Growing a Cutting Garden. Flowers, Greenery, & Vegetable Choices.

I’m cutting way down on one particular vegetable in my garden this year to make room for these 10 flowers, 5 fillers and various flower arrangement friendly vegetables. 

As it turns out, I cannot eat 150 pounds of potatoes in one winter.  I know it seems unlikely but there you have it –  the truth.  I just checked my potato pantry and it looks like I’m able to eat around 20 pounds of potatoes in a winter.  Luckily this is one of those good news clothed in wolf’s sheep situations.  Or something like that.

Because it means this year I know in my heart that I can give up one of my huge potato beds and instead fill it with flowers. Which I also have too many of.  I plan to devote 2 of my 16′ x 4′ community garden beds to flowers.  I’ll also be sticking a bunch of them around the perimeter of the garden and in my front yard at home.

Knowing I have this much space to devote to flowers I have done what you would expect. I’ve planned to plant so many flowers they’d give enough cheer to get through a Zombie apocalypse.

(click through to the original source I got my seeds from for each variety)

Flower Varieties for the Cutting Garden

Celosia – Cockscomb, magenta and apricot

Dahlia – Hot Chocolate, Ice Cube (similar to Cafe au Lait)

Snapdragons – Chantilly Mix

Zinnia – Salmon Rose Coral, Queeny Lime, Aztec Sunset, Queen Red Lime

Hollyhock – Antwerp Mix

China Aster – Chamois Apricot

Cosmos – Double Click,

Stock – Apricot 

Poppies – Bridal Silk, Mother of Pearl, Giant Peach

Dianthus – Black Cherry

Don’t forget your greens.

The biggest mistake I made when I first started a cutting garden was not planting any greenery or filler.  Like none.

Since I’m growing my flowers right in the middle of my large vegetable garden I have access to a variety of greens that work well in flower arrangements.  Swiss chard, dill, beet greens, basil and raspberry branches all work well in arrangements and are all within grasp in my garden.

But I still want some regular old floral greenery and filler, so these are what I’ll be growing.

Filler/Greenery for the Cutting Garden

Orach – Caramel/Apple

Amaranth – Green Tails, Hot Biscuits

Queen Anne’s Lace – Chocolate Lace

Mignonette – Ameliorata

Bupleurum – Griffiti

Plus, like I said I have a ton of vegetable choices to grab if I feel like I need more filler.  The main vegetables I reach for are …

Vegetables for Flower Arranging.

Basil (purple and green)

Stems of cherry, grape, pear or currant tomatoes

Rainbow Swiss Chard

Beet greens

Dill!  Lots and lots of dill.


Raspberry canes

Flowering thyme


If you clicked through on some of my flower varieties you saw that I bought some of my seed from Floret this year. Floret Flowers is run by Erin Benzakein and her family who live in the middle of a Hallmark movie. She has a handsome and supportive husband, a couple of kids and they all live on their farm where they grow and sell flowers.

Her site Floret will give you concise instructions on how to start and grow most of the seeds I’ve mentioned.

If you need more hand holding, I can’t recommend her book Cut Flower Garden enough.  I’ve read it cover to cover. I didn’t even skip over parts that I didn’t think applied to me.

Snapdragons are one of my favourite cut flowers. They’re easy to start from seed and the more you pick them the more they produce.  Plus every arrangement needs some spiky flowers.

Cockscomb. The flower with cock in the name.  I hate even talking about it.  Let’s go with it’s more formal name of Celosia shall we? It comes in many shapes and sizes, but the brain celosia known as Cockscomb is my favourite. If you cut it before it goes to seed it lasts forever in a vase.

Amaranth is both edible and arrangeable. I like it for its flow.  This Green Tails Amaranth always does well and looks great in Thanksgiving arrangements. The arrangement below also has some Red Tails Amaranth tucked into it like garland.

Don’t let this single little Zinnia fool you. Zinnias are PROLIFIC. The more you chop them off, the more they flower.   The huge variety of Zinnias is enough to make a flower lover’s head explode. If you want colour, abundance and ease … GET ZINNIAS.

Conversely if you want colour, abundance and difficulty get Dahlias! Dahlias are the BIGGEST pain if you live somewhere that they can’t overwinter in the ground, which is anywhere that gets hard frosts basically.  BUT, they will outshine and outproduce any flower in your garden if you can be bothered to put up with their tiny bit of attitude. This year I’ve weeded down my selections and am only growing 2 varieties; Hot Fudge and Ice Cube.  Because I’m very cutthroat and decisive when it comes to flower selection.  Also because I killed all my other varieties when I accidentally left them to rot in plastic bags over the winter.

Luckily these two varieties were my favourites.

There’s nothing sweeter than a sweet pea.  They come in 2 types, perennial and annual. I’ve never found a perennial type that has any scent to them but they flower for months and come back every year like a weed.

Annual sweet peas aren’t as prolific but make up for it in a bursts of colours and a sweet peppery scent.


And that’s the story of why I should really just eat more potatoes.

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Growing a Cutting Garden. Flowers, Greenery, & Vegetable Choices.


  1. Ruthann Kowalski says:

    when you literally go nowhere other than home, you really want the home you’re in to be as nice as possible. Love this quote. It has become my mantra!!

    Also Celosia – Cockscomb do grow them from seed? I have some seeds?

  2. Emily says:

    I just came in from planting peas and transplanting pea-lettes. You and your beautiful flower photos, now I yearn for summer, yearn I say! On the up side, this week I cleared away leaf mulch to find a bed of tulips coming up that I forgot I planted last fall. It’s a happy surprise from myself. I’ve tried & failed to grow lupines many times. I mainly want them to remind me of happy vacations in Canada!

  3. Ann says:

    I highly recommend you plant some evening scented stocks- the small flowered kind – because they fill out hugely and fill the air with sweet soft scent and bloom til frost here in zone 3! I used some mixed in the veggie garden last year and was delighted with them. Nicotiana & sweet peas as well-start early from seed. You’re so right- snapdragons are the best- still green under our just- melting 4′ of snow! Otherwise, with only 74 frost free days, we rely on hardy blooming shrubs like lilac, spirea, & mock orange as well as herbs like beebalm and bulbs for great smell & colour and bouquets. Thank you for your blog-its mandatory around here!

  4. Jane says:

    Speaking from experience, be careful planting milkweed. It has a very deep root that travels great distances comes up everywhere!

  5. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Hot damn, those chocolate Queen Anne’s Lace are freekin’ stunning!! I love the wild ones but this is a whole ‘nuther level of gorgeousity….

  6. Meg says:

    I totally didn’t consider greens. I’m a n00b flower gardener. *hurries to order some more seeds as if I have room to plant them*

    Although I haven’t started any of the majority of the seeds I was supposed to start last weekend…whoops. Should probably get on that!

  7. Barbara Kemp says:

    Your arrangements are beautiful and a reminder spring followed by summer is coming. There is nothing like a dahlia. Stunning flowers!

  8. Lynn says:

    Where did you get the spider mums? (Pale yellow spikey things I’m the zinnia and dahlia vases?)

    The only place I’ve ever seen these growing was in my Pop Pop’s garden, then in a handful of places where my relatives moved to.

    That just brought back memories!

  9. Jan in Waterdown says:

    How do you keep oregano under control? I let mine go to seed from a planter and now it’s taken over an entire bed that had beautiful blue bachelor’s buttons and bright yellow coreopsis 😢. Stupid herb. Stupider me.

  10. Susan says:

    I love the colors of the ‘new’ zinnias that are out there. Any plant with some green in the flowers are high on my list. Perennial cone flowers ‘Green Envy’ and
    ‘Green Jewel’ are stunning and come back every year unlike many other varieties and are very easy to grow. How about a small hydrangea? ‘Bobo’ is only 3-4′ and ‘Little Lime’ 5-6 and are covered with flowers all summer and fall. Both are worth the space they take up.
    My garden is large, but I still grow my dahlias in decorative poly containers that I drag down to my dark basement for the winter. They dry out on their own in the soil, but in the spring they start sprouting and I begin to water them again and drag them back out when the frosts are past. I’ve done this for the past five years and they’re fantastic bloomers. I need to repot them this year or they’ll probably burst through the pots.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susan. I’m afraid hydrangeas are too big for my cutting garden. They’d take up 1/3rd of a bed which I’m not quite willing to give up. But I do have 2 hydrangeas at home so I get my hydrangea fix there. :) ~ karen!

  11. Jackie Johnson says:

    My favorite Dahlia is if Crazy love, but now that I see Ice Cube I’m on the fence.

  12. Sherrill says:

    Great post once again.You are a woman with more energy than a nuclear bomb. Your always finding something new to keep you busy. I get tired just reading your post. I’m really a veggie gal at heart. I buy flowers to plant in my flower bed, and constantly add to my perennial bed yearly. It just costs too much to buy flowers every spring, when Victoria Day comes around. I’m trying to decide what to put in my bed by my walkway that will be easy to start from seed. It gets morning and evening sun, and I’m in New Brunswick zone 5A. Any advice you might have would be wonderful.

    • Karen says:

      I’ve had pretty good luck with lupins from seed. Plus when they’re done flowering (and they often flower twice in a season) I also like their foliage. ~ karen!

  13. Jo Hill says:

    My favorite flower in the garden is the Envy Zinnia. It’s one of the things most people love when I give them away instead of my zucchini. It always brings a smile. I just can’t get enough of them. I usually have to start them from seed otherwise I’m driving al over to find a greenhouse that grew them.

  14. Alice and O'Connor says:

    Would love to know your tips on growing dill. I have tried many times with shrivelled results. Seeds? Plants? Location?

    • Karen says:

      Once dill gets going Alice, it goes like stink. And it reseeds itself. Probably the biggest people make when planting dill is they don’t plant enough of it. It seems to do better en masse. So just take a section of your garden and dump half a seed packet into it. Then leave it alone. For me it’ll grow almost anywhere but it does love sun. ~ karen!

    • Alice and O'Connor says:

      Thanks Karen – I will try it this way – can’t wait to start. Huge piles of snow here in Ottawa.

  15. Heather says:

    Your beautiful plants and creative arrangements reflect your soul. I like! : )

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Heather. Mainly with these casual arrangements they’re just throw in a pitcher or vase, with the tiniest bit of flair. :) ~ karen!

  16. Ann Roberts says:

    Add gomphrena to your list. Greatest most dependable little cut flower going. Otherwise I totally agree with the entire list you have going!!

  17. Lesley says:

    Just ordered a mix of cosmos. It’ll give me something pretty to look at as I fight the bindweed wars all. freaking. summer.

  18. Ramona says:

    I’m thrilled that I’m reading this post while I’m visiting Canada! I currently live, and garden, in Connecticut (US) and am looking to move up here. It is so encouraging to me to know that I can have a great garden once I’m here, albeit a tiny bit shorter growing season. Thank you, Karen, for all your gardening posts. I love rereading your archives :) xoxox

    • Karen says:

      If you’re in Connecticut Ramona, there won’t be toooo huge of a change in zones. Depending on which province you’re thinking of moving to of course. :) ~ karen!

  19. Suz says:

    The best part of cutting back the potatoes is that they will have put a lot of nitrogen into the soil! In Saskatchewan, they used to plant potatoes on new home lawns for the first year for the nitro.

  20. Sabina says:

    To invite and encourage more pollinators I also planned my beds to include zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos and calendula. Now I need snapdragons! Dahlias scare me, lol, but my mom was always a pro with them. Your two survivors are gorgeous…and tempting me to try again. We have a full south-east full sun exposure blank wall down the side of the house with Lake Erie just down the road. I’d love to start a milkweed/butterfly garden on there. So looking forward to the last of this winter to let go and burst into Spring!

    • Jane says:

      Speaking from experience, be careful planting milkweed. It has a very deep root that travels great distances comes up everywhere!

  21. Cathy Reeves says:

    We’ll find out in a few days if I’m going to become a desert rat-Arizona-and embrace
    ( figuratively of course) all things prickly and cacti or lush and tropical in Florida.
    In any event I must abandon my Ohio garden and re-educate myself.
    I found sweet pea adorable but too viney and troublesome. I still miss my hollyhocks.
    And celosia never tripped my trigger until I saw them en-mass in your photo. I’m hooked now which will be troublesome if we head west.

  22. Lindy says:

    Morning! Just on from checking my amaranth seeds sown last week. Great idea! The dahlia conundrum for those of us who live in the cold…. this is right up your DIY street, my dear. I grow them in cheap buckets- holes drilled in the bottom. And sink the whole thing into the ground. Come autumn the whole bucket comes up and you over winter them in a cold dark cellar. In spring just bring em out and sink again. Or if the tubers have bulked out so much they are bursting the buckets- divide and spend another buck on a new bucket. And to hide the bucket- mulch. It’s a cheat way but saves a fortune in replacing slimy or dead tubers and a lot of faff. I have pics on the latest blog post. But can email you the link.

    • Lindy says:

      That was a deeply unattractive shot: not worthy of your gorgeous blog post! Here’s the link to the best How To on my bucket trick. You can get away with moving them out of the buckets every two years if you get busy. And it’s also a brilliant cheat way of oomphing up the fertiliser (pelleted chicken manure is the crack cocaine of the dahlia production – one handful per bucket in spring and another handful in peak growing season). And the oomph stays in the targeted space and makes you feel less guilty about over improving your soil.

    • Karen says:

      Hmm. Maybe I’ll give it a shot this year with half of my tubers. How big are your buckets? Like the size you’d use for mopping the floor? ~ karen!

      • Lindy says:

        Yep. Standard buckets for mop sized. I didn’t invest heavily as once they outgrow their space after a few years you sometimes have to cut the bucket with secateurs to release them. If you get tiny tubers then you can start them in small garden pots and once they get fist sized, it’s into the buckets they go.

        • Meg says:

          like a 5-gallon bucket? This is awesomely intriguing. I figured dahlias were out of the question for me!!

          Do you wait until they’re dry, to pull up the buckets and tuck them away for winter? Would a slightly warm (dryer, boilers) cellar be too warm? They need to be above freezing, right? so not terribly cold…?

    • Lynn says:


  23. mirjam says:

    I thought it would be the brussels sprouts you’d cut back on :)

  24. Kim says:

    Sheesh. This is my favourite gardening post yet. I am totally inspired to grow a cutting garden this year! I’ve always just had traditional growing walk through weeding enjoy outside gardens.

    But lately I had been thinking of having a cutting garden and I didn’t know where to start.

    Do you think if I just email Erin and say “give me the art of doing stuff special”? she would put it all together and sell it to me as a lot? I’d seriously LOVE that. One click and all the right flowers coming to my door! If not I suppose I could click on each of your recommendations separately. ! 😆

    • Karen says:

      She does sell collections of flower seeds which all go together to create a beautiful mixed bouquet! I bought one of her collections, I think it was called Sangria. The problem is things are selling out now. Even when i was buying them the seeds were selling out. :/ But go have a look. :) ~ karen!

      • Karen Schaefer says:

        thanks Kim for the info! I have to admit that I am getting more and more into cut flowers but still want the veggies too! :)
        I appreciate you sharing this with me!

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