How to Cut Flowers From Your Cutting Garden

Flower Gardening

Flowers have a natural beauty that makes us want to pause and enjoy the view. And though we may appreciate the beauty of our flowers outdoors, sometimes you want to bring them inside so you can enjoy them all the time. Planting your own cutting garden is the best way to ensure you will always have lots of beautiful flowers ready for making your own homemade floral arrangements.

When should I cut my flowers?

When you grow your own flowers, you have control over when to cut them. Want more buds or a flower that has fully opened? It all depends on how to want to use them and how long you want them to last. 


For whatever project you have in mind, there are some basic principles to follow to enjoy the longest possible vase life for cut flowers.


  • The best time to cut flowers is early in the morning. They will be standing up straight and be fully hydrated. Later in the day, the flowers are already losing moisture and will be limp. When flowers start off limp, they take longer to perk up and could have a shorter vase life. 

  • Knowing when to cut can depend on the flower. Some flowers have slightly different requirements and will do best when they are cut just before the bud is starting to open. The bud will have the flower color, but the petals haven’t begun to unfurl yet. Other flowers will only continue to bloom if the buds are already halfway open. So do your research and some trial and error to find out when you should cut each variety. Sunflowers, Cosmos, and Black-Eyed Susans are some of the flowers that can be cut before they are fully open. 

  • For flowers with several buds on one stem, cut when one bud is starting to open and the other bud has color.  If there is just one bloom per stem, you can cut when the flower is fully open.

  • Generally, you want to cut flowers before they have been pollinated. However, flower gardens feed the bees, so you don’t want to cut all your flowers. Instead, leave some to be pollinated and continue your flower garden as a habitat for beneficial pollinators

  • If pollen has fallen onto the leaves, the flower is past its prime. You can still enjoy it indoors; just know it won’t last long.

How do I cut flowers for arrangements?

When you are ready to start harvesting your flowers, take a bucket of water with you into the garden. 


Make sure your bucket is sanitized first. Bacteria in the bucket will affect the flower life. 


The water should be just average room temperature or warm water. This will allow the plant to pull up water more quickly. 


Cut stems at a 45-degree angle with sharp floral scissors. These scissors are specifically for foliage, and they will make a difference. Regular scissors can crush stems and prevent water uptake. 


Cut your stems as long as possible to give yourself more arrangement options. 


Immediately place cut stems into the bucket of water. You will want to use a bucket deep enough to keep your flowers upright, so they don’t tip over and fall out of the bucket.


Once flowers are cut, remove lower foliage. These leaves will quickly rot in a vase and increase bacterial growth.

Zinnias in flower garden

How to Cut Flowers So They Keep Blooming

For many flowers, cutting encourages even more blooms to grow. All the more reason to get out those shears and start cutting. 


When cutting from your flower garden, consider how you want your plant to continue growing. If you cut out the middle bloom, new blooms will grow on the sides. These side shoots will give you more but often smaller flowers. 


If you want bigger blooms, cut off the side shoots and let the middle flower remain. 


Zinnias are one flower that loves to be cut. A zinnia plant will continue to send out new stems each time it is cut. 


cosmos growing in garden

When Do I Cut Herbs for Flower Arrangements?

Herbs can be a beautiful and fragrant part of flower arrangements. They can be cut at any time during their growing life. During different times of plant growth, you will have a completely different texture, color, and even bloom. Letting some of your herbs go to seed can result in a beautiful flower that can become an integral part of floral design. 


Once they are cut, herbs will stand up straight when they have enough hydration. Stronger stems will be formed when the plant is going to seed or blooming. Basil, dill, lavender, sage, and many other herbs can be part of a cut flower garden.


It is so rewarding to cut your own flowers. When you do, you get to decide how and when to use them. We love being able to share beautiful blooms with friends and anyone who could use some natural beauty to brighten up their day.