9 Tips For Growing a Cutting Garden in Raised Beds

Whether small or large scale, cutting gardens delight the grower with bundles of color, fragrance, form, and texture for floral arranging throughout the growing season. Growing cut flower gardens in raised beds sets the stage for flourishing, productive plants. Join gardening expert Katherine Rowe for tips on producing a bounty of blooms in raised beds.

Vibrant flowers bloom in a compact raised bed, their petals bursting with colors, complemented by lush green foliage. Surrounding this floral oasis, other raised beds thrive with verdant plants, creating a lively and harmonious garden scene.


Raised beds are an excellent way to grow many plants, including vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals. They’re ideal for flowers—and what’s more delightful than sustainably growing your own cheerful bundles of color, texture, form, and fragrance? 

This gardening setup allows gardeners to control site placement, soil quality, and moisture needs, leading to prolific flowers. Raised beds make weed control more manageable, are accessible for harvesting, and adapt easily to different crops and seasonal rotations.

Growing a cutting garden in raised beds is a fun, rewarding way to promote abundant blooms across the growing season. Cut-and-come-again blooms flourish after each harvest, and there’ll be plenty for you and the pollinators to appreciate. With a strong foundation in place, you’ll be harvesting cut flowers by the armful in no time.

Choose the Right Garden Location

A raised brick bed overflows with a vibrant display of white, red, and pink flowers. The garden setting is alive with the colors of blooming flowers and verdant plants, creating a picturesque scene of natural abundance.
Choose a site that shields flowers from strong winds to prevent toppling.

Raised beds make it easy to grow cut flowers almost anywhere in the landscape. Two factors to consider when choosing a site are sunlight conditions and access to a water source. 

Most flowers in floral arranging prefer full sun (at least six hours of sunlight). Morning sun is ideal, and, depending on your climate, you may need to offer afternoon protection from direct afternoon rays. If you lack full sun but want to grow cut flowers, select partial shade growers like astilbe, heuchera, columbine, rudbeckia, and foxglove.

Access to water is paramount, as these beds dry out more quickly than ground soil. This is advantageous in extending the growing season in late winter and fall. Soils are workable earlier in the season, warming faster and without prolonged moisture. 

Regular water and even moisture are best for most cut flowers in the growing season. How you choose to water may depend on the scope of your setup. Whether using a hose or installed irrigation components, connecting to a primary water source is key.

Another consideration in placement is sheltering flowers from strong winds, which can topple taller stems and cause plants to dry out more quickly.

Select Your Bed Type

Wooden slats neatly assembled, , poised for greenery to flourish. Radiant sunlight bathes the frame, highlighting its natural texture and beckoning seeds to sprout in the nurturing embrace of the garden.
Consider using cedar planks for sustainable beds.

Raised bed styles and materials are as versatile as the garden itself. Galvanized steel beds are durable and long-lasting, making them sustainable options. A food-safe coating protects the metal and allows food and ornamental plants to be grown safely. Galvanized steel options like Birdies Raised Beds offer streamlined installation and a variety of configurations for your setup.

Wood beds are another sustainable option, whether DIY or purchased as a kit. For natural, untreated options, use cedar planks. Cedar naturally repels water and insects, making it more long-lasting than other woods.

The creativity of other materials is nearly limitless. Squared-off caged rocks create a rustic look, concrete blocks or pavers are functional and low-cost, and even uniform tree rounds lend a natural border (though they weather quickly).

To harvest cut flowers easily, ensure your beds are narrow enough to reach blooms rather than broad and hard to reach, where you’ll have to walk in the beds to access blooms.

Fill the Raised Beds

Metal shovel positioned on a wooden frame, suggesting gardening or yard work. The soil-filled bed, halfway filled with rich dark soil, awaits planting or cultivation, promising a future harvest or flourishing garden.
Fill with gravel for drainage and weed suppression.

Raised beds vary in depth and height, and fill materials vary based on bed size. Key components for growing cutting gardens are soil depth, organic richness, and good drainage. Annual flowers need a soil depth of at least 8 to 12 inches for root growth, and larger plants and perennials need more space to thrive.

To prep, place a quarter to a half inch of gravel at the bed’s base. A gravel layer promotes good drainage and suppresses weed encroachment. For growing cut flowers, fill the planters with a high-quality raised bed soil blend. These blends for raised containers carry appropriate nutrients, moisture retention, aeration, and drainage. Top dress with compost and mix at planting time.

Several regenerative fill methods exist to build soil over time in the planter. One technique is the Hugelkultur method, where decaying logs and sticks are layered on the bed’s base with organic material to break down over time, adding nutrients and new soil. Using aged material is best, as fresh wood can leach nitrogen from the soil. 

“Lasagna” gardening methods also fill raised beds by layering cardboard and organic matter that decomposes as plants grow. Weed-free straw provides a base layer to add soil enrichment over time. 

Choose Your Flowers

Various perennial flowers burst forth in vibrant hues, showcasing nature's palette. Their delicate petals unfurl gracefully, contrasting beautifully with the lush green foliage that serves as a backdrop, enhancing the scene's natural allure.
Consider various textures and forms of plants for your cutting garden.

Ah, the fun part of every season – choosing which plants to grow! Cutting gardens mean selecting prolific varieties with abundant flowering for bouquets and other floral arrangements. Annuals grow quickly in a single season with a fast flush of blooms and repeat flowering. Some perennials are particularly suited to raised beds to fill the garden with flowers in a flash. Both offer cut-and-come-again qualities, where the more you harvest, the more blooms you’ll enjoy.

Select plants with different flower textures, heights, and forms. Think of focal and statement flowers, filler flowers and foliage, and accents. Choose colors that work together in arrangements (whether in analogous or contrasting hues) and grow attractive foliage, too, which makes a great filler option. You can also snip from surrounding shrubs and trees for beautiful leaves and seed pods to complement the blooms. Flower fragrance is another lovely consideration for the cutting garden.

If just starting out on your cutting garden, begin with a few species and plant them in numbers. Expand your collection as you see what thrives and suits your floral goals. Use varieties with similar growing requirements in the same bed. Many flowers for cutting gardens prefer evenly moist and well-draining soils, and adaptable growers tolerate drying out a bit between waterings.

Here are a few favorite selections for growing in cutting gardens.

Common Name Scientific Name
Dahlia Dahlia
Snapdragons Antirrhinum
Zinnia Zinnia
Cosmos Cosmos
Celosia Celosia
Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia
Foxglove Digitalis
Bells of Ireland Moluccella laevis
Coral Bells Heuchera
Peony Paeonia
Sunflowers Helianthus
Dusty Miller Centaurea cineraria

Design the Cutting Garden Plant Layout

Sunlight illuminates a variety of plants and flowers thriving in a tall stone raised bed, creating a vibrant garden scene. Adjacent, a metal garden table and chair beckon relaxation amidst the lush greenery, promising serene moments in nature.
Opt for containerized arrangements for a relaxed cutting garden display.

Depending on your style and uses, cutting garden layouts are highly organized or have a more intermingled, naturalized appeal. Think about how you’d like to harvest and clip blooms. Flower farmers often use wide rows of a single species for easy visibility, cultural controls, and accessible cutting. Layer or “stack” rows by plant height from lowest to tallest so larger plants don’t overshadow smaller ones.

Organized rows are less important if your cutting garden goal is a lovely display for casual clipping. Think containerized cottage garden or mini meadow with a looser, more informal feel. 


A mother and her daughters bend over a small raised bed, carefully planting a purple flower amidst lush green leaves. Alongside, delicate pink flowers bloom, adding a charming touch to the blossoming garden sanctuary they nurture with care.
Achieve accurate spacing by scattering seeds per packet instructions.

Planting a cut flower garden in raised beds is wonderfully easy. Opt for seeds, plugs, or potted plants to get the flower beds going. Use plant spacing guidelines as you would in an in-ground garden bed to allow room for growth and air circulation for the best plant health. 

In looser planting arrangements, scatter seeds according to packet directions and weed out excess seedlings to provide accurate spacing. Strategically place certain plants as anchor specimens (dahlia, hollyhocks, sunflowers, foxgloves, snapdragons  – the tall garden statements).

Stagger plantings for successional blooms, especially those that grow quickly from seed like sunflowers and celosia. Planting at different times throughout the season ensures plants are in flower for continual harvest.

Establish Water Needs

A green watering can gently disperses droplets over leafy plants nestled within a rustic wooden raised bed. The soft, cascading streams nourish the garden, imbuing the scene with a sense of tranquility and growth.
Proper watering techniques are essential for maintaining healthy plants.

Seasonal conditions, climate, and plant variety determine the water needed to grow cut flowers. Since container plantings (even big ones) dry out more quickly than in-ground plantings, it’s best to do a regular touch test to check soil moisture. If the soil is dry to an inch below the surface, it’s time to water. 

In hot summers and during dry spells, most blooming plants benefit from increased water frequency to maintain active growth. Overly wet conditions lead to pest and fungus issues, and many cutting garden plants wither in soggy soils. Use a well-draining soil mixture (one formulated for raised beds holds appropriate materials for aeration). Over time, improve drainage or start with a fresh mixture if soils degrade.

Water plants deeply rather than frequently to establish robust root systems. The best time to water plantings is in the morning when plants uptake the moisture before evaporation in the day’s sun. Foliage also has time to dry during the day to reduce susceptibility to fungal diseases.

Tend and Maintain Cut Flowers

A pink shrub rose drapes elegantly over the edge of a garden bed.
Regularly harvesting blooms from the cutting garden encourages continuous flowering.

Floriferous plants for cutting gardens appreciate nutrients as they grow and flower throughout the growing season. Healthy soil and compost provide an essential base for vigorous plants. A low grade organic fertilizer at planting time helps boost root and foliage growth and flower production.

The cutting garden’s beauty (well, one of the many beauties!) is that harvesting blooms promotes more flowers. Plants produce a flush of blooms and repeat flowers, redirecting energy that would otherwise go into seed production. So, snip away and enjoy fresh blooms while promoting continued flowering.

Tall blooms, like dahlias, hollyhocks, larkspur, and some snapdragons, benefit from staking or trellising to support their long stems and heavy flowers. Twining plants like sweet peas make pretty, fragrant bouquet additions and grow along a light support structure. Look for trellis options that offer scalable solutions to any size. They also help save space in the raised bed.

Watch for pests and diseases in the cutting garden. Remove a plant from the mix if it shows signs of decline, severe pest infestation, or disease. Replenish soil and replant with a thriving alternative. A diversity of plants encourages biodiversity in the garden and attracts beneficial insects like lacewings and ladybugs, while wildlife like frogs and birds offers natural pest control.

Add a top layer of mulch or weed-free straw to regulate soil temperatures, help with moisture retention, and suppress weeds. The mulch adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down. Remove any excess with the following seasonal planting and start fresh.

Plan for Multiseason Plantings

A wooden raised bed contains a variety of plants, each thriving in its designated space. Vibrant orange and yellow flowers bring bursts of color, creating a lively and diverse garden scene.
Ease seasonal transitions by swapping out depleted plants for fresh compost and soil.

An advantage of raised beds is their ease of crop turnover and rotation, making them ready for cut flowers year-round in moderate climates with cool and warm seasons. In cold climates, row covers or hoops for insulation extend the growing season in early spring and late fall. Consider a winter cover crop when not actively growing the cutting garden.

Seasonal changeout is easy. Remove spent plants and debris, add compost and soil to refill beds, and plant for the next season. 

Grow plants with flowers and foliage that dry well for lasting displays beyond the growing season. Here are ten favorites to dry after harvest for lasting floral displays with color and texture.

Common Name Scientific Name
Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Celosia Celosia
Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia
Lavender Lavandula
Marigolds Tagetes
Strawflowers Xerochrysum bracteatum
Amaranth Amaranthus
Globe thistle Echinops
Sea Holly Eryngium
Gomphrena Gomphrena

Final Thoughts

Growing a cutting garden rewards the gardener with a bounty of blooms and ease of cultivating. Raised beds offer an alternative to sites with poor soils. They’re also moveable arrangements, changeable, and accessible for growing and harvesting flowers. 

Give plants a head start with high-quality organic matter from the get-go and regulate moisture while providing good drainage. Like any garden endeavor, trial and error is part of the fun (hopefully with less “error” by following these tips!). Go for it this season by growing a cutting garden in raised beds and enjoy the graceful flowers to follow.

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