Shrubs for Cutting Garden Foliage


A well stocked cutting garden can be a flower arrangers delight.
The gardener in the family can earn significant brownie points if they can provide foliage to complement the flowers.

What Makes a Cutting Garden

  • A part of the garden dedicated to growing plant material for decoration and flower arrangements is called a cutting garden.
  • A cutting garden is not meant for display. You can mix colours and plants. You can plant closer together to encourage quick straight growth and feed plants with a view to harvesting as they reach their peak.
  • Good horticultural practice of soil preparation, feeding and caring regimes will boost crops.
  • Foliage from trees and shrubs should be harvested when the shrub is sufficiently established to regrow.
  • Many trees and shrubs will be located throughout the garden. They do not need to be in a special area but take care with the end appearance after you have harvested for your display.


Why Worry about Foliage

  • Arrangements often look better if up to half the arrangement is foliage.
  • The stems provide a framework and can be used to establish boundaries around floral material.
  • Stems and branches on their own can look sculptural.
  • Greens and greys do not fight with other colours in an arrangement.
  • Green foliage looks particularly good when contrasting strong red flowers.
  • Foliage is available from evergreen shrubs even when garden flowers are out of season

Evergreen Shrubs and Trees for Cutting

  • Brachyglottis monroi has crimped edged leathery grey leaves
  • Bupleurum fruticosum the green leaves & red stems offer double attraction
  • Chisya ternata with shiny, pungent leaves is quite prolific
  • Eleagnus x ebbingei’s new leaves are bronze coloured
  • Eucalyptus gunnii – keep stooled to produce round grey leaves
  • Olearea ilicifolia has spiky matt grey-green leaves similar to Holly
  • Pittospurnum tenuifolium ‘irene patterson’ has marbled green/white foliage while Pittospurnum Purpureum’s are chocolate to purple
  • Rhamnus alaternus alaternus grows small cream leaves on reddish stems

Other Plants for Florists Foliage

  • Cornus alba is a dogwood that looks distinctive in a flower arrangement
  • Cotoneaster corokiaq has dark wiry stems which are more prolific than the corkscrew hazel.
  • Cotinus coggygria pupureus is deep purple and also provides frothy flowers in summer.
  • Artemisia  ‘Powis Castle’ is unique in carrying multi-branched stems of silver filigree foliage. It should be  grown primarily for the color and texture.
  • Lamb’s Ears have soft furry grey leaves.
  • Asparagus fern is a good standby for frothy green stems.
  • Coleus produce a wide range of colourful, soft  leaves.
  • Hostas have leaves that can be like crinkly plates in greens, yellows and glaucus blues.
  • Lavender and rosemary have scented foliage but are more often grown for their flowers.


More Tips on Selecting Woody Plants

  • Chose plants that regrow rapidly after severe and frequent pruning and are harvestable early in life.
  • Pick plants that grow numerous stems borne over a long period of time.
  • Desirable features include stems at least 18″ long, retention of flowers, berries and foliage with a good vase life.
  • Boxwood, dogwood, forsythia, holly, hydrangea, jasmine, lilac, pussy willow, and corkscrew willow have long been popular in the floral trade.

Read more on the web site of  The Association of Specialty Cut  Flower Growers

To grow a generic mix of flowers for arrangements and bouquets check out Thompson & Morgan

3 Responses to Shrubs for Cutting Garden Foliage

  1. Tessa June 13, 2011 at 16.03 #

    I love that last photo, I’ve never seen leaves like that before! What are those plants? I’ve gone through the list by looking on Google Images, but I can’t find the names of them!

  2. admin June 14, 2011 at 16.03 #

    Holly and Coleus- hover over picture for name.

  3. Julie Davies October 30, 2016 at 16.03 #

    You’ve got a great list of planting ideas there – I like using Senecio greyii

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