Are you an avid gardener looking to include cut flowers into your vegetable garden?
Do you already have a small cutting garden, but find you’re unsure about what type of plants to grow for added greenery?
Are you looking to add herbs to your garden, but want to plant herbs that are useful for more than just their cooking and medicinal purposes?
Well, this is the blog post for you then!
In this post, I’m going to discuss 5 different herbs that you can grow in your garden that can ALSO be used as greenery or filler in your flower bouquet or arrangement.
Let’s get growing!
1. Mint (Mentha spp.)
I’ll never not be a fan of mint! I don’t care what all you grumbly gardeners have to say about it being invasive or aggressive–it has been nothing short of a lifesaver for me when I’m running low on greenery. It gives and gives and keeps on giving no matter how much I hack at it.
Of course, there are many types of mint. Some flower farmer favorites are applemint, chocolate mint, and mountain mint.
For me personally, I love the mountain mint I planted a few years ago.
Sometimes I wish that the leaves were a bit wider to give more of a full look in an arrangement. I planted mountain mint seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and since then have discovered there is another variety of mountain mint that has fuller leaves.
Regardless, I have cut my mountain mint at many differet stages, and it has held up well. The key is to hydrate mint in water in a cool place for several hours before using it.
I grew applemint in a pot a few years ago and I loved it as well. I want to add more of this fuzzy-leaved mint to the garden for sure.
I struggled to have long stems that I could use with chocolate mint. My patch of chocolate mint is in a pot, so that may be the reason for the short stem length. Chocolate mint is actually a species of peppermint, and my peppermint never gets overly tall in a pot, so I suspect that’s the reason for short stems.
If you’re worried about mint spreading, please plant it in a pot (and they can even escape a pot). It can take over an area pretty rapidly and will even survive being mowed over, which is why many people hate it because it takes over their grass.
There are even some wild mints (like catmint) that you can forage for! I’ve found that they tend to flower about early to mid June here in southwestern Illinois with a repeat later on in the season. I cut it all stages as well, but it seems to hold up better if I cut it when it is flowering as opposed to just a leafy stalk.
If you’re foraging for mint, make sure you bring along your plant I.D. book. A tip for knowing if a plant is mint (or at least in the mint family) is that the stem will be square. Often you can smell a minty aroma coming from the plant if you crush the leaves between your fingers.
2. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm makes a great green filler and it smells so awesome! I personally like when I can include greenery or filler that smells wonderful for my customers.
The leaves of lemon balm have a–you guessed it–lemony scent (this is due to a few chemical components like citronellal). Lemon balm can also be used in many recipes as a replacement for actual lemons, too.
Like mint, lemon balm can be rather aggressive once it establishes, so keep it in a pot if you’re worried. I’ve found that it has been pretty easy to start from seed, so if you can’t find this one in your local greenhouse then pick up some seeds online or at your local hardware store. It seems to be a pretty common herb that is used in teas, tinctures, and the list goes on.
Hydrating lemon balm can be difficult. Make sure to cut it in the coolest part of the day and put it straight into water. Let it sit for awhile in a cool place so that it can be fully hydrated when you’re ready to use it in an arrangement!
OMG. Basil is my favorite herb to use in a flower bouquet or arrangement.
I love the smell SO MUCH and I love that there are so many varieties of basil that can smell and look extremely different.
MY FAVORITE basil by far is cinnamon basil. The smell is fantastic and the leaves are dark green with a purply tinge. The flower head is purple with lavender flowers.
Basil holds up well in an arrangement. Most of the time the basil is the last to fade if it has been hydrated properly.
I cut my basil in the morning mostly so that it is fully hydrated. If I cut in the evenings after a hot day, it is definitely more prone to wilting. I usually cut basil when the first few flowers have started to open on the flower stalk.
The plant needs to be a little “woody” feeling (or at the very least, turgid feeling). If the flower head at all seems sort of limp or wobbly I know it won’t hold up well, even if I make sure to hydrate it for a day or so.
Some flower farmers like to use a solution called Quick Dip to hydrate their basil. Quick Dip is basically an acid solution that opens up the vascular system of the plant, allowing water to be pulled up without issues. I don’t use Quick Dip, but some people use it with every stem.
A few other varieties of basil that I like are:
- Lemon basil
- Cardinal basil
- ‘Purple Ruffles’ basil
The reason I don’t use lemon basil often is because it tends to wilt. Also, the plant’s growth habit is not as functional for the way I arrange my bouquets.
‘Purple Ruffles’ basil has purple leaves that are “ruffly” (as the name suggests). Sometimes the leaves have a purple and green mixture to them that makes them look really neat.
‘Purple Ruffles’ seems to be an overall shorter plant, so I don’t get to use it much in bouquets. That’s why I feel this basil would be a great candidate as a potted plant instead.
Cardinal basil was fabulous the year I grew it! The only downside to Cardinal basil was the flower heads become so large that they can be clunky to use in bouquets. However, the stems are very strong and I had very minimal wilt with this type of basil.
You can also experiment with using culinary basil in a bouquet. Why not?
Yarrow teeters between my first and second favorite herb to use in flower arrangements.
Yarrow grows wild in some areas across the United States, and the wild yarrow usually has a white flower head.
I am going to be incorporating this wild type yarrow into my cutting garden here in the future, but for now I mostly have colored yarrows. I planted a batch that I started from seed a few years ago that are part of the ‘Colorado’ series, so I have many different colors ranging from red to peach to pink.
If yarrow isn’t planted in a group, it seems like the stems like to flop over. I like my mass planting because the stems seem to be more upright.
I grew one variety of yarrow in my landscaping by itself and I simply had to move it out to the cutting patch. It always flopped over.
Yarrow will spread readily, but it likes to be divided after a few years. In fact, I would call yarrow a short-lived perennial because my patch is virtually nonexistent now, even after trying to divide it.
Yarrow is fairly easy to start from seed, however!
The reason I love yarrow so much is because it makes a bouquet look full and colorful. As a bonus, this plant will attract butterflies like crazy if you’re interested in creating a pollinator patch.
Also called “pot marigold”, calendula also makes a great Spring filler in bouquets.
Calendula is easily direct sown before the last frost and will last through most of the Summer into the Fall if you let it. The main downfall to this flower from a flower farmer’s point-of-view is that the stems are usually short. Shorts stems are hard to use in bouquets!
Calendula comes in many colors ranging from yellow to orange and everything in between.
I purchased varieties specifically for bouquet work. Ironically though, the varieties I have planted for cutting have been shorter-stemmed than the one I planted to harvest for herbal uses (*sigh*).
Most of the cutting varieties have more subtle tones of orange, rust, and apricot compared to the flamboyant bright orange or yellow you see with varieties suited more for herbal use.
Whichever variety you pick is up to you! A nice pop of bright orange can be very eye-catching in a bouquet.
Grow some herbs in your cutting garden today!
So there you have it! Five herbs that can be used in your cut flower arrangements.
Of course, there are others that I haven’t highlighted here.
For example, I’ve used sage leaves for boutonnieres and I’ve even cut cilantro flowers when I was short on filler!
Shiso (Perilla frutescans) is another herb/salad green that can be used in Fall arrangements. If you like the smell of licorice, you may want to try out shiso.
Borage is another herb/edible flower that can be used in arrangements! However, I found it a little prickly to work with.
Just to recap, if I had to pick one herb to grow in my cut flower garden, it would be cinnamon basil. You can’t beat the look and smell of this herb!
Whichever herbs you choose, just know that there’s more out there than you would expect when it comes to creating a cutting garden. Sometimes the most fun thing to do is cut different weeds and herbs and see how they hold up in a vase. You might be surprised at what you find!