A Cut Flower Garden of Perennial Favorites

Lily stargazer and lavender
Mark Turner / Getty Images
  • 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 often feature annual flowers because they will repeatedly bloom throughout the season. However, it's also possible to create a cutting garden with perennial flowers. Many perennials will bloom more than once if the flowers are cut frequently or plucked after wilting. 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 beneficial aspect of using perennials 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 pleasant backdrop to the next flowers that bloom. And of course, you don't have to plant a perennial cutting garden from scratch every year since they will last for many seasons. There will be necessary weeding and maintenance, but that's also true of annual flower gardens.

    You can still mix some annual flowers into your perennial cutting garden. This garden design example includes only perennials, but you could easily tuck in some zinnias, Gomphrena, cosmos, and nigella in between.

    This perennial cutting garden fills a corner bed that's approximately 390 square feet. You can use this as a planting plan, or you can pick and choose from the list of flowers to fill your allotted space. 

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

    #1 - Peonies

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

    Peonies are a long-lived plant—you'll often find them still growing around abandoned homes. Once planted, they don't appreciate being moved or divided, but it is possible. 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 resilient, and they have a mild, sweet fragrance. For the longest bloom, cut them when they're not quite fully open.

    Paeonia lactiflora - 'Alma Hansen' 

    • USDA zones 4–8
    • 4 feet tall
    • 3 feet wide 
    • Pale pink blooms 
    • Early to Mid-Summer

    Alternatives:

    • Paeonia lactiflora - 'Miss Eckhart' - Vivid pink blooms
    • Paeonia lactiflora - 'Sarah Bernhardt' - A classic, double-pink peony
    Continue to 3 of 14 below.
  • 03 of 14

    #2 - Oriental Lilies

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

    Oriental lilies are exquisite flowers with an intoxicating scent. 

    As cut flowers, they tend to drop their pollen. To avoid staining, remove the sepals before bringing them indoors.

    Lilium - 'Star Gazer'

    • USDA zones 4–9 
    • 4–5 feet tall
    • 1–2 feet wide 
    • Fragrant crimson blooms with white edges 
    • Late summer 

    Alternatives:

    • Lilium - 'Bergamo' - Speckled light pink flowers with a gold streaks
    • Lilium - 'Chambertin' - Raspberry color is almost purple
    Continue to 4 of 14 below.
  • 04 of 14

    #3 - Phlox

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

    Garden phlox is an 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 airflow and rich soil to help them grow strong.

    Phlox will grow tall and sturdy with multiple repeat blooms. White phlox 'David' (pictured), was one of the first midlew-resistant varieties sold. 

    Phlox paniculata - 'Franz Schubert'

    • USDA zones 4–8
    • 2–3 feet tall 
    • 2 feet wide
    • Lilac-pink blooms
    • Mid to late summer

    Alternatives:

    • Phlox paniulata - 'Eva Cullum' - Pink flowers with a darker center eye
    • Phlox paniculata - 'Laura' - Lilac flowers with white centers
    Continue to 5 of 14 below.
  • 05 of 14

    #4 - Longfellow Peonies

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

    Showy 'Longfellow' peonies feature twice as many petals as other varieties. However, their extra petals also make them heavy. You'll likely need stake supports, as the double flowers will flop to the ground with the first hint of rain.

    Paeonia lactiflora - 'Longfellow'  

    • USDA zones 3–8
    • 3 feet tall 
    • 2 feet wide
    • Double crimson blooms
    • Early to midsummer

    Alternatives:

    • Paeonia lactiflora - 'Karl Rosenfield' - Another stunning double, red peony
    • Paeonia lactiflora - 'Red' - Vivid, striking red
    Continue to 6 of 14 below.
  • 06 of 14

    #5 - Sea Holly

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

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

    Sea holly is not only an excellent cut flower—they also dry beautifully and quickly. You'll lose a little of the blue color with drying, but they still make a nice presentation.

    Eryngium planum - 'Flat Sea Holly'

    • USDA Zones 4–9
    • 3–4 feet tall 
    • 2 feet wide 
    • Silvery blue blooms
    • Mid to late summer

    Alternatives:

    • Eryngium Alpinum - 'Alpine Sea Holly' - A brilliant blue
    • Eryngium amethystinum - 'Amethyst Sea Holly' - Good for colder climates
    Continue to 7 of 14 below.
  • 07 of 14

    #6 - Sneezeweed

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

    Helenium plants (also known as Sneezeweed) take several months to bloom, but you'll eventually have glorious flowers late in the season.

    New introductions have brought renewed attention to Helenium, and you'll probably find several varieties at your local nursery. Helenium is one of the few plants that doesn't mind wet or marshy soil. 

    Helenium autumnale - 'Butterpat'

    • USDA zones 3–8
    • 4–5 feet tall 
    • 2–3 feet wide
    • Yellow blooms with a dark center
    • Late summer to fall

    Alternatives:

    • Helenium autumnale - 'Kanaria' - Another gorgeous, golden Helenium
    • Helenium autumnale - 'Moerheim Beauty' - Tall, rust-colored blossoms with gold centers
    Continue to 8 of 14 below.
  • 08 of 14

    #7 - Oriental Poppies

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

    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 because poppies are ephemeral, and the plants disappear during the summer months. In this cutting garden design, they're 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 their outer green calyx covering 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 last even longer if you remove the calyx. 

    Papaver orientale - 'Livermere'

    • USDA zones 2–9 
    • 2–3 feet tall
    • 2 feet wide
    • Orange, red, pink, and off-white blooms 
    • Late spring to early summer

    Alternatives:

    • Papaver orientale - 'Allegro' - 18–20 inches tall with scarlet flowers
    • Papaver orientale - 'Pizzicato' - 20 inches tall with mixed colors
    Continue to 9 of 14 below.
  • 09 of 14

    #8 - Liatris

    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. Blooms increase as the plants become established. Liatris is available as plants, but it's also easily and inexpensively started as corms, which grow quickly and bloom the first season.

    The 'Kobold' variety is also known as 'Goblin' and is a bit shorter than more common Liatris. However, the flowers tend to be very similar regardless of the type.

    Liatris spicata - 'Kobold' 

    • USDA zones 3–10 
    • 2 feet tall
    • 2 feet wide 
    • Purple blooms

    Alternatives:

    • Liatris scariosa (Tall Gayfeather) - 'September Glory' - Flowers spike at the same time as opposed to top to bottom
    Continue to 10 of 14 below.
  • 10 of 14

    #9 - Yarrow

    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 well if it's used as a cut flower. 'Cerise Queen' is a charming new cultivar, with vibrant pink blossoms that bloom over and over.

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

    Achillea millefolium - 'Cerise Queen'

    • USDA zones 3–9 
    • 18 inches tall
    • 24 inches wide
    • Fuchsia blooms

    Alternatives:

    • Achillea 'Paprika' - A peppery, orange-red that changes shades as it ages
    • Achillea 'Summer Pastels' - An assortment of soft, pastel shades
    Continue to 11 of 14 below.
  • 11 of 14

    #10 - Bellflowers

    Peach-leaved Bellflower.
    Roel Meijer / Getty Images

    Peach-leaved bellflowers have a slight resemblance to peach leaves, but peach trees should be so easy to grow. Most bellflowers are good garden performers needing minimal care. Some, like Campanula latifolia, can become a nuisance as they quickly spread throughout the garden. 

    Bellflower blossoms are held above the mound of leaves on tall, straight stems, making them ideal for cut flowers. They're early-season bloomers, but you should get repeat blooms in a cutting garden, if you're diligent about harvesting.

    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 watered.

    Campanula persicifolia - 'Blue Bloomers'

    • USDA zones 3–9
    • 1–3 feet tall
    • 1–2 feet wide
    • Violet blooms

    Alternatives:

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

    #11 - Balloon Flowers

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

    Balloon flowers can test your patience as you wait for the balloon-like buds to pop—some kids squeeze the sides and pop them open themselves. The translucent petals are delightful, especially with the sun shining through them.

    It's easy to see that balloon flowers are a relative of bellflowers, with their similar color and shape. They require practically no care, other than cutting your flowers. Once established, they don't like to be moved or divided.

    Platycodon grandiflorus - 'Double Blue'

    • USDA zones 3–9 
    • 2–3 feet tall 
    • 18 inches wide
    • Blue, pink, or white blooms

    Alternatives:

    • Platycodon grandiflorus - 'Fuji Blue' - Deepest blue variety
    • Platycodon grandiflorus - 'Sentimental Blue' - A shorter, more compact plant
    Continue to 13 of 14 below.
  • 13 of 14

    #12 - Asiatic 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, and they're very hardy. Post-season mulching in colder climates can be helpful to protect them over the winter. 

    Most Asiatic lilies are sturdy and usually don't require staking. They have large blooms with a strong, sweet scent. Hummingbirds love them, too.

    Lilium - 'Corsica'

    • USDA zones 2–8
    • 2–3 feet tall 
    • 1 foot wide
    • White booms, tinged with pink
    • June through July

    Alternatives:

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

    #13 - Yarrow

    The fuchsia flowered Achillea 'Cerise Queen' has already been included in this garden, but there's no reason to stop at one yarrow. Achillea 'Moonshine' is a lovely yellow yarrow that compliments most colors in the garden. 

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

    Achillea - 'Moonshine' 

    • USDA zones 3–9
    • 18 inches tall
    • 2 feet wide
    • Yellow blooms

    Alternatives:

    • Achillea - 'Terra Cotta' - A soft, rusty peach
    • Achillea - 'Summer Pastels'- An assortment of pale pastel colors