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Grow Your Own Bouquets: The Best Flowers for Your Cutting Garden

Having a bouquet of fresh flowers on your counter, desk, or kitchen table brings positive energy and vibrant color into your home. Catching a glimpse from the corner of your eye as you pass by, or taking in a deep breath of their fresh scents will make you smile and help you relax. However, buying a fresh bouquet every week is a big expense! Cutting flowers from your garden and creating your own arrangements is affordable, rewarding, and easy to personalize. You get to pick your favorite blooms while they’re still fresh, their scents are much stronger than store-bought flowers, and you can enjoy the tactile experience of arranging them yourself. You’ll also get to update your vases whenever you want to feature the freshest blooms in your garden. Better yet, regularly harvesting your flowers for fresh-cut bouquets encourages many plants to produce even more blooms!

Plan your planting this summer so that you can have beautiful bouquets all season long from your cutting garden of Iowa annuals and perennials! You’ll be able to enjoy fresh, gorgeous arrangements in every room of the house.

Here are our top plant picks for a gorgeous cutting garden: 


Hardy Perennials

Incrediball Hydrangea is a stunner all on its own, even without other flowers around it. It has giant flowerheads loaded with tiny white blooms. The flowerheads can reach up to 12″ wide! This perfectly-named plant is an excellent hedging perennial that blooms on new wood.

Lilies are a reliable and elegant perennial choice. Both Asiatic & Oriental lilies are hardy for Iowa and available in many colors. Most lilies bloom quite profusely, and their bold blooms stand out in any bouquet.

Peonies are an early-blooming perennial favorite that are powerful on their own or in an arrangement. The large, almost dinnerplate-sized blossoms feature seemingly endless layers of petals and are available in a range of shades, including reds, pinks, whites, and even purples.

Coreopsis, also known as tickseed, is an easy-care prairie-native perennial. They bloom in bursts throughout the summer and well into the fall. Their tall blooms, in shades of yellow, orange, pink, red, and white, can add height and texture to bouquets.

Black-Eyed Susan is another native perennial prairie dweller. It’s available in a variety of shades like orange, red, yellow, and white, with single or double blooms. They bloom for months and are super easy to grow. 

Garden Phlox is a profusely blooming perennial, often producing from summer until well into the fall. Available in shades of white, pink, and purple, and some gorgeous variegated options, Phlox fills out the midlevel of a bouquet, helping the whole arrangement make a statement.

Yarrow is an incredibly easy perennial to grow. Its clusters of tiny blossoms are around all summer long and can have a similar effect to baby’s breath in a bouquet. Yarrow is available in a wide range of colors, including white, pink, red, orange, and yellow. The delicate frond-type leaves of yarrow also make an excellent greenery addition to arrangements.

Shasta Daisies are a classic cutting garden perennial. Whether you use them in bouquets, or to make daisy crowns, they’re a cutting garden must-have! They bloom all summer, and cutting the flowers will encourage more blooms. 



Dahlias have a strong personality (in the best way!) and are available in every color you can imagine—from rich, deep shades to pale pastels, and everything in between. Single or double-blossom, every dahlia is striking and makes every bouquet a joy to look at it. 

Gladiolus are easy to grow and exude drama, confidence, and stamina. If you cut gladiolus just as its first blossom is starting to open and keep their water fresh, they’ll last for weeks in a vase. They’re an excellent statement flower that adds height to a bouquet.


Annuals from Seeds

Zinnias are annuals that are nearly foolproof to grow from seed and will bloom all summer long. They’re available in almost any shade and variegation and also come in specialty varieties with unique petal shapes.  

Cosmos are also easy to grow from seed and are likely to self-seed and come back every year. Their pretty pink, white, or purple daisy-like blossoms add a delicate note to fresh-cut bouquets.

Sunflowers are a diverse family of annuals. There are small ones designed for cutting that fit perfectly into a full garden bouquet, and there are much larger ones that act as a dramatic feature for a themed arrangement. The leaves of sunflowers are great for adding greenery to your cutting bouquets.

Love in a Mist, also known as Nigella, is unique, almost strange, and yet delicate and ethereal. They’re a self-seeder and are great for multi-season arrangements. Of course, the fresh blooms are beautiful, and the delicate fennel-like leaves add elegant texture. When the growing season comes to an end, the dried seed heads look fantastic in fall or winter arrangements. 

Start planning your cutting garden now so that you can fill your home, your office, and your friends’ homes with gorgeous arrangements from spring to late fall! Pop by our garden center for some more inspiration or tips from our expert staff. 

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Give Our Bees a Break

“The hum of bees is the voice of the garden.”
– Elizabeth Lawrence

The sights, sounds, and smells of our garden are part of why so many of us have fallen in love with gardening. A warm, sunny summer day doesn’t seem quite complete without the quiet buzzing of bees busily bumbling from flower to flower. They are amazing to watch as they go from bloom to bloom, slurping nectar and scooping pollen before they lift off and wobble to the next flower like an overloaded plane.

These days, it seems like our gardens are quieter. While many of us got used to the sound of our gardens humming along, the open blossoms these years seem to have fewer bees floating between them. Iowa’s pollinators, especially the bee, are in trouble and it’s not just our gardens that will suffer if we lose them. We have some ways to combat their habitat loss, and population decline from pesticides and disease in your backyard to boost their health and the health of your garden.

bee on yellow sunflower

Getting a Bee-Friendly Garden:

Bees are an important part of the health of our garden. Without enough to be in every yard, it’s important to entice them to spend their time in ours. The more appealing we make our yard, the more likely it is to be a regular stop for the few bees that are left in our neighbourhood.

Bee-Friendly Planting: Part of bringing more bees to your garden is providing them with their favorite foods. Bees will always prefer local Iowa native plants over fancy hybrids that they don’t recognize. They also like to visit plants that are in clusters instead of single flowers. They love fantastic color as much as we do, so don’t be afraid to put on a show! Plants like lilac, black-eyed susans, echinacea, and sunflowers are among their favorites.

Pictured below: Echinacea

Beautiful Paver Patio Outdoor Living

The Right Conditions: Bees will favor yards that offer lots of sunshine, little nooks and crannies to rest, and shallow water where they can get a drink. Consider filling a shallow container with some pebbles and filling it partially with water to create a bee bath that gives them a place to land and quench their thirst.

Leave it Natural: Native plants are a great compromise to have a cultivated garden that is bee-friendly, but having areas that are allowed to grow a little wilder are perfect to give bees the natural habitat, food sources, and shelter that they crave. In a busy urban center, a tiny patch of wild can be a bee oasis.

The friendlier we make our yards to bees, the better our gardens look. Bees pollinate our blooms to help them reproduce, creating more, healthier flowers. Bees are also a crucial step for many of our fruit-bearing garden favorites, so they are a must if you want to enjoy tasty apples or raspberries.

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Keeping Bees Alive:

Providing the right food and shelter to attract bees to our gardens is helpful for both us and these adorable pollinators, but we also need to focus on curbing practices that can harm these buzzing beneficial insects. Our local bees are struggling with our use of pesticides, and understanding how these chemicals works can help us prevent hurting our pollinators.

Your entire garden is an ecosystem, complete with lots of complex food chains. When some of our most irritating pests appear, they are usually followed by predators that help us keep their numbers under control. Most pesticides wipe out all insect life – not only will your bees be hurt as the innocent bystanders, but the predators that keep the pests under control will be gone, too. Pesticides might fix a problem for now, but wiping out everything only invites the pests to come back as a bigger problem in the future. In the end, using pesticides and other poisons hurts everything in your garden, including bees, without a lasting benefit to your garden.

Bee on purple Lavender and Bee on sunflower

To help save your bees, avoid spraying pesticides on anything that is in bloom, if you use them in your garden at all. If you have to use chemicals to solve a garden problem, start with the mildest solution and work upwards in toxicity. Instead of chemicals, consider using safer methods like netting, garden fleece, or mesh barriers to keep pests away, or even using companion plants in the garden that naturally repel pests.

Creating bee-friendly gardens is easy, and we only have benefits to be rewarded with. There are many solutions to the problems that reduce our bee numbers, and many of the ways to attract bees to our yards are not only simple but very aesthetically pleasing. By saving the bees, we not only feel a little better about our impact on the world around us, but we get a garden bursting with life and healthy blooms.