Many of us at Flora Grubb Gardens love to cut from our gardens to bring nature inside.
When you think of a cutting garden, super-thirsty, finicky plants might first come to mind, but we've got lots of ideas for low-water, low-maintenance plants that are great for cutting all year long. We gathered a big bucket of luscious stems from staff gardens and made some simple arrangements to inspire you.
Okay, so citrus aren’t exactly low-water plants, but they are quintessential in California gardens. Their fragrant blooms, lustrous foliage, and bright fruit are gorgeous in bouquets. Tall hanging vases are great for garden cuttings—just pop them in on your way inside, before you even get your gloves off!
Palm leaves add a chic and sculptural note to any arrangement. The silver Mediterranean fan palm’s radial leaf is the perfect foil to this gushy tangerine cutting. Just be sure not to over-prune (and never from the center of the crown), as palms need a full canopy of leaves to maintain good health.
Calandrinia spectabilis is a drought-tolerant succulent that produces loads of neon magenta poppy-like blooms from April all the way to November. No need to deadhead, because the spent blooms just sort of shrink back into the bracts when they're done, and the next little flower on the stem pops out. Cut stems will even keep blooming this way in the vase!
This bouquet also includes variegated Pittosporum tenuifolium, which has a nice playful quality, and the creamy confetti of Gossamer Wings vine (Aphanopetalum resinosum ‘Gossamer Wings’). Vines are fun to play with in bouquets, creating loops and tendrils. Next time your jasmine needs a haircut, bring the trimmings inside!
Darker elements add drama, especially when paired with bright blooms for contrast. Agonis ‘Afterdark’ foliage is almost black, with a subtle hint of burgundy that picks up the color of Aeonium arboreum 'Zwartkop'.
Succulents make great cutting plants. Most varieties can simply be re-planted after they're used in a vase; aeoniums are especially bouquet-friendly because of their long stems. Just tuck them right back in the soil outside once your arrangement's past its prime.
Leucospermum, sometimes known as pincushion protea, produce vibrant blooms all through spring and early summer. The flowers themselves are intricate and strange, like sea creatures—always a conversation piece! Perfect with the stunning pink and white blooms of Feijoa sellowiana, or pineapple guava, which also produces tasty fruit.
Japanese maple cuttings don't last terribly long, but we use them in bouquets for their fleeting, delicate beauty and lacy softness.
An ikebana-style arrangement, perfectly suited to its mid-century–inspired Case Study pot, highlights the naturally undulating form of Asparagus ‘Myers’. The lime green is striking next to the deep wine color of Leucadendron ‘Ebony’. And hellebores, while not exactly the least thirsty plants we’re featuring here, are excellent for cutting, with their parchment-like flowers in a soft palette running from tonal greens to deep eggplant purples.
Leucadendron and other proteaceous plants are easy to grow and maintain, and cut stems typically last for at least a week in water, sometimes even drying beautifully. Leucadendron 'Pisa', with its silvery metallic glow and year-round buttery yellow blooms, is a cutting garden gem.
Having a selection of snips that's both beautiful and practical makes collecting stems a pleasure. Handmade carbon steel tools from Hida Tool are perfect gifts.
Modern Cutting Gardens Around the Bay
For a little more inspiration, here are some of our favorite gardens that feature perfect low-maintenance, low-water plants for cutting.
In this garden, designed by beloved former FGG team member Daniel Nolan, leucadendron shrubs just keep on giving, with an endless supply of tulip-tipped stems with lovely red leaves that will keep their color for a couple of weeks in a vase. And they respond to cutting by getting bushier and more beautiful. We also love to cut Anigozanthus (kangaroo paws) for bouquets. They add some whimsy and more long-lasting color.
Kniphofia flowers, upright in form and brilliantly hued, are beautiful in tall glass vases, or mixed with wispy arrow-shaped foliage of plants like westringia.
Variegated foliage always draws the eye, and the paw-shaped leaves of Fatsia japonica ‘Variegata’ (center top) are perfect as a single stem in a tiny vase or drinking glass.
Grevillea might be the epitome of low-water cutting garden plants, with its delicate seaweed-like foliage and shimmery, intricate blooms.
Strelitzia (bird of paradise) have a kind of retro vibe in this sweet urban garden (another Daniel Nolan beauty!). Cut them when they’re still closed and gift them to your mom at any time of year! It’s so fun to watch them unfurl in the vase.
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