Growing pretty flowers to cut and bring inside is such a simple way to bring more joy into your life.
All you have to do is plant perennial and/or annual flowers in a cut flower garden or add them to existing flower beds.
You’ll have fresh flowers to place around your home, you’ll increase the beauty of your outdoor space, and you’ll attract tons of butterflies and other pollinators to your yard. There’s really no downside or reason not to plant as many flowers as you want!
We’ll focus on perennial plants today because they give you blooms the following year and then again after that. (If you’re looking for a super easy annual cut flower to grow, check out our post on zinnias.)
You’ll also find that perennials are simple to care for. They’re the plant equivalents of beauty and brawn, you know?
REASONS TO GROW YOUR OWN CUT FLOWERS
- Plants that we grow for their flowers add lots of beauty and visual interest to your space, whether that’s a raised-bed garden or some flower beds.
- Buying floral arrangements at the store can be expensive. If you’re someone who enjoys having fresh blooms around each week, the costs add up quick.
- You’ll get to enjoy fresher blooms that haven’t been sprayed with preservatives and shipped across the country.
- Many of the perennial plants I recommend below are native to the South, which means they grow well in our warmer climate without a lot of extra water or care. Our wildlife species depend on these blooms. Other flowers below are not native but are still important food sources for birds, bees, and butterflies.
A List of Our Top 15 Cut Flower Plants to Grow
- baby’s breath
- balloon flowers
- black-eyed Susans
- cutleaf daisies
- globe thistle
- maximilian sunflower
- mealy sage
- Peruvian lilies
- shasta daisies
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HOW TO GROW PERENNIAL FLOWERS
Before we look at these 15 plants individually, let’s talk about some general guidelines for growing perennial flowers. Fortunately, these plants overall have pretty similar needs.
When Is the Best Time to Plant Perennial Flowers?
Perennial flowers are typically planted in the early spring, summer, or early fall. Thanks to our super hot Texas summers, September through October is actually the best time for us to plant these perennials. They’ll have enough time to get established before the arrival of cold weather, but they won’t have to deal with the worst heat for many months.
Where Is the Best Place to Grow Perennial Flowers?
These flowering plants appreciate full sun. The plants will survive in part shade, but you’ll enjoy the most blooms if you pick a spot that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun a day. Full sun also prevents many of these plants from growing leggy (too tall instead of bushy).
Perennials are often not picky about their soil. Some even thrive in poor soil. They do well in raised beds, containers, or in-ground garden beds. Well-drained soil is ideal, so add some sand and compost to clay-heavy soil if you’re growing in the ground.
How Big Should a Container Be to Grow Perennial Flowers?
There are so many different cultivars and hybrids of our favorite perennials available now that it’s hard to give you hard and fast rules for how large your pots need to be.
Check how large each plant is expected to grow at maturity. Dwarf varieties of popular perennials will likely stay under a foot tall and will do well in smaller pots. A different variety of the same flower could easily grow several feet tall and need a much larger pot.
Make sure to select a pot or container that has at least one good drainage hole. If there’s nothing to let out excess water, you’ll need to add one with a drill. Cover the bottom of the container with a little piece of weed barrier cloth or burlap so that the soil doesn’t escape from the bottom every time you water. Fill your pot with a mix of organic potting soil and compost.
Your potted flowers will require more regular watering and fertilizing than their counterparts growing in raised beds or the ground. That’s because they won’t have as much space to find more water or additional resources when needed.
What’s the Best Way to Fertilize Perennial Flowers?
Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of fresh compost whenever you’re planting perennial flowers. The nutrients in compost are often enough to power these plants through their growing season.
If you feel like your plants need more nutrients, you can water in some MicroLife’s Maximum Blooms every month or so around the base of the plants from late spring to late summer.
What’s the Best Way to Water Perennial Plants?
You’ll want to keep the soil moderataly moist while you’re waiting on seeds to sprout or recently transplanted plants to get established.
After that, you’re more likley to accidentally overwater these guys than underwater. Too much water, and their roots will rot, which can kill the plant.
Water only if you notice leaves wilting or if we haven’t received any rain for more than 10 days or so.
If you’re watering by hand, aim your water at the base of the plant and not the leaves to prevent the plants from developing fungal disease.
Is It Better to Start Perennial Plants by Seed or to Buy Young Plants?
I typically recommend starting your own annual plants by seed, but perennials are a little trickier.
They’re often slow to grow from seed, and some don’t bloom until their second year. Even though it’s more expensive to buy plants, you can bring something home that’s guaranteed to bloom your first season. Since the plant will then (ideally) live another couple of years, you can think of it as a long-term investment.
Make sure to look for healthy plants from a a local nursery.
To encourage your plants to continue producing flowers, you can do something called deadheading. This just means to prune the stems of spent blooms so that the plant no longer has to support them.
Some perennials can grow a little too big for their britches. If your plants are falling over, you can support them with some garden stakes and twine to hold them upright.
Your plants will die back after our first hard frost. You can prune them, but you want to make sure to avoid messing with their roots. New growth will come up from these roots in the spring.
THE TOP 15 PERENNIALS TO GROW FOR CUT FLOWERS
Note: These plants are recommended for Central Texas, zone 8, though many will work in other climates. If you live somewhere colder, you’ll want to check on their hardiness before adding any of these to your landscape.
Asters Are the Perfect Perennial to Grow for Fall Blooms
Asters and their purple or pink daisy-like flowers will stun from summer all the way through late fall with very little care. Because they continue to bloom long after other flowers fade, they’re a really important food source for pollinators before winter.
Asters make for beautiful cut flowers that can last in water for well over a week.
Baby’s Breath Make a Great Addition to Any Cut Flower Garden
I think we all got a little sick of baby’s breath mixed in with rose bouquets. Now that I’ve grown my own cut flowers and made some floral arrangements, I have a new-found appreciation for the simple elegance of these little flowers. Honestly, I think they look their best all on their own.
There are both annual and perennial varieties of baby’s breath, so make sure you check which type you’re getting if you’re looking for multiple years of enjoyment. You can also find plants that grow like ground cover and plants that grow more upright. Look for pink blooms if you want something new.
Balloon Flowers Produce Several Beautiful Blooms on Each Stem
This low-maintenance plant produces 2- to 3-inch flowers that are shaped like stars. You can grab seeds for royal purple, violet, pink, or white blooms. You can grow this herbaceous perennial in rock gardens and along the borders of flower beds.
Know that you likely won’t get blooms until the second year. They’ll be worth the wait! Cut stems at the base when they have several flowers just beginning to open up so that you can enjoy them indoors as long as possible.
Black-Eyed Susans Are Perfect for Cottage Gardens
These beautiful golden-yellow flowers are in the same family as asters and daisies, so you know they’re low maintenance. Mature plants are both drought-tolerant and deer-resistant. They readily re-seed, which makes them ideal for growing in wildflower gardens.
Black-eyed Susans, AKA Rudbeckia, come in both annual and short-lived perennial varieties, so make sure you grab the right type.
Calendula Is a Must-Grow Perennial Cut Flower
Calendula is a beautiful, short-lived perennial with blooms in shades of orange, yellow, red, and even peachy pink. Also called pot marigold, calendula is another member of the easy-going daisy family. Even if you don’t care about cut flowers, this is a great plant to grow in your vegetable garden because it serves as a trap crop for pests.
Note that these plants will need some shade in the summer months. They really prefer cooler weather, so don’t expect to get new blooms during our hottest days.
Note: Gardeners in zones 9-11 can reliably enjoy calendula as a perennial. It’s hardy down to about 25 degrees, so there are years where it will survive winter here in zone 8 (though not recently). If you live in a colder climate, treat calendula like an annual. It’s easy enough to start from seed and will bloom in the first year. It also reseeds itself very easily. You might end up with calendula next year without any effort regardless of how cold your winter is!
You can enjoy the long-lasting flowers in vases or dry them and make your own calendula tea.
Coreopsis Makes Dainty Fresh Cut Flowers
Coreopsis is another relative of the daisy, and this one produces blooms in shades of red, orange, pink, yellow, and white. Plants are low-maintenance and drought-tolerant and bloom for a long time. I feel their other name, tickseed, doesn’t quite do these little beauties justice.
You can find coreopsis varieties that are annual or perennial. Perennial varieties will bloom their second year after being planted from seed.
Coreopsis blooms last for about 2 weeks post-harvest.
Cutleaf Daisies Are Native Perennial Flowering Plants
Also called Engelmann’s Daisy, these plants are native to Texas and can handle all our hot weather and even drought conditions. You can often find them growing on roadsides, perfectly happy to be neglected by gardeners.
The leaves of cutleaf daisies will stay evergreen. When the plant is in bloom, you’ll enjoy the classic white flowers on long stalks.
Echinacea Is a Hardy Perennial Plant
Any flowers that are native to prairies are gonna be tough. Echinacea, AKA purple coneflower, is no exception. It’s drought-tolerant and deer-resistant.
You can find coneflowers in golden red and the well-known pinkish-purple. The blooms are most fragrant when they get lots of sun.
Coneflowers are bee and butterfly magnets. They’re also an important food source for goldfinches and other birds if you leave spent flowers on the plants. I like to think of it as taking my cut and leaving the rest for nature to enjoy.
Eucalyptus Will Fill Your Floral Arrangements with Beautiful Foliage
While eucalyptus trees don’t form beautiful flowers, we’re here for the silvery bluish-green leaves. Eucalyptus stems instantly elevate a floral arrangement; they even look stunning all on their own.
Some varieties of eucalyptus do not tolerate cold weather (anything under 50 degrees) very well, so I recommend growing this plant in a container that can be brought indoors during cold spells. The plants will likely remain small instead of growing to their full potential.
Harvested branches will fill your home with that wonderful menthol-y fragrance and are great to hang in your shower. Dried branches will last for years.
Globe Thistle Is a Fast-Growing Perennial
These purple, white, and blue flowers are great for adding some contrast to your floral arrangements. With their spherical blooms, I think of them as pretty little Koosh balls. They’ve become staples in bridal bouquets for their interesting shape and texture.
These plants thrive in harsh conditions; you can even plant them in rockgardens and xeriscaped spaces.
Thistles provide nectar for our pollinators. Humans should beware of the spiny foliage and wear gloves while handling.
Maximilian Sunflowers Make Wonderful Cut Flowers
What would a cut flower garden be without sunflowers on their super tall stems?
Maximilians can grow up to 9 feet tall! They like to grow on rocky slopes and dry prairies, which should tell you all you need to know about how to water these guys.
Their stunning yellow flowers provide much-needed nectar to our monarch butterflies. And thanks to their long, sturdy stems, sunflowers keep for days as cut flowers.
Mealy Sage Grows Showy Flowers from Spring to Fall
This Texas native grows stunning lavender-like bluish-purple flower spikes. I grow these in my front flower beds as part of my low-maintenance landscaping.
These plants smell like sage, as you might expect from their name. The plants themselves grow in attractive little clumps that will spread wide.
Mealy sage blooms last a long time as cut flowers. If you’d like to enjoy them even longer, hang the stems upside to dry and then use them in a dried floral arrangement.
Peruvian Lilies Last for Weeks as Cut Flowers
You’ve probably seen freckled Peruvian lilies in floral bouquets at the store. They’re not true lilies, even though their funnel-shaped flowers certainly look like lilies.
Peruvian lily blooms will last for up to two weeks in a vase, so you’ll get to enjoy their beauty for a long time in the garden and then a long time indoors, days after other flowers have faded.
You might find a potted Peruvian lily at the nursery, but chances are, you’ll need to plant these as tuberous roots.
Shasta Daisies Last a Long Time in Floral Arrangements
The shasta daisy was created by crossing the oxeye daisy with wild daisies. The result is a super hardy, drought-tolerant plant with those classic white flowers and cheerful yellow centers.
Shasta daisies are, like so many flowers on this list, in the same family as asters. They’re vigorous growers and spread through underground rhizomes. Even so, they’re short-lived perennials, so you’ll need to replant them after a couple of years.
Shasta daisies can last up to 10 days in a vase.
Strawflowers Make an Excellent Cut Flower for Decor
Our final flower is, appropriately, yet another member of the easy-going daisy family. And honestly, I don’t understand why more people aren’t obsessed with these gorgeous flowers.
Strawflowers come in all different varieties and colors, including yellow, orange, red, white, and pink. They look like daisies except the petals (technically modified leaves called bracts) around the central disk are stiff and papery.
Native to Australia, these plants are super hardy, but keep in mind they’re short-lived perennials. You’ll need to to replant after 2 or 3 years. Also, like calendula, strawflowers are only perennials in zones 8-11. Luckily for those of you in colder climates, they grow quickly from seed and flower in their first year.
The plants have long, sturdy stems made for cutting, and the flowers can be dried and used forever as decor. These are, you could say, the longest-lasting cut flowers.
HOW TO PROLONG THE ENJOYMENT OF CUT FLOWERS
Some flowers will release a milk-like sap from their cut end after being harvested. This is the case with balloon flowers, and the sap can quickly fowl the fresh water in your cut flower arrangements. The best way to prevent this is to sear the cut stem with a lit match after harvest.
Speaking of harvesting, the best time to harvest flowers is early in the morning. Cut the stems at an angle, bring your flowers indoors, and get them into cool water quickly.
Pull off any leaves that might touch the water to prevent bacterial growth.
Change the water in the vase every other day or so and add more flower food each time. Mix 2 tablespoons white vinegar and 2 tablespoons sugar per quart of water to make your own flower food.
If you notice a bloom is wilting, you can perk it up by sticking the bottom of the stem in boiling water for a few minutes before putting it back in cool water.
The Best Perennial Flowers for Texas Heat
Let’s say you want to add more perennial flowers to your landscape and you don’t necessarily care about their merits as cut flowers. You just want them to look beautiful in your beds.
Here are a few great options that thrive during our hot summers:
- Texas lantana
- Texas sage (an evergreen shrub that produces beautiful pinkish-purple blooms)
- cape plumbago
- pentas (will need to overwinter indoors)
Most of the flowers I listed for cut flowers will also continue to bloom and thrive even into our hottest months, especially if they’re well-established in your landscape already. The exception, as I noted, is calendula, which really prefers cooler weather.
Strawflowers, mealy sage, and echinacea in particular never seem to be bothered by heat.
When in doubt, look for plants that are native to our area, like Texas lantana. Native plants need less water and care than plants from other parts of the world. They’re built Texas tough.
I hope you’re inspired to fill your yards (or balconies) with color. Choosing plants with blooms you can bring indoors as cut flowers is just a bonus!