What Flowers to Grow for Profit
Shared From MOTHER EARTH NEWS Written By: Lynn Byczynski
What Flowers to Grow for Profit
Select flowers that grow well in your climate. Although you may love delphiniums, you probably won’t get much production from them if you live in a windy, hot area. And be sure to choose varieties that are tall enough to make good cut flowers. Many have the same common names as low-growing bedding plants.) Grow flowers that have at least a six-day vase life. For a list of the easiest summer annuals, see “Growing Annuals for a Cutting Garden“. Because these varieties can be started in March from seed and planted out in the garden after the risk of frost has passed, they are ideal for a beginning grower. All bloom in mid-summer, perfectly coinciding with the selling season at farmer’s markets. Use this flower menu your first year, adding perennials, bulbs and fall-seeded annuals to your mix the next year.
Seed and flower plant catalogs are invaluable resources for the cut dower grower. The companies listed in “Seed and Plant Sources” at the end of this article specialize in cut flowers. Study these companies’ catalogs and you’ll be a knowledgeable flower grower in no time.
Some growers with excellent soil on their flower farms are able to direct-seed most varieties, but for the rest of us, transplants are a better option. Unfortunately, few greenhouses and garden centers carry the right varieties for cut flowers, so you may have to grow your own transplants or buy them from a mail-order source. Several wholesale nurseries provide cut flower transplants in quantities that aren’t too overwhelming for the beginning grower. If you want to start on a very limited scale, you can grow your own transplants under fluorescent lights in your house. Don’t start them too early, and keep the lights close to the plants to prevent them from stretching and getting gangly.
Flower Farming Supplies
I’m going to assume that you already have the equipment and tools you need for gardening, that you can prepare the soil and get the plants in the ground. Beyond that, in most areas you must have irrigation. Drip irrigation is the best choice because it delivers the water directly to the roots of the plants without wetting the foliage, which can cause disease. If you grow your flowers in straight lines, you can use an inexpensive drip tape. If you choose to grow your flowers in irregularly shaped beds, you can use soaker hoses. In any case, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of regularly irrigating flowers. Don’t count on Mother Nature to do it for you. (See “Irrigation Made Easy,” in the August/September 2002 issue.)
Other supplies specific to flower growing include clippers and buckets. Buy sturdy, sharp pruning shears for harvesting your flowers. Buckets can be purchased from a discount store or picked up for a small fee from supermarket bakeries and fast-food restaurants. The 2-gallon size will be most useful, though you may want some 5gallon buckets for tall flowers such as sunflowers and gladioli.
Nearly all commercial flower growers have coolers, and that is something you eventually will want to acquire. The benefit of a cooler is that you can pick flowers every day and store them until you have the market for them. You can certainly get by without a cooler for a few years, if you are able to pick flowers within a day of delivery. Once harvested, flowers should be taken to a cool place and kept out of direct sunlight.
Finally, you will want to buy a floral preservative, which contains sugar, an acidifier and a biocide that together increase the vase life of many flowers. Several brands are available in powdered formulations that can be added to the bucket of water when you pick.
With these modest supplies, some gardening skill and some knowledge about dowers, you can quickly be on your way to starting your own cut flower business.
To continue reading about Lynn Byczynski home based business, check out Grow Flowers for Profit on MOTHER EARTH NEWS.