Cut and Come Again Flowers: What Are They And Which Should You Grow?

queen lime mixed zinnia flowers

A garden that will produce flowers all season long with minimal effort sounds pretty good, right? You can either plant a ton of single bloom-producing flower plants, or you can tap into the bounty of cut and come again flowers, the top producers of the flower garden.

Cut and come again flowers are a group of annual flowers that respond well to having their flowers cut frequently. With each cutting, the plant will be encouraged to produce more blooms, resulting in a months-long span of flower production from one plant.

These dependable producers deserve a spot in the garden. Not only will they produce all season long, but they’re also easy to grow and great for beginners and experienced gardeners alike.

What are cut and come again flowers?

The term “cut and come again” describes certain flower plants that thrive with frequent cutting. Each time a stem is cut, the flower sends out new replacement stems, which produce more flowers for the same amount of plants.

On the other hand, some flowers are “one and done” plants that produce one central blooming stalk. Once that stem has been cut ,the flower is done and won’t grow any more blooms. So it’s either replace the plant or be done with that variety for the season.

As you harvest a stem to get blooms for your fresh bouquets, cut right above a branch in the stem. You’ll see another stem getting ready to grow and provide the next bloom for your garden.

This is the magic of cut and come again flowers. Pick a stem, get a stem!

I put some of my favorite recommendations in this article, and there are even more in this article, 10 Cut And Come Again Flowers That Are Easy To Grow. Between these two resources, you’ll have no shortage of inspiration for the cutting garden.

How does deadheading help produce more blooms?

Deadheading flowers means removing the old bloom from the plant as they begin to fade. The flowers have likely been pollinated, meaning they’ll soon turn to seedheads.

Once a flower starts producing seeds, you’ll see a big decrease in flower production because the plant is putting its energy into making those seeds, not flowers.

On the other hand, if you remove the flowers once they pass their peak, the plant will respond with new growth in a second attempt to produce seeds. Remove that flower as well, and you’ll soon see the third attempt, and so on, through the summer.

By deadheading your flowering plants, you are supercharging the volume of blooms you’ll get from the same plant.

I’ve got a lot more information about deadheading to answer all your questions. Check it out here: Should You Deadhead Cut Flowers, Too? (My Top Tips).

Use succession planting to get even more blooms throughout the season

Even though cut and come again flowers will produce over weeks, if not months, succession planting can still be a valuable strategy to get even more blooms and keep your plants healthy.

Succession planting means replanting multiple times throughout the season. Instead of planting once in the spring, two or three times throughout the season.

By replanting a certain crop 2-4 times throughout the growing season, you can maximize the number of productive plants in your garden space. As the first planting starts to look ragged after so many cuttings from it, you already have a new plant coming into bloom to replace it.

Succession planting combined with cut and come again flowers will almost guarantee that you’ll be swimming in flowers by the peak of summer.

Here’s an example with cosmos, which bloom 85-100 days after planting:

  • 1st planting: In the early spring, start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before your first frost. They will sprout and grow into small seedlings that you transplant into the garden.
  • 2nd planting: Just after the last spring frost in your area, direct sow another batch of cosmos seeds in the garden.
  • 3rd planting: A month or two after the last spring frost, sow one last round of seeds in the garden to have flowers through the end of summer.

Top varieties of cut and come again flowers

Zinnia

Zinnias are strong producers of abundant blooms, especially if you live in a warm climate. They are naturally branching plants that develop buds on side stems. You can even encourage the development of more branching steps through a method called pinching.

Pinching means cutting the growth tip of a flowering plant early in its life to encourage branching. More branches mean more opportunities for the plant to produce flowers.

close up of various shades of zinnias held in hand
These flowers are all different types of Queen zinnias, plus a couple of Oklahoma salmon. So beautiful!

Zinnias respond very well to pinching after they’re about 4 inches tall in the garden. But, if you don’t want to take the time to pinch your plants, you’ll still get loads of blooms through the process of cutting stems for bouquets and arrangements.

Succession planting will keep the zinnia production lasting all summer and into the fall. Zinnias tend to succumb to powdery mildew after a few months of growth, so replacing your crop throughout the season will avoid that problem.

Aim for a new sowing every 4 weeks or so, pulling out the oldest plants as you go. This rotation will lessen the chance of diseases showing up while also staggering the plant growth to avoid gaps in production.

Recommended varieties to try:

  • Benary’s Giants: This is one of the most popular Zinnia varieties to grow in the cutting garden, from home production to cut flower farms. Flowers range in color from red, orange, yellow, rose, coral, and purple. The plants grow to about five feet tall, so be sure to give them room to stretch.
  • Queen Lime Series: This line of zinnias produces blooms in antique colors of rose, orange, blush, and lime. The flowers range from singles to puffy double blooms. This particular mix is fantastic for blending colors in a bouquet.

Cosmos

Cosmos are workhorse flowers in the cutting garden. They’ll provide you with blooms for months on end if you keep them picked. If you leave some blooms on the plant make sure to deadhead the rest. As explained earlier, if you leave old blooms on a cosmo plant, it will soon slow down production.

Because cosmos are such heavy producers and respond well to frequent harvesting and deadheading, make sure to put them in a place where they can reach their full potential. Many cosmo plants will get 5-6 feet tall, and their feathery green foliage will quickly fill in.

multiple cosmos containers
Lots of foliage on these plants, which is great for bouquets alongside the flowers.

Speaking of foliage, don’t be shy about picking the green leaves of cosmos for your flower arrangements, as well. They make an excellent filler and add whimsy and movement to your arrangement.

Cosmos are amazing bang-for-your-buck plants and should be included in any cutting garden.

Recommended varieties to try:

  • Double Click Mix: These cosmos produce large, puffy double and semi-double blooms in white, pink, and burgundy. They also respond well to pinching when the plants are just a few inches tall and will produce even more blooms over a long season.
  • Xanthos: Soft buttery yellow blooms make this cosmo a cheerful addition to summer bouquets.
  • Rubenza: On the shorter side of 3-4 feet tall, this cosmo is a great choice if you need a shorter plant in the cutting garden. Blooms are cranberry red with a yellow center and make an eye-catching appearance in the garden.

Calendula

Bright and easy-growing calendulas will provide absolute loads of flowers if cut regularly. The petals are also edible, and I’m all for double-duty in the flower garden. Toss some petals in a salad or pick long, strong stems for the vase; either way, you’ve got a good choice for the cutting garden.

two yellow calendula flowers
Snow princess calendula will bloom very early in spring.

Succession planting will keep you in flowers from spring to fall. Aim for a new batch of plants to go in the garden every four weeks or so. The plants can also tolerate a bit of cold, so you may get blooms even after the first frost of the year.

Recommended varieties to try:

  • Orange Flash: These rusty-range blooms have vaguely spiky petals that last in the vase.
  • Snow Princess: These flowers change color as they age. The blooms start as a butter yellow then slowly fade to a creamy white over the course of a few days. A dark center is consistent as the petals change.

Basil

Grown mainly for its foliage, basil is one of the easiest and most productive plants to grow in the cutting garden. Foliage fills the vase with a lush backdrop that can then be filled in with other colors and flowers.

Basil ranges from green to deep burgundy and provides a light spicy scent to the arrangement. Small flowers develop on spikes that shoot up from the leaves, adding another element to the cutting garden and vase.

flowering basil in garden
Basil produces spikes of white flowers through the second half of summer.

Harvesting basil encourages more growth, so don’t be afraid to cut as many stems as you need. Though the plants will continue to grow as you harvest, try a succession planting or two, as basil loves summer heat and you’ll be able to maximize the amount you can cut. \

You can never have too much foliage available for arrangements!

Recommended varieties to try:

  • Mrs. Burns’ Lemon: One of the most popular varieties grown by flower farmers, this variety produces bright green leaves with tiny white flowers. It adds a delicious spicy lemon scent when cut.
  • Cinnamon: Just as the name implies, this fragrant basil adds dimension to any bouquet. Dark stems produce heavily veined leaves and bunches of purple blooms that bees love.

Iceland Poppies

There are many types of poppies, but Iceland poppies have the best vase life, so they’re the most suited to cutting. Long, thin stems make a delicate addition to arrangements.

red Iceland poppies
Champagne Bubbles Iceland poppies in red

Recommended varieties to try:

  • Champagne Bubbles: Available as either a mix or in single colors, Champagne Bubbles produces large, papery blooms in orange, pink, red, yellow, and white. All colors have a sweet yellow center.

Sweet Peas

A wonderful early boomer, sweet peas will cover a trellis in strong stems and sweet-smelling blooms in no time. Another great example of cut and come again flowers, sweet peas respond very well to frequent cutting.

Try planting two new batches of seeds a month apart to take advantage of the high production of cool spring weather.

americana sweet pea flowers
Sweet peas provide beautiful scented blooms all spring.

All parts of a sweet pea plant are poisonous, so do not confuse them with garden snap peas that are edible.

Recommended varieties to try:

  • Mammoth Choice: This is the variety for you if you live in a warmer climate. The vines will continue to grow and produce even as the temperature rises. This is an excellent option if you don’t want to succession sow in the spring, as it will keep you in flowers for longer.
  • Enchante: Tricolor blooms of pink, lavender, and cream. This variety will charm you with its curly blooms on sturdy stems.
  • Midnight: Dark maroon blooms a lightly scented and also attracts hummingbirds.

With so many types of cut and come again flowers for the cutting garden, you won’t have any shortage of blooms to pick for your whole growing season.

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