among gardeners because of their bright orange color and large daisy-like flowers. Calendulas are also known for being very easy to grow from seed, and they’re great for colder climates since they are somewhat frost-tolerant

Classic varieties produce orange and yellow splashes of color, while others come in copper and rust shades, some with single blooms and others with semi-double. 

Simple or showy, calendulas are beginner and container-friendly flowers.

Foxglove

These tall flowers have showy, bell-shaped flowers on spikes. They are easy to grow and produce several blooms over a long time. Foxgloves are a great option for containers in partial shade.

Need more options for a shady cut flower garden? Get some inspiration here: Can Cut Flowers Grow In Part Shade? (Yes! Try These 9 Types).

Varieties like the Dalmation series will flower their first year from seed, and the plants don’t get too tall for containers. 

Zinnias

Zinnia flowers are brightly colored and range from yellow to reds, purples, oranges, pinks, blues, and even greens. Zinnias are easy to grow, and most varieties require little care once planted, making them a favorite flower of many gardeners (myself included!). Just makes sure they get plenty of sun. 

Many zinnia plants reach up to 3-5 feet tall, so pay attention to which variety you pick unless you have large pots or containers to grow them in. The Queen series is fantastic for cutting, reaching 2-3 feet tall. 

If you want a chart to reference for the height of several varieties, bookmark this page: How Tall Do Zinnias Grow? (Popular Varieties Compared).

Salvia

Salvia is a heat-loving, low-maintenance annual that can add dimension to any container. Salvias are easily grown in pots, and their stems add height to bouquets. Hummingbirds will be frequent visitors to your salvia plants, especially the red varieties such as Hummingbird Forest Fire

Sweet peas

Sweet peas are a classic choice for container gardening. They are easy to start from seed and produce a profusion of blooms. Sweet peas need something to climb on, so either provide a trellis or set them against a fence. Their vertical nature makes them an excellent choice for small-space cut flower gardens.

sweet peas climbing white trellis
Sweet peas add a cottage garden charm to any yard or patio planter.

Sweet peas have wonderfully fragrant flowers but don’t forget that all parts of the plant are toxic, so don’t mix the seeds with snap pea seeds. 

Basil

Basils are another easy-to-grow herb that produces lots of fragrant blossoms. Some varieties include purple, green, and speckled leaves, making them perfect for adding color to arrangements. Bees will be all over your blooming basil plants, too!

Cinnamon basil, Mrs. Burns’ Lemon, and Cardinal basil are great for cutting. 

Dwarf sunflowers

Dwarf sunflowers are perfect for containers since they top out at around 2 feet tall (or less!), so don’t feel like you have to skip these cheerful flowers if you don’t have an in-ground garden. 

A variety like Big Smile will only grow 10-15 inches, so if you only have small pots or containers, this would be a great variety to get that classic sunflower look.  

Learn more about sunflowers for cutting in this article, What Sunflower Varieties Are Best For Cutting? and get some sunnies in your garden!

Snapdragon

Similar in shape to foxgloves, snapdragons are popular choices for cut flowers because they bloom early in the season and produce multiple flushes of blooms. Some varieties stay short, topping out at about 18 inches, while others can reach three feet tall or more, so read the variety description before buying seed. 

I’m growing Frosted Flames in containers this year, which grow to 18 inches tall. I’m saving my tall Chantilly Mix that grows to four feet tall for my in-ground flower bed. 

Dahlia

Dahlias are easy perennials to grow that produce beautiful blooms in late summer. They are grown from tubers, which are simply pieces of rootstock that are dug up and replanted. You can start dahlias from seed, but tubers are the way to go if you want flowers that look just like the parent plant. 

This year was my first time growing Cafe Au Lait tubers. I planted them in a large, 10-gallon pot and supported them with an old tomato cage. Planting them in containers guaranteed that the voles and gophers around here couldn’t get to my flowers. So far, so good!

Marigold

Marigolds are an excellent addition to any container garden, especially if you’re also growing vegetables and need a companion plant. Marigolds are an all-purpose flower that is said to repel pests, makes a great cut flower, and are just pretty in the garden. 

This year I’m trying a white variety called Kilimanjaro White. Frilly cream-colored petals surround the yellow center, making them a happy addition to the vase.

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