Nothing beats fresh-cut flower arrangements—but why spend money on expensive arrangements? Why not start your very own cutting garden?

Your desert potted garden can serve two purposes when it comes to flowers: It can be a profuse garden to decorate your outside world, and it can fill your home with bountiful bouquets of living wonder! Your friends may remark: These all came from your pots!?

You need many flowers coming into bud and bloom at the same time in order to have enough for arrangements. You will not want to feel that you are depriving your outside garden of its splendor in order to have your flowers inside. Therefore, it’s best to get many plants of a few varieties.

As we move into the winter months, we have the advantage of thriving flowers that will inspire the creation of imaginative arrangements!

Great flowers for arrangements include:

  • Calendula
  • Celosia
  • Coriopsis
  • Cosmos
  • Day lillies
  • Dianthus/carnations (below)
  • Freesia
  • Gerbera daisies
  • Godetia
  • Marigolds
  • Miniature hollyhocks
  • Mums (fall)
  • Pansies
  • Poppies
  • Roses
  • Snapdragons
  • Sweet pea
  • Tobacco flower
  • Violas

Add some branches from your herbs, perennials, shrubs and trees such as:

  • Basil
  • Boxwoods
  • Coleus
  • Pines
  • Sage
  • Salvia

Tips to keep your cut flowers longer:

  • Cut flower stems at an angle to prevent the stems from resting on the bottom of the vase and sealing themselves over. Angular cuts also create a larger surface area for water uptake.
  • Strip any foliage from stems that would sit below water level in a vase, as these will decay, becoming slimy and smelly.
  • Use room-temperature water.
  • Add a splash of bleach to the water to inhibit bacterial growth and make your flowers last longer. You only need to add about a quarter-teaspoon per quart of water. You can also try adding a tablespoon of sugar, as this will help to nourish the flowers.
  • Keep your flowers in cooler areas of your home. The life of your cut flowers will be reduced if they are placed close to heat or direct sunlight.
  • Remove any dead or fading blooms to prevent bacteria damaging the healthy flowers.
  • Change the water every few days, refreshing any flower feed and preservatives at the same time.

Marylee Pangman is the founder and former owner of The Contained Gardener in Tucson, Ariz. She has become known as the desert’s potted garden expert. Marylee is available for digital consultations, and you can email her with comments and questions at Follow the Potted Desert at