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 a minimum of 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 is another way to keep cut and come again flowers producing all season. You may choose to leave some of the blooms on your cut flower plants to enjoy in the garden, or just skip some harvesting days due to a busy schedule. If that’s the case, the open blooms on the plant will start to fade and eventually die.

If those blooms are allowed to die and go to see while on the plant, then it will slow down the production of blooms and also die back because it perceives its job to be done. There’s no need to produce more fresh flowers if it has already made seeds for the next generation of plants.

So whether by intentional cutting of fresh blooms or deadheading of spent blooms, keeping cut and come again flowers producing all season long by cutting them frequently.

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

Use succession sowing to get even more blooms throughout the season

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

Succession sowing means replanting multiple times throughout the season. Instead of planting once in the spring, you would plant in the spring and summer. Or to really pump out the blooms, you could plant once in early spring, again in late spring, and finally an early summer sowing.

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 sowing 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 Champagne Bubble poppies, which bloom 85-100 days after planting:

  • 1st planting: In the fall, direct sow seeds into the ground about 6 weeks before your first frost. They will sprout and grow into small plants that can survive the cooler temperatures of winter. They’ll be the first to bloom in spring.
  • 2nd planting: A few weeks before the last spring frost in your area, sow another batch of poppy seeds. They’ll grow into strong spring plants and produce a 2nd round of blooms.
  • 3rd planting: Poppies don’t love warm weather, so put this third sowing right around the last frost of spring. Your first sowing will probably be slowing down now after a couple of months of producing blooms, so this batch will step right in.

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.

benary's giants almost zinnia
Benary’s Giant zinnia in salmon

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 sowing 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. All variations have a rose-pink center and are puffy double blooms. This particular mix is fantastic and blending colors in a bouquet. A Queen lime zinnia’s green petals and pink center beautifully complement a green bells of Ireland and coral gomphrena.

Cosmo

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.

yellow xanthous cosmos
Xanthos Cosmos

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.

calendula flower
Orange calendula

Succession sowing 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.

basil plants
Basil

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 sowing 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. Succession sowing, as outlined above, will help keep your season filled with poppies ready to harvest.

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, sweet peas respond very well to frequent cutting. Try planting a new batch of seeds every three weeks to take advantage of the high production of cool spring weather.

maroon sweet peas
Sweet Peas

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: If you live in a warmer climate, this is the variety for you. The vines will continue to grow and produce even as the temperature rises. This is a great option if you don’t want to succession sow in the spring, as it will keep you in blooms 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 attract 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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