Cut Flowers: Choosing and Arranging

Bring the beauty of your garden inside! Cut flowers brighten homes, dress up events, and make delightful gifts with their fragrance and charm.

cut flower bouquet

Which Flowers?

When deciding which flowers to take from your garden there are several questions you should ask yourself such as:

  • How long do you want the arrangement to last?
  • How large or tall is the vase in which the flowers will be displayed?
  • Do you want a simple or complex arrangement?

If you want the arrangement to last a day or two for a single event then most flowers will work fine, as most will last at least 24 hours. Other flowers can last a long time in a vase, such as asters, delphiniums, echinacea, lavender, sunflowers, and zinnias. See a complete list of cutting flowers here.

The size of the vase will help determine which flowers to pick from the garden. Some flowers like larkspur and lupines will need a tall vase while other flowers like calendulas and sweet peas could be displayed in a short vase. Be sure to leave enough room on the stalk to allow for multiple trimmings at the base. You should also consider the size of the room. Larger vases or a grouping of smaller vases look better in big/open rooms while smaller vases look better in small spaces.

Find a complete list of cutting flowers here.

Bouquet Basics

As in every creation, think about the mood you want to evoke from the arrangement, like romance or boldness. Think about which color, texture, and structure will create that feeling just by gazing at your artistic endeavor.

  1. If you want tall, slender flowers or greenery, start with these in odd numbers. Florists refer to them as "line" flowers because they create the structure of the arrangement. Not all arrangements require line flowers.
  2. The focal flower is typically the largest or unique and most eye-catching, also best in odd numbers.
  3. Add accent flowers, also called "mass" flowers, around the bouquet to balance the space. This is where the magic happens! Mass flowers are often smaller but can be the same size as the form flowers in, depending on your theme, contrasting, complementary, or the same color as your focal flowers.
  4. To finish the look, add some fillers, sprays of small flowers or greenery, to fill the spaces between the mass and form flowers.
  5. Be creative—beauty is in the eye of the bouquet holder!


  • Many plants benefit from having their blooms cut back before their flowers fade. Removing flowers sends signals to the plants to produce more flowers rather than putting energy into seed production. Once a plant has begun making seeds, its flower production can dwindle.
  • Don't forget to strip the foliage to the water line.
  • Change the water completely every two days.

For more tips on preserving cut flowers, see our article, Making Cut Flowers Last Longer.

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