Growing cut flowers for the vase

There is something deeply satisfying about picking flowers from your own garden for an indoor arrangement.

Growing flowers for the vase is something you can easily do yourself - with just a little planning and know-how.

Most gardens are a florist’s treasure anyway. You don’t necessarily have to find perfectly straight and long-stemmed flowers. Even consider the benefit of using foliage in different colours, textures or that can offer a pleasant fragrance.

You might be surprised that many of our common garden shrubs and flowers are quite suitable for the vase.



Select Your Flowers:

Any stem or branch with attractive form or foliage can be used in flower arrangements, including many weeds, grasses, shrubs and trees. But to fill basic arranging needs you will want to grow a few feature flowers, free-blooming fillers, and at least one flower with an upright, spiking form.

While the selection of flowers to include in a cut garden is personal and climate dependant, here are some easy-to-grow favourites:

Reblooming floribunda roses make handy cut flowers, though their blossoms are not as showy as those of long-stemmed (yet temperamental) hybrid teas.

Flowers with beautiful fragrance like Jasmine and Magnolia bring another exciting element to the vase. And don’t forget about scented lavender and rosemary as fillers.

The summer flowering Hydrangea is always popular over Christmas time, where Camellia is the perfect choice for the vase in the winter.

Alstoemeria (even the short-stemmed varieties) come in various exciting colours these days and can last for weeks in a vase.

Typically, we view indigenous flowers as wild and unsuitable. There are, however, some wonderful long-lasting species: Strelitzia reginae, Agapanthus, Clivia, Kniphofia, Gerbera, Leucospermum, Protea, Zantedeschia, Plumbago.

Some more flowering plants suitable for the vase you won’t necessarily think of: Fuchsia, Leucanthemum, Citrus tree flowers, Bougainvillea, Salvia leucantha, Dianthus ‘Jolt’.

And don’t forget about the foliage fillers: Penny gum, Conebush, Asparagus fern, Philodendron ‘Xanadu’, Rumohra fern.




The list of annuals to grow for cutting is a long one. How about growing several each season, but change up the planting list from year to year to keep things interesting?

For visual interest, grow blossoms with a distinct shape in vibrant colours, such as: snapdragons, poppies, zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers.

If you want to add texture, choose strawflowers, amaranthus and celosias.

For blooms with height, grow delphiniums, hollyhocks, clarkia and foxgloves.

More options: Dianthus, Carnation, Stocks, Aster, Sweet peas, Marigold, Corn flower, Campanula.


Conveniently shop flower seeds online from our curated list here:

(Much more options in-store)



How To Get Started:

Prepare the site:

For the most prolific, healthy flowers, amend your soil to ensure the plants have the nutrients they need to grow and bloom well. Your cutting flowers will need soil that is rich in organic matter, so add in a few layers of compost and fertiliser before you get started.

Plan your layout:

Easy access to your flowers is important: you don’t want to have to stretch too far to cut the stems. Also allow enough space for trouble-free watering, weeding and harvesting.

Determine plants’ needs:

Determine what the growing conditions are for each of the flowers you choose to grow, and then group those with similar needs together. Grouping plants with similar growing requirements will help you give them all exactly what they need with less effort.

Maintain your cutting garden:

The most important thing you can do is keep cutting! Most plants will set new flowers after you have cut the first flush of blooms. In fact, some flowers produce more blooms when cut more often: the more flowers are cut, the more are produced, so don’t hold back!



Harvesting flowers:

When to Pick:

It’s importance to allow flowers to grow in soil for as long as possible before cutting, so that they receive all the nutrients they need to survive in just water. Don’t pick flowers that are not yet in full bloom, as this may prevent them from opening in the vase. But don’t wait indefinitely – if they’re picked when well into bloom, they won’t last very long in the vase and will drop petals and pollen everywhere.

The right tools:

Use a sharp, clean pair of scissors that won’t transfer diseases to the plant. Cutting is a preferred form to picking by hand, as this minimises damage to the plant, and, by cutting stems at an angle, you’re able to create more surface area for the flower to drink up water.

How to Cut:

Snip the stem above a node or dormant bud to spur on new blooms. For small flowering plants: count at least three leaves to keep on the stem in the ground so that the plant can still be fed.



To make cut flowers last:

Have a bucket of water ready outside - to place stems straight into after cutting from the plant.

Cut flowers with a sharp knife or clipper in the early morning when they are fresh and before the bees join you and place cut flower stems in water immediately.

Remove leaves that will be below the surface of the water in the vase, as well as any excess leaves above water level that will compete with the flowers for water.

Cut off and use the side stems in smaller arrangement.

Leave prepared flowers in a bucket of water in a cool place for a couple of hours, preferably overnight, before arranging.

Cutting stems underwater can sometimes revive wilted flowers.

Use a cut flower food.