A Cut Flower Garden of Perennial Favorites

Lily stargazer and lavender
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  • 01 of 14

    A Garden of Bouquets, Year After Year

    Free Garden Design - Perennial Cutting Garden
    Garden Design - Perennial Cutting Garden. Marie Iannotti

    Cutting gardens are often designed using annual flowers, because annual flowers will repeat bloom throughout the season. However there is no rule that says you can't have a perennial cutting garden. Many perennials will repeat flower if kept dead headed, which is exactly what a cutting garden is for. And since not all perennial flowers bloom at the same time, your bouquets and arrangements will take on a seasonal flair and provide you with ever changing variety.

    Another nice aspect of using perennial plants in your cutting garden is that the plants will look good throughout the season. When you've finished cutting your peonies, the foliage will provide a nice backdrop to in coming flowers. And of course, you don't have to plant a perennial cutting garden from scratch every year. There will be maintenance, but that's true of annual flower gardens too.

    Finally, there is also no rule that says you can't mix some annual flowers into your perennial cutting garden. The garden design laid out here is all perennials, but you could easily tuck in some zinnias, Gomphrena, cosmos and nigella between fading or resting perennials.

    The perennial cutting garden laid out here fills a corner bed that's approximately 390 Sq. Ft. You can use this as planting plan or pick and choose flowers to fit into the space you have.

    1. Peony 'Alma Hansen'
    2. Lilium 'Star Gazer' (Oriental Lily)
    3. Phlox paniculata 'Franz Schubert'
    4. Peony 'Longfellow'
    5. Eryngium planum - Sea Holly
    6. Helenium autumnale (Sneezeweed) 'Butterpat'
    7. Papaver orientale - Oriental Poppy
    8. Liatris spicata (Gay Feather, Dense Blazing Star) 'Kobold'
    9. Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) 'Cerise Queen'
    10. Campanula persicifolia (Peach-leaved Bellflower) 'Blue Bloomers'
    11. Platycodon grandiflorus - Balloon Flower
    12. Lilium 'Corsica' (Asiatic Lily)
    13. Achillea (Yarrow) 'Moonshine'
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  • 02 of 14

    #1 - Peonies, To Start the Cutting Season Off Right

    Peony 'Alma Hansen'
    #1 - Peony 'Alma Hansen' Peony 'Alma Hansen'. Marie Iannotti

    Peonies are a long lived plant and you'll often find them still growing around abandoned homes. Once planted, they don't appreciate being moved or divided, but they can be. You'll just have to wait a few years for them to stop mopping and start blooming again.

    Peonies make wonderful cut flowers. They're long lasting and they have a sweet, but not over powering fragrance. Cut when not quite fully open, for longest bloom.

    Paeonia lactiflora 'Alma Hansen' - Peony (USDA Zones 4 - 8, 3-4' x 3', Pale Pink Blooms: Early to Mid-Summer)


    • Peony 'Miss Eckhart' - Vivid pink blooms.
    • Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt' - The classic double pink peony.

    Here's a quick profile on growing peonies.

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  • 03 of 14

    #2 - Lilies Have Come Back into Popularity as Cut Flowers in a Big Way

    View of Stargazer Lily close-up.
    Gina Pricope / Getty Images

    'Star Gazer' became a star lily when the first gardener took a good whiff. These are exquisite flowers. And, as mentioned earlier when talking about the early season Lily 'Corsica', Oriental lilies are very easy and undemanding to grow.

    As cut flowers, they have a tendency to drop their pollen on everything they touch. Well, that is their job after all. To avoid staining, remove the sepals before bringing them indoors.

    Lilium 'Star Gazer' (Oriental Lily) (USDA Zones 4 - 9, 4-5' x 1-2', Fragrant Crimson Blooms with White Edges: July-August)


    • Lilium 'Bergamo' - Speckled light pink flowers with a gold streak down each petal.
    • Lilium 'Chambertin' - Raspberry color is almost purple.
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  • 04 of 14

    #3 - Phlox Look Better in Your Arrangments than in the Garden

    White Phlox paniculata David
    Garden Photo World/Georgianna Lane / Getty Images

    Garden phlox is another old-fashioned charmer, but look for the newer varieties that have been bred to be powdery mildew resistant. Help them along even more by giving them a spot in full sun with good air flow and a rich soil to help them grow strong.

    If you can provide all that, Phlox paniculata will grow tall and sturdy with multiple repeat blooms, especially if you keep cutting them off. The phlox pictured here is the white Phlox 'David', one of the first midlew resistant varieties sold and still popular. The phlox included in the garden design has lilac-pink blossoms.

    Phlox paniculata 'Franz Schubert' (USDA Zones 4 - 8, 2-3' x 2', Lilac-Pink Blooms: Mid- to Late Summer)


    • Phlox paniulata 'Eva Cullum' - Pink flowers with a darker center eye.
    • Phlox paniculata 'Laura' - Lilac flowers with white centers.
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  • 05 of 14

    #4 - Another Peony, but in a Whole Different Look

    Growing Peonies
    #4 - Paeonia 'Longfellow' Red Peonies. Marie Iannotti

    There's nothing shy about Peony 'Longfellow'. These flowers demand your attendiong.

    Large, double peony flowers are show stoppers. However they are also heavy. You can sometimes get away with not staking single peonies, but doubles will flop to the ground with the first hint of rain and stay there.

    As mentioned earlier in this gallery, peonies are long lasting cut flowers, especially if cut just before they are fully open.

    Paeonia 'Longfellow' - Peony (USDA Zones 3 - 8, 36" x 30", Double Crimson Blooms: Early to Mid-Summer)


    • Peony 'Karl Rosenfield' - Another stunning double, red peony.
    • Peony 'Red' - You'll often find unnamed varieties of peonies, simply labeled by their flower color. They have unpretentious names, but they still perform well and look beautiful in the garden.

    Here's a quick profile on growing peonies.

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  • 06 of 14

    #5 - As Beautiful as it is Prickly

    High Angle View Of Bumblebee On Sea Holly Flower
    Dean Howard / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Sea Holly is a striking plant. They look intimidating and it's not a bad idea to use gloves when you cut them, but they are very easy to grow. Because they have a long tap root, they are very drought resistant, xeric plants. But this also means that they don't like to be moved, once established.

    Sea Holly is not only a good cut flower, it dries beautifully too. And quickly. You'll lose a little of the blue color, but they still make a nice presentation.

    Eryngium planum- Flat Sea Holly - (USDA Zones 4 - 9, 3-4' x 2', Silvery Blue Blooms: Mid- to Late Summer; also nice dried)


    • Eryngium Alpinum (Alpine Sea Holly) - A vivid blue.
    • Eryngium amethystinum (Amethyst Sea Holly) - Good for colder climates.
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  • 07 of 14

    #6 - Another Flower That's Much More Beautiful Than Its Name

    Beautiful summer flowering bright orange Helenium flowers also known as Sneezeweed, image taken against a soft background
    Jacky Parker Photography / Getty Images

    Helenium are under used plants, but that's beginning to change. They've lived in the shadow of splashier fall blooming perennials, probably because their flowers tend to be small (1-2" across) and the plant itself doesn't look like much most of the season. But that's the price you pay to have glorious blooms late in the season.

    New introductions have brought renewed attention to Helenium and you'll probably find several varieties in your local nurseries. Be smarter than most gardeners who don't have the patience to plant something that makes them wait until later in the season to see flowers. Helenium will more than reward you with fall bouquets. All it asks is time and regular water. Helenium is one of the few plants that doesn't mind poorly drained soil. Mulch will help, if your soil isn't always on the moist side.

    The photo here is rusty Helenium autumnale 'Moerheim Beauty'. The Helenium in the garden design is golden 'Butterpat'.

    Helenium autumnale 'Butterpat' - Sneezeweed (USDA Zones 3 - 8, 4-5' x 2-3', Yellow Blooms with Dark Center: Repeat Bloomers) Flowers tend to be smaller in hot temperature.


    • Helenium autumnale 'Kanaria' - Another gorgeous golden Helenium.
    • Helenium autumnale 'Moerheim Beauty' - Tall, rust colored blossoms with gold centers.
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  • 08 of 14

    #7 - Oriental Poppies Can Last Longer in a Vase than in the Garden

    Papaver orientale - Oriental Poppy
    #7 - Oriental Poppy Papaver orientale - Oriental Poppy. Marie Iannotti

    Another flower of the old-fashioned set, Oriental poppies have been garden staples for centuries. There are now over 100 named cultivars on the market, but it's rare to see many of them available for sale. That's probably because poppies are ephemeral and the plants disappear during the summer months. For our cutting garden, they are planted in the back row, behind some Helenium that will fill in the gaps.

    Many gardeners don't think poppies can be used as cut flowers, since just breathing on them can cause the petals to fall off in the garden. But if you cut them just as the outer green calyx covering them begins to crack and the buds are beginning to open, they do quite well in water. Early morning or evening is the best time to cut them and they'll do even better in water if you remove the calyx. Don't be afraid of the vibrant colors of Oriental poppies. They will be long gone before nearby flowers begin blooming and competing with them.

    Papaver orientale - Oriental Poppy (USDA Zones 2 - 9, 2-3' x 2', Orange, Red, Pink, Off-White Blooms: Late Spring / Early Summer)


    • Papaver orientale 'Allegro' - 18 - 20" tall, Scarlet Flowers, Can be grown from seed.
    • Pizzicato hydrids - 20" tall. Mixed colors including: white, pink, salmon, orange and red. Sturdy stems and wind resistant petals. Can be grown from seed.
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  • 09 of 14

    #8 -One of the Best Repeat Blooming Spiky Blues

    Blazing Stars on Road
    shene / Getty Images

    Liatris is happy growing just about anywhere. The fluffy spikes of light purple flowers start blooming from the top and work their way down, so cut them early. Blooms increase as the plants become established. Liatris is available as plants, but it is also easily and inexpensively started as corms, which grow quickly and bloom the first season.

    Liatris 'Kobold' is also known as 'Goblin' and is a bit shorter than more common Liatris. However the flowers tend to be very similar for each variety.

    Liatris spicata 'Kobold' - Gay Feather, Dense Blazing Star (USDA Zones 3 - 10, 2' x 2', Purple Blooms: Repeat Bloomer)


    • Liatris scariosa (Tall Gayfeather) 'September Glory' - The whole spike flowers at the same time, rather than in sequence from top down.
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  • 10 of 14

    #9 - Yarrow Performs Well Anywhere the Sun Shines

    Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) 'Cerise Queen'
    #9 - Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) 'Cerise Queen' Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) 'Cerise Queen'. Marie Iannotti

    Yarrow is a staple in so many gardens and it blooms and grows all the better if it's used as a cut flower. 'Cerise Queen' is one of the best new cultivars, with vibrant pink blooms that just keep coming.

    Growing yarrow in full sun will help keep it from flopping. Yarrow also needs to be divided periodically, maybe every 4-5 years or so, to keep it blooming well. Other than that, sit back and enjoy.

    Achillea millefolium 'Cerise Queen' - Yarrow (USDA Zones 3 - 9, 18" x 24", Fuchsia Blooms: Repeat Bloomer)


    • Achillea 'Paprika' - A peppery orange-red that changes shades as it ages.
    • Achillea 'Summer Pastels' - An assortment of soft, pastel shades.

    Here's a quick profile on growing yarrow.

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  • 11 of 14

    #10 -There are Many Bellflowers, but Campanula persicifolia Makes the Cut

    Peach-leaved Bellflower.
    Roel Meijer / Getty Images

    Campanula persicifolia is called the peach-leaved bellflower and there is a slight resemblance to peach leaves - but peach trees should be so easy to grow. Most Campanulas are good garden performers needing minimal care. Some, like C. Latifolia, can become a nuisance seeding and spreading throughout the garden. But what better place for enthusiastic plants than in a cutting garden, where the blossoms will be long gone before seed is set?

    The flowers on C. persicifolia are held above the mound of leaves on tall, straight stems, making them ideal for cut flowers. Bellflowers are often considered early season bloomers, but you should get repeat blooms in a cutting garden, if you are diligent about cutting. Bellflowers also like some relief from intense sun and heat. So if your garden is in full sun, mulch the base of the plants and keep them well watered.

    Campanula persicifolia (Peach-leaved Bellflower) 'Blue Bloomers' (USDA Zones 3 - 9, 1-3' x 1-2', Violet Blooms: Repeat Bloomer)


    • Campanula persicifolia 'Powder Puff' - Pure white blooms.
    • Campanula persicifolia 'Telham Beauty' - Blue flowers.
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  • 12 of 14

    #11 - A Favorite for Both Its Color and Its Popping Nature

    Platycodon grandiflorus - Balloon Flower
    #11 - Platycodon grandiflorus - Balloon Flower Platycodon grandiflorus - Balloon Flower. Marie Iannotti

    Balloon flowers test your patience, waiting for the bubble to pop, so most kids just squeeze the sides and 'pop' them open themselves. The translucent petals are charming with the sun shining through them.

    It's easy to see that Platycodon is a relative of Campanula, the bell flowers. It needs practically no care, other than cutting your flowers. Once established, it doesn't like to be moved or divided and seems to live forever.

    Platycodon grandiflorus (Balloon Flower) 'Double Blue' - (USDA Zones 3 - 9, 2-3' x 18", Blue, Pink or White Blooms: Repeat Bloomer)


    • Platycodon grandiflorus 'Fuji Blue'
    • Platycodon grandiflorus 'Sentimental Blue' - A shorter, more compact plant.
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  • 13 of 14

    #12 - Nothing Beats the Softness of a Pale Pink Lily

    Pink Oriental Lily 'Maywood'
    #12 - Oriental Lily 'Maywood' Pink Oriental Lily 'Maywood'. Photo Courtesy of Novalis 'Plants That Work'

    Asiatic lilies are one of the easiest to grow. They're not fussy about soil, although they don't like wet feet, and they are very hardy. Winter mulching in colder climates is a good idea, unless you have heavy, poorly drained soil.

    Most Asiatic lilies are also sturdy enough to not need staking. They have large blooms with a strong, sweet scent. Hummingbirds love them too.

    Lilium 'Corsica' (Asiatic Lily) (USDA Zones 2 - 8, 2-3' x 1', White Blooms, Tinged with Pink : June - July


    • Lilium 'Maywood' - Pictured Here. Blooms are a deep, saturated pink.
    • Lilium 'Tiara' - Pale pink blossoms with ruffled edges.
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  • 14 of 14

    'Moonshine' Yarrow Provides a Buttery Yellow that Complements Anything

    The fuchsia flowered Achillea 'Cerise Queen' has already been included in this garden, but why stop at one yarrow? Achillea 'Moonshine' is one of the most perfect yellows for any garden; softening hot colors and heating up cool ones. Here's it's growing along side the more golden Achillea 'Coronation Gold'. Just think how it will work in an arrangement.

    Yarrow has the bonus effect of attracting plenty of butterflies to your garden. The wide flower head gives them a place to rest and stretch out their wings.

    Achillea 'Moonshine' - Yarrow (USDA Zones 3 - 9, 18" x 24", Yellow Blooms: Repeat Bloomer)


    • Achillea 'Terra Cotta' - A soft, rusty peach.
    • Achillea 'Summer Pastels'. - An assortment of pale pastel colors.
    Here's a quick profile for learning more about growing Achillea.