List of Utah Flower Farmers

Looking for a Utah flower farmer?

I generated this list with the help of the Utah Cut Flower Farms Association and the USU Urban and Small Farms Extension Specialist Dr. Melanie Stock. This list will evolve as more growers pop up, so please message me or comment if I am missing anyone (must have the farm name, location and website or social page to be included).

Cut Flower Growers in Utah

  1. Save the Bees Flower Co
  2. Sego Lily Flower Farm
  3. Wasatch Blooms
  4. Poppin’ Blossoms
  5. White Cottage Flower Farm
  6. S & K Blossoms
  7. Apiana Blooms
  8. Country Blooms Farm
  9. Red Acre Farm
  10. Sweet Pea Farm and Orchard
  11. Black Bear Flowers
  12. Paradise Valley Orchard / Florage Flower Farming Co-Op
  13. Paisley Flower Farm/ Florage Flower Farming Co-Op
  14. Stonehouse Dahlias
  15. Local Roots Flower Farm
  16. Happy Trowels Flower Farm
  17. Copper Moose Farm Flowers
  18. Three Sprouts Flower Farm
  19. Flourish Flower Market
  20. Better Food Farm
  21. Chateau Monette Flower Farm
  22. Growing Moon Beams
  23. Iron Clay Flower Farm
  24. Jessica’s Fresh Flowers
  25. Lily + Juniper Blooms & Designs

Note: I know I am missing some people on this list. Some farmers simply do not have a website or business social media page, which would make contacting them or finding them online next to impossible. Please let me know who I missed and tell me the business name, location and a link to a social media page or website. Thanks!

 

 

When to Plant Cut Flowers in Utah

The bipolar weather here in Utah makes it hard to feel confident about planting schedules.

One day it seems as if we are on the verge of spring, the temps are mild, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. The next day it is a white-out blizzard and we are scraping an inch of ice off the car windshields.

This weather messes with my mind and I start second guessing my planting schedule, before firmly reminding myself not to jump the gun.

Knowing when to start planting depends on two things: your frost dates and the hardiness of the plant or crop.

First, Google your first and last frost dates and mark them in your calendar.

Next, you will need to identify if the crop is a cool hardy annual, tender annual or perennial.

Identifying a plant’s hardiness is as simple as giving it a quick Google.

Below you will find my planting schedule for cut flowers. Remember that the planting dates are for direct seeding or planting transplants. If you want to transplant a cool hardy plant in March, then you need to start it indoors about 6 weeks sooner in February.

*Note: Some varieties prefer to be direct seeded into the garden and others do better as transplants. Read up on your specific plant to know which it prefers.

When to Plant Cut Flowers in Utah (based on the Lehi area):

Hardy Annuals: 

Cool hardy annuals are the plants that can handle the freeze and shake it off. In fact, many of these plants prefer a long cool establishment period to grow a robust root system and will produce more abundantly as a result.

These cool hardy plants are planted either in the fall (if they overwinter in your zone) or 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost date.

I transplant or directly seed hardy annuals in the fall 6 weeks before my first frost date. For Lehi that is around October 26th, so I plant mid September. If I miss that window (or want to plant a succession crop to extend the harvest) then I plant 6-8 weeks before my last frost date. My last frost is around April 22nd so I aim to plant around mid to late March. Below are some of the hardy annuals I plant at these times in my zone 7 climate:

Snapdragons

Icelandic Poppies

Orlaya

Bupluerum

Foxglove

Bee Balm

Delphinium

Larkspur

Queen Anne’s Lace

Honeywort

Pincushion

Stock (late winter planting only)

*Note: Flower Farmers also plant annual bulbs/corms in the fall (these cannot be planted in late winter unless you buy pre-chilled bulbs), such as tulips or ranunculus (in my zone ranuncs need overwintering protection in a low tunnel). Certain perennials also do best planted in the fall such as peonies or daffodils.

Tender Annuals:

Tender annual plants will not tolerate a freeze and must be planted after the danger of frost has passed.

I transplant or directly seed my tender annuals around Mothers’ Day (mid May), just to be safe. Most of these can continue to be planted in successions throughout about mid July (to know for sure, you must look at the “days to maturity” on the seed packet and count back that number from your first fall frost date). Below are some of the tender annuals I plant in my zone 7 climate:

Sunflowers

Zinnias

Amaranth

Cosmos

Dahlias

Ornamental Grasses (bunny tails, frosted explosion etc.)

*Note: Dahlias are a tuber crop that are planted at the same time as the tender annuals because they do not tolerate a freeze in my zone. In milder regions, the can be overwintered.

Perennials:

Perennials are pretty simple. You plant them when the ground is not frozen. However, certain perennials like peonies or daffodils perform best when fall planted.

I hope you noticed that most cut flowers are actually planted as hardy annuals in the fall. I like to call fall the “second spring” for most of Utah.

Mastering hardy annuals in the fall is key to an abundant spring cut flower harvest in Utah!

Of course, some growers have taken it a step further and use season extension devices to plant at earlier times. I use a low tunnel (think mini greenhouse) to overwinter ranunculus and anemones.

I also use frost cloth tunnels to plant some of the semi-hardy annuals under (these are hardy annuals that just need a smidgen of winter protection to perform better come spring).

If you are interested in companion planting fruits/vegetables then I recommend looking at this planting guide. (That guide also touches on micro climates to consider.)

For cool hardy plants specifically, I recommend reading Lisa Ziegler’s book Cool Flowers.

If this guide was useful to you then please leave me a comment below and share! I would love to hear from you! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Tips from the Temple Square Gardeners

When I first started my Utah flower farm, Save the Bees Flower Co, I tried hunting down local gardening experts that could tell me more about growing field-to-vase blooms.

There are tons of books on flower farming and gardening in general, but nothing beats finding a local expert with the same growing conditions.

Two places came to mind immediately: Salt Lake City’s Temple Square and the Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point.

I live in Lehi so contacting the master gardener at Ashton Gardens was relatively simple. However, hunting down the Temple Square master gardener proved more difficult. Unexpectedly, a routine trip to the library solved my problem!

It turns out there was a book written by a few of the Temple Square gardeners a few years ago called, “Temple Square Gardening.” This book is golden for local growers with very specific tips related to our Utah soils, weeds and pest challenges.

I also realized that I KNEW one of the authors! I literally exclaimed, “Hey I know her!” before remembering I was in a library. #shhhhhhh

My flower farming friend Shelly Zollinger never mentioned working on Temple Square or co-writing a BOOK about it. After picking her brain some more and devouring the book, I took away three main tips that you can read below.

Photo by Devin Justesen on Unsplash

3 Tips from the Temple Square Gardeners:

1. Take advantage of hardy annuals: Hardy annuals are not a new gardening concept, but one often overlooked by the home gardener or new flower farmer. A hardy annual is basically a flower you can plant in the fall and it will overwinter in the garden and bloom better and earlier in spring. This is extremely useful in our Utah climate, because our spring jumps right into the heat of summer.

“Over the years the Temple Square gardening staff has “invented” spring-blooming gardens for Utah…waiting until the soil dries out in the spring before planting pansies and other spring flowers means that by the time they finally become established, it’s almost time to take them out.”

The temple square gardeners plant the bulk of their gorgeous spring blooms in fall. (I also loved that the “Temple Square Gardening” book lists all the plants and flowers used as hardy annuals on Temple Square!)

I feel like people are intimidated by the idea of winter gardening, but it really is quite simple and it uses a lot less water (which is a big bonus in our state). I wrote a whole post on my experience with hardy annuals and winter gardening in Utah that you can read here. (For flower farming I recommend Lisa Ziegler’s Cool Flowers book too.)

2. Soil prep is the key to success: Again, this concept was not new to me, but I loved how the gardeners broke down Utah’s soil strengths and weaknesses and explained how it all fit together. The Temple Square gardens are routinely soil tested, amended and tilled to a depth of 8-10 inches.

“Adding organic matter is the easiest and best way to improve your soil….Soil texture dramatically affects the availability of plant nutrients….Amending sand or clay soils with organic matter improves nutrient-holding capacity. Soil pH also effects the ability of plants to absorb nutrients.”

The Temple Square gardeners identify Utelite as one of their “secrets” to creating better texture in their heavy clay soil. And unlike compost, Zollinger noted that you can add up to 50 percent Utelite to soil without worrying. (Apparently, Utelite is something you can find at most nurseries, but I was unaware of its existence until now!)

3. Take a natural approach to pest and weed control: “The earth was cursed to bring forth thistles and weeds, and that happens in the Temple Square gardens just as it does in your garden…For most weeds, prevention, rather than warfare, is the best control.”

You can prevent weeds by avoiding questionable top soils, using soil amendments that are fully composted correctly and catching weeds before they drop seed.

The grounds workers also noted that nature does not tolerate bare ground and weeds will quickly move in to your blank spots. They suggest beating the weeds by crowding them out with a canopy of flowers. “Where your plants flourish, weeds are not nearly as likely to grow.”

Temple Square gardeners use IPM (Integrated Pest Management). Basically, they maintain healthy plants that are naturally more disease and pest resistant and maintain pest population at an acceptable level. They do this by planting the right plants at the right time into amended soil, using good fertilizer and irrigation practices, encouraging a healthy ecosystem with beneficial insects etc.

They rely first on organic controls like hand picking or organic oils, but will also use chemical controls like Bt or soap sprays when necessary.

I do most of the same things, but I liked the added tip to plant a variety of plants. That way if something falls pray to pests or disease, your garden is not all lost.

Pin this image to save these tips!

What I found the most insightful, was that the gardeners design everything in a simple and natural style so it points back to the Creator rather than themselves. I’ve heard that they will literally toss a handful of tulip bulbs in the garden and let them land where they may.

It takes 34 full time gardeners, 30 seasonal gardeners, help from over 80 Church service missionaries and a thousand volunteers each spring and fall (for initial planting) to maintain the Temple Square gardens.

So the next time you see a grounds worker at the Temple, thank them for all their hard work! Maybe even volunteer to help!

If you have your own questions about growing a flower garden, feel free to subscribe to my Cut Flower Garden newsletter. I was pretty frustrated when I first started flower farming and had to hunt for good sources about specialty cut blooms in Utah. (Most gardeners gave me the side eye when I asked about stem length and vase life rather than heirloom tomatoes or water-wise landscaping.)

However, I am now a budding urban flower farmer in Lehi harvesting from over 1800 plants right in my yard using high density farming practices! I am happy to share my knowledge with those that want to create a little piece of heaven in their garden and enjoy fresh blooms on their table all season long.

Happy Gardening!

Maria

Winter Gardening in Utah

Winter gardening did not sound appealing to me at first. I thought it would be cold and miserable. I. hate. being. cold.

However, I gave winter gardening a shot this year and it turns out winter gardening is very low maintenance! I now prefer it to summer gardening. (I know how crazy that sounds.)

Winter gardening can be done with a low tunnel or without. Either way you can get a jump on the growing season, while using less water and spending less time weeding or fighting pests. (I sound less crazy now right?!)

I have a few overwintered crops in my space right now. Some that need the low tunnel and some that do not.

A good pair of boots while gardening is a must!

First, lets talk about low tunnel winter gardening.

Eliot Coleman, an innovator in the gardening world, designed the low tunnel to act as a cost effective unheated mini greenhouse for home gardeners. Originally, the idea was to overwinter cold hardy food crops, but flower farmers also use the low tunnel to overwinter flowers.

I have a low tunnel over the crops that are not hardy to my zone, but still prefer a cool establishment period (ranunculus and anemone). I am in zone 7, but my ranunculus are only hardy to zone 8 (a tiny bit more mild than my zone). The tunnel provides just enough protection to keep my ground from freezing and killing the ranunculus, but still allows them to get the long cool establishment period they prefer. Picky things.

Caring for my low tunnel crop is simpler than I thought it would be. I just vent my low tunnel on warm sunny winter days and if the weather stays above 28F for three consecutive days I water a little bit. However, that has only happened once and I don’t expect it to happen more than 3 times all winter. In general, the low tunnel provides adequate humidity.

I also have winter crops that do not require a low tunnel. These are known as hardy annuals (snapdragons, bupleurum, poppies, etc.) and also include the fall planted bulbs/tubers that are hardy to my zone (tulips, daffodils, peonies etc.).

These overwintered crops are so low maintenance, because winter snow takes care of most watering needs and the plants are dormant (meaning they are not in a very active growing stage).

This means the plants just need a dry fertilizer sprinkled in the fall during planting and it will slow feed them all winter.

Note that hardy annual seeds should be started mid summer and bulbs/tubers/corms are started in the fall.

As for pests, I did have a neighborhood kitty that wanted to dig in my rows, but I laid down bird netting over the soil and haven’t noticed problems since. (I am grateful for our neighborhood mouser, but don’t like working around kitty poop.) So far, I have not noticed any of the typical spring or summer garden pests munching on my plants.

The final key to easy winter gardening is to suppress weeds early on so you don’t have to weed in the snow and mud.

I use burned landscape fabric in my low tunnel and have not needed to weed yet.

In the rows I struggled a bit with weeds around the hardy annual plants, but that could have easily been prevented with some mulch or more landscape fabric. (I haven’t noticed any weeds in my bulb rows yet.)

Thanks to my winter garden, I will have MORE robust crops earlier, using LESS water and spending LESS time to care for them. In our dry Utah climate, I consider that a big win!

If I have convinced you to try winter gardening and you would like to make your own low tunnel for food crops or blooms, then follow this awesome tutorial by Bare Mountain Farm. 

My low tunnel cost about $250 to construct with parts from Home Depot and Amazon. I have 6 mil UV treated greenhouse plastic over tunnel and AG19 frost cloth inside.

Even if you don’t need a low tunnel for your crops (if you stick with hardy annuals and bulbs that grow in your zone), I would have a frost cloth on hand for extra cold snaps. If you know temps are dropping below freezing, I would toss a frost blanket over your crops just to be safe.

One last note, if you are interested in winter gardening for cut flowers I would read Lisa Zeigler’s Cool Flowers book. I have a copy on my bookshelf that I reference constantly.

And of course, winter gardening would not be complete without some late winter seed starting! Read up on my best tips for indoor seed starting here. 

If you have additional questions or want to share your winter gardening experiences, please leave me a comment below.

Happy Gardening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of Starting a Flower Farm

Knowing the cost of starting a flower farm is a big consideration.

I told my husband (after getting kneck deep in starting my micro flower farm) that I probably would not have done it, if I had known the cost beforehand.

What?! I know. Money. Young kids. New house. Budgeting. Adult stuff.

I probably would have shoved my little hobby flower farm to the side for a few more years in favor of being frugal. Luckily, I didn’t realize how much it would cost to get started and by the time I did realize it… there was no going back.

I basically used our tax return to start my little venture in floriculture.

How much will starting a flower farm cost you? That depends on the size of your plot.

I am working off of 1000 sq ft space and my investment in my micro flower farm is coming in just under $1500… so far.

Now, that may not seem like a lot of money to you, but when you just bought a house, have carpet that needs updated, a roof to be repaired, Lasik goals and hospital bills from having your second baby….it does sting… just a little.

The bright side? The biggest expenses going in are actually one-time purchases.

Below are the biggest expenses for me this year as a first year flower farmer:

  1. Compost: A part of me cringes whenever I think about how much I have to pay to buy dirt. I know. I know. It is fancy dirt with some aged chicken poop mixed in…plus other nitrogen rich nutrients for my plants, but still…”it’s a cup…with dirt in it.” (Brian Regan fans will understand.) For cut flowers, the typical advice is 2-4 inches of compost meaning around a $300 investment if you find a good deal.
  2. Seed Starting Station: The lights are the most expensive part of the seed starting station. Everyone kept saying “cheap” shop lights are good and I guess my version of cheap and their version of cheap are different. It will cost you about $40 for a 4 bulb  shop light for EACH shelf. So if you have a four shelf unit….that is $50*4 = $200. Once you start adding the price of the shelf itself, the timer, cell blocks with humidity domes, heat mats, seedling soil…it adds up fast. However, this is a one-time investment for the most part.
  3. Drip Irrigation: As a busy mom I don’t really see drip lines as optional. I purchased my drip line kit from DripWorks and it cost me around $200. As long as repairs are minimal, I see this as a one-time investment.
  4. Misc Tools: Of course we are new to even owning a yard, so we needed quite a few gardening tools. A temper hoe, snippers, shovel, hand tiller, wheel barrel, garden stakes, netting, etc. I would say those expenses came in around $150. That might not be as big of an issue if you already have these tools. Another one-time investment.
  5. Landscape Fabric: The landscape fabric was about $65 for a 300 ft roll. Add on about $55 for the propane torch and small propane can for burning landscape holes. Another $8 for the hole templates and then $40 for landscape staples…comes in around $168. Again, a one time investment for the most part.
  6. Low Hoop Tunnel: Having a way to extend the growing season or protect your crops is a must for flower farmers (so I hear). I figure the cost of our hoop tunnels (2 at 20 ft each) to be around $100. Again, a one-time expense that should easily pay for itself in Mother’s Day crops.
  7. Education: You will need to educate yourself before starting a flower farm. Flower farming books, local classes or workshops, soil tests, etc. How much you invest is up to you. There are lots of sources online these days, but I purchased two textbooks as well. Lots of farmers spend the winter months reading new farming books to stay up-to-date on the latest techniques. I think I spent about $45 on books (kindles are a pain in the butt to reference, but are half the price). I wish I had been in time for a local Master Gardening certification class that was $200. How much you spend in this category will vary.
  8. Marketing: Your cost will vary in this category, but ignoring it would be a mistake. A domain name for a website costs about $15-20 a year. My server space is $5 a month. The key to a successful website or social media page is your content and pictures. Of course, SEO is important, but no SEO tricks will make up for poor pictures or a boring voice. I own a basic Canon rebel, but my photography skills are subpar so I signed up for a floral photography class that cost $40. If I end up doing a farmer’s market then I would probably pay around $250 for a booth every Saturday (July-September). Plus a farmer’s market would mean buying a 10×10 ft canopy, buckets, display stands, cash box, etc. To sell flowers, I also need to register as an LLC (limited liability) and that costs around $60. Some growers also pay for monthly insurance. Want to host workshops? That is gonna cost you in materials too. You will need tables, chairs, floral wire, bouquet paper, snippers, etc. I am doing my best to source used items where possible from online garage sales. Again, some of this stuff is a one-time cost, but it all adds up fast.
  9. Seeds, bulbs, plants: This category is actually not too bad. I ended up buying extra seeds as I killed many while figuring out my seedling soil and lights. No doubt I will kill more as I transfer them into the yard. I spent about $50 on seeds and $50 on dahlia tubers for summer blooms. I will need to buy some perennials to plant this fall. If something is a perennial is will cost you more, but that should be a one-time cost (unless you kill it). David Austen Roses cost about $25 per plant. Dahlia tubers are about $9 for 3 tubers, but they multiply like bunnies apparently. For my space, I expect to spend about $300 in this category for my first year.
  10. Labor: For my first year, I am counting all my hours as a labor of love (thats a fancy way of saying I get paid nothing) and just hoping to make my investment back. In the future, that might change as I get better at specializing in flowers and growing my market. It would be great to make enough to cover costs plus a little extra on the side. That is actually the definition of a “hobby farm” and I consider myself a hobby flower farmer.

The good news is that you can make your money back!

If I succeed in keeping my plants alive, then I should have around 350 healthy bunches. If I sell half of those for $10 each then I can at least cover costs.

(If any of you Lehi/American Fork/Saratoga Spring locals want to pre-order a seasonal bouquet then go here.)

All that being said, the sad reality is that most flower farmers don’t expect to make a profit the first couple of years.

If none of this has scared you away, then check out my post on “Starting Seedlings for Beginners” where I cover the best lights, seedling soil, and share my seed starting setup.

It is amazing how long it takes to write each post with two rascally kids climbing all over me. However, I do my best to include details (even if it means admitting how much I failed at the beginning). If you can, I would really appreciate it if you left a comment below. It makes me happy to know someone is out there and it gives my website a boost. Happy gardening! 

How to Burn Landscape Fabric Holes

Make life easier and learn how to burn landscape fabric holes. As a stay-at-home mom with a busy church calling, I am planning ahead on weed control.

I have a two part strategy for saving myself time in my micro flower farm: (1) landscape fabric to control weeds, (2) drip lines on a timer.

This week I decided to burn plant holes in my landscape fabric and I wanted to write it down in my Garden Journal while the details are still fresh.

Materials:

Gather the following materials for your project:

  1. Propane torch attachment
  2. Small propane canister
  3. Sunbelt landscape fabric (or similar type)
  4. Particle board from Home Depot
  5. Measuring device (a ruler or tape measure)
  6. Jigsaw
  7. Pencil/marker

Garden Plot:

The first step, is to make your garden plot plan so you know what spacing to burn into your landscape fabric.

I have 4 rows 4 ft by 30 ft plus three rows of 3ft by 20 ft. In each of these rows I have plotted out what I am planting and the recommended spacing required.

For example, one of my 4ft by 30 ft rows will have snapdragons, globe amaranth and rudbeckia. All of these plants need a 9×9 spacing so I need to burn 30ft of 9×9 plant holes (3 inches diameter).

Another row, may have plants that need 6×6 or 12×12 spacing and I mark exactly how many feet of each I need.

Make a Template:

The next step is to make a template. I did this by purchasing the cheapest particle board I could find from Home Depot and having them cut it to size for me.

At home, I measured my boards for 6×6, 9×9, 12×12 and 18×18 inch spacing. I marked them up using a ruler and a Nutella lid (we’re fancy around here).

Then my wonderful hubby, Zach, took care of the hole cutouts. He drilled a hole in each circle, then used the jigsaw to cut the circle out.

The result was a cheap template that is also lightweight. I was worried my template would burn later in the process, but had no problems with it.

Burn the Holes:

Get your propane torch attachment and attach it to your small propane can, then get burning!

(Actually, before you do that make sure you lay out your fabric on a nonflammable surface. Ha)

I chose to lay mine out on a large dirt patch in the backyard and weighed it down with garden stones so the wind didn’t catch it.

The process is quite fast with the templates and they keep the spacing and hole size consistent. (I saw hole burning attachments for sale, but I don’t feel like they are necessary if you have a template. Plus they were like $50 bucks!)

While you are burning your plant holes, I recommend cleaning up any frayed or cut edges on the end of your landscape fabric by burning it as well.

If you want to save yourself days of frustration, hop on over to my post “Top Three Tips for Laying Landscape Fabric.” 

It is amazing how long it takes to write each post with two rascally kids climbing all over me. However, I do my best to include details (even if it means admitting how much I failed at the beginning). If you can, I would really appreciate it if you left a comment below. It makes me happy to know someone is out there and it gives my website a boost. Happy gardening!