5 Reasons Every Market Farmer Should Grow Cut Flowers

Flowers add color and attract customers, and many types are easy to grow. See all the reasons market farmers should consider cut flowers.

by Jesse Frost
PHOTO: Garry Knight/Flickr

Flower farmers will hate me for sharing this secret, but cut flowers can be one of the easiest market items to grow and, if done right, one of the easiest items to sell.

Sorry flower farmers, but today I will outline some of the benefits of growing and selling cut flowers that often get overlooked because most people probably don’t consider flowers when they’re starting a market garden. So if you’re looking for another item that will help bring customers in, increase the diversity of your garden or just add some color to your farm, here are five reasons why cut flowers might just be your crop.

1. Flowers Are Profitable

Few crops will earn you as much money per square foot as flowers. If done right, you can earn $2 or $3 per square foot of garden space selling cut flowers—more for some varieties. This will depend on marketing strategies, outlets and other factors, but that means a single 100-by-24-foot bed can earn you $400 to $600 per crop or more. Not too shabby, if you ask me, and in some markets it might be even more with multiple harvests of many flowers.

2. Flowers Are Attractive

Imagine a bright strip of colorful zinnias lighting up your summer garden. Imagine having fresh cut flowers on your table at home and at market all year. Even when they don’t sell—though I hope they do—flowers can provide a great deal of allure to customers, filling out farmers market tables and providing an attractive decoration to your display. It is best to have flowers at the beginning and end of the year when the table is more monochromatic (green) and when other vendors haven’t arrived with their flowers yet.

3. Flowers Are Productive

When you get into bulb flowers and the more temperamental sorts, this might not always ring true, but zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers celosia—these are all highly productive workhorses that will provide consistent and even renewable flowers for bouquets if cut correctly.

4. Flowers are Beneficial

Bees use sunflower pollen as medicine. Monarch butterflies are attracted to flowers such as tithonia. Marigolds can help keep deer out of the garden, and other flowers will draw in many types of pollinators and beneficial insects to help with your growing. So flowers don’t have to be a seperate business, they can just as easily complement to what you already do.

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5. (Many) Flowers Are Easy

Certainly, some flowers are highly temperamental, requiring temperature stratification, specific soil types and conditions, even years to become productive. But a lot of the ones I have mentioned, and many I haven’t, require no more than what your average vegetable would—decent fertility, trellising in some cases and good cold storage. You can get as deep into flower production go as you want, but for most farmers you won’t have to change your program much at all. You can simply add some flower seed to your order this winter, or start planting bulbs right now, and begin experimenting in the early spring with cut flowers right alongside your veggies.

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