Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

How do I grow cut flowers for the house?

Whether you want to pick a posy of flowers for a gift or fill a vase for the hearth, your garden can provide plenty of flowers for cutting

B.hypnorum Eryngium. C. Jean Vernon

There are so many benefits of having a garden and a greenhouse. Picking fresh flowers for the house or for a friend is just one of the pleasures. Flowers picked from a real garden bear little resemblance to most cut flowers that you buy. And that’s a good thing because the arrangement is diverse, more natural and very personal to your garden and your tastes.

If you want to pick flowers from the garden, the secret is to plant more, and to experiment by cutting what you have. Just because something isn’t commonly seen in a bouquet doesn’t mean it won’t look great. Look at things with fresh eyes. Even wildflowers like cow parsley, rosebay willow herb or campion and also flowering herbs growing on your plot can be a fantastic addition to an informal display.

Float Flowers Bowl. C. Jean Vernon

Look at your perennial plants. Some might have less significant flowers, like nepeta or verbena, or alchemilla. But these will act as fillers in a bouquet adding a little foliage or a splash of colour. Sometimes a few striking flowers can be bulked out using stems of foliage, more airy flowers and even seed heads. By cutting a few stems you encourage the plant to make more so that your garden keeps flowering for longer. If you are planting more then choose perennials like rudbeckias, bidens, salvias, irises, some of the umbellifers, dahlias, dianthus, achilleas, eryngium, astrantia, phlox, penstemon, and asters.

Jug of cut flowers. C. Jean Vernon

One of the best ways to experiment cost effectively with flowers for cutting is to grow from seed. A handful of seed packets can generate masses of flowers. Look out for things like cosmos, cleome, cornflowers, poppies, sweet peas, sunflowers and others. It’s not too late to sow a few now, they might not all flower this year, but have a grow! If you are less experienced at growing from seed then look out for pots of annuals at the garden centre or local nursery, or mail order and have a trial this year in readiness for next.


If you are new to gardening then planting bulbs is almost guaranteed to bring great results and particularly when you want bundles of flowers for cutting. Flowers like spring daffodils and tulips are particularly lovely early in the season and relatively cheap to grow. You can force a few bulbs in pots within the protected climes of the greenhouse so you get some early blooms and then plant the others in pots to enjoy in the garden or cut for inside the house. Most spring flowering bulbs like tulips, alliums, and daffodils are planted in the autumn and then flower in the spring. Many will flower year on year, so they make a good investment. But there are also some great summer flowering bulbs like lilies that can be planted in late spring to flower the same year. These will mature and flower each year so are great value for money. Look for scented varieties for a double whammy!

Roses and shrubs
Agastache rudbeckia. C. Martin Mulchinock

If you fancy roses for cutting then choose the right varieties for the best results. David Austin Roses sells some fantastic roses bred especially for their scent and for cutting.


Don’t forget that a jug of cut flowers can be used to accent a garden table as well as within the house. Sometimes I take a vase of slightly faded flowers out into the garden to enjoy for longer. And if you’ve knocked a head or two off the flower stem, then float them in a small bowl as a centre piece for the table. Several flower heads displayed this way creates a lovely effect.