Top 10 Flowers for a Cutting Garden

Mainly the greatest piece of advice you’re going to get from this post is that you do NOT Google “How to care for big hairy balls”.

If you find that is all the advice you need for one day you’re free to go.  And don’t think I don’t know exactly where you’re going when you leave this post.  You’re going to Google “How to care for big, hairy balls”.  Let’s not pretend like it isn’t going to happen.

Let me back up a bit, not quite to the beginning of time, but to a time before I Googled those eye opening words.

Most years with my vegetable garden I reserve a section for growing some weird, foreign to me vegetables.  Last year it was the Jelly Melon, the year before that it was the Mouse Melon, and before that it was Gooseberries,  Reisetomate tomatoes and squash bugs. I didn’t really mean to grow squash bugs, I just seemed to randomly get a bumper crop of them.

This year I decided to do something different.

Instead of dedicating a big patch of my garden to an experimental vegetable, I’m dedicating that big patch of my garden to cutting flowers.

Flowers grown for the sole purpose of CUTTING!  Next to the day I realized I didn’t really have to fold all my thong underwear, deciding to create a cutting garden was the most exciting day of my life.

I grew a very small cutting garden last year, with just a few different things in it and it was a hit.  With me and everyone I gave a bouquet to.  People smiled at me and I’m almost positive having a cutting garden made people think I was a nicer, kinder person.  Jerks generally don’t grow pretty flowers to give away.  It’d be a dead easy cover for anyone looking to get into serial killing.

I’ve started most of the seeds for my cutting garden based on flowers I’ve already had good success with and a few experimentals I want to try.









from Flickr





This flower in the foreground?  That’s not the Aster, lol.  The asters are the smaller, incredibly blurry, purple near the middle of the photo.  You know.  Just to add a bit of mystery to this post.





Sweet Peas



Which brings us to the ….

Big Hairy Balls


hairy-balls-flower copy

In case you’re confused, the flowers that look like big hairy balls, are the big hairy balls.  If you recognize them as big hairy balls by the lime green colour, you might want to get your husband to the doctor.  And possibly go through his emails and text messages.


A cutting garden is the perfect solution for people who want to cut flowers to bring inside but never want to cut the flowers they use for landscaping their house.  So people like me.  And probably you.  If you have the room, just dedicate a small area, to flowers you’re going to cut.  Just *telling* yourself that this area is for cutting will get you past the psychological part of not wanting to cut them.

A note about the poppies. They aren’t the greatest flowers in the world for cutting, but if you burn the bottom of the stem as soon as you cut it you can get a few days out of them. I’m willing to do the work because they’re so beautiful.

The rest of the flowers will last for at least 7 days in a vase indoors.  So about the same length of time the images will be burned into your brain if you do decide to Google “How to care for big hairy balls”.


  1. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    `You are naughty..Go to bed!!!..Oh yeah..Pretty flowers…

  2. Dominic says:

    Way to keep me from blowing off reading a post. You’re catching on how to keep the guys reading quick!
    If I was going into serial killing, I’d ask where you got that fantastic candlestick in the Amaranthus pic. Also, I’d start cutting and handing out the Foxglove that grows wild in my yard.
    Nice Snapdragons.

    • Karen says:

      Said candlestick is from a local nursery called Terra Greenhouses. I keep them outside in the summer, and inside come fall/winter. I’m pretty much in love with them and thanks for noticing. Maybe I should have put my rose cake on THOSE. ~ karen!

  3. Paula says:

    I subscribe to Lee Valley 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Ha! This list is a little different than the one I did for Lee Valley. This one is more tailored to my audience and the other one to theirs. For instance their list didn’t get Big Hairy Balls. 🙂 ~ karen!

  4. Shauna says:

    Are you planning to grow these all together in one area? In other words, do they have the same sun and water needs? I ask because that’s what I would need to do (small yard), and being too lazy to look them all up myself, I’m hoping you’ve already done that work for me. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Oh yeah, all in one spot. Full sun. A bunch of water. And whatever makes it makes it, lol. I don’t pamper. ~ karen!

  5. Laura Bee says:

    We moved last fall & I have discovered there are about 7 tulips in the back raised flower bed. Nothing else so far. It’s going to need some colour, thanks for these suggestions!

  6. Tina says:

    If your Hairy Balls are the Balloon Plant for Monarch Caterpillars, not only do you get a large number of great green hairy balls but you feed monarch caterpillars. It is a win-win! From the website

    ” Gomphocarpus physocarpus: Asclepias physocarpa is the old botanical name, Goose plant,
    Giant swan milkweed, Hairy balls, Family jewels, Oscar, Cotton-bush, Balloon plant”

    IMHO, it is not as pretty as Asclepias curassavica (tropical milkweed).

    P.S. I have some hairy ball seeds if someone would like some.

    • Karen says:

      Yup, that’s the same plant. Around here our Monarchs feed on regular old milkweed which I have growing in abundance. The balls are strictly for flower arrangements. I mean, if a monarch wants to come into the house with them, they’re more than welcome to. I’ll make sure they’re comfortable. ~ karen!

    • Sande says:

      I would love some hairy ball seeds! Please contact me at
      I’m passionate about monarch butterflies and promoting their need for more milkweed and nectar plants.
      Like Karen, I’m convinced that watching the metamorphosis of a monarch butterfly can be life-changing and life- inspiring. In addition to Karen’s videos, please check the Monarch Watch website to learn about monarch butterflies. Save the Monarchs – Plant Milkweed!
      I hope you’ve still got seeds to share & I look forward to hearing from you.
      Sande in Batavia, IL

    • Erin says:

      Family jewels – LOL

    • Elysa A. says:

      Thank you for providing that link! I was scared to google after Karen’s warning. LOL If you would be willing to send me some seeds, I would be so very grateful! My email address is if you read this and want my address. Thanks!!

  7. Becky says:

    I swear its like you read my mind. My daughter picked one of my daffodils… scratch that. My daughter picked the FIRST TO BLOOM daffodil, and it made me have a melt down.
    After my heart rate returned to normal, and the redness in my face subsided, presumably from holding my melt down internally, and NOT yelling or having a temper tantrum, it occurred to me that maybe I should plant more things that CAN be picked, without causing a coronary in her Mom.

  8. Ritz says:

    Dear Funny Lady,
    You are all that!

  9. Stephanie says:

    “And possibly go through his emails and texts” !!! Ha !!!

  10. brenda says:

    forget about hairy green balls … that Ranunculus really got to me … I’ve been growing edibles … well maybe not so much growing as eating dandelions and violets and purple onion ball flowers and other flowering w̶e̶e̶d̶s̶ perennials … you’ve made me want a real cutting garden with poppies I can burn the stem bottoms on and sweet peas …

    • Karen says:

      I absolutely love cut flowers in the house Brenda. If you even do a small area for cutting flowers you’ll be thrilled with it. I promise. ~ karen!

  11. Cynthia Jones says:

    Yep, I did it.

    I thought there would be more real ones, but it was worth it just to see the photo of Tom Cruise with testicackles for a forehead.

    I might start a cutting garden in with my veggies. Can you grow Lisianthus in Canada? Poor man’s roses. Great cut flowers. What about Delphiniums? I might be too cold.

    • Karen says:

      I have Delphiniums in the garden Cynthia. They grow very well here. I’ve never grown Lisianthus but I should look into growing them here, I LOVE them. I like the far more than roses! ~ karen

      • Cynthia Jones says:

        I love them far more than roses too, Karen. We get them here in Oz, in lavender, purple, pink and cream. They last a really long time as a cut flower, well over a week. You have inspired me to try to grow them again.

  12. Laura says:

    Never google “big mac”. There are things on there you wish you could unsee.

  13. Madhu Ramakrishnan says:

    I simply love you for this post….

  14. gigi says:

    Love,love,loving the beautiful ranunculus photo; curious about the hairy monsters; but have to correct you on the Dahlia photo. That’s just another Zinnia. Brilliant idea to sacrifice a lowly squash for the good of the garden. Can’t wait to see the pix of bouquets down the road, preferably displayed on the amazing marble cake stand. Wishing much success with the cutting garden. Thanks,always, for your unique sense of humor and wonderful knack of absurdity. If that’s a thing. Then you’re the queen, and I, a willing subject.

  15. Tracie says:

    Thanks for this post Karen, my Ma’s favorite flowers were Sweet Peas, lilacs, and yellow roses, but I can only bow my head to what she might have said about the hairy balls….Plus, she could quote “Daffodils” from her high school days. Anyway, I would love to grow some flowers to keep inside…:)

  16. Rosemarie says:

    I think you’ve got a great post but are those really asters?? It looks like more zinnias to me.. Zinnias are a favorite of mine, many different versions of them..

  17. Grammy says:

    You used to fold thong underwear?

  18. Ann says:

    Yup, unless I am missing something in the wee background, the aster is a zinnia.

    Most of my favorite cutting flowers are actually out growing wild. But what I do grow specifically for cutting are: Gomphrena, daisys, zinnias, sunflowers, yarrow, cosmos, echinacha(spelling is off, I know), monarda, astilbe, columbines, orlaya, calla lillies, verbena bonairiensis and probably things I am forgetting at this moment. I also make sure to include stuff that is more greenery than flower such as asparagus fern, both the ornamental and the edible make great filler. Eucalyptus, ferns, ect.

    But I am jealous. I read up on the hairy balls and it may be too warm to here for them to do well. We also have trouble with poppies, snapdragons and sweet peas. Sometimes you will be lucky and can baby these things to get a quick picking before they die off.

    Other things that are fast blooming annuals with a very short picking time, but well worth it…..nigella or love in a mist, Henry Iller rudebeckia, larkspur, salvias, and, and….heck it is very early morning and my brain has not had nearly enough coffee yet so I will stop.

    • Karen says:

      You’re right. Now I have to go through all my photos again to find the Aster pics. Only I can’t be bothered, lol. Maybe I’ll just do a little drawing out of crayon, lol. ~ karen!

  19. Tigersmom says:

    Big hairy balls. Hehe.

    Your flower choices are all so fabulously textural and add such a wonderful tactile feeling to your photos it makes me want to touch all the flowers. Except for the balls. Something about them being both balls and green makes me say, “No, not so much.”

    Ranunculus are one of my favorites. I had some that I bought as plants and put in pots with some dusty miller, mini carnations and white petunias and they bloomed for a bit and then I think they got crowded out and died back. : /

    For all of my griping about having a black thumb, I have discovered that one of my other favorites, peonies, are surprisingly easy to grow. Last fall, I purchased about eight as bulbs in addition to the five we had planted three years ago with the landscaping we had done and planted them myself in the beds. All but one of them have come up and a few even have buds and they don’t normally do that in the first year.

  20. Beckie says:

    I grow some of those just for cutting, as you say. I also grow cosmos and baby’s breath for my bouquets.

    Zinnias are my very favorite. The cut and come again variety truly lives up to its name!

  21. ~JackieVB says:

    I will be attempting to grow Luffa ‘Loofah’ Gourds this summer as my something different to try kind of plant. Regarding squash bugs – I read somewhere, and then I tried it, planting pink petunias as a companion plant to squash plants to ward off squash bugs. And it worked – don’t know how or why but I’ve done it for the last 3 years now and there seems to be something to it.

  22. Su says:

    I don’t have enough sun to properly grow a lot of veggies altho I keep trying… so I dedicated most of my garden space to flowers to enjoy and cut and have never looked back…..cut flowers on my kitchen windowsill in blue bottles I collected make me smile!
    Your Ranuculus is so pretty!! I keep trying to grow these but with limited success….. sigh….

    and for some reason your big hairy balls flower queued up Sir Mix a lot lyrics – ‘I like big butts and I can not lie – You other brothers can’t deny’ …. thanks now I have that song stuck in my head

  23. Jody says:

    A lot of people who follow you must be googling “how to care for big hairy balls” because your site was the first on the list. Good job.

  24. Phyllis Kraemer says:

    I checked out Tina’s recommended website and under the comments I learned that in New Zealand the Big Green Hairy Balls grow to 4 feet tall!…there they call them Testicle Trees!…thought you might find use for that little piece of information!

  25. Mary Werner says:

    What is that snake thingy in front for the candlestick? Can’t wait to see all the “little moments” of floral design that you will have sprinkled through your home. I’m sure it will beat my 1″ sweet potato sprouts that have been that hight since a week after the day you posted it. I used my tap water which is treated so I’m sure it isn’t good for us either.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary – That squiggly thing is the Amaranthus! And if your sweet potatoes aren’t growing they need more warmth. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • Mary Werner says:

        I think it isn’t the plant but more like burlap or something – the thingy in front of the bread and candlestick. It does look like a snake skin laying there like that so it can’t be a napkin but it has me stumped.

  26. SuzyMcQ says:

    Nice list of cutting blooms and, I as well, love the candlestick, Karen.

    I would also add cosmos to your list. Very easy and often, self-sowing and probably cleome for the same reasons.

    And, only because I do this for a living, (garden design, not correcting inadvertent errors) the image for the aster is really a zinnia, I believe. I am partial to the Purple Dome asters for their color and for their habit. Unlike other asters, and perennial mums, they don’t need to be clipped back around the Fourth of July.

    • Karen says:

      I know, I’ve been told, lol. That photos from my garden from last year when I had both Asters and Zinnias. Thought I could fool you. Not really … I just put up the wrong shot. 😉 ~ karen!

  27. Valerie says:

    One other fascinating addition to a cut flower grouping is ‘Vanuska – Queen of the Prairie.’ It is difficult to find a supplier that stocks this plant. It resembles huge Astilbe or big bunches of bright pink candy floss. It blooms in all its glory in July.

    • Karen says:

      And I LOVE Astilbe. I don’t have a huge amount of luck with them for some reason though. ~ karen!

      • karen says:

        I am pretty sure that Valerie is talking about Filipendula rubra venusta, also known as Queen of the Prairie, it’s easier to grow then Astilbe and hardy in our area. Nice plant, spreads easily but not a thug. The flowers from Lady’s Mantle are also good as a cut, great filler, makes other flower colours pop in a bouquet.

  28. Twyla says:

    Coneflowers and rudbeckia are also good, as well as tall sedum. I cut everything for bouquets, even hosta leaves. bleeding hearts, ferns. Zinnias are my favorite.

    • Karen says:

      Eep! No to the Rudbeckia for me. Around these parts they’re like weeds and they spread and sprout up everywhere! Maybe planted in a pot in the ground would help with that. I like them but not so much that I want them taking over everything, lol. ~ karen!

      • I am a lay herbalist who LOVES the spreaders, although I understand the unwanted supernova radiation that some of them like to do…Karen, I find it super fun to put Burdock leaves in a bouquet as well…It always surprises folks when they see them, with a frequent comment of: “Why did you put that weird weed in here, too?” In our family, we uproot Burdock’s sacred root and munch away…

  29. Twyla says:

    Interesting … here in MN I don’t have any problem with them being invasive. To each his/her own!

  30. Linda says:

    I once assumed was the website for Dicks Sporting Goods (do not attempt this). No way I’m going anywhere near the big hairy balls. LOL – Linda

  31. Christie says:

    I have always wanted to have a cutting garden. Maybe this year is the year. And I LOVE the big hairy balls. I live in a household of boys, and the green ones are WAY better looking….

  32. Christie says:

    OH – and I’m wild about that candleholder!! I’m going to the website now….

  33. So, what do you do if that hairy, spherical flower starts crawling? 🙂

  34. Shelly says:

    Very funny post, I love it! Am I just noticing that there is a banner pop up advertisement at the bottom of your post lately that it really irritating. Is this new?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shelly – I haven’t made any changes to my ads. However the ads you see change depending on what you’ve browsed for on Google and what my advertising agency has to offer. So the ad you see now that’s irritating isn’t showing up on my computer. Also, ads generally only run for a week or so, so it’ll be gone soon. ~ karen!

  35. Jenifer says:

    Awww…I can’t grow any balls because I am in the wrong zone!!!

    So disappointed!

  36. Michelle says:

    I would love some seeds. Thank you

  37. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Love cutting gardens! Funny post! When I was young I wanted an all white garden. That is something I think you could pull off.

  38. Barbie says:

    You never cease to amaze me. Great idea! I am so doing this this year…..just dedicated to cutting. Why didn’t I think of that???? I never want to cut my flowers in my flower beds…..and I would love to make some arrangements at times…..just can’t stand to part with my beautiful displays on porch and flowerbeds.

  39. Barbie says:

    ……and I am totally going to grow me some big hairy balls!

  40. Cassandra says:

    Of course I looked up how to grow big hairy balls. I had to see if they grow in Texas. Jokes aside that is a really great idea about planting just for cut flowers. I always feel bad cutting the plants I worked so hard to happy and healthy. But with a section just for cutting there is no guilt. Thank you

  41. lynn says:

    Oh how I love a cutting garden. Hubby thinks I am nuts to cut them until he see’s them around the house , then he goes around smelling each one. I do grow poppies I just never cut them as they are giants usually 10 to 12 inches when fully opened 🙂 an a beautiful deep red . Usually have bumper crop of Lilies but had squirrels move in two years ago 🙁 little guys feasted on my bulbs…. limited to no luck with most of the list you mentioned . Each year is a new adventure in our house as to see what will make it in as a cutting. 🙂

  42. SeaDee says:

    Fun post! You inspired me to plant a garden, and now I want to do this. Damn it, Karen!

    And I you still have any seeds left Tina, I’d love some!

  43. LisaS says:

    Wait… I don’t have to fold my thong underwear?! Thank God “do NOT Google “How to care for big hairy balls'” was not the only advice I needed for the day or I woulda never known! lol

  44. Love love love those poppies!

  45. tanya says:

    Can you explain the burning of the poppy bottoms. They seem to be the only flower I can grow on my south facing [aka ‘the furnace’] balcony.

  46. Kris says:

    If you’re a little intimidated, impatient and new to seeds (and by you, I mean me!) can I grow a cutting garden by starting with plants from a nursery? More expensive I’m sure, but would it work?

    • Karen says:

      Oh heck yeah. About half the flowers in my cutting garden were from a nursery last year because i didn’t think to do it until late. So I bought a bunch then threw a bunch of seeds in too. Go for it. 🙂 ~ karen!

  47. Mike says:

    My grandmother always had flowers growing that she could cut to have available for various events or gift giving. She didn’t have any organized garden as such, but just all through her yard. I think because florist shops were not so common, maybe? And my grandmother would never think of “buying” flowers. I have a friend that grows flowers for drying. It seems to me that most of what he grows is really weeds, but they are pretty. I guess you could grow other things for cutting, like pretty weeds? Interesting article, as always!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Mike! And the problem with weeds as flowers is you’d really better love them because eventually they’ll take over everything. They’re like a weed those weeds. 😉 ~ karen!

  48. Alton Molnar says:

    I always plant lots of zinnias, but I will have to add some of the other flowers you have suggested this year. Always nice to have flowers to cut for my sweetie

  49. Sue says:

    First time I saw big hairy balls (well, the flower anyway) was in the NYC flower district last fall. Some young man was carrying large bouquets of them to a floral shop. Never having seen something so unusual, I asked him what they were. He ever so faintly whispered “big hairy balls”. Of course, I did not just hear this young boy call these flowers big hairy balls, so I said “excuse me, did you just call these big hairy balls?” His nod and an eye roll was followed by my and my friend’s hysterical laughing.

  50. Jody says:

    You’ve inspired me to try something different. I’m planting asparagus peas and Luffa Sponge seeds that I picked up from Wm Dam Seeds. We are also going to spread a variety of wildflower and lots of milkweed seed to support bees, butterflies, birds and bugs in our field south of the city.

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