Flower production is one of the fastest growing crop trends in agriculture today, with strong demand for all types of flowers, especially unique or hard-to-grow varieties. According to a U.S.D.A. Horticulturist, a good flower grower can produce and sell over $100,000 worth of plants in one season with just a small greenhouse.
The strongest demand is for a “instant color” flowers grown in four-inch pots ready to transplant to the garden as finished blooming plants. This includes annuals, such as the marigolds, Petunias, Salvia and zinnias. Begonias and impatiens, though more costly to raise, almost always sell out first. Popular perennials include Columbine, bleeding heart, delphiniums and bearded iris.
If you live in a rural area, focus on growing flowers for resale to garden centers and other retailers in nearby larger towns. Concentrate on plants the big growers have overlooked because they take more care but for which there is always a market. The three floral “niches” that fit this description nicely are African violets, heritage roses and wildflowers native to your area.
African violets are always in demand, easy to propagate from cuttings and grow and sell the best in the winter when the blooms can bring a spot of color indoors. They come in an almost endless variety of colors and range from thimble size plants to giants. There are trailing violets that spread and the “cousins”- plants in the Gesneriad family such as Streptocarpus and Chirita.
Many small growers use a basement or spare room to grow African violets, as they don’t require a lot of space. In fact, a square foot of growing space can produce nine 4-inch potted plants four times a year That’s over 1400 plants in a modest 4′ x 10′ area, which, at a retail price of $6, is $8400 worth of African violets! Fluorescent lights are fine for African violets, which have lower light requirements than many flowers. Be sure to use full spectrum bulbs.
As with most flowers, sales of African violets are strongest during the holidays – Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, Mothers Day and Christmas. You’ll find a mini–growing guide at motherearthnews.com. Just enter “African Violet” in the search bar. Although the article is several years old, the growing information is detailed and timeless.
Another “niche” flower that has been popular for many years is “heritage” or “heirloom” roses. The name refers to a rose that was in cultivation before 1867, when “LaFrance”, the first hybrid tea rose was developed. The hybrids became popular because they were longer bloomers and had bolder colors. Why the renewed interest in these old beauties? There are several reasons. One is the exquisite fragrance of the old roses. Another is their hardiness. The old heritage roses tend to be much more disease resistant than the modern hybrids.
Many gardeners find the history of these old roses fascinating. For example you can raise some of the same varieties that Josephine, wife of Napoleon, grew in her garden at Malmaison, or choose the White Rose of York, which represented the House of York in the War of Roses over 500 years ago. Three roses, the Gallic rose, the Alba rose and the Damascus rose originated in the Mideast during Biblical times, and were carried to Europe by Crusaders. The appeal of heritage roses is timeless, and the amount of care they require is much less than the hybrids.
As with African violets, selling heritage rose plants locally will bring the highest prices, but many growers prefer to wholesale their plants to garden centers, nurseries and other retail outlets.
The wildflower business is booming, as homeowners turn to “natural landscaping” and interest grows in reviving the landscaping trends of the last century, which emphasized native plants. In addition federal legislation and the laws of many states now require that a certain percentage of highway landscaping funds be used to plant wildflowers. Projects like these have opened up new markets for producers of wildflower seeds, and stimulated demand for wildflower plants around homes.
“Wildflower” is the name for flowering plants native to a specific area. What’s common in Alberta will not be the same as what’s common in Alabama. Although wildflowers come in many shapes sizes and colors and grow in all states or provinces, most are very sensitive to the “microclimate” in which they can be grown. That’s why it is important to learn which flowers are native and suitable to your area.
Small growers can grow these profitable plants for seed harvest, cut flowers and bouquets and for value–added products such as wildflower seed gift cards or wildflower seed paper. To get an idea of the many possibilities visit Bloomin.com.
While there are dozens of profitable plants that can produce a good income for flower growers, these three niches stand out because there is a proven demand and small growers do not have to compete with large volume growers if they choose the varieties that take more “T. L. C.” than larger volume growers can provide.
It’s possible to produce a good income in a small growing area growing flowers for profit. To learn more about this fascinating crop, read Growing Flowers For Profit.