Best Annuals for Cutting Flowers

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Four Annuals that Make Great Cutting Flowers

In my home garden, I enjoy growing flowers that will look as pretty indoors as they do outdoors. There are many perennials and annuals that provide great cutting flowers, such as these cheerful sunflowers.

Although I grow many garden perennials, which return year after year, I find annuals perform and bloom like crazy in the one year they have to live. Many annuals, such as sunflowers, calendulas and larkspurs, reseed prolifically, so you’ll have baby plants next year too. In warmer climates, I’ve found many of these “annuals” act like short-lived perennials.

Here are just four annuals that work well in a vase too:

Sunflowers: These annuals make delightful flowers arrangements in tall vases, and are remarkably easy to grow in most soils. Sunflowers are available in many different sizes and colors, so there are varieties for every size and style of garden.

After the last frost date, sow seeds in a sunny spot in the garden; preferably, where they are sheltered from heavy winds. Sunflowers like hot and sunny summer weather. Be warned, these flowers will often re-seed in the craziest places in your garden. However, they’ll attract lots of happy beneficial insects and birds to your property too.

Farmer's market flowers and the Fiskars PowerGear pruner

Stock: Maybe it’s the pretty flowers or the spicy-sweet smell, but stock is one of the most popular spring-blooming annuals.  I often buy bouquets of stock at my farmers’ market, because the fragrance perfumes my home in a lovely way.

These old-fashioned flowers remind me of romantic cottage gardens. Stock flowers come in colors ranging from hot pink and purple to white and red. They look pretty alone, or with other flowers.

You’ll find stock plants at your local gardening center. Below right are ‘Vintage Mix’ stock flowers that I’ll grow in containers around my property. These cool-season flowers prefer the chilly, humid weather conditions of spring and fall. They’ll stop blooming if it gets too hot. Plant stocks in a full-sun location with moist, well-drained soil. To encourage bushy growth and more blooms, prune back shoots above the part where leaves connect with the stems.

Flower stock and Fiskars® Big Grip Transplanter

Sage: There are many gorgeous sages – annuals and perennials – which look great in flower arrangements. But the dwarf annual sage Salvia coccinea Summer Jewel Pink (shown above left) really stands out.

The 2012 AAS Bedding Plant Award Winner blooms profusely all growing season, attracting hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. This heat-tolerant sage will eventually grow about 20 inches tall and 16 inch wide, providing more than enough pink flowers to fill many small vases.

The pretty sage likes a full-sun location with well-draining soil, which has been amended with compost or worm castings. These flowers thrive in garden beds, meadows or pots. Plant this sage as a “thriller” in a container with other low-growing plants for long-lasting flower appeal.


Calendula: I’m a big fan of cheerful calendula flowers in my gardens. They not only look cute in flower arrangements, but the yellow and orange petals are edible too. (Only eat unsprayed edible flowers.)

These annuals are easy to grow from seeds, and they often reseed. The above calendulas reseeded themselves in my garden for several years. Often, I’d find them popping up in unexpected places, and I’d carefully replant seedlings to more desirable spaces.

You can grow calendula from transplants, but they are very easy to grow from seeds. Sow seeds outdoors in a sunny spot a few weeks before the last frost date. Or, you can sow seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost, and gradually harden the plants to outdoor conditions.

Calendulas are frost-tolerant and grow best in spring, early-summer or fall. However, I’ve kept calendula growing from spring through fall in Zone 6 by planting them in a location with morning sun and afternoon shade. I also deadhead these plants religiously, and give them a good pruning around mid-summer to encourage another burst of blooms – many of which end up in salads or flower arrangements.

These four annuals are just a few of the wonderful flowers that will make nice cutting flowers for your house.  Each time I go out to harvest these blossoms for my flower arrangements, I feel like I’m bringing a bit of my garden inside my home. What could be better than that?