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Cut-Flower Harvest Guide

This harvest guide is based on our experience as commercial cut-flower growers. We have found that harvesting our flowers on a regular basis and making the cut in the right spot keep our flowers producing all season long.  Another hand in our success is growing “cut-flower” variety plants. You will find the specific varieties that we grow and recommend by visiting our store and going to cut-flower seeds.

  1. Ageratum – Harvest when the first 2-3 small flowers open that make up the flower head. Will continue to open in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at the base of the stem near the base of the plant. This plant produces all summer when cut often at ground level.
  2. Agrostemma – Harvest when just beginning to open or unfold. This prevents pests from chewing holes in petals and causing other damage. Flowers will continue opening when placed in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at the base of the stem or plant above a set of leaves.
  3. Ammi Majus – Queen of Africa– Harvest when the first 2-3 small flowers open that make up the flower head. Will continue to open in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at the base of the stem.
  4. Ammi Visnaga Green Mist– Harvest when the first 2-3 small flowers open that make up the flower head. Will continue to open in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at the base of the stem.
  5. Basil, Mrs. Burn’s Lemon and Cinnamon – Harvest from immature to the opening of the first 2-3 tiny flowers that make up the flower head. Make your cut at the base of the plant. Will produce fresh foliage all season if harvested hard and routinely.
  6. Bupleurum – Harvest flowers when fully opened and developed. Flowers do not develop or open anymore after cutting. Make your cut at the base of the plant above a set of leaves.
  7. Calendula – Harvest flowers when fully opened and developed. Flowers do not develop or open anymore after cutting. Make your cut at the base of the plant above a set of leaves.
  8. Celosia – Cockscombs and Plumes – Harvest flowers when fully opened and developed. Flowers do not develop or open anymore after cutting. Make your cut at the base of the plant above a set of leaves. If flowers are left on plant for any length of time at maturity they begin to develop seeds that are bothersome when used in arrangements.
  9. Cosmos – Harvest when just beginning to open or unfold. This prevents pests from chewing holes in petals and causing other damage. Flowers will continue opening when placed in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at the base of the stem or plant above a set of leaves.
  10. Delphinium – Harvest when the first 2-3 small flowers that make up the flower head are open. Will continue to open in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at ground level.
  11. Dianthus – Harvest when the first 2-3 small flowers that make up the flower head are open. Will continue to open in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at ground level.
  12. Digitalis – Harvest when the first 2-3 small flowers that make up the flower head are open. Will continue to open in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at ground level.
  13. Dill Bouquet – Harvest when the first 2-3 small flowers open that make up the flower head. Will continue to open in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at the base of the stem.
  14. Feverfew – Harvest when the first 2-3 small flowers open that make up the flower head. Will continue to open in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at the base of the stem.
  15. Gomphrena – Harvest flowers when fully opened and developed. Flowers do not develop or open anymore after cutting. Make your cut at ground level.
  16. Hesperis – Harvest when the first 2-3 small flowers that make up the flower head are open. Will continue to open in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at ground level.
  17. Hydrangeas – Harvest in all stages from immature buds to dried mature heads. For fresh flower harvest, cut in early morning before the sunrays even hit them if possible. Use straight water, no floral preservative for them. Make the cut at the base of the stem. Move into a cool area to rest and if refrigeration is available after a 4-hour rest they would love it. If they get droopy, Quick-Dip instant flower hydration works very well.
  18. Larkspur – Harvest when the first 2-3 small flowers that make up the flower head are open. Will continue to open in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at ground level.
  19. Millet – Purple Majesty – Harvest early in development when turning from green to maroon. Cutting later shatters pollen. Make your cut near the base of plant above a set of leaves. Dry well.
  20. Monarda “Lambada”– Harvest from very immature (great green flowers!) to the opening of the first 2-3 tiny flowers that make up the flower head. Will continue to open and mature in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at the base of the stem or plant above a set of leaves.
  21. Nigella – Harvest from immature (great green flowers and pods) through the open flower for fresh cuts to the dried pod stage that develops from uncut flowers.
  22. Peonies – Harvest buds while in the ‘marshmallow” stage, just beginning to show a slit of color. When the buds are ready for harvest, when squeezed they are soft like a marshmallow. During peony season, growers check their plants morning, noon and evening to not miss this opportune harvest stage. Flowers harvested in this stage last much longer in the vase. Make the cut leaving 2/3’s of the stem on the plant. Flowers will continue to open when place in floral preservative and water.
  23. Poppy “Champagne Bubbles” – Harvest when just beginning to open. Make your cut at ground level.
  24. Rudbeckia – Harvest when just beginning to open or unfold. This prevents pests from chewing holes in petals and causing other damage. Flowers will continue opening when placed in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at the base of the stem or plant above a set of leaves.
  25. Salvia – Harvest when the first 2-3 small flowers that make up the flower head are open. Will continue to open in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at ground level.
  26. Snapdragons – Harvest when the first 2-3 small flowers that make up the flower head are open. Will continue to open in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at ground level.
  27. Sunflower; Single Stem and Branching – Harvest when just beginning to open or unfold. This prevents pests from chewing holes in petals and causing other damage. Flowers will continue opening when placed in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at the base of the stem or plant above a set of leaves.
  28. Sweet Peas – Harvest in all stages for a variety of blooms. Flowers normally do not open or develop after cutting. Make your cut at base of stem. Short vase life.
  29. Veronica – Harvest when the first 2-3 small flowers that make up the flower head are open. Will continue to open in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at ground level.
  30. Zinnia – Harvest flowers when fully opened and developed. Flowers do not develop or open any more after cutting. Make your cut at the base of the plant above a set of leaves. Do not refrigerate.
  31. Yarrow – Harvest flowers when fully opened and developed. Flowers do not develop or open any more after cutting. Make your cut at ground level.

Click here for a printable version of the Cut-Flower Harvest Guide.

Lisa Mason Ziegler founder of The Gardener’s Workshop and Flower Farming School Online. Award-winning Author of Vegetables Love Flowers, and Cool Flowers. Watch Lisa’s Story and view her blog Field & Garden. Connect with Lisa on Facebook  and Instagram!