Flower heads in green glass vases

Best Plants To Grow For Cut Flowers

Fill the house with colour and scent from spring to autumn

Who doesn’t love vases of colourful cut flowers in the house, even better if they are scented. Even the smallest garden can accommodate some gorgeous sweet peas growing up a wall or trellis or some annuals in a window-box or container by the door. If you have the basic garden framework of shrubs and herbaceous perennials then any gaps can be filled with a selection of annuals which you can change every year to give you a varying colour palette. You can have cut flowers in the house from late winter, starting with snowdrops all the way through to late autumn, finishing with dahlias. Most of the spring flowers, such as primroses, snowdrops, cowslips, hellebores and violets can be picked for indoors. You don’t have to be an expert flower arranger, you can place the blooms in anything you like from a single flower in a tiny vase to a huge, loose bunch in a galvanised bucket.

snowdrops in vase

If you have a larger garden and can afford a dedicated space for cut flowers then sowing annuals can be a really cheap way of having a house full of flowers all summer. Not only do you get cut flowers but also an incredibly rich source of nectar for beneficial insects. They need a sunny position, protected from strong winds. Don’t enrich the ground before sowing the seed as rich soil will produce a lot of leafy growth and not many flowers. Rake the bed to a fine tilth, water the soil and sow the seed directly; some varieties may need a little heat to get them going so sow these in trays and place in a heated propagator. Sow the seed towards the end of April so that hopefully they germinate after the frosts have finished; you will be able to sow sooner than this in the south of the UK.

You probably won’t need the whole packet of seeds so keep the remainder cool and dry until the following year. When the plants start to form the first buds you can feed with a weak solution of a high potash fertiliser, such as Tomorite, every week as this promotes the formation of flowers. Keep watered as they can quickly dry out in hot weather and will soon lose their nice fresh, lush look and start to wither. As you keep on picking the flowers the longer they will keep on blooming.

Top tips to keep your flowers in the vase looking their best for longer:

  • Pick them in the cool of the day and place immediately in a bucket of water.
  • Place them somewhere cool, as the warmer they are the shorter the lifespan.
  • Cut the stems to an angle of at least 45 degrees; if cut straight they can sit flat on the bottom of the vase and not be able to take up any water.
  • Take off any foliage that will be below the water-line.
  • Add a drop of bleach to kill any bacteria and a little sugar to nourish the blooms.

White

  • Achillea ptarmica ‘The Pearl’  (perennial)
  • Ammi majus ‘Graceland’  (annual)
  • Antirrhinum ‘White Giant’  (annual)
  • Convallaria majalis  (perennial; scented)
  • Cosmos ‘Dwarf Sensation White’  (annual)
  • Gypsophila elegans ‘Covent Garden’  (perennial)
  • Nicotiana sylvestris  (annual; scented)
  • Phlox paniculata ‘David’  (perennial)
  • Scabious  (perennial)

Orange/yellow

  • Achillea millefolium ‘Moonshine’  (perennial)
  • Calendula  (annual)
  • Cephalaria gigantea  (annual/perennial)
  • Eschscholzia californica ‘Orange King’  (annual)
  • Helenium  (perennial)
  • Sunflowers  (annual)

sunflowers in vase

Pink

  • Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Psyche Rose Picotee’  (annual)
  • Dianthus barbatus ‘Summer Sundae’  (short-lived perennial; scented)
  • Phlox paniculata ‘The King’  (perennial)
  • Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Salmon Pink’  (perennial)

roses and chrysanthemums in vase

Roses, chrysanthemums and evergreen foliage

Green

  • Anethum graveolens  (annual)
  • Cobaea scandens ‘Alba’  (annual climber)
  • Moluccella laevis  (annual)
  • Nicotiana alata ‘Lime Green’  (annual)
  • Zinnia elegans ‘Benary’s Giant Lime’  (annual)

Purple/lilac

  • Achillea millefolium ‘Lilac Beauty’  (perennial)
  • Cerinthe major  (annual)
  • Nicotiana x sanderae ‘Perfume Purple’  (annual; scented)
  • Phlox paniculata ‘Laura’  (perennial)
  • Salvia ‘Amistad’  (perennial)

annual asters in vase

Annual asters

Red/burgundy

  • Achillea millefolium ‘Summerwine’  (perennial)
  • Centaurea cyanus ‘Black Ball’  (annual)
  • Phlox paniculata ‘Starfire’  (perennial)
  • Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Black Cat’  (annual)

Blue

  • Delphiniums  (perennial)
  • Didiscus caeruleus ‘Blue Lace’  (annual)
  • Nigella damascena ‘Deep Blue’ & ‘Miss Jekyll’  (annual)
  • Phlox paniculata ‘Blue Paradise’  (perennial)
  • Salvia ‘Veronica’  (perennial)

Multi-colours

  • Antirrhinum  (annual)
  • Aster  (annual)
  • Dahlias  (tender perennial tubers)
  • Gladioli  (corm)
  • Narcissus  (bulb; some varieties scented)
  • Roses  (shrub; scented)
  • Sweet Peas  (annual climber; scented)
  • Tulips  (bulb)

roses in vases

Foliage

  • Alchemilla mollis  (perennial)
  • Corylus avellana  (shrub; twisted stems)
  • Eucalyptus gunnii  (tree; keep well pruned to provide a supply of new young shoots)
  • Euphorbia oblongata  (perennial)
  • Hosta  (perennial)
  • Hypericum  (shrub)
  • Pittosporum tenuifolium  (shrub)
  • Rosmarinus  (shrub; scented)

For more information, hints and tips on gardening just get in touch with our team in the Outdoor Plant department here in store.

Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas