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Our Favorite Cut Flowers from A to Z

Cut flowers don't have to be a luxury, and you don't have to go into debt to decorate a special event. Growing blooms and greens from seed, tubers, or bulbs is a huge money-saver, and lets you enjoy your garden's bounty while you're inside nursing a hangover from the latest garden society high tea or cringing at your new father-in-law's awkward dinner toast. 

26 picks for your cut flower garden

It's not easy to choose favorites, so we prioritized easy growing and off-the-beaten-path plants. Be sure to follow the links for design ideas and growing tips, bookmark this comprehensive guide to cut flower care, and this one by the University of Nebraska for preserving dried arrangements

Angelica (Angelica archangelica)

Similar in appearance to Queen Anne's Lace and Bishop's Flower, angelica bears showy umbrella-shaped clusters of white florets. Dry the flower heads, or display them fresh fully opened or still in green bud form. Unlike most umbrella-shaped plants, angelica's leaves are broader with an interesting texture. 

  • Flower colors: White, green
  • Foliage:  Compound, serrated, spearhead-shaped, yellow-green
  • Stem height: Up to 5'
  • Bloom begins: Early summer
  • Good dried: Yes
  • Vase life: 4-6 days

Bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis)

These unusual beauties are often used as filler in or to give height to large arrangements, though they're striking on their own. Bells of Ireland grow in tall spikes, and what looks like cupped leaves are actually the flower's structures. 

  • Flower colors: Miniscule white flowers in cone-shaped, pale-veined green calyxes
  • Foliage: Ovate, scalloped, light green leaves mostly at the base, but a few protrude among the calyxes
  • Stem height: 2' to 3'
  • Bloom begins: Midsummer
  • Good dried: Yes; calyxes turn beige when left to dry on the plant, fading to olive green when cut and intentionally dried
  • Vase life: 7-11 days

China Aster (Callistephus chinensis)

There are dozens of different China aster varieties and cultivars, so pick your color, height, and texture. Fast-growing asters are easy to grow from seed

  • Flower colors: Shades of blue, purple, red, pink, yellow, and white; bright gold centers
  • Foliage:  Medium green, ovate, serrated
  • Stem height: 5" (dwarf) to 3'
  • Bloom begins: Midsummer
  • Good dried: Yes
  • Vase life: 7-14 days

Dahlia (Dahlia spp.)

If you only grow one plant for indoor displays, it had better be dahlias. With hundreds of thousands of cultivars available, you'd have plenty of variety and no limit to how to show them off. They're easy to grow, and when you harvest flowers the plant pretty much says, "Oh, yeah? Well, there's more where those came from!" 

  • Flower colors: Any hue but blue
  • Foliage:  Typically medium green, arrowhead-shaped, serrated
  • Stem height: 1' to 6'
  • Bloom begins: Early summer
  • Good dried: Smaller blooms dry reasonably well; desiccants recommended
  • Vase life: 2-14 days

Everlasting (Xerochrysum bracteatum)

Also known as strawflower, everlasting lives up to its name as a durable fresh or dried cut flower. It has a papery texture and is sometimes referred to as a paper daisy. 

  • Flower colors:  Red, yellow, orange, pink, white
  • Foliage: Narrow, green-grey 4"-long leaves
  • Stem height: 1' (dwarf) to 6'
  • Bloom begins: Early summer
  • Good dried: The best, holding shape and color for years
  • Vase life: Up to 30 days! 

Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis alpestris, Anchusa capensis, Cynoglossum amabile)

There are three main Forget-Me-Not types: Alpine, Cape, and Chinese. All make charming rustic arrangements and sweet, sentimental bridal bouquets. We love to pick them when there are still a few closed buds on the sprigs. 

  • Flower colors:  Shades and patterns of blue, pink, or lilac with bright yellow centers
  • Foliage: Narrow, hairy, lanceolate, leaves are green to gray-green, up to 3" long
  • Stem height: 6" to 18", depending on species
  • Bloom begins: Mid-spring to early summer
  • Good dried: Best used as a pressed flower
  • Vase life: 3-7 days

Gypsophila (Gypsophila elegans)

You've heard of baby's breath — the tiny white pom-poms used as filler in traditional arrangements. Gypsophila elegans is a very close cousin, having single-layered, 1.5 cm flowers in pink or white. Excellent filler or accent specimen.

  • Flower colors: White or light pink
  • Foliage: Oval, medium-green leaves up to 9 cm long
  • Stem height: Up to 2'
  • Bloom begins: Late spring
  • Good dried: Yes
  • Vase life: Fresh up to 10 days

Hidcote Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia "Hidcote")

Hidcote is an English lavender variety known for its long-lasting, highly-fragrant, deep purple flowers. This is a favorite for sachets, potpourris, rustic arrangements, and for crafts. 

  • Flower colors: Dark purple or indigo
  • Foliage: 1" to 2.5" narrow, gray-green leaves; square stems
  • Stem height: 6" to 18"
  • Bloom begins: Late spring
  • Good dried: Heck yeah
  • Vase life: 10 to 14 days

Iceland Poppy (Papaver nudicale)

Pick Iceland poppies as the fuzzy buds are just beginning to open and enjoy them as they blossom into their nodding, crinkly, silky glory. 

  • Flower colors: White or varying shades of gold, red, blush, and apricot
  • Foliage: The pinnate, lobed basal leaves cluster around the base and are rarely used in floral design. 
  • Stem height: 6" to 18"
  • Bloom begins: Late spring
  • Good dried: The seed pods are popular in dried arrangements
  • Vase life: Up to 7 days

Jasmine (Jasminum officinale)

A single jasmine vine clipping is all you need to add fragrance to a room. It's generally at home above USDA Hardiness Zone 6 but you can grow it indoors and force it to bloom for winter arrangements. Jasmine naturally blooms toward the end of summer. 

  • Flower colors: White or pale, pale pink
  • Foliage: J. officinale's long-lasting, dark green leaves are pinnate with 5 to 9 leaflets
  • Stem height: Vines trail up to 30', but side sprigs vary and can be trimmed to your needs
  • Bloom begins: Spring (late winter or early spring for winter jasmine!)
  • Good dried: Not so much
  • Vase life: 7 days; foliage may last up to two weeks with frequent water changes

Kale (Brassica oleracia, B. napus)

No, really! We're serious. Kale has become a popular — if unconventional — in addition to all sorts of cut flower arrangements. There are kale varieties grown only for ornamental use (flowering kale) but leafy kale greens cultivated for the table bring color and texture to floral design. Flowering kale can send up stalks up to 18", and headless leafy varieties such as frilly Red Russian or crinkly, curly Yates Blue Scotch develop leaves in various lengths and widths. Still think we're full of organic fertilizer? Search Pinterest for inspiring floral designs using kale!

  • Foliage: Shades of green, blue-green, purple
  • When to harvest: Midsummer to early fall; kale matures in 60 to 80 days, but you can it whenever it reaches your preferred size.
  • Stem height: Varied
  • Good dried: No
  • Vase life: 7-9 days

Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) 

A North American native, lisianthus resembles a mashup between antique roses, camellia, and carnation. The buds tend to stay closed after picking, and those that are just opening have a lovely spiral shape. In spite of their very delicate appearance, they're among the longest-lasting cut flowers. 

  • Flower colors: Shades of white, purple, blue, pink, or lime green flowers
  • Foliage: Waxy, blue-green 1/2" to 3" leaves are narrow and spear-shaped
  • Stem height: Long straight or branching stems up to 3'. Dwarf varieties are available up to 8". 
  • Bloom begins: June, and with deadheading will produce prolific blooms well into September
  • Good dried: With preservation techniques used for bridal bouquets
  • Vase life: Up to two weeks with daily water changes

Maltese Cross (Lychnis chalcedonica)

Roses are red and so are other floral design standards but few lacy, delicate blooms bear vivid crimson color. Maltese cross does and is among the easiest cut flowers to grow. Clusters of 10 to 50 half-inch, five-petaled blossoms look fantastic in bouquets or large arrangements, and the foliage adds attractive bulk. Individual flowers are shaped like, of course, the Maltese cross which is an emblem you'll recognize from fire department logos. 

  • Flower colors: As per our gardening blog, "fire engine red, safety orange, screaming-baby-born-in-a-car-on-the-way-to-the-hospital pink, or code white"
  • Foliage: Glossy, rich green, spearhead-shaped flowers grow oppositely along the stem. 
  • Stem height: Columnar stems up to 4'. Excellent vertical specimen. 
  • Bloom begins: June, and with deadheading will produce prolific blooms until September
  • Good dried: No
  • Vase life: 7-10 days with frequent water changes

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum spp.)

Most people don't think of nasturtium as a cut flower, but they hold up surprisingly well. Their trailing habit works well with robust, dense flowers such as hydrangeas (here's Martha Stewart showing off an example) or those with umbrella-shaped clusters. They're also gorgeous with zinnias, Iceland poppies, and ranunculus. 

  • Flower colors: White to red with shades of orange, yellow, salmon, and apricot
  • Foliage: Lush, bright, matte green leaves are roundish and often gently scalloped, with light veining. 
  • Stem length:  Up to 3', trailing
  • Bloom begins: Early summer; in warmer climates will bloom after summer heat winds down
  • Good dried: No, but a popular pressed flower. 
  • Vase life: 7-10 days with frequent water changes, longer with preservative

Onion (Allium spp.)

Okay, technically we should file these under "allium" but now that we've got your attention, here are some tips for arranging these puffballs of tiny blooms. Onion flowers will make you tear up (but not for the usual reasons) when you add them to almost any floral aesthetic, from rustic to wildflower to formal. (They look smashing with roses!) 

Let your good ol' eatin' onions go to seed, or choose from a variety of alliums developed specifically for ornamental use. Chives, a close onion cousin, bloom in miniature versions. We can't forget to mention garlic flowers! (Allium sativum)

  • Flower colors: White, yellow, pink, and shades of purple and blue
  • Foliage: spearlike, hollow, medium green. Stems are leafless
  • Stem length:  3" to 4' tall
  • Bloom begins: Early summer or fall, depending on climate
  • Good dried: No
  • Vase life: 5-10 days with frequent water changes, longer with preservative

Peruvian Lilies (Alstroemeria)

If you want an exotic look in your cut flower garden and arrangements, try growing Peruvian lilies. They do well outdoors down to USDA Hardiness Zone 6 and when brought indoors during their dormancy in cooler climates. 

Professional florists love to use Peruvian lilies when they need tropical appeal from a delicate lily. Alstroemeria flowers are smaller than their cousins, but with unmatched hues and patterns. 

  • Flower colors: Any color you find in a sunset will appear in Peruvian lily's many varieties and hybrids; multicolored
  • Foliage: Rich green, long, narrow, tapered
  • Stem length:  Dwarf varieties up to 1', standard to 3'
  • Bloom begins: Late spring, depending on climate
  • Good dried: No
  • Vase life: 7-14 days when cut with flowers at varying stages of bloom

Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota, a.k.a. Ammi majus)

Also known as wild carrot, Queen Anne's Lace's long stems branch at the top to support a collection of airily-spaced, disc-shaped clusters of tiny white flowers. This plant's a popular filler for wildflower themed and bridal bouquets. Pick the bulk of your Queen Anne's Lace when the tiny, green-tinged buds are just beginning to open, and add a few stalks when the branching umbrels are curled up like a pale green fist. 

  • Flower color: White
  • Foliage: Rich green, deeply-lobed, fernlike
  • Stem length:  1' to 5' 
  • Bloom begins: Late spring
  • Good dried: No
  • Vase life: 5-7

Ranunculus (Ranunculus asiaticus)

Densely furled, delicate, cup-shaped blooms grow to 3" across. They tend to be lighter towards the middle and darker towards the outside petals, with some varieties displaying varying shades. Ranunculus flowers tend to nod, so if you're going for a bunched look be sure to put them in a vase that supports the stems. Are you a BoHo bride? Yeah, you'll love ranunculus! 

  • Flower color: Shades of wine, pink, white, yellow, salmon with yellow. Centers are usually light green or black. 
  • Foliage: Rich green, deeply-lobed, usually with three sections. Resembles cilantro.
  • Stem length:  6" to 1'
  • Bloom begins: Plant corms in fall for early spring blooms. Generally market-ready before Lisianthus, a similar flower. 
  • Good dried: Yes!
  • Vase life: 10+ days

Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum)

Of all the daisies, Shastas show up in the most floral arrangements. Their long stems, snow-white petals, and bright yellow disc florets are the picture-perfect standard for this iconic flower. Use Shasta daisies in single-species floral creations for a clean, nostalgic look or with your favorite natives, roses, or sunflowers.

  • Flower color: White
  • Foliage: Dark green, deeply-lobed, fernlike
  • Stem length:  To 3' 
  • Bloom begins: Mid-spring
  • Good dried: No
  • Vase life: 10 days

Tussock Bellflower (Campanula carpatica)

woman cutting flowers for vase

Of all the bellflower varieties, this one's shape truly lives up to the name. Low-growing plants rarely win the hearts of florists, but tussock bellflower is an exception, making an excellent cut flower for bouquets and more compact vase arrangements. Upward-facing, fluted, star-shaped blooms grow an average of 2.5" across on thin, upright stems. 

  • Flower color: White, cornflower blue, indigo, purple
  • Foliage: Arrow, heart, or oval-shaped bright green basal leaves (up to 1.5" long); stems are sparsely leafed or bare.
  • Stem length: To 3' 
  • Bloom begins: Early spring
  • Good dried: No
  • Vase life: Up to 10 days

Ursinia (Ursinia spp.)

Ursinia is the general name for dozens of species of this daisy-like colorful flower. Ursinia is an African native annual that erupts in shades of yellow, orange, and red with magenta, red, or wine-colored rings around the central disc florets. If you love smaller sunflower species but can't wait until the end of summer, try ursinia! Note, the above link is a South African blog, which means their seasons are topsy-turvy in relation to ours here in North America. 

  • Flower color: Yellow to deep gold; patterned (see above)
  • Foliage: Medium green, deeply-lobed, feathery foliage
  • Stem length:  Up to 15"
  • Bloom begins: Early summer
  • Good dried: No
  • Vase life: Up to 10 days

Veronica (Veronica spp.)

Also known as speedwell, veronica is an easy-keeper and prolific bloomer. Tall, narrow spikes (we're thinking of rock candy on sticks right now) bloom above densely-clumping basal foliage. Miniature star-shaped flowers cover the racemes, blooming from the bottom up. Longer spears might curl or twist but that only adds to veronica's charm. 

  • Flower color: White, shades of pink (pastel to haaaawt!), lilac, indigo, electric blue. 
  • Foliage: Serrated, narrow, spear-shaped, to 1" long
  • Stem length:  2.5' average
  • Bloom begins: Early summer
  • Good dried: Yes
  • Vase life: 5 to 7 days

Wisteria (Wisteria spp.) 

There's something wildly romantic about wisteria. Use full, cascading racemes or trim them down to the budding tips for bridal bouquets (the flower symbolizes trust!) or any floral theme. The individual blossoms resemble sweet peas, a floral superstar that got bumped off this list by Shasta daisies. The most popular species are American, Chinese, and Japanese wisteria, each with varying raceme lengths and shapes. 

Want a long engagement? Plant wisteria well before you log onto Tinder because it can take as long as 30 years for them to produce if you grow them from seed, though three to five years is more common. (You can purchase mature vines at most garden centers if you plan to elope.)

  • Flower color: White, lilac, purple, pink
  • Foliage: Compound, lance-shaped pinnate leaves; rich light to dark green in color. 
  • Stem length:  4" to 18" racemes grow on stems up to 18", which in turn grow from long woody vines. 
  • Bloom begins: Early spring 
  • Good dried: Individual flowers are suitable for pressing
  • Vase life: 5 to 7 days

Xerophyllum (Xerophyllum tenex)

Finding a cut flower that begins with the letter X isn't the easiest thing in the world, but no florist's catalog is complete without ornamental grasses. Xerophyllum has many common names, most notably beargrass. The long, tough, narrow leaf blades (it's not a grass, but a perennial member of the lily family) make elegant filler for tall arrangements. Xerophyllum was (and is) used by Native Americans for weaving baskets, and today floral designers craft whimsical designs with the fibers and whirl the leaves inside glass vases to hide unsightly stems. Search for bear grass or xerophyllum on Pinterest or Instagram and you'll see why we're glad we didn't give up on this letter.

  • Flower color: White
  • Foliage: Leaves up to 1/4" wide and 3' long are medium green and hold up well to bending and weaving
  • Stem length: Fragrant, fluffy Xerophyllum flowers, while spectacular, don't hold up well when cut. Club-ended spikes can tower up to 6' tall on racemes as long as 2'. 
  • Harvest time: June, after leaves have matured and toughened up. Don't harvest more than 1/3 of the new growth each year, especially from wild plants.
  • Good dried: Yes
  • Vase life: 7 to 14 days

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Here's another lacy filler, but one that's available in multiple hues. Tiny clusters of yarrow flowers form irregular-shaped umbrels on tall, delicate stalks. Colored varieties tend to be lighter colored toward each individual blossom's multiple yellow or buttercream disc florets. Four to six ray florets — what we recognize as petals — are well-defined. Yarrow is a daisy cousin, and it differs from other umbrella-shaped flowers like Queen Anne's Lace just enough to perfectly complement their blooms and foliage.

The University of Maryland recommends harvesting yarrow flowers before they begin to release pollen. This extends the plant's vase life and reduces sneezing in your home, office, or wedding chapel.

  • Flower color: White, yellow, pink,
  • Foliage: Oval rich green leaves are deeply serrated, with a dense, feathery texture. A pleasant, spicy fragrance.
  • Stem length: Columnar plants grow to 2.5' 
  • Bloom begins: Midsummer
  • Good dried: Yes, particularly gold and white varieties; foliage also holds up nicely.
  • Vase life: 3-8 days

Zinnia (Zinnia spp.)

Single, double, or triple-flowered zinnias are on every floral designer's shortlist of favorite cut flowers. They may wilt early but the plants are easy to grow from seed and prolific, season-long bloomers. They're outstanding while they last, and they go well with most formal and informal arrangements. 

I suppose we could say that we saved the best for last — not that we had anything to do with naming zinnias. 

  • Flower color: White, yellow, pink, red, orange, green, lavender
  • Foliage: Arrow-shaped, medium-green leaves as long as 4" 
  • Stem length: Standard size 1' to 3', giant varieties to 4'
  • Bloom begins: Mid-spring
  • Good dried: Yes
  • Vase life: 4-6 days

The best cut flowers come from fresh, premium-quality garden seeds

If you're growing your own cut flowers, it helps to start with fresh flower seeds from plants bred for disease resistance and black-thumb tolerance. We order our fruit, ornamental, and herb seeds in small batches, keeping them in climate-controlled storage until we're ready to hand-fill your order. 

Are you growing cut flowers for a wedding or event? Ask us if we can put together custom orders for you, whether they be bulk quantities or custom packets. We're always happy to answer your questions, and we'd love to see photos of your cut flower creations! 

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