A cutting garden is a special addition to the landscape, and heavy production of large and healthy flowers is the goal. This focus on production can sometimes make cutting gardens less than the aesthetic ideal. Those with the acreage to spare often place them off to one side or behind hedging to mask their appearance. When garden space is at a premium, companion plantings can be used to keep a cutting garden looking tidy and lush and more like a pleasure garden, while still producing plenty of blooms for cutting. With the myriad of plants available, a few guiding principles will help you focus on the attributes you want in companion plant pairings.
Choose a broad mix of plants that you like the look of and focus on flowering annuals and perennials with long stems, as these are best for cutting, according to the University of Vermont. Add in several types of foliage plants to be used as vase filler and to keep the cutting garden looking green and lush.
Pair companion plants by their preferences for water and sunlight. Most flowering plants prefer full sun or very light afternoon shade and evenly moist but not soaking wet soil. Group plants that prefer wet or drier soil together and those that perform best with some shade cover or full hot sun together where their needs are similarly met.
Complement or contrast companion plants by their height and spread. Tall plants can be grouped together to support one another and create a tall mass. Lower growing plants that can tolerate some shade can be planted under or adjacent to the tall plants. Plant low-growing or spreading plants under tall plants that prefer moist and/or cool soil as the ground cover plants act as a living mulch naturally regulating the soil quality.
Choose and pair companion plants in the soil space based on when they flower. Establish a flowering time cascade from spring through fall to maximize the period of available flowers to harvest and keep the cutting garden active and looking attractive. When one plant has finished blooming or is cut back, its adjacent companion plant will be ready to take center stage.