The Jam Jar Cut Flower Garden – what to grow

Bunch of homegrown flowers

We’re going to start by focusing on annuals in The Jam Jar Cut Flower Garden. Annuals germinate, grow and flower all in one year, so they are a quick and easy way to grow flowers for cutting.

I’ve drawn up a plan for my patch, a border that’s 1.2m x 2.5m. I’ve deliberately kept the width of the border to 1.2m because this allows me to reach to the centre without having to tread on the soil.

Cutting garden planting plan

At one end there will be a tepee of sweet peas. These are almost essential in an annual cut flower garden. As long as you keep picking them, and don’t allow any seeds to form, sweet peas will produce richly scented flowers from early summer, right through until autumn. The rest of the space will be filled with vivid blue and deep purple cornflowers, jazzy orange calendula ‘Indian Prince’, lime green dill, beautiful white and pink cosmos, deep blue nigella, pink scabious, and a dark red and a sandy beige rudbeckia. I’m going to squeeze in some sunflowers too, if I can. Probably the lovely ‘Earthwalker’, or pale yellow ‘Vanilla Ice’. All these are really easy to grow from seed and widely available (see below for links to some of my favourite seed retailers).

Probably the easiest way to decide what to grow is to look at the some seed company websites. There are lots of pretty pictures to tempt you, and plenty of information to help you in deciding what will fit in your patch. Write a list of the flowers that catch your eye (use the list of easy to grow annuals that make good cut flowers below to help). Then draw up a plan of your patch and sketch out where each plant will go – use the recommended planting distances to work out how many of each you can fit. Then you can write a shopping list and start ordering seeds and/or plants. Seeds are better value and usually give you a wider range to choose from. But if you are short of time and only need a few plants, it’s a good idea to buy seedlings – the Sarah Raven website is especially good for these (see below for link).

The next few weeks will be a busy time, sowing seeds to produce sturdy plants and lots of flowers in the coming months. Next time we’ll talk about how and when to sow… have some pots and compost ready!

In the meantime, if you have any questions or ideas you’d like to share, leave a comment here or give me a shout on Twitter or Instagram.


Easy annuals for a cut flower garden

These are all really easy and produce lots of flowers. I’ve listed the varieties that I like to grow.

Sweet pea : my favourites are ‘Chatsworth’ – pale purple, ‘Mollie Rilstone’ – pink, and ‘Cream Southbourne’ – white, but there are lots to choose from.

Cornflower : ‘Blue Boy’ / ‘Blue Ball’ – blue, ‘Black Ball’ – dark, deep purple.

Nigella : ‘Deep Blue’ – dark blue, ‘Miss Jekyll’ – pale blue.

Cosmos : ‘Purity’ – white, ‘Sensation’ – pink.

Sunflower : ‘Earthwalker’ – chocolatey brown flowers, ‘Vanilla Ice’ – pale yellow with a brown centre, ‘Valentine’ – lemon yellow with a dark brown centre.

Rudbeckia : ‘Sahara’ – soft, orangey beige flowers, ‘Cherry Brandy’ – deep, dark red, ‘Irish Eyes’ – golden yellow petals with a green centre.

Dill : ‘Tetra’ – good for its yellow flowers and for foliage.

Scabious : ‘Tall Double Mixed’ – a good mix of pinks, dark purple and white, ‘Back in Black’ – deep purple.

Snapdragon : ‘Appleblossom’ – pale pink, ‘White Giant’ – white.

Calendula : ‘Indian Prince’ – zingy bright orange, tinged with dark red, ‘Art Shades’ – more subtle shades of orange and apricot.


Where to buy

Sarah Raven

Higgledy Garden

Thompson & Morgan

5 thoughts on “The Jam Jar Cut Flower Garden – what to grow

  1. janesmudgeegarden

    This is a timely blog. I’m seriously considering turning my two veggie beds over to flowers as we go away a bit and veggies have a habit of going feral when my back is turned!


    1. Bee & Bouquet

      Flowers are a great idea… but then I am a little bit biased. Keep in mind though that some flowers, especially annuals that need regular deadheading to keep flowering, can be as needy for attention as the veggies!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. tonytomeo

    Sweetpea, cornflower, snapdragon and calendula! Would you believe that we do not grow those here? It seems that everyone else can grow them but us. Sweepea does well about now, but only for a short while before it gets roasted by the arid air. Cornflower and calendula get powdery mildew, which is odd since the air is so arid (duh). Snapdragon get rust, which is also odd in the arid air. It makes no sense. I sometimes grow sweetpea anyway, just because I really like them. I grew calendulas a few years back for autumn, and they were nice for quite a while. Yet, I still wish I could grow them like everyone else does.


    1. Bee & Bouquet

      I think as gardeners we’re often frustrated when climate or soil type means that the flower or vegetable we really want, just won’t grow! Whenever I complain about the cold weather here (which is quite often…), someone will remind me that we have the perfect climate for growing sweet peas, rhubarb and cabbages and I should be thankful for this. I’m not sure about the cabbages, but I do love sweet peas! Looking at the photos on your blog, you have some beautiful ‘exotic’ flowers that seem to suit your climate well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. tonytomeo

        Yes, but there are many pears and apples that do not do as well here as they do where winters are colder. There are all sorts of bulbs that we do not even bother with because of the lack of sufficient chill.


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