Where to Purchase Cut Flower Seeds and How to Determine What to Grow?
As garden stores start to prepare for spring you will start to see the bags of potting mixes piling up and seed racks marching into all of your local garden stores. When we were just starting out, every time Matt would make a trip to the hardware store he would find me scouring the seed racks picking out what I wanted to grow this year. As I became more of an avid gardener I started learning about specialized seed companies that grow or source their own seeds and produce some of their own unique varieties. One of my favorite sources is Johnny Selected Seeds. This company out of Maine is employee owned and conducts their own vegetable and flower trials every year. They offer exceptional products for both the home or commercial grower. Johnny’s also does a great job providing information on the back of their seed packets and you can find detailed culture sheets on their website for how to best start your seeds. For example, some flowers need a period of darkness to germinate while others prefer not to be covered with soil and need light to germinate. On the Johnny Seeds site they provide all of this information to the grower so you know exactly how to get the best germination. The other source I would highly recommend if you are looking for some of the unique and hard to find cut flowers varieties out there is Floret Flower Farm. Erin Benzakein, owner of Floret Farm (who is largely responsible for our start in this industry and many other flower farmers) has a wealth of information and blog posts up on her website on nearly every topic of cut flower growing. She also sells specialty types of cut flower seeds for the home gardener in small quantities. These are two of our go to sources for growing information and seed ordering.
So how do you decide what to grow? This is the tricky part that I struggle with. It is easy to want to grow a little bit of everything but I try to limit myself to trying just a few new flowers each year. Of course they were all new to me at one point so I read and spent countless hours researching which flowers to grow. I am going to share with you a few of my favorite cut flower staples.
No cut flower garden is complete without zinnias. If you aren’t familiar with many cut flowers you have probably heard of zinnias. These are a true work horse in the cutting garden and are what we call cut and come again because the will just keep on blooming all season long. They are quite easy to grow and can be started in little pots or you can direct sow seed straight into the garden. A few of my favorite varieties are Benary’s Giant and the Oklahoma Series. If you want to try a fun little dainty zinnia, I love the Zinderella zinnias too. All of these can be found on Johnny’s or Floret’s websites.
If you have visited us at the farmers market than you have probably seen our gomphrena bunches – the little round flower blooms that resemble clover. These are incredibly vibrant and are great fresh and dry well too. They are also very prolific and come in purple, lilac, white, red, and orange. I recommend growing the QIS mix in order to have mix of colors. Just a few plants will yield you gobs of blooms –and don’t forget to try drying them! I plan to write a blog post later this season on how to dry flowers.
In the flower world a true blue is a very hard flower color to come by. Many of the flowers that garden centers and wholesalers label as blue are actually purple. One flower that is a true blue is the forget-me-not. These flowers are special to me and are a favorite whispy little bloom of mine (honeybees love them too). They are also fairly easy to grow. Once they are blooming, pick them in the early morning and allow them to hydrate in a bucket of cool water for several hours before arranging. This helps to prevent wilting. Once you have a patch of forget-me-nots in the garden, they are sure to drop seed and self sow from year to year.
Another garden staple is the sunflower. There are two different types of sunflowers, branching and singe stem. We grow the single stem pollen-less varieties as they produce larger blooms on longer stronger stems and you don’t have to worry about them dropping pollen. For the home gardener though, a branching variety might be preferred as they will produce many more stems and bloom over a longer period of time. There are a lot of unique kinds of sunflower out there. You can read about and search for your favorite on one of the seed sites I listed or at your local garden store. The trick to growing the best branching sunflowers is to pinch our the centers of seedlings when they have several sets of leaves. This will help you to get longer stems.
No bouquet is complete without a little greenery. Some of our favorites are actually herbs! Cinnamon & Thai basil make a great bouquet fillers and also add a nice aroma. These are also easily started from seed. Another favorite is apple mint. You can find mint plants of at your local garden store. Just be careful with planting mint as it is quick to spread and take over the garden. It is best contained in a large pot or raised bed.
If you are interested in hearing about some other ideas of flowers to grow this year then head over to the sites I mentioned earlier. I have posted their links below.
Check out Floret’s website for additional blog posts on other annual cut flowers you might want to try growing.
In our next blog post we will share how we start our seeds!
Johnny Selected Seeds – https://www.johnnyseeds.com
They have a wonderful selection of veggies too!
Floret Flower Farm - https://shop.floretflowers.com
Thanks for reading and happy gardening!