13 Unusual Flowers for Your Cutting Garden

Unique and unusual flowers foster creativity in the cutting garden and fresh and dried floral displays. With so many to choose from, incorporating fresh finds is boundless. Join gardening expert Katherine Rowe in exploring high-performing, unusual cutting garden selections, including twists on old garden favorites, ornamental perennials, and flowering annuals.

Cleome hassleriana, one of the unusual cutting flowers, displays palmate, green leaves and large, airy clusters of spider-like flowers in shades of pink, each with long, protruding stamens.


Summer is a time of abundance in the cutting garden, with loads of blooms to harvest and arrange while pollinators enjoy the bounty of nectar and pollen. From interesting varieties of tried-and-true cut flower favorites to highly ornamental species of select perennials and annuals, there’s no shortage of unique flowers to grow this season.

It’s a delightful challenge to narrow the list of unusual flowers to grow in the cutting garden. Novel selections add special elements of aesthetic interest to floral designs through texture, form, and color, depending on the plant’s display characteristics. Here, we’ll explore irresistibly unique blooming plants that shake up the cutting garden arrangement.

Steel Blue Sea Holly

Steel Blue Sea Holly Seeds

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Steel Blue Sea Holly Seeds

Coral Fountain Amaranth

Coral Fountain Love-Lies-Bleeding Amaranth Seeds

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Coral Fountain Amaranth Seeds

Starflower Scabiosa

Starflower Scabiosa Seeds

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Starflower Scabiosa Seeds

Sea Holly

Eryngium planum features spiky, blue-green leaves and produces rounded clusters of small, metallic-blue flowers on stiff, branching stems.
Add striking, silvery-blue spiky blooms for summer garden drama.
botanical-name botanical name Eryngium planum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Sea holly is an architectural bloomer with artful, almost unreal-looking flowers. Its silvery-blue blooms are spiky and rigid, adding a starry spray of color and texture to the garden throughout the summer. Sea holly blooms in a profusion of stiff blooms long-lasting in fresh and dried florals.

Eryngium is a tough plant undaunted by heat, drought, and even salty conditions. It grows and flowers best in full sun in sandy or loamy soils with good drainage. The more sun, the better for sea holly. The rough leaves and blooms are deer- and rabbit-resistant.

Look to ‘Blue Glitter’ for a hardy, high-performing variety loaded with blue blooms on silver stems. Plants mature quickly, bloom in deep blue hues, and produce more blooms than other selections. ‘Steal Blue’ captures white-silver and blue tones and is an heirloom selection.

Love Lies Bleeding Amaranth

Amaranthus caudatus displays large, ovate leaves and dramatic, trailing clusters of tiny, deep red flowers.
Enjoy cascading tassel flowers in soft hues, perfect for summer gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Amaranthus caudatus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

‘Coral Fountain’ amaranth overflows with tassel flowers in soft hues of rose and apricot. Flowering from late summer through frost, pendulous blooms suspend from arching stems in a weeping spray color. 

Amaranth adds spectacular color and texture to fresh and dried floral designs. Like ‘Coral Fountain’, ‘Emerald Tassels’ and ‘Emerald Tails’ are varieties with ropes of trailing blooms but in green shades, and ‘Red Spike’ arches gracefully in colors of deep red, perfect for fall. The hard-to-resist ‘Hot Biscuits’ features mellow amber and tawny plumes for textural filler.

Amaranth is a historic grain whose flowers produce nutritious seeds for people and wildlife.  Aztecs and earlier American cultures first domesticated amaranth thousands of years ago and relied on it as a significant food source. Heirloom amaranth and its cultivars are stunning plants in the cut flower garden (and the birds will enjoy them, too).

Sunflower ‘Vanilla Ice’

Helianthus debilis ‘Vanilla Ice’ has a pale yellow flower with dark center, resembling small sunflower.
Brighten summer with cheerful, versatile blooms perfect for any bouquet.
botanical-name botanical name Helianthus debilis ‘Vanilla Ice’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Sunflowers bring no shortage of florific cheer all summer long. Whether a multi-bloom branching selection or a single-stalked show stopping flower, sunflowers add to any warm-season bouquet or stand alone with effortless charm.

‘Vanilla Ice’ is a unique sunflower with creamy petals and lemony undertones that infuse the blooms with a subtle glow. Bloom centers are dark and rimmed in a small band of rich yellow. Each disc grows three to five inches across on multi stemmed plants.

‘ProCut White Lite’ is another stunning creamy white sunflower with massive yellow centers on single-cut flowerheads. In contrast, ‘ProCut Red’ and ‘Evening Sun’ varieties feature deep scarlet tones for dramatic additions to cut flower arrangements. 

Sow sunflower seeds in successional crops for continuous flowering. They grow quickly from seed and thrive in the summer heat, even tolerating drought once established.

Cosmos ‘Apricotta’

Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Apricotta’ features feathery, fern-like leaves and produces soft apricot-colored, daisy-like flowers.
Enjoy vibrant, daisy-like blooms on tall, airy stems all summer.
botanical-name botanical name Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Apricotta’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 32-42”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Sun-loving cosmos produce colorful blooms throughout the warm season, and we love them in fresh-cut flower arrangements. Ray flowers “float” on tall, airy stems. This summer annual is native to the Americas and lends a wildflower look to the garden. Daisy-like flowers in vivid shades of yellow, apricot, bright pink, lavender, red, and chocolate (and many more) grow easily with little care. 

‘Apricotta’ is an award-winning cosmos variety with blooms holding multiple peachy pink shades. Petals have lavender-pink interiors that fade to dusky apricot. Centers are bright yellow buttons. The effect is a smoothie swirl of color. ’Apricotta Lemonade’ cosmos bring the same peach tones to deliciously creamy outer petals for a soft arrangement. For technicolor hues, look to the ‘Xsenia’ cosmos in glowing magenta, carmine, and rose.

Cosmos are unfussy plants that prefer hot, dry conditions with variable soils. Too much water, fertilizer, and organic richness hinders their vigor.

Globe Thistle

Echinops bannaticus displays thistle-like, deeply lobed leaves and spherical clusters of steel-blue flowers.
Enjoy striking blue globes perfect for fresh or dried arrangements.
botanical-name botanical name Echinops bannaticus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Echinops, or globe thistle, produces striking blue globes in lovely purple-blue. The stiff, structured blooms are one and a half inches across and make excellent fresh or dried floral arrangements. The tiny flowers that form each globe attract bees, moths, and butterflies. Silvery-green foliage adds to this perennial’s intrigue.

Globe thistle blooms in mid-summer through fall. The tall stems make excellent back-of-the-border or clustered plantings. Blooms range in color from lavender to deep blue. ‘Blue Glow’ offers rich blue centers with slightly lighter edges.

Globe thistle thrives in full sun and poor, well-draining soils. It tolerates partial sun (around 4 hours of sunlight) but gets leggy in too much shade. To encourage continued flowering and prevent reseeding, deadhead spent blooms.

Zinnia ‘Queen Lime’

Zinnia elegans ‘Queen Lime’ has lance-shaped green leaves and a unique, double, lime-green flower with a hint of pink.
Brighten gardens with vibrant blooms that flourish all summer long.
botanical-name botanical name Zinnia elegans ‘Queen Lime’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 32”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Zinnias bring dynamic color to the cutting garden with their large, vibrant, double-disc flowers. The ‘Queen’ series is a favorite among florists for bold color, form, height, and lasting flowers. It brings unusual color combinations to the zinnia flower and combines orange, red, pink, and chartreuse hues, depending on the variety.

‘Queen Lime’ zinnia is a beautiful foil for other blooms in the floral arrangement. Its lime-to-pale green shades create an elegant neutral to complement any bloom color. Petals pack the fully double flowers with a tidy, rounded form.

Zinnias love the heat and bloom nonstop from early summer through frost. Zinnias grow easily from seed, and each flower harvest encourages new blooms. For best vigor, zinnias need well-drained soil and full sun. Ensure good air circulation to prevent pests and fungal diseases, especially in humid climates. ‘Queen Lime’ is a good contender for southern gardens.

Scabiosa ‘Black Knight’

Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Black Knight’ features dark, nearly black, pincushion-like flowers on a blurred green background.
Add moody elegance to bouquets with rich, burgundy-chocolate blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Black Knight’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 12-30”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-12

Black Knight’ scabiosa punctuates the cutting garden with burgundy-chocolate pincushion blooms and light lavender-white stigmas. This heirloom flower has been bringing moody tones to the English garden style since the early 1600s.

Flowers carry a faint, sweet scent that attracts butterflies and other pollinators. Plants flower on long stems, and the cut flowers bring bold contrast and depth to arrangements. Harvest blooms when they’re in good color, but beaded buds aren’t fully open. This early clipping extends the vase life.

Scabiosa ‘Black Knight’ grows best in evenly moist, well-drained soils in full-sun garden locations. Deadhead spent blooms and harvest regularly to prolong flowering.

The Green Rose

Rosa chinensis ‘Viridiflora’ displays glossy green leaves and unusual green flowers with petal-like sepals.
Enjoy unique, green blooms, adding texture and novelty to arrangements.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa chinensis ‘Viridiflora’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-10

‘The Green Rose’ is an old garden rose with flowers in unusual form and color. This heirloom China hybrid rose lacks true petals and instead features spiky bracts that create small, prolific florets in early summer through frost. Bracts are grassy green with purple and brown tinges as they mature. Glossy leaves match the “flowers” in color.

The benefits of adding ‘The Green Rose’ to the cutting garden include continual flowering and a long-lasting display on the plant and in the vase. Their interesting form and color bring novel appeal and textural qualities as “filler” flowers to contrast richer hues. They’re an eclectic bloom and an all-around funky rose for casual and high designs.

‘The Green Rose’ is disease-resistant and tolerates partial shade. When crushed, the bracts are lightly fragrant with a peppery scent.

Prairie Coneflower

Ratibida columnifera has pinnate, deeply divided leaves and produces cone-shaped yellow-red flowers with drooping petals.
Enjoy vibrant, long-lasting blooms that thrive with minimal care.
botanical-name botanical name Ratibida columnifera
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Prairie coneflower is a long-blooming, easy-care perennial with tall flowers in bold yellows and deep reds. Its highly showy blooms on long stems brighten the cutting garden from spring until frost.

Ratibida columnifera (commonly upright prairie coneflower or Mexican hat) features a hallmark coloration of red, yellow, and deep maroon ray petals with bright gold edges. The petals suspend below a prominent central gold-brown disc for an unusual flower form.

Prairie coneflower is fast-growing, drought-tolerant, and withstands competition from other plants. It grows aggressively in optimum growing conditions and may overtake weaker growers.

Hollyhock ‘Nigra’

Alcea rosea ‘Nigra’ features large, lobed leaves and tall spikes of dark, nearly black, single flowers.
Adorn gardens with towering spikes of dramatic, chocolate-red blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Alcea rosea ‘Nigra’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 5-8’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Hollyhocks are old-fashioned garden biennials or short-lived perennials with stunning summer blooms along tall, straight stems. The heirloom variety ‘Nigra’ features deep, chocolate-red blooms with bright yellow throats. The nearly-black flowers open along stems that reach five to eight feet tall.

‘Nigra’ is a dramatic floral addition both in stature and color, ideal for the cutting garden and back of the border. The deep burgundy antique flowers pair beautifully with rich red, apricot, chartreuse, and ivory motifs. 

Stake the tall bloom stalks and grow them in a sheltered location to protect flowers from the wind. Hollyhocks grow best in full sun with moist, rich soils. Because hollyhocks reseed vigorously, they are invasive in some areas.

Bells of Ireland

Moluccella laevis displays rounded, serrated leaves and tall spikes of pale green, bell-shaped flowers.
Create striking arrangements with tall, green bell-shaped blooms in gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Moluccella laevis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Bells of Ireland feature tall bloom spikes loaded with bells in shades from pale to candy apple green. These unusual annual blooms make striking additions to fresh and dried flower arrangements. 

The tall, bright blooms contrast beautifully with dark-leaved foliage and bold flowers. Bells of Ireland also pair well with plants in their color range, like ‘Queen Lime’ zinnia and ‘The Green Rose’, and against gentle cream, ivory, and peach tones.

Bells of Ireland are garden heirlooms that grow easily from seed. If you want plants to reseed for successional seasons, leave spent bloom spikes to dry and scatter naturally. Bells of Ireland prefer cool climates in full sun with regular water throughout the growing season. Plants struggle in hot and humid summers.


Cleome hassleriana features compound leaves with slender leaflets and produces showy flowers with long stamens, forming wispy clusters in colors ranging from pink to white and purple.
Enjoy summer’s wild burst of colorful blooms on tall, spiky stems.
botanical-name botanical name Cleome hassleriana
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

Cleome bursts into summer bloom with wands of purple, pink, rose, and white bloom clusters. Delicate flowers with long stamens line tall, upright stems from early summer through frost. Narrow seed pods emerge as each flower fades.

Cleome makes an excellent cut flower and lends an informal, wild look and a tropical show of color. Older varieties like ‘Queen’ tower in the garden and tend to reseed readily. They also have sticky, thorny stems. Newer cultivars like ‘Senorita’ and ‘Spirit’ flower profusely and have spineless stems.

Cleome is easy to grow from seed and self-seeds in the landscape. Pull any unwanted volunteers to keep it from spreading to other garden areas. Remove seed pods as they develop to reduce spreading, or heavily mulch the area the following spring to reduce volunteers. ‘Senorita’ is a sterile variety and won’t reseed.


Lomelosia stellata has deeply lobed, gray-green leaves and star-shaped clusters of small, pale lilac flowers.
Add delicate, papery blooms to bouquets for intricate charm and detail.
botanical-name botanical name Lomelosia stellata
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 18-24”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

These little florific wonders bear pale periwinkle blue flowers that open to translucent, papery, cupped seedheads with dark, starry, five-pointed centers. The creamy cups form small spheres one and a half inches across.

Starflower blooms lend delicate interest and detail to fresh and dried florals. These annuals flower prolifically from mid-summer through frost in the cutting garden for harvests at both bloom and seed stages. Long, thin stems are multi-branched with silvery green foliage.

Starflowers prefer a sunny to partially shaded garden location with well-draining soils. Their blooms attract pollinators, and the plants are deer-resistant.

Final Thoughts

Choosing which flowers to grow in the cutting garden each season is a real challenge, with beautiful, must-have favorites and unique temptations to try. Why not incorporate a dash of the unusual among the star performers? 

Special blooms, textures, colors, and forms are sure to garner attention, both in the garden and fresh florals. Enjoy the creativity your cut flower garden inspires this season, and maybe we’ll find new favorites to add to bountiful fresh and dried arrangements.

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