Cut flowers can be grown in open fields or in protected environments such as high tunnels or environmentally controlled greenhouses and sold fresh or dried. Non-flowering cut stems, such as seed heads, stalks and woody cuts, may also be grown for floral or decorative purposes. Cut flowers and cut stems are well-suited to small-scale production and are a good way to diversify or expand an existing farm operation. Specialty cut flowers can be sold by the stem, in bunches, or in mixed bouquets or value-added products.
The cut flower market constantly shifts as consumer preferences change. Growers must be willing to adjust their production to meet these demands. Potential retail outlets include farmers markets, roadside stands and U-cut. Consumers often purchase fresh flowers along with fresh produce and other farm products. Value-added products such as bouquets and specialty or seasonal arrangements can be successful in these markets. Cut flowers may also be included as part of a community supported agriculture (CSA) share. Wholesale options include supermarkets, garden centers and craft stores. Marketing difficult-to-find or novelty cut flowers to retail and wholesale florists is also a possibility. Hotels, restaurants, caterers and the internet may offer other marketing opportunities. Growers should develop several different marketing avenues.
There are numerous annuals, perennials, woody plants, vines and ornamental grasses that can be produced commercially for cut flower markets. Each potential crop/cultivar should be evaluated in light of intended market, consumer demand and sales potential. Ease of production, harvest and handling are also critical concerns. In addition, consider the crop’s adaptability to local growing conditions, resistance to diseases and insect pests, storage and vase-life, and flowering season. Producing new introductions, as well as old favorites, increases the market appeal. Take into account the crop’s production expenses, especially labor costs, and compare those estimates with the flower’s market value and expected revenue.