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Some of my happiest childhood memories are of my mom's garden bursting with homegrown flower bouquets. Whenever we had visitors, she'd snip whatever was in bloom, bundle it up with herbs from her kitchen garden, wrap it in a wet paper towel and tinfoil, and gift it to our guests. I just thought it was the simplest, kindest way to grow joy for herself and for her friends—and that's the beauty of growing cut flowers.

Speaking of beauty, I couldn’t get enough of this episode’s guest and her amazing book! Lisa Ziegler is the founder of The Gardener's Workshop and the author of the book I just devoured, ‘The Cut Flower Handbook.’ We had a high-level overview of what you need to know if you want to delve into cut flower gardening!


In this episode, we learn:

  • [04:13] What sparked Lisa's desire to grow cut flowers?
  • [07:32] How did Lisa's hobby bloom into a flower farm?
  • [10:23] Are spacing guidelines for cutting gardens important?
  • [13:07] What is the best place for a cutting garden, and why is it different from where you usually plant flowers?
  • [17:00] Where to get hassle-free self-watering planters
  • [18:42] The best indoor and outdoor gardening products for you
  • [21:08] What is Lisa’s garden zone?
  • [21:47] Which cut flowers are best for beginners?
  • [27:10] What are the recommended filler flowers to grow with Zinnias?
  • [28:13] What are the benefits of starting seeds indoors versus direct sowing in the garden?
  • [31:46] Annuals vs perennials
  • [34:10] What are magnet plants?
  • [37:17] Tps for setting up a low-maintenance cutting garden for beginners
  • [45:49] How and when should you pinch plants in a cutting garden?
  • [50:38] Is there a rule of thumb for how many leaves to leave when pinching or cutting back annuals in a cutting garden?
  • [51:25] What are the biggest mistakes people make during harvesting?
  • [55:59] Why are Bells of Ireland a coveted flower (and what is the secret to growing them)?
  • [57:11] How can zone six growers use large grow bags to create a cutting garden with transplants and direct-sown seeds?
  • [01:02:57] Poppy vs cosmos: which is easier to grow?
  • [01:04:22] Where can you find Lisa on the internet?



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Why Grow Cut Flowers

A cut flower garden is basically just a designated space for growing blooms with the purpose of, you guessed it, cutting them and bringing them inside (or gifting to anyone)!

Lisa's top picks for beginner cut flowers:

These three are easy to grow as seeds and they have such irresistible appeal that makes people go crazy for them in bouquets.


Starting Small

Lisa suggests starting with a little 3 by 10-foot garden. This size is perfect for beginners and allows you to produce a ton of flowers. This is more of a cutting garden than a landscape bed, so the spacing and maintenance will be a bit different from what you are used to.


Choosing the Right Location

Choose the perfect spot out of the way—you don't want a visible garden tempting you to just admire the blooms instead of cutting them. Try placing them behind the garage or along the side of your house. You won’t be too attached and it’s going to make it easier to cut them regularly. Of course, make sure the location has full sun and easy access to water!


Soil Preparation

Put in the prep work with soil, spacing, and weed prevention. This is important to keep your garden low maintenance and you won’t have to worry about the flowers you’re planting. Add 2 to 4 inches of compost or leaf mold to the soil every year. Also, use a dry organic fertilizer. Throw some organic mulch on the soil to keep those pesky weeds from popping up.


Pinching and Harvesting

Pinching off that first bloom by removing the top growth when your plants are young does wonders. This encourages them to branch out and have longer stems.

Then when it’s time to harvest, cut deep into the plant, leaving only 2 to 4 side shoots. Leave just a couple of inches of stem, and the plant will reward you with more flowers (harvest 2x a week).

I know it's so counterintuitive, but that tough love pruning is what keeps your cut flowers happily blooming all season long!


Succession Planting

Successive planting is the best way to guarantee a steady stream of flowers. This means sowing seeds every 2-3 weeks so you always have flowers coming into bloom. This spreads out the work and makes your choices endless in what to grow.


Growing Flowers in Containers or Grow Bags

If you're limited on space (like me growing on a balcony), you can still enjoy cut flowers by growing them in large grow bags or containers. Plant a mix of seeds and starts, like sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, and basil. Make sure to water regularly and fertilize as needed.


Keep Growing and Sharing

Growing cut flowers is a process of learning and experimentation. Don't be afraid to try new things, make mistakes, and most importantly, share your blooms with others. As Lisa says, if you don't start sharing your flowers by mid-July, your home will take on the look of a funeral parlor!

If you want to learn more, I highly recommend checking out Lisa's book “The Cut Flower Handbook” and visiting her website



Mentioned in our conversation:


Thank you to our episode sponsors:

Crescent Garden

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Espoma Organic

If you want gorgeous flowers, set them up for success with high-quality soil, fertilizer, potting mixes and more! Espoma Organic is dedicated to making safe indoor and outdoor gardening products for people, pets, and the planet. They have an amazing variety of high-quality, organic potting mixes, garden soil, fertilizers, and pest control products that are organic and eco-friendly. To top it all off, they have a huge sustainability commitment with a 100% solar-powered plant, zero waste manufacturing, and eco-friendly packaging.

Visit to find your local Espoma dealer or check my Amazon storefront.




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