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Captivating Foliage and Flowers for Your Perennial Cutting Garden

Captivating Foliage and Flowers for Your Perennial Cutting Garden

Captivating Foliage and Flowers for Your Perennial Cutting Garden
perennial flowers of black eyed susan and sedum in a cut flower arrangement

Photos by Monrovia: Doreen Wynja

A garden is often a place where we are able to tap into our inner artist. It's a place where we can playfully experiment with texture, color, form, and even scent. Plants have a way of allowing our creativity to shine in this way. Cutting flowers and making floral arrangements is a fantastic way to use the garden to get creative, and enjoy the artistry that is inspired by nature. 

Growing a perennial cutting garden allows us to bring more creativity and artistry to our lives year after year. We'll help you do it with tips, plant recommendations, and inspiration from the experts. Below, you'll find tips for planning, cutting, and arranging your perennial cut flowers, as well as a variety of our favorite perennials, shrubs, and grasses for cutting gardens and cut-flower arrangements. 

(Above) The dark foliage of SunSparkler® Cherry Tart Sedum and Royal Purple Smoke Tree makes the bright yellow of Goldsturm Black-Eyed Susan pop in a cut perennial flower floral arrangement. The drought tolerance and low maintenance of all three of these plants is an added bonus!

10 Tips for Planning Your Perennial Cut Flower Garden

  1. Your existing garden is likely already a great start — you can use just about any plant in your cut flower arrangements, including annuals, perennials, woody plants, vines, grasses, seedheads, and greens. 
  2. Site plants with similar water, light, soil, and drainage needs together.
  3. Mass six or more plants together for visual impact, space efficiency, and tons of blooms.
  4. Plant your perennial cut flower garden in spring or fall. 
  5. If you'd like even more variety, plant annuals like zinnia, sunflower, cosmos, marigold, or snapdragons.
  6. Choose plants with stems of 18" or taller.
  7. Look for plants with abundant, long-lasting flowers. Sturdy stems are a big benefit, as well, and will stand up better in the garden and the vase.
  8. Remember greenery and textures. Shrubs and trees are perfect for adding these to arrangements.
  9. If regular irrigation or drought is a concern, choose drought-tolerant plants for your cut flower garden. They require less irrigation and will continue to produce flowers through dry periods (although they require irrigation to get established). 
  10. Most importantly, you're the artist here. Choose colors and flowers that inspire your creativity!

10 Tips for Cutting and Arranging Flowers

blue hydrangeas flowers in a vase
floral arangement with mahonia berries
clematis seed heads, echinops, and nepeta in a floral arrangment in vases

Best Easy-Care Perennial Cut Flowers

Zones 4-9

Harlequin™ Purple
Beardtongue

The abundant showy blooms of this long-blooming and vigorous variety are perfect for adding a vertical, colorful element to cut flower arrangements. Plus, this hardy, drought-tolerant perennial is a valuable source of nectar to pollinators. Up to 22" tall, 16" wide. Zones 5-9. 

Blue Boa
Agastache

Long, wide flower spikes of a deep violet-blue are held atop upright stems with scented foliage. This showy, drought-tolerant, low-maintenance, and pollinator-friendly perennial is also gorgeous as a cut flower. Blooms reach up to 32" tall, foliage up to 18" wide.  Zones 5-9. 

Keiko™ (Adored)
Itoh Peony

An exceptional intersectional hybrid that offers the best of both woody tree peonies and herbaceous peonies. The huge and lightly fragrant flowers, strong stems, and prolific bloom make them superior cut flowers. Up to 30" tall and wide. Zones 4-8.

Evolution™ Colorific™
Coneflower

Sturdy, upright stems hold up long-lasting, colorful flowers on this hardy perennial. The bright green center cone and palette of pink hues add an enchanting visual dimension to arrangements. Up to 20" tall, 18" wide. Zones 4-9.

Evolution™ Chocolate
Fountain Sedum

Add the deep chocolate-purple foliage and dark-rose flowers of this dramatic sedum to your vase to make bright blooms pop. This exclusive variety is bred for its strong basal branching and compact stems, which also make it a great cut flower. Up to 15" tall and wide. Zones 4-9.

Bee-You™ Bee-Free
Bee Balm

Fragrant, colorful, and unique! Deep maroon buds that cover the lush, minty-basil-scented, dark green foliage open to show-stopping, electric violet-purple blooms. Plus, this carefree plant is truly mildew free. Up to 18" tall, 15" wide. Zones 5-9.

Desert Eve™
Terracotta Yarrow

An easy-care perennial that is heat- and drought-tolerant. Big, flat clusters of small, deep rusty orange flowers add color and texture to cut flower arrangements, fresh or dried. Up to 20" tall, 24" wide. Zones 4-9.

Steffi™ Blush
Pink Gaura

Another great option for areas with hot, dry summers. It's a charming addition to your perennial cut flower garden thanks to prolific blush-pink blooms and upright red stems. Up to 18" tall, 20" wide.  Zones 5-10. 

Fanal
Astilbe

The tall, feathery flowers and graceful foliage make Astilbe a great cut perennial flower for shadier gardens. This variety is particularly showy with deep garnet-red blooms. Up to 2' tall, 1' wide. Zones 4-9. 

Zones 8-11

Purple Potion®
Agapanthus

An evergreen perennial that steals the show in borders and bouquets, thanks to its unique deep-violet color held aloft on sturdy stems. Blooms up to 26" tall, foliage to 20" wide. Zones 7-10.

Colorita® Katiana®
Peruvian Lily

A must-have cutting garden perennial for warm zones, with continuous dramatic blooms that outlast many others in the vase. The attractive variegated foliage is also a favorite in arrangements. Up to 12" tall, 24" wide. Zones 8-11. 

Captain Solo
Calla Lily

An easy-to-grow and impressive cut flower that adds an exotic, tropical flair to arrangements. Bright flowers and sword-like foliage look impeccable from late spring through midsummer. Up to 12" tall and wide. Zones 8-11. Grow as an annual in all zones.

VIBE® Ignition
Purple Salvia

Notable humidity-, heat- and drought-tolerant, this petite sage explodes with vibrant purple flowers throughout summer. Add to your perennial cutting garden and you'll have a source of vivid color and fine foliage for your vase all summer long. Up to 24" tall and wide. Zones 7-11.

Lollipop
Verbena

A dwarf selection of a cottage garden classic, with dense clusters of lavender flowers on delicate stems. The airy elegance makes it a wonderful cut flower, fresh or dried.  Up to 36" tall and wide. Zones 7-11.

Photo: Visions Pictures

Pink Candy
Hebe

A rounded, dense, compact variety with better heat resistance than others. The glossy dark-green leaves with thin crimson midribs and margins, and long-lasting flower spikes with a pink blush make it a fantastic cut flower. Up to 18" tall, 24" wide. Zones 7-11.

Best Shrubs to Grow for Cut-Flower Arrangements

Zones 4-9

Nitty Gritty™ Peach Rose

Roses offer a classically elegant option for cut flower gardens, and the exclusive Nitty Gritty™ groundcover rose and Grace N' Grit™ shrub rose varieties offer low-maintenance, durable, and colorful options with abundant blooms. One of our favorites is this Nitty Gritty™ Peach, with double blooms that provide exquisite color. Up to 3' tall, 4' wide. Zones 4-9.

Provence
French Lavender

Add lavender to your arrangements to add fragrance as well as delicate color and a slender, vertical element. This is a highly fragrant variety with abundant purple flower spikes. Up to 2' tall and wide. Zones 5-9.

Little Darling®
Lilac

A fragrant lilac that blooms twice a year, with large clusters of dark purple buds that open to classic lilac-hued flowers; perfect for adding fragrance to spring (and fall) bouquets. The compact, rounded shape also makes this a unique selection. Up to 4' tall and wide. Zones 4-8. 

FloralBerry® Sangria
St. John's Wort

Originally bred for the cut-flower industry, with a well-branched habit, and rust-resistant dark-green foliage that has deep-red undersides. Dark stems and red berries make brilliant accents in flower arrangements. Up to 3' tall and wide Zones 5-9.

Seaside Serenade®
Newport Hydrangea

Sturdy stems and long-lasting blooms make all Seaside Serenade® hydrangeas superior cut flowers. Newport is a showy rebloomer with profuse, full mophead flower clusters that mature to a deep pink or purple (depending on soil pH). Up to 4' tall and wide. Zones 4-9.

Oregon
Grape

An evergreen, easy-care, North American native shrub that is a great cutting garden addition thanks to its vibrant yellow flowers in spring and deep-blue berries in fall. Birds and bouquets both benefit from this low-maintenance shrub. Up to 6' tall and wide. Zones 5-9.

Coral Beauty
Cotoneaster

Happy in a wide range of zones, add the finely textured foliage, ornamental fall berries, and white spring blooms to arrangements. Like Oregon Grape, it's lovely in a wildlife garden, too. Up to 2 ft. tall and 6 ft. wide. Zones 5-10.

Zones 8-11

Plum Passion®
Heavenly Bamboo

Deep purple-red foliage is an exceptional addition to arrangements as well as gardens. Versatile, durable, and evergreen to semi-evergreen. Up to 5' tall and 3' wide.  Zones 6-11.

Cream De Mint™
Dwarf Pittosporum

Glossy, mint-green leaves have creamy white edges that accent bouquets as well as colorful shrubs and perennials in the garden. New spring growth glows green-gold. Fuss-free, compact evergreen. Up to 30" tall and wide. Zones 8-11.

Little Ollie®
Dwarf Olive

A dwarf, non-fruiting evergreen with a graceful, multi-branching habit that is excellent in topiary form, as a hedge, specimen, or in a cut-flower arrangement. Up to 6' tall and wide. Zones 8-11.

Add Texture to Cut Arrangements with These Grasses

Karley Rose
Fountain Grass

The super-frothy rose-purple plumes and deeply arching foliage make soft, showy accents in arrangements. Forms a mound of deep green, arching foliage. Up to 5' tall. Zones 5-10.

Adagio
Maiden Grass

An abundance of showy plumes emerge bronze pink and fade to white. The graceful, silver-green arching foliage turns orange, gold, and burgundy in fall. Spectacular in the landscape and the vase. Up to 5' tall and 3' wide. Zones 5-9.

Dwarf
Fountain Grass

Fluffy, buff-colored plumes arch over a fountain of foliage, which turns a lovely golden russet in fall. The plumes and foliage create a terrific backdrop or contrast among shrubs, perennials, and bouquets. Up to 3' tall, 2' wide. Zones 4-11.