If you enjoy flower gardening, and want to turn your gardening hobby into extra income, think about growing for market. Flowers are among the most profitable plants, producing one of the highest returns of any specialty crop. You can get started with very little – just enough for seeds and supplies, and most new flower growers make money in the first year.
Many flower growers have found the Saturday farmer’s market flowers bring top prices. One grower sells her cut flowers, like lilies, cosmos, statice, zinnias, snapdragons and daisies, and finds the demand so great she sells out before noon. She thinks flowers are the perfect seasonal crop because they are easy to grow, produce quickly and supply an income all season long.
Some flower growers like to specialize in cut flowers that have larger showy blossoms, such as hydrangeas and sunflowers, that can bring as much as $5 for a single stem. It’s not uncommon for a grower to sell over a thousand stems in a single day at the farmer’s market. As one grower said,”For those who love being in the garden and watching their flowers grow, there is nothing quite like this business.”
Because flowers can be grown in a tiny backyard or on a larger acreage, it’s an ideal part-time business for those in need of a flexible schedule, such as stay-at-home moms, retirees or anyone who has another job.
Dried flowers, also called “everlastings” because they last so long when dried, are a perfect flower crop for a backyard flower grower. If you are growing for profit, everlastings can be even better than cut flowers as you can make as much as $8 per square foot. Most everlastings, such as celosia, statice and straw flowers, are very easy to grow and easy to air dry. Growers find the best markets for dried flowers are craft shops, antique shops and selling dried flower arrangements to flower shops and restaurants.
An antique shop owner had dozens of cut glass vases that just would not sell. She added a small bouquet of dried flowers to each vase, and sold them all for four times the price within a month! Most restaurants can’t afford to put fresh cut flowers on tables every day, but find that dried flowers brighten up the table just as well, and can be replaced once a month. Dried flower growers will often re-do the bouquets at several restaurants every month. Another popular dried flower, gypsophilia, or baby’s breath, is widely used as a filler in floral arrangements. Most retail florists prefer to buy from local growers whenever possible.
Perhaps the best “niche” flower business is subscription sales. One California flower grower has perfected it, and now just works one day a week on her unique niche. Every flower is pre-sold, and her unique business takes in around a half-million dollars every year. She says there is room for a similar floral subscription business in almost every town, large or small.
She delivers fresh-cut flower bouquets to offices and homes in her community on Mondays. Just like a paper route, customers buy a subscription by the month, paying from $15 to $150 each week, depending on how many bouquets they order. One of her regular customers says, “Flowers cheer the office up. They are colorful, alive, and you don’t have to dust them!”
Woody ornamentals are another flower grower’s niche. “Woodies” are trees and shrubs that grow back each year after cutting, and are popular with florists, who use them to fill out bouquets. Woodies can be everyday plants, like forsythia and lilac, or uncommon varieties like corkscrew willow.
Since they are perennials, once you’ve planted them, they require little work other than cutting the branches at harvest time. Woodies have become such profitable plants, some growers are choosing to specialize in popular varieties, such as curly willow, red osier dogwood, golden ninebark and holly. A bonus with woodies is the extended season, which can extend cutting time from February through November.
Whether you live in Alabama or North Dakota, growing flowers can provide a good income to anyone who loves to garden and can spare a few hours each week. It’s also a clean, green business that can be good for the planet. To learn more, read Growing Flowers for Profit.