Know Your Plants

My last blog covered the things to consider when selecting your cut flowers so hopefully you’ve started to think about what you want to plant up and how you are going to plant them.  For me, the first thought was to just put them all in together and hope for the best but following some further reading, there is a little more to it! This is what I’ve learnt so far. 

Karen’s beautiful garden

Know your plants 

  • Annual and Biennial – An annual completes its life cycle (germinating, growing, flowering, seeding seed and dying) all in one year. Biennials complete their life cycle in two years (same as annual but setting to seed and dying in the second year). Cosmos is an example
  • Bulbs – These store enough energy to survive until the next season when they then flower. This is why you plant tulips in Autumn and they flower in the Spring
  • Perennials – These are non-woody plants that tend to live for many years
  • Herbaceous Perrenial – These are like Perennials except they die back in the Autumn and Winter months before reshooting in the Spring.

By knowing your plants you can ensure you not only have a good variety within your cut flower bed but a bed that hopefully is in full bloom all the way from Spring through to the Autumn months.

Bloom from Spring to September

Ideally you want to produce beds that will bloom from Spring through to Autumn. You not only need to plant early bloomers but also to plan ahead and ensure you are consecutively planting to ensure your cut flower beds don’t just bloom for a four week period. For example, Sweet Peas will only flower for two months, so you need to have something ready to replace those blooms once they have finished flowering. One of the best things to do is to sow seeds consecutively so you have something to replace the blooms that you have just cut. 

A great tip is to use pots or old gutters which allow you to sow seeds directly into them which you can then transfer to the beds as and when gaps appear. Remember, you will be picking these flowers, so sowing the seeds at different times will mean they will grow and flower at different rates, hopefully giving you a ‘conveyer belt’ of blooms throughout the Summer and Autumn months. This is also important to consider when buying seeds, as you will need to ensure you are able to efficiently replenish them. 

Cosmos, Sweetpeas, Salvias and Dahlias
Spacing the different varieties


I find the easiest way of growing cut flowers is to grow different varieties in rows. As you can see from the pictures I’ve chosen Cosmos, Sweet Peas, Ammi Majus, Salvias, carnations and Dahlias and given them all a designated spot, keeping them grouped together. I’ll talk you through ‘the how’ in a few weeks but I’ve found this the easiest way of planning my beds. In terms of actual spacing to understand how many packs, bulbs or plants you need to buy always refer to the guidelines for each flower.

So start to plan and think about what you’ve selected. Have you got a good variety of different types of plants? Have you ordered enough plants to enable you to replenish your flower beds throughout the months? Have you thought about spacing? Plan now in preparation for the best bit – planting up and starting our journey to harvesting our first cut flower crop!

Jobs for this weekend

  • Prepare your soil for sowing. I’m aiming for the end of April when the risk of frost has gone, so at the moment I’m adding some compost (I’ve already added mulch) and turning the soil over and removing stones, weeds
  • Buy some netting to protect the seed and you will be directly sowing into the soil
  • Dig out old pots and gutters to support the conveyer belt!
  • If you are sowing undercover, start sowing half-hardy annuals like Cosmos (the general rule is to sow six to eight weeks before the risk of frost for your garden has passed)
  • If you haven’t done so already it’s not too late to start off your Dahlia tubers in pots undercover. Just make sure you protect them from frost

Flowers and Lifestyle by Margot – Find out more about me –

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