Cut Flower Gardens

Cut flowers in a vase including bright yellow black-eyed Susans with brown centers, pink zinnias and long spikes of plume celosia
A cut flower arrangement featuring zinnias, rudbeckia, and celosia. Photo courtesy of Erin Harlow, UF/IFAS horticulture agent.

One of the many joys of gardening is being able to enjoy beautiful flowers in your own backyard. Bringing that splash of color indoors lets you enjoy the sights and scents of your garden while you relax in your home. Remember, some flowers hold up after cutting better than others. Roses often come to mind when people think of cut flowers, but there are many plants that will hold up beautifully in your home. Try any of these warm-season flowering plants that will look great both in the landscape and a vase.


Salvias aren’t just for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds — they’re perfect for a cut flower garden as well. An added bonus is that these beauties have no serious pests. With hundreds of annual and perennial species available in an array of colors and sizes, you can easily find one (or more) to complement your landscape and your decor.


An old favorite that works well in Florida gardens, zinnias are annuals with beautiful flowers that come in vivid colors like red, pink, yellow, and purple. In fact, this heat-loving flower can be nearly any color except blue. Zinnias vary in form as well. Some have a simple, single petal layer (resembling a daisy), while others have multiple layers, with a few cultivars resembling dahlias.


If you’re seeking drama, then look no further than the giant, cheerful sunflower. Although some cultivars reach over 10 feet tall, most garden varieties only hit a convenient height of 4 to 5 feet. The blooms grow to be 6 to 12 inches across and are available in shades ranging from cream to maroon. The disc in the center of the flower also come in a range of hues, providing a nice contrast to the petals. Create even more diversity in your flower garden by mixing in multi-stemmed, dwarf, and single varieties. One benefit of taking sunflowers indoors is that some don’t shed messy pollen, which is a concern with other cut flowers. Just make sure to select a pollenless variety of sunflower that is intended for cut flowers instead of a cultivar that is meant for producing sunflower seeds (which will have pollen).


Celosia has two distinct flower types: cockscomb (Celosia cristata) and plume (Celosia plumosa). The cockscomb flowers look like coiled brain tissue, with a velvety texture. Plume flowers are light, fluffy, and tapered at the top. Both make striking additions to flower arrangements, and come in shades of yellow, pink, purple, and orange.

Bird of paradise flower-like bracts are long and pointed in orange, yellow, and deep blue, fanning out of a beak-like pod
Bird of paradise “flower” in a vase.


Gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) have big, long-lasting flowers that come in several forms and bright shades of yellow, white, pink, lavender, red, and orange. Depending on where you are located in Florida, this plant will behave as an annual (North Florida) or a perennial (Central and South Florida).

Bird of Paradise

Bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is a striking tropical plant known for its eye-catching orange and blue bracts. The uniquely shaped flowers are said to look like a bird in flight. They’re long-lasting cut flowers, but some gardeners may be reluctant to cut these flowers since not many are produced at once.


Caladiums? While not a flower, these plants have stunning leaves that work quite well in a vase. With unique patterns and vibrant colors, the foliage looks lovely alone or paired with flowers. The color combinations for this plant include white, pink, rose, red, burgundy, chartreuse, or green.

There are over 48 different cultivars, but the two main types are fancy-leafed, which have large heart-shaped leaves, and lance-leafed, which have narrow, elongated leaves.

Long heart-shaped leaves of caladium plant are patterned in green, white, and pink

Of course, this is just the short list. Other long-lived cutting options include annuals like snapdragons and coleus, and perennials such as agapanthus, pentas, and gingers. And don’t forget the many tropical plants with uniquely textured or colored leaves.

For more information on growing any of these plants or growing other flowers for cutting, contact your county Extension office.

Long-lasting Cut Flowers

Once you’ve brought your flowers inside, remove any leaves or blossoms that will end up under water. Cut one-half to one inch off the stems with a sharp, clean knife at a 45-degree angle. Place them in a clean vase filled with fresh water and, if you have it, flower food. When the water starts turning yellow and cloudy, wash the vase with soapy water and add fresh water with flower food. Re-cut and rinse the stems before placing them back into the container.

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