- How Flowers Grow
- How Flowers Grow Science Projects
- How Flowers Grow Science Lessons
- What Nutrients Do Flowers Need to Survive?
- The Major Nutrients
- Secondary Macronutrients
- Top 10 cut flowers to grow at home
- Keep your cut flowers looking good for longer
- Grow your own cut flowers
- 1. Sweet pea (Vase life: 3-7 days)
- 2. Lily (Vase life: 8-10 days)
- 3. Sunflower (Vase life: 7-10 days)
- 4. Tulip (Vase life: Up to 7 days)
- 5. Gladiolus (Vase life: 7-10 days)
- 6. Roses (Vase life: 4-7 days)
- 7. Eucalyptus (Vase life: More than 21 days)
- 8. Dianthus (Vase life: 14-21 days)
- 9. Peonies (Vase life: 5-7 days)
- 10. Gypsophila (Vase life: Up to 7 days)
- Best Cutting Flowers to Grow in the Home Garden
- How to Cut Flowers From The Garden
- Making a Cut Flower Bouquet
- Related: How to Make Cut Flowers Last
- 26 Filler Flowers and Types of Greenery
- 1. Baby’s Breath
- 2. Bells of Ireland
- 3. Bouvardia
- 4. Delphinium
- 5. Dusty Miller
- 6. Feverfew Daisies
- 7. Fiddlehead Fern
- 8. Heather
- 9. Holly
- 10. Italian Ruscus
- 11. Ivy
- 12. Leatherleaf Fern
- 13. Leyland Cedar
- 14. Lily of the Valley
- 15. Lisianthus
- 16. Moss
- 17. Myrtle
- 18. Queen Anne’s Lace
- 19. Sedum
- 20. Snapdragon
- 21. Statice
- 22. Stephanotis
- 23. Stock
- 24. Sweet Pea
- 25. Sword Fern
- 26. Variegated Pittosporum
How Flowers Grow
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Do you know how flowers grow? During springtime, you’ve probably seen tiny green plants start to peek up above the ground. Soon some of those plants will grow beautiful flowers! Discover the miracle of plants with the science projects and other fun things to do in this issue.
How Flowers Grow Science Projects
Watch Seeds Sprout
What You Need:
- a clear plastic cup
- potting soil
- bean seeds
- sunny windowsill
What You Do:
- Fill the cup about 3/4 full with potting soil.
- Push a seed along the side of the cup into soil. Cover the hole with soil. You should be able to see the seed from the outside of the cup, but not the top. Repeat all around the cup, leaving a little room to grow in between each seed.
- Water the soil. It should be moist, but the water should soak in and not stay on top of the soil.
- Set your cup in a windowsill or another warm, sunny spot. Turn the cup every few days to make sure all of the seeds get sunlight.
- Look at your seeds every day and water them whenever the soil looks dry.
When you gave the seeds the right conditions, you saw how flowers grow within only a few days! What conditions did you provide for your seeds? You gave them soil, water, sunlight, and warmth. A plant needs all of those conditions in order to grow.
You can probably see tiny roots growing from your seeds down into the soil. Plants use roots to get water and nutrients from the soil. You should also be able to see a small green stem sprouting up above the soil. This stem will continue to grow from the nutrients and water it gets from the roots. The plant will eventually grow leaves. Leaves use sunlight to make and store more food for the plant to use as it keeps growing. Soon your little plants will be too big for the plastic cup. Ask an adult to help you find a place outside or in a large pot where you can plant them and continue to watch them grow.
After awhile, the plants will grow little buds that will bloom into flowers. The flowers will eventually turn into a fruit; in this case, they will grow into bean pods! Inside of these fruits is where more seeds are formed for the next batch of plants to grow from. If the flowers of a plant don’t grow into a fruit, the seeds are formed inside the flower instead.
Mini Flower Garden
This project has two parts: In the first part you’ll plant flower seeds in an egg carton and watch them sprout into plants. In the second part, you will experiment to see what happens if your plants don’t get enough water or sunlight. Ask an adult to help you do this project!
- an empty cardboard egg carton (not Styrofoam or plastic!)
- plastic wrap
- potting soil
- flower seeds (look for seeds that grow quickly)
- sunny windowsill or other warm place
- a marker
- 3 sheets of black construction paper
- masking tape (or any tape that isn’t clear)
- worksheet chart
What You Do, Part 1:
- Open the egg carton and carefully cut the top and bottom halves apart. Line the lid with a piece of plastic wrap to make a tray. Set the bottom half (the part with the 12 little sections) of the carton into the tray you just made.
- Fill each section about 3/4 of the way full of potting soil.
- Have an adult help you read the back of the package of your flower seeds to find out how deep to plant them. Poke three or four little holes in the soil in one section using your pinky finger. Make the holes as deep as the package says to plant the seeds. Put one seed into each hole, then cover the seeds with a little more soil.
- Repeat step four in each section of your garden so that each one has 3-4 seeds planted.
- Sprinkle some water into each section to water the seeds. Don’t add too much – just make sure the soil looks a little bit wet.
- Carefully move your whole garden to a warm place that gets a lot of sunlight, like a windowsill.
- Look at the soil in each section every day. Do you see any signs that your seeds are growing? If the soil looks dry, add some water. If it still feels moist, check it again tomorrow.
- Once all of the plants have grown at least 2 inches tall, you can begin Part 2 of the experiment.
What You Do, Part 2:
Start this part of the experiment in the morning so that you can check on your plants after a whole day of sunlight. Use this worksheet to keep track of your garden during your experiments!
- Draw a line down the middle of the carton (the short way) so that there are six sections on each side of the line. Draw a star on one side of the carton. The six sections between the star and the line are the ones you will experiment with. Let’s call this the test half. The other half of the garden will be called the control half, because you will not change anything about how you take care of the plants in that half.
- Draw a star on the worksheet in the same place as the one on your garden. This is a chart to help you keep track of the test half.
- Choose three sections in the test half of your garden for a sunlight test. These plants will still get the same amount of water as the control plants, but they will not get any light!
- Make a cone to cover the plants: roll up a sheet of black paper into a narrow cone shape and tape the edge. Put a piece of tape over the top to block more light. Make three cones and put them over the sections you chose to test. Make sure the cones completely cover the plants.
- Mark the circles on your chart to show which sections will not get any light (cross out the sunlight and circle the water).
- The other three sections of plants in the test half are for a water test. These plants will still get the same amount of sunlight as the control plants, but they will not get any water!
- Mark the circles on your chart to show which sections you are not going to water.
- Look at your chart and water all of the sections in the garden with an equal amount of water, except for the three from step 6 that do not get water.
- Put your garden in a sunny spot and leave it there all day. After the sun sets, check on your plants. Carefully lift up the cones to check the sunless plants. If you see any changes, you can draw pictures on the worksheet. If nothing has changed, put the cones back on. In the morning, water them again, and leave them for another day. Continue to check and water them until you can see a difference between the plants. It might take several days, depending on how much sunlight they are getting and the type of flowers you are growing.
- When you are finished with the experiment, make sure you take the cones off. The plants in the test half may need some extra-special care to get back to health!
- When your plants outgrow the egg carton cups, ask an adult to help you cut the cups apart with scissors and plant each one in a pot or outside in a real garden, if you have one. Dig a hole just big enough to set the egg carton cup in. You can plant the whole cardboard cup in the soil right along with the plant; it will break down in the soil over time. Push dirt around the plant to hold it up and cover the hole. Make sure you continue to water your plants!
Part 1: For the first few days, you probably didn’t see much going on in your flower garden. After about a week, some little green stems should have begun to sprout up out of the soil in some of the cups. This is the first sign that your flower plants are growing, even though they had already been growing for some time below the soil, like you saw in the last experiment. Keep watering your young plants and you will be amazed at how quickly they will grow! Soon little leaves should start to appear on the stems.
Part 2: What did you notice about the plants that didn’t get any sunlight? Their stems and leaves probably started to look a little more yellow than the other plants. They might have wilted some or not grown as tall as the control plants. Even though these plants were getting the same amount of water as the other plants, they weren’t getting any sunlight! Water isn’t enough to keep a plant healthy. Why not? Well, plants use sunlight to create food. When they don’t get any sunlight, they can’t create food! Plants need water and food to survive!
What did you notice about the plants that received the same amount of sunlight as the control plants, but no water? Did the plants start to wilt without water, or do they just not grow as much as the others? At first you might not have noticed any difference at all, but once the soil dried out, the plants’ roots started to run out of water and the plants probably started to wilt and maybe even wither or shrivel up a little bit. Even though these plants were still getting plenty of sunlight, they still couldn’t make food, because water is one of the things required for plants to be able to make food!
How Flowers Grow Science Lessons
The Life Cycle of Plants
To allow kids to experience the life cycle of plants (or how flowers grow) up close, use this section with the ‘Watch Seeds Sprout’ science project.
Most plants start their life as some sort of seed. A seed has all of the information it needs to grow into a plant, but before it can grow, it needs certain conditions to be right. Until it is in the right conditions, the seed is dormant – it’s kind of like it is asleep. When the seed has everything that it needs to live (sunlight, air, water, and nutrients from soil), it will ‘wake up’ and sprout, or germinate. The sprouted seed will soon grow a stem above the ground. Below the ground, it will grow roots. Soon small green leaves will grow out from the stem. At the top of the stem, a flower bud might begin to form (if it is a flowering plant). Eventually the flower bud will open up, or bloom, into a flower. New seeds will grow inside of the flower. The plant uses these seeds to produce new plants. If the plant is a type that produces fruit, such as an apple tree, the flower will slowly turn into a fruit that is still connected to the stem (or a branch) of the plant. The fruit gets nutrients and everything it needs from the roots, stem, and leaves of the plant it is growing on. Now the plant’s new seeds are inside of that fruit. Eventually those new seeds will fall to the ground or be planted by a human and grow into new plants! The original plant may die right away after it completes its life cycle, or it may live for several more years.
Bees & Pollination
Flower petals are a very important part of how flowers grow. Besides smelling good, they also do a special job. They protect the parts of the flower that make seeds from weather and any harm that could be caused by animals or insects trying to eat them. The petals slowly open up as the flower blooms. Once they have opened, the petals have another job to do – they attract insects to come and drink the nectar inside the flowers.
In order for the seeds of flowers to be able to make more plants, they have to be pollinated. Most kinds of flowers rely on insects or other things in nature to do the pollinating for them. A bee is a common insect that pollinates flowers when it flies from flower to flower drinking nectar from deep inside the flower. As it rubs against the parts of the flower that contain pollen, some of the pollen usually sticks to the bee’s body. Then the bee flies off to another flower to get more nectar. Most flowers have a long tube in their middle, with a sticky spot on the top called a stigma. When the bee gets to a new flower, some of the pollen will probably fall onto the flower’s stigma and stick to it. Then the pollen slides down the tube to a place where it will help form a seed, or maybe many seeds!
Some other insects that help pollinate plants are ants, beetles, and butterflies. They are all attracted to the flowers for their nectar, but they end up carrying pollen from flower to flower in the same way that bees do.
Use this section with part two of the ‘Mini Flower Garden’ science project. This printable worksheet is used as a chart for that project.
In the first experiment, you learned that plants need certain conditions in order to grow. Do you remember what they are? Sunlight, water, and good soil with nutrients. Plants also need air. How does a plant use these things to grow? All green plants use a special process called photosynthesis to make food that they use to grow. Photosynthesis happens in the plant’s leaves. How does it happen? Well, the plant’s leaves soak up energy from sunlight. The leaves also gather a gas called carbon dioxide from the air. Inside the leaves, a very complex chemical reaction, called photosynthesis, happens between the energy from the sunlight, water from the soil, and the carbon dioxide from the air! Sugars that the plant can eat are created in the reaction. Oxygen is also released by the plant during photosynthesis, which is great for humans and other animals, since oxygen is the main gas that we breathe! Extra food that the plant doesn’t use right away is stored in the leaves for later.
Read our science lesson about Chemistry to learn more about carbon dioxide, oxygen, and chemical reactions.
How Flowers Grow Science Words
Germinate – when a seed begins to grow. Until it germinates, it is dormant, or asleep.
Dormant – something that is alive, but is temporarily not growing or having any physical activity.
Pollination – when pollen is transferred from one flower to another to form a seed.
Photosynthesis – a process that happens in the leaves of plants where sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide are converted into food and oxygen.
What Nutrients Do Flowers Need to Survive?
flower image by Leonie Pratt from Fotolia.com
Plants, unlike animals, manufacture their own food using the energy of the sun in a process called photosynthesis. To do this, they need oxygen, carbon dioxide, water and a number of minerals absorbed by the roots from the soil. Annual and perennial flowers grow quickly at the beginning of the season and, in order to reach their full size, need either a soil that contains adequate amounts of these minerals at a pH appropriate for that plant or supplementary fertilization.
The Major Nutrients
The main nutrients, or minerals, needed for growth are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. They are called “macronutrients” because they are needed in larger quantities, and yet these are the nutrients most often lacking in soils. Nitrogen (N) regulates the growth of stems and leaves, and when applied as a fertilizer, causes lush, green, leafy growth. Phosphorus (P) helps with growing roots, flowers and fruit. Potassium (K) is also important for flower and fruit growth as well as in assisting with photosynthesis in shady conditions. Fertilizers used on flowers should contain low levels of nitrogen relative to phosphorus and potassium. A 5-10-10 formula (5 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorus, 10 percent potassium) is ideal.
Calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) and sulfur (S) are also required by plants in fairly large amounts. Don’t worry about supplementing your fertilizer with these nutrients unless a soil test recommends it. Most soils provide adequate amounts for plant growth. Calcium may be in short supply in acid soils, but many plants–blueberries and azaleas among them–prefer these conditions.
Shortages of these elements are usually related to a soil that is too acidic or too alkaline for the plant, interfering with its ability to absorb the nutrient from the soil. The most common shortage is that of iron, resulting in a condition called “chlorosis.” The leaves turn yellow but keep their green veins. This is usually due to an alkaline soil or excess phosphorus.
We learn early-on that plants come from seed. And we know that with proper care and optimal growing conditions that the seeds turn into full-grown plants. Some of these plants bear flowers, fruits or vegetables, while others are strictly foliage. But exactly how do flowers grow? And here’s another question for you… where do the seeds come from?
Where Seeds Come From
A flower’s center contains two types of tubular parts. The one in the very center is called the stigma and the ones surrounding the stigma are called stamen. The stamen are topped by pollen, that when gathered by bees (usually), is dropped into the stigma. When the pollen is dropped into the stigma, it travels down to the ovary by going through another tube called the style. Once the pollen reaches the ovary, it fertilizes tiny particles called ovules. Once those ovules are fertilized they are called seeds.
CC photo courtesy of rikahi
After blooms of the plant have died and the seeds are dry, they can either be scattered or gathered for planting. Seeds that are scattered usually lie dormant for the winter and germinate in the spring to grow into new plants. Some of the ways seeds are scattered:
1. Wind — blows the seeds to new locations
2. Seed pods — burst open spilling seed to the ground below
3. Birds — drop seeds as they eat them
4. Animal waste — animals who are foragers (cattle, sheep, horses, goats) eat seeds and then deposit them through their manure
5. Dropping — seeds fall from the plant when the plant dies or goes dormant for the winter
Seeds that are gathered can be sorted and stored away in a cool, dry place until spring for planting directly into the ground or containers. The little packets of seeds we buy each spring are filled with seeds that have been gathered from plants grown the previous year.
Now that you know where the seeds come from, let’s talk about how the seed becomes a flower. To become a plant, a fertilized seed must be placed in soil (dirt) that contains vitamins and minerals to help it grow. The seed also needs water and sunshine. The purpose of the water is to soften and expand the seed coat until it breaks open so that the embryo can begin to grow. The purpose of the sunshine is photosynthesis. This is just a really big word that means the plant gathers energy from sunlight and uses it as food to help it grow.
Once the seed coat breaks open the seed leaves begin to grow and push up out of the ground. At the same time, tiny hair-like roots are beginning to grow, as well. For the next several days, new sets of leaves form, and the stem of the plant grows taller and stronger. The roots also grow deeper and stronger, securing the plant in the soil and acting as a straw to soak up the soil’s vitamins and minerals and the water and fertilizer that are added to the ground.
With the proper amount of healthy soil, sunshine and water, the new plant will continue to grow, bloom and make new seeds to be scattered or gathered to be sown and germinated the following season. And so it goes; on and on and on and on and on….
Experiment: Sprout a Seed
Some seeds are much easier to germinate and grow than others. One of the easiest is a bean. In fact, you don’t even need dirt to see it sprout and begin to grow. Here’s what you do….
1. Place five or six cotton balls that have been thoroughly soaked with water in a small clear glass jar or paper cup.
2. Lay two bean seeds on top of the water-soaked cotton balls and lay one or two additional cotton balls (also thoroughly soaked with water) on top of the beans.
3. Place the container with the beans in it in a sunny location such as a window sill.
4. Over the next several days, keep the cotton well-saturated and watch for the beans to pop open
5. As the seed leaves begin to grow and more leaves form, remove the top layer of cotton and watch it grow!
Another fun way to watch seeds sprout is to grow a saucer of grass.
1. Place a sponge that has been thoroughly soaked with water in a shallow saucer.
2. Sprinkle a light layer of grass seeds over the top of the sponge.
3. Keep the sponge well watered and watch the grass grow. NOTE: No mowing required
Top 10 cut flowers to grow at home
There are plenty of cut flowers that you can grow at home, but if you need some inspiration take a look at our top 10 favourites.
You don’t need to be a florist to get the best from your cut flowers either. There are lots of handy tips that you can employ to make your blooms last longer in the vase. Here are a just a few to get you started.
Keep your cut flowers looking good for longer
Cut flower stems at an angle to prevent the stem resting on the bottom of the vase and sealing itself over. Angular cuts also great a larger surface area for water uptake.
Strip any foliage from stems that would sit below water level in a vase as these will simply decay, becoming slimy and smelly.
Always use a thoroughly clean vase as bacteria can survive in dirty vases and reduce the life of your cut flowers.
Always use tepid water in your vases. Cold water has a higher oxygen content, which can cause air bubbles to form in the stems of your flowers, blocking their water uptake. Spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils are the exception to this rule as they prefer to be placed in cold water.
Add a splash of bleach to the water to inhibit bacterial growth and make your flower last longer. You only need to add about ¼ teaspoon per litre of water. You can also try adding a tablespoon of sugar as this will help to nourish the flowers.
Position your vase carefully. The vase life of your cut flowers will be reduced if they are placed close to heat, draughts or direct sunlight.
Keep cut flowers away from fruit bowls as fruit produces ethylene which causes cut flowers to die prematurely.
Remove any dead or fading blooms to prevent bacteria damaging the healthy flowers.
Change the water every few days, refreshing any flower feed and preservatives at the same time.
Grow your own cut flowers
Growing cut flowers at home is easy if you choose the right plants. You don’t need to set aside a special area of your garden – simply mix the plants in among your herbaceous borders, or grow some in containers outside the back door. You can even add a few rows to your vegetable plot. Take some inspiration from our top 10 favourite cut flowers for some of the best cut flowers to grow in your own garden.
1. Sweet pea (Vase life: 3-7 days)
The ultimate ‘cut and come again’ cut flower! Once a popular glasshouse cut flower, these beautiful blooms are mainly garden grown nowadays. There are plenty of colours to choose from, but a good mix of shades makes the prettiest posies. Old fashioned Grandiflora types often have the best scent such as Sweet Pea ‘Heirloom Mixed’. But the popular modern ‘Spencer’ varieties such as Sweet Pea ‘Alan Titchmarsh’ combine fragrance, larger blooms and longer stems that are ideal for flower arrangements.
Sue’s Top Tip: It’s important to cut Sweet Peas regularly to encourage more blooms. Cut the flowers just as the lowest bloom is opening and put them in water immediately for a longer vase life.
2. Lily (Vase life: 8-10 days)
You’ll only need a few lily stems to make a dramatic and exotic-looking cut flower display. There are lots of different lily species that you can grow as a cut flower, but oriental Lilies are the most popular for their fragrance and glamorous trumpet shaped blooms. To avoid problematic pollen stains on clothes and furniture, try gently removing the stamens from lilies as they open. You can solve this problem entirely by growing sterile double varieties such as Tree Lily ‘Crystal Collection’ which are completely pollen free.
Sue’s Top Tip: When cutting lily stems from the garden it’s important to leave a third of the stem intact in order to feed the bulb for the following year.
3. Sunflower (Vase life: 7-10 days)
Sunflowers make the cheeriest cut flowers and never fail to raise a smile. They’re very easy to grow and won’t require any special attention – simply sow them directly into the ground where you want them to flower. For cutting it’s best to choose multi-headed varieties such as Sunflower ‘Harlequin’ to give you lots of blooms. Cut the stems just before the flowers fully open, and strip the lower foliage from the stem leaving just a few leaves at the top to help fill out your bouquet.
Sue’s Top Tip: Sunflowers are best cut with sharp secateurs early in the morning or late in the evening while temperatures are cool.
4. Tulip (Vase life: Up to 7 days)
Tulips are among the earliest flowers for cutting in the garden. They come in such a range of colours that you’ll be spoiled for choice. Try our popular Tulip ‘Everlasting’ Mixture or Tulip ‘Red Impression’ for a stunning mix of shades. You can help your tulips to last longer in the vase by cutting their stems underwater to prevent air entering the stems. Tulips are thirsty cut flowers so you’ll need to keep their water topped up on a daily basis.
Sue’s Top Tip: Although they may come into flower at the same time, never be tempted to mix Tulips in a vase with Daffodils. Narcissus species exude a substance that prevents your tulips (and other cut flowers) from taking up water.
5. Gladiolus (Vase life: 7-10 days)
The flamboyant, tall stems of Gladioli are superb for adding height and drama to flower arrangements. There are plenty to choose from and modern hybrids such asGladiolus ‘Tango’ and Gladiolus ‘Green Star’ bring a really fresh palette of contemporary colours to your vase. Cut gladiolus flowers just as the lowest two or three florets begin to open, but try to leave as many leaves as possible to feed the bulb for next year. Gladiolus flowers will generally all reach maturity at about the same time, but if you want to prolong the cutting season then try to stagger planting at two week intervals so that they mature at different times.
Sue’s Top Tip: When growing Gladiolus specifically for cutting, plant them in rows in the vegetable patch. This makes them much easier to harvest.
6. Roses (Vase life: 4-7 days)
What list of cut flowers would be complete without the quintessential rose. Growing roses for cut flowers takes a little more work than growing them as garden shrubs, but the results are well worth the effort. Choose varieties carefully to ensure the nicest forma and longest stems. Try hybrid tea rose ‘The One and Only’ or the delightful trailing rose ‘Waterfall Collection’ for hanging baskets. For informal clusters of flowers grow repeat flowering floribunda roses for a longer cutting period and a more relaxed feel to your bouquets. Roses grown as cut flowers will require heavy feeding to produce the best results. It is worth noting for the benefit of organic gardeners that protecting roses against blackspot may well require spraying with fungicides.
Sue’s Top Tip: When growing roses as cut flowers, be ruthless and remove any poorly placed flower buds that are unlikely to make good cut flowers to direct energy into the best blooms.
7. Eucalyptus (Vase life: More than 21 days)
The silvery-blue foliage of eucalyptus gunnii makes fantastic filler for vases, bouquets and larger flower arrangements. Its attractive rounded leaves provide shape and texture that blends well with both formal and more relaxed displays. Eucalyptus has a sensational vase life, easily lasting more than 3 weeks, and is often the ‘last man standing’ in floral displays!
Sue’s Top Tip: Florists use the juvenile foliage of Eucalyptus which is more rounded and attractive than that found on mature plants. Grow your Eucalyptus as a coppiced plant, pruning hard each year to encourage a constant supply of immature stems for cutting.
8. Dianthus (Vase life: 14-21 days)
Dianthus (including Carnations, Pinks and Sweet Williams) are some of the best known of all cut flowers. Carnations such as ‘Ever-blooming Mixed’ provide traditional Carnation flowers, but it’s worth trying something different if you are growing your own flowers for cutting. How about Dianthus ‘Purple Rain’ for its unusual colouring or the extraordinary blooms of Dianthus ‘Green Trick’ which have taken the cut flower world by storm? And don’t forget the lovely fragrance of Pinks which make superb posies. Regular cutting will help to ensure a long flowering season to give you an ongoing supply of blooms.
Sue’s Top Tip: Avoid standing carnation arrangements in direct light as they will quickly fade.
9. Peonies (Vase life: 5-7 days)
Peonies are prized for their beautiful, large blooms. Just a few stems are enough to create a stunning arrangement with a big impact. Herbaceous Peonies such as ‘Eden’s Perfume’ are a great choice although they do have a relatively short flowering season. Double varieties should be cut when the buds feel soft between your finger and thumb, just before they open. Cutting double peonies too early may prevent the buds from opening so it’s worth being patient with them. Single flowered peonies can be cut at a slightly less advanced stage if necessary, while the buds are swollen but still firm.
Sue’s Top Tip: Use restraint when growing peonies as cut flowers. Take just a few blooms from each plant and avoid cutting stems from plants that are less than three years old.
10. Gypsophila (Vase life: Up to 7 days)
Gypsophila makes particularly useful filler for softening bouquets and adding a frothy haze of tiny flowers to your cut flower arrangements. This well loved cut flower can be sown outdoors each spring where they are to flower. Stagger the sowings to prolong the flowering season and provide you with plenty of blooms. Before cutting each stem it’s best to wait until most of the flowers on the stem have opened.
Sue’s Top Tip: Keep vases away from fruit bowls. Gypsophila like many flowers is particularly sensitive to ethylene given off by fruit and vegetables which causes cut flowers to deteriorate faster.
The act of growing flowers is therapeutic and it beautifies your space while creating food for beneficial pollinators. Many stunning garden flowers can be grown in a home cutting garden and the last well in bouquets. When you are planning your garden, you often think of flowers as garden decoration and vegetables, fruit, and herbs as consumables. Why not add some of the best cutting flowers to the “consumables” category? Chances are, you are already growing a number of cutting flowers already. And really, there’s nothing better than bringing a bouquet of homegrown flowers to cheer up or delight a family member or friend.
Best Cutting Flowers to Grow in the Home Garden
Many perennials, annuals, and even herbs and bulbs can be snipped and brought inside for a gorgeous arrangement. Creating a cutting garden or adding some extra blooms in your garden space means there will be plenty to add to vases, providing color and fragrance around the house. The possibilities for what you grow in your cutting garden are really endless, but here are a few favorites for floral arrangements:
- Anemone hupehensis (Japanese anemone)
- Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)
- Delphinium (Larkspur)
- Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)
- Echinops sphaerocephalus (Globe Thistle)
- Helianthus (Sunflower)
- Lavandula (Lavender)
- Monarda (Bee Balm)
- Paeonia (Peony)
- Rosa (Rose)
- Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’
- Syringa vulgaris (Lilac)
How to Cut Flowers From The Garden
In most cases your plants can spare a few blooms to create a gorgeous bouquet. Still, cutting off any of the flowers is somewhat stressful to the plant so it’s best to take care to ensure the health of your plant is first priority and it will continue to produce many blooms for you to harvest throughout the season.
- Cut plants in the early morning before the day becomes too hot. This will give you the longest-lasting blooms.
- Use sharp scissors or pruners to remove the flowers with as long of a stem as you can get. Snip as close to the base of the plant as you can because a long stem will be the most useful in a bouquet.
- Always use clean scissors openers when cutting flowers in the garden. Each cut can introduce disease into the host plant so it’s best to carry a bucket of soapy water with you and give the tools a quick wash between different plants.
- As you cut flowers from around the garden bring a mason jar or vase with a bit of water in it so you can put the stems right into the water immediately on cutting.
Making a Cut Flower Bouquet
Once you have all of your flowers selected from around the garden it’s time to prepare them for the bouquet.
Cut a large piece of craft paper into a square. Angle the craft paper with a point towards you so it looks like a diamond shape.
Start your arrangement by choosing the largest, tallest, and strongest flowers first. Add these to the paper with the stems a few inches up from the point that faces you. Layer more flowers into the bouquet with the stem ends around the same place. You can trim the stems at the end so they are even. Soak a paper towel in water and wrap it around the stems of the flowers. Cover the wet paper towel in a plastic bag and use a rubber band to secure the bag onto the stems.
Now is the time to wrap up the flowers in the paper. First fold the point that faces you up over the bottom of the stems that are covered in the paper towel and bag. Next fold one side of the diamond paper to cover the flowers and talk the point underneath them. Roll the rest of the flowers towards the other point and use a piece of tape to secure the point closed. Finish the bouquet by wrapping with a piece of raffia and tying a bow.
Add a personalized tag to your beautiful bouquet and get ready for the smile that it puts on the face of the person who’s lucky enough to get it.
Once you have them planted and blooming, here are some ideas for using flowers from your cutting garden.
Related: How to Make Cut Flowers Last
Love herbs? See the “Chicken Soup,” “Spaghetti Dinner,” and more creative posy bouquet ideas here.
Make a flower arrangement in a pumpkin for fall. Do this by hollowing out the pumpkin, then adding florist foam or a vase inside to hold the flowers. Wondering if the pumpkin will decompose before the flowers wilt? Read about How to Make Planted Pumpkins Last.
Plant cut flowers in a birdcage using a similar method as the pumpkin planter. Add a vase or florist foam on a dish into the birdcage and let the flowers flow freely!
For even more cut flower arrangement ideas, have a look at this post by Louise Curley, the author of The Cut Flower Patch: Grow your own cut flowers all year round. She shares her best ideas for arranging homegrown flowers here.
26 Filler Flowers and Types of Greenery
Nothing brings a bouquet to life like the gorgeous filler flowers and various types of greenery that surround it! From delicate baby’s breath to colorful snapdragons, rich ferns to romantic dusty millers, discover 26 types of fillers and greens that will round out your bouquets and floral arrangements.
1. Baby’s Breath
Baby’s Breath is one of the most popular white filler flowers. It comes in a variety of tinted colors, as well. The flower is delicate and soft, just like a baby, and symbolizes innocence. It’s also referred to as angel’s breath. Though traditionally used as a filler, this flower can also be used alone to create fluffy, cloud-like arrangements.
2. Bells of Ireland
Bells of Ireland, also known as molucella, has a long stem lined with clusters of bell-shaped blooms. This green is perfect for adding height and texture to bouquets and centerpieces. And because it is said to symbolize luck, you won’t have any worries on your wedding day!
Bouvardia is great filler flower featuring clusters of star-like flowers that have a delicate scent and comes in shades of pink and white. Each stem resembles a small bouquet! Add some Bouvardia to your bouquet to represent enthusiasm! I mean, you are marrying the person of your dreams!
Another great flower for adding height, delphinium has a long stalk covered in many small blooms. Delphinium is a great flower for adding something blue, as we carry several natural true blue hues, but we also offer white, light pink and purple. The delphinium stands for swiftness and lightness.
5. Dusty Miller
Representing happiness and delicacy, dusty miller is a popular green filler flower. It’s often used in soft, garden-like bouquets. It’s velvety, frosted sage green leaves will be the perfect complement to petal heavy, romantic blooms like garden roses, ranunculus, and peonies. Find it in both flat and lacy leaf varieties at FiftyFlowers.com.
6. Feverfew Daisies
Who doesn’t love the look of freshly-picked wildflowers? Feverfew daisies can help achieve that look with their beautiful daisy-like blooms and its wispy long stems. These filler flowers may have small blooms, but their bright-yellow centers and white petals really stand out in an arrangement. Feverfew looks beautiful on its own but also pairs nicely with other wildflowers. We love seeing little pops of yellow throughout a bouquet.
7. Fiddlehead Fern
Fiddlehead ferns have a branch-like stem with a curly tip that spirals at the end. Fiddlehead is available year-round and comes in a range of hues, varying from a dark green to a deep purple, almost black coloring. With its one-of-a-kind shape and beautiful color, it can easily add dimension and texture to any arrangement. It especially pairs well with rich, fall colors but also looks stunning mixed in with a ton of greenery. Adding a few stems of fiddleheads can easily transform your arrangements into a woodland fairy tale.
Heather is a filler flower that features tiny fisheye blooms that run the length of its branchy stems. Perfect for filling in the gaps and adding a unique texture, heather is available in white, pink, and green. It is believed that Heather has protective powers and can also symbolize admiration and good luck.
Holly is mainly used as a Christmas or winter flower, so we have it available in November and December at FiftyFlowers! The bunches of bright red berries against fresh greenery will add a fresh, natural look and feel to your wedding bouquets and arrangements. Holly traditionally symbolizes deference and domestic happiness. Pretty perfect for a winter wedding don’t ya think?!
10. Italian Ruscus
With its rich green color and its narrow tear-shaped leaves, Italian Ruscus makes a gorgeous filler. As an added bonus, this greenery is available year-round and it’s long-lasting (up to eight days!). This variety looks beautiful on its own, especially when it’s laid out on the center of the table. It also pairs nicely with candles, too. The shiny leaves add a touch of glam while the candles create a romantic ambiance.
Ivy is another popular choice for garden, vintage or romantic wedding bouquets. Their carefree draping shape can create movement and the popular loose, unstructured look that is more natural. Ivy also has the perfect meaning for weddings, as they represent wedded love, affection, fidelity, and friendship!
12. Leatherleaf Fern
The leatherleaf fern (a.k.a. leather fern) is another romantic and lovely filler. With tufted, rich green leaves that fan out triangularly, this fern provides a dramatic backdrop to the flowers in your bouquet. The stem is strong yet flexible, and the entire fern grows up to 24 inches tall and 8 inches wide.
13. Leyland Cedar
Leyland Cedar is commonly associated with the holiday season, but its longevity (eight days with proper care) and dark green color make it an excellent choice no matter the time of year. Leyland Cedar can be used tucked into a holiday-inspired wreath or mixed in with other greens in a garland. One of the great things about this greenery is that it is easy to work with! A table runner can easily be created using our Leyland Cedar, simply lay strands of greenery down the center of a table for an effortless and festive table runner. Attaching a sprig or two on napkins, table numbers or place cards is also a great way to use this greenery. It also pairs well with any type of berries, such as Hypericum Berries, Hanging Pepperberry and Red Ilex Berry Branches. Leyland Cedar looks especially elegant when paired with white flowers.
14. Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley is a very delicate flower with tiny bell-shaped blooms and broad basal leaves. The perfect filler flower for delicate and dainty wedding bouquets (think Princess Kate’s wedding bouquet.) This white flower symbolizes purity, humility, happiness and sweetness.
Lisianthus is a wonderful filler flower that features anywhere between two to six budding flowers per stem. The blooms feature delicate layers of petals, soft and romantic, while the un-bloomed buds add perfect texture. Available in lots of great colors and in mini, single, double, and designer varieties. Lisianthus is said to represent being outgoing.
Moss is a fun green, great for whimsical, woodland, and even modern table arrangements. Check out some Moss Inspiration here! Symbolizing maternal love, this would be great for a bride who is a mom or mom-to-be, or to give appreciation the newylweds’ mothers.
Myrtle symbolizes love and is the Hebrew emblem of marriage. Every royal bride since Queen Victoria has had a sprig of myrtle in her bouquet. The myrtle comes from a tree which grew from a cutting of Queen Victoria’s own bridal bouquet. Since then, each royal bride has included a sprig from the original plant in her bouquet, and the bridesmaids then plant the sprigs in Queen Victoria’s garden after the wedding. Feel like royalty with your very own sprig of myrtle!
18. Queen Anne’s Lace
Queen Anne’s lace is similar to baby’s breath with its tiny and delicate clusters of small white flowers, however, these clusters are located at the top of the stem rather than scattered along the stems like baby’s breath. Queen Anne’s lace symbolizes magic, trust, and healing.
Sedum, also known as stonecrop flowers, have clusters of tiny pink blooms and are only available from August to October. Folklore has said the essence of the sedum flower is a cure for broken and wounded hearts. Another popular meaning of this flower is tranquility.
The snapdragon is a popular filler flower, good for adding height and color to arrangements. Find it in a variety of colors such as pink, purple, yellow, orange, white, and burgundy. Snapdragon is known for its wispy jaw-like upper and lower petals. A single stem averages 10-15 of these unique blooms, which are grouped closely together giving the impression of a single lengthy flower. Said to represent desire, snapdragons would make a wonderful addition to any bouquet or centerpiece.
Statice is sometimes called the tissue flower, because of their tissue paper-like blooms. It’s also called sea lavender. Whatever you call it, statice is a stunning purple filler flowers (they also come in blue, white, pink, and yellow). Each main stem has a spray of smaller branches with several of these tiny funnel-shaped flowers. They have a long vase life and require very little maintenance, making them popular for both fresh and dried arrangements. The meaning of statice is lasting beauty and success, and because of its longevity, statice has grown to be the flower of fond memories. Statice is also symbolic of remembrance and sympathy.
Stephanotis, also known as Madagascar Jasmine, is another flower with a great meaning for weddings…marital happiness! It is a sweetly scented flower that blooms to form a 5 pointed star. Due to their small stems, special wiring may be required for design work. You can also adorn your bouquet by inserting sparkling faux diamonds or jewels into the center of each flower.
Don’t let the name fool you: Stock is anything but ordinary. It is fluffy, tall and fragrant in all the right ways! In Spanish, this flower is know as “El Aleli” — much prettier name, don’t ya think?! It can have a spicy, clove-like fragrance and is indicative of a happy life and lasting bonds of affection; gifting a bouquet of these blooms says, “You will always be beautiful to me.”
24. Sweet Pea
This list of fillers and greens wouldn’t be complete without sweet, petite sweet peas. The sweet pea gets its name from is sweet scent and would look great in a soft spring bouquet. These blooms are said to symbolize delicate pleasures, and would make a great addition to any arrangement.
25. Sword Fern
The sword fern is a long, flat leaf with sword-shaped fronds (hence the name!). Sword fern comes in a bright green color so it really pops in floral arrangements. This specific variety especially work best in line arrangements but also look great in round arrangements. Just like leather leaf, sword fern makes an excellent selection for a decorative filler. This variety comes in a grower’s bunch, which is typically 8-10 stems per bunch. It can last up to eight days with proper care. It’s also available year-round. Sword fern looks amazing in tropical arrangements but also works well in other themes such as, boho and woodland.
26. Variegated Pittosporum
Variegated pittosporum features a tall, woody stem that bursts into dense green leaves with creamy, white edges. Its beautiful bicolor is what sets this greenery apart from the rest! Though they’re available year-round, long-lasting and can maintain its shape out of water.
This greenery is bound to stand out and make an impression even when paired with showy flowers like peonies. Variegated pittosporum is commonly paired with flowers like roses, kale, dahlias and hypericum berries, though they look great with just about any flower!
It also comes in a miniature size that’s perfect for boutonnieres or corsages. Mini variegated pittosporum is easy to work with and its size makes it ideal for smaller arrangements. It looks great in flower crowns, too! For an organic or bohemian look, pair mini variegated pittosporums with white spray roses.
The possibilities for flower arrangements are endless with so many gorgeous types of greenery and filler flowers to choose from!
- Focal Flowers and the Meaning Behind Them
- How to Create a Table Runner Made of Greenery
- Using Tropical Greenery as Wedding Décor