Harvest Profits for 20 to 30 Years with Woody Ornamentals!
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Woody ornamentals, also known as woody cuts, or simply “woodies,” are trees and shrubs whose branches are harvested and sold to florists and individuals for floral arrangements and craft products such as wreaths. Most woodies have colorful stems, like Red Twig dogwood, unusual stems like curly willow, or stems with attractive berries, buds or flowers. Some of the well-known woodies include holly in winter, pussy willows in spring and smoke tree, forsythia and hydrangea in spring and summer.
Unlike annual plants like flowers and vegetables, woodies can be harvested over and over again for many years. There is no annual tilling, planting or soil preparation. Woodies can also provide a year-round harvest income, as different species are ready to harvest during all four seasons. For example, witch hazel can be harvested and sold in early spring, then ninebark in spring and summer, filberts and smoke tree in summer, boxwood and beautyberry in the fall and nandina, wax myrtle and holly in the winter.
Two Successful Woody Growers
Outside Washington, D.C, in the rural suburbs of Maryland, Leon and Carol Carrier have turned their two-acre lot into a money making woody ornamental nursery. You’ll find old crabapple and dogwood trees that yield profitable branches every year, as well as more unusual plants, like Magnolia grandiflora that could easily be called their “money tree.” The tree’s long lasting leafy stem bunches bring about $6 each at the farmer’s market, and one tree produces over 120 bunches!
A growing bed full of best-selling winterberry is a popular item during the winter holiday season, producing hundreds of single stems that bring $3 each at the market. The row of winterberry plants was established 14 years ago, and will be producing steady income for years to come. Another bed holds flowering quince, which can produce as much as $800 worth of stems per plant, per year.
Leon and Carol started growing flowers, and have gradually shifted to the long-lived, low-maintenance woody ornamentals. Unlike flowers, there’s no digging and dividing each year, and far less weeding and fertilizing. The Carriers grow hydrangeas, lilacs, pussy willows, winterberries, dogwood, viburnum, rosehips, flowering quince, forsythia and magnolia. Some are grown for flowers and berries, others for foliage stems. Most of their sales are at local farmer’s markets, with some sales to florists. Their small nursery is a good example of what can be done with woodies.
Selling woodies to crafters
Katherine Lewis, a basket maker, weaves willow baskets and she and her husband, Steve Lospalluto, grow a variety of colored stem willows on their Washington state farm, Dunbar Gardens. The willow stems are harvested, bundled and sold to other basket makers in the area, who value the wide range of colored willow stems that bring life to their woven creations.
In addition, they sell willow cuttings to crafters and anyone who wants to grow willow to harvest. The willow plants at the farm are tightly spaced, as close as 9 inches apart in rows only 32 inches apart, to keep the stems from getting too large for basketry. Some of the stem harvest for sale is bundles of 8-12 inch cuttings to start new plants. This allows weavers to create amazingly colorful baskets and other craft items such as wreaths and garden ornaments, even furniture.
Researchers at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture recently did a detailed study of the profit potential for just one woody species, willow, and concluded that smaller plots of 1/4 to 1 acre could produce a return of up to $56,000 per acre! Because demand for woody ornamentals is increasing, there is an opportunity for new growers to start producing woody stems on a small scale and cash in on that demand. Shipping woodies is expensive, and can often damage delicate buds and flowers, in addition to reducing vase life. That’s why florists and other woody users prefer to buy local to insure freshness and higher quality.
Many woodies can be dried and sold year-round. For example, there is a huge demand for dried hydrangeas from crafters and florists. Also, many woodies can be used to create wreaths and other craft products such as woven willow baskets, even rustic woven willow furniture. One grower produces willow rocking chairs and sells out each year! Also, the fruit of two woodies, flowering quince and rose hips, is used for making value-added jams, jellies and chutney.
Although there are growers that produce woodies on up to 160 acres, most are much smaller growers, with as little as a quarter or half acre. There is room in the woody growing world for growers of all sizes. It’s an ideal part-time business that can produce a substantial income year-round.
Most woodies are long-lasting perennial plants with a lifespan of 20-60 years. In fact, Europeans harvest woody stems from plants that are hundreds of years old! New plants are usually produced from cuttings, so it’s easy to replace older plants, expand your growing area, or produce potted woodies for sale to local buyers or the local garden center.
You can start a woody ornamental business with just a small amount of money – as little as a few hundred dollars for plant starts and other supplies. Woodies are easy plants to grow, and most are quite disease and pest free. Growing woodies is also an ideal part-time business for new growers who have full-time jobs, as much of the work can be done when time is available. In fact, early evening is the best time to harvest most woody stems.
Here are just a few of the growing secrets you’ll learn in Growing Woody Ornamentals for Profit:
- Top 22 woody ornamentals for new growers. Page 10
- The best woody for dried berry clusters. Page 12
- The best woody for soggy or wet areas. Page 14
- The leaves of this woody bring top dollar as a flea repellant for pets. Page 15
- This woody produces unique walking sticks that can bring $40-$50. Page 16
- The Top 10 woody that produces up to 100 stems per plant. Page 19
- The best hydrangea for huge 10″ flower heads every year. Page 23
- Florists love the variegated foliage of this popular woody. Page 29
- Best rose hip varieties for jams, jellies and teas. Page 31
- Two best species of willow that can bring an “instant” income. Page 36
- How far apart to space woodies for maximum production. Page 47
- How to build a simple intermittent mist propagation system. Page 50
- When and how to harvest each species. Page 52
- 8 things you must know to sell woodies at the farmer’s market. Page 57
- 6 value-added products to double or triple your profits. Page 59
- Grower resources – everything you need to get started. Page 61
- Wholesale sources for hundreds of hard-to-find cultivars. Page 64
Growing Woody Ornamentals for Profit covers all the essential information you’ll need to take your woodies from seed to profits. Order today, and start growing these profitable plants!