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April 24th 2015

Favorite flowers for small spaces

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IMG_2530Over the past few blog posts, (you can catch up by reading Part I here and Part II here) I’ve profiled some creative and innovative entrepreneurs in the local, seasonal flower movement who have cultivated incredible flower “farms” in unconventional locations.  I hope their stories will inspire, inform and maybe even motivate more people to join in the seasonal flower movement taking place across the continent and around the globe.  I also hope it provides even more evidence that you don’t need a sprawling 100 acre estate in order to have your own flower farm or cutting garden.  Our little two acre plot keeps our entire family plus 7 employees busy most of the year.  By simply dedicating a little corner of your garden or yard, or even a series of planters on your stoop, you too can have beautiful, abundant bouquets all summer long.

Looking for ideas on great flower varieties to grow in your fledgling flower farm, cutting garden or front stoop containers?  I’ve compiled a few of my current favorites and I’ve also asked the folks profiled as part of this small space flower farming series to share a few of their favorites too.  We each represent different climates and USDA hardiness zones, so you’re sure to find a few ideas for new flowers to add to your garden.

Floret’s favorites for small spaces:

— Dahlias. Any list of my favorite flowers would not be complete without dahlias.  Dahlias form part of the backbone of our business and any garden of mine would feel incomplete without some of these late summer stunners.  I have so many favorite varieties that it is impossible to pick just five, let alone one.  My favorites in each color family are viewable here.

— Panicum ‘Frosted Explosion.’  This grass is easy to grow and produces dense masses of pretty, shimmery seed heads that add a little sparkle to bouquets.

edited week 9-16— Icelandic Poppies—every spring I fall more in love with this flower.  These pretty papery blooms are real head-turners.  They generally don’t ship well and so they are great for the local market and can really set your bouquets or your business apart.

(Note: the three varieties listed above are on our top 10 list of most profitable flowers per square foot, largely because they pack a lot flower power production in a small amount of space).

Other favorites varieties for small spaces include:

shopzinnia— Zinnias. These cut and come again cottage garden favorites are highly productive and easy to grow and a great flower for beginning growers.  Some of my favorites include ‘Uproar Rose,’ ‘Benary Giant’ and scabiosa-flowered zinnias.

–Love in a Puff Vine.  This plant is super productive and the long vines add a unique touch to summer bouquets.

Now, let’s turn to some of the micro-farms profiled in the small “farm” series.

My Luscious Backyard’s recommended varieties grow well in Toronto (zones 5/6) include:

—Acidanthera murielae.  This fragrant and unusual flower can be grown easily from inexpensive corms. Also called Abyssinian gladiolus (but don’t let the name fool you.  They look nothing like common gladiolus!)

—Daucus carota ‘Black Knight’ or ‘Dara’.  This umbrella-shaped beauty is also commonly called chocolate Queen Anne’s Lace.

—Cosmos.  Cosmos are easy to grow, can be direct seeded and are great for events.

—Shiso.  Also called Red Perilla, this culinary herb has beautiful ruffly chocolate plum foliage.

—Dahlias.  These take a little effort to grow, but are so worth it!

Chicory Floral’s recommended varieties to start with that grow well in their Philadelphia plot (zone 7a/b):

— Daucus carota ‘Black Knight’

— Cosmos bipinnatus Double Click series

— Helichrysum bracteatum King Size series

— Cerinthe major  ‘Pride of Gibraltar’

— Amaranthus cruentus ‘Hot Biscuits’

An additional note:  Asclepias curassavica [Andrew’s favorite] and Nicotiana alata Lime Green [Erica’s favorite] — both were really productive for the whole season last year!

Meanwhile our flower friends at Pistil and Stamen in New Orleans recommend the following for their gulf south area (zone 9b):
— Zinnias and celosias for the warm season
—Snapdragons, anemones and ranunculus for the cool season
— Choice filler like ferns, rosemary, oregano, and flowering vines.  They note:  “just a few plants of each go a long way.”
PistilandStamenFavesI also hope you’ll sow a few seeds this season and perhaps join me in posting a Seasonal Flower Alliance photo over on Instagram.
Do you have some favorite flower varieties for small space growing?  Share what’s on your top 5 list in the comments below.



  1. Stephanie on

    My summer project is going to be to start a small market flower plot to supplement our vegetables at the farmer’s market, so I’m starting to do some research and this is the first site I found. Thanks for the info and inspiration!

  2. Anne on

    This is the most beautiful and amazing site I have ever seen. I just discovered it yesterday. Congratulations on your American Made win. I have a small garden and enjoy growing roses and flowers for cutting. I am enjoying reading the flower focus blogs, and planning to grow some of your favorite dahlias.
    Would you share your favorite peonies and roses? Thank you so much.

  3. Bibi on

    Hi There! Just wanted to thank you Erin for all the wonderful posts!! I did pick up the Martha Stewart magazine and was really impressed by the great article about Floret Farm!! This will be our first year for cut flowers for Farmer’s Markets. I would really appreciate sometime if you could suggest some bouquet recipes for the cut flowers as I’m not sure of the particular, like how many stems to use etc…. Thanks again!!

  4. VillageKid on

    Thanks for a great post and so many great input from others too!

  5. Gabriele on

    I have a novice question. To grow Ice-landic poppies do you buy seed or bulbs? I live in Seattle.

  6. Gretchen on

    I’m trying some of these for the first time in a new cutting garden I’ve got in the works. Sweet Peas are in the ground, and I’m hoping to get poppies in this week!

    Here’s my seasonal bouquet from the yard this last week with tulips, hyacinths, muscari, pear blossoms and budding twigs:


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