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).
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!
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):
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:
Queen Anne’s Lace
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 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I source my bulbs from Fred Gloeckner thanks to my re-sale tax number. I highly recommend going through the process to register your business to get the wholesale discounts as soon as possible.
Prep the Soil:
Before my tulips arrive, I make sure my soil is prepped. This means double digging or tilling my rows. I add about 3 inches of fine compost PLUS a dry organic fertilizer. I follow the Floret Flower recommendation and use Nature’s Intent (7-2-4) mix.
“We…sprinkle a generous dusting of a high quality organic fertilizer at a rate of 1.5 lbs/10 linear feet (or) 10.5 lbs per 70 foot long row….which is made from natural ingredients including bone meal, cottonseed meal, feather meal, kelp meal and rock powders.” (Erin at Floret Flower)
That dry organic fertilizer will feed your bulbs all winter.
Once the bed is prepped, it is time to plant!
Plant the Tulips:
If you are wanting tulips for the landscape, you generally plant a few bulbs together in clumps for splashes of color.
When you plant for a cutting garden or for flower production, you typically dig a trench in one long row. I plant in 4 ft by 30 ft rows.
I start by digging a 6 inch trench down my row.
Then I place the bulbs (pointy side up) in my trench like eggs in a carton. This will encourage the stems to stretch towards the sun resulting in taller stems.
Now, Floret Farm proceeds to water their tulips before covering them again. However, I am working in very different soil. My soil is clay, meaning it hold onto the water.
I chose to forego the watering process because I didn’t want my bulbs to rot. At this moment, my bulbs are enjoying a nice slow drink thanks to the foot of snow that fell, so i have no worries about them getting enough water this winter.
Come spring, I will start watering the tulips regularly.
When it is time to harvest your tulips, you will harvest in the “colored bud stage.” They are not fully open, but are showing color.
You can either pull the whole bulb out (the bulb continues to feed the bloom for a longer shelf life until sold) OR you can leave two sets of leaves on the stem (which will continue to store nutrients for perennializing the bulbs).
I have done some reading on perennializing the bulbs or multiplying them and it sounds tricky. Often the bulbs rot, are eaten or have less appealing blooms the following year.
Flower Farmers typically re-plant new bulbs every year to get the best blooms for cut flower production.
However, I am really hoping to become self-sustaining and learn how to produce my own tulip bulbs someday.
Vase Life of Tulips:
Tulips are known to last a little over a week. Funny enough, they also tend to KEEP GROWING taller after being cut. How cool is that?
Tulip stems also have a tendency to curve post harvest so keeping them straight for the first few hours is important.
If you have additional questions, let me know in the comments. I am happy to help.
Want to triple your harvest of cut flowers? Then you need to learn the art of pinching.
Pinching is nicer way of saying “hack off the top of your healthy young plants.” Basically, you wait until your young plants are 8-12 inches tall then cut them down by 3-4 inches.
I didn’t want to do it either. You know how long I waited to get my plants that tall?!
Here are THREE reasons to pinch young plants:
Pinching encourages branching. So instead of that single snapdragon stem, your plant will make 3-4 usable stems.
Pinching encourages taller stems for cutting. Taller stems are better for floral design work.
Pinching increases the amount of usable stems. This relates to plants that get really beefy stems that are too thick to use in floral design arrangements. Pinching those monsters (think dahlias) will result in more stems that are ALSO a more reasonable thickness.
Even with all those reasons to pinch, I was still scared to do it. It feels very counter-intuitive to behead your young healthy plant babies.
However, I forced myself to do it on at least half my snapdragons to observe the results for myself.
My non-pinched snaps bloomed weeks sooner than the pinched stems, but my pinched plants have triple the amount of stems per plant.
Do note that you do NOT want to pinch a single stem blooming plant like your typical sunflower or stock.
Reserve pinching for branching varieties such as; snapdragons, dahlias, sweet peas, zinnias etc.
Erinn from Floret Farm has an awesome free video tutorial that shows how to pinch some of the common cut flower garden varieties. Check it out here.
As always, thanks for stopping by my little website. I spend days putting together posts that will help you have an abundant cutting garden or farm of your own. I am usually being crawled all over by my two rascally kids as I write and edit my posts. I’m also usually keeping said kids from eating dirt while I get some photos of the grow space. You can probably relate to the struggle! If you found this post useful, please comment below. It is encouraging to hear from you and it gives my website a boost on the Google search engines! I hope you will follow along on Instagram where I bear my soul on all the struggles and successes related to growing cut flowers. Happy Flower Farming!
Your locally grown cut flowers are a little different in the vase than your grocery store bouquets.
They are not bred for shipping across seas. This means your local blooms will smell wonderful and last longer….IF you treat them like locally grown flowers.
What?! I demand flowers with minimal effort! I know, but unfortunately this is reality. And in reality, flowers are living things that need food, water and some TLC.
Here are 5 Vase Life Hacks for your Locally Grown Flowers:
Keep the water clean enough: How clean you ask? If you wouldn’t drink out of the vase yourself, then don’t let your flowers! Why? Flowers are drinking that water up the stems and the tiniest debris can clog the stem. Think of it like a tiny coffee straw, but smaller. Wash your vases and buckets (if you are harvesting) before every use. Then check your vase regularly to be sure it stays that clean and FULL. Fun fact: Overseas blooms are bred to drink less water so they survive shipping. Your local blooms will drink a LOT more water and you will need to keep an eye on it.
Give your flowers a haircut and condition: If you just bought local flowers, then recut the bottom inch or two of the stem and strip any leaves off that will sit below the water line. Flowers will benefit from having the bottom 2/3 of their stem leaf free. It will allow the plant to focus more energy on keeping that bloom healthy and hydrated. Don’t play with your flowers until you condition them! Put them in a cool, clean vase of water (with flower food) out of direct sunlight for a few hours first. They have been through a lot and need time to bounce back before you start arranging them and moving them around. Mess with your flowers before they get enough TLC and you will notice blooms and leaves falling off.
Feed them: I wondered if feeding flowers those little packets was really necessary. Does it really help? Yes. Yes it does. This thrifty gal now uses flower food religiously. Your plants cannot survive on water alone. They used to be rooted into the richest of soil that provided a constant supply of nutrients. They are now on a major diet that is limited to flower food packets. Feed your flowers and you will lengthen their vase life PLUS the flower food packets keep the water clean! Without the flower food, you will be changing the water every day to keep it clean enough. Dirty water = bacteria. Bacteria = dead flowers. I ask nicely for a flower food packet while grocery shopping and the kind employees always give me a handful. You can also buy them in bulk on Amazon.
Don’t roast your flowers: This should be a duh, but unfortunately, it needs to be said. Don’t leave your flowers in a hot car (or hot window). Crank that AC up and place your flowers out of direct sunlight for the ride home. If your blooms do wilt, don’t give up! I have had blooms look totally limp that I brought back to vitality. Recut the stem an inch or two, place in boiling water for a few seconds and then place in cool water with flower food for a few hours. Its like magic watching a limp “dead” flower rehydrate into a beautiful straight stem. “Have you ever made anything happen? Anything you couldn’t explain when you were angry or scared?” #potterhead
Harvest with good habits: If you are harvesting from your own garden, do so during the coolest part of the day (early morning or late evening). Flowers cut in the hot part of the day will wilt. Also learn when the best harvestable stage is for each flower variety. Some blooms stop dead in their tracks once cut, while others continue to open. Harvest with a clean bucket of water on hand if you will be out for a long time. Some flowers even need the ends seared in boiling water before they are set in cool water to condition. Other flowers like Daffodils leak a sap that is poisonous to other flowers and will need to rest for a few hours before mixing with other varieties. And still other flowers with woody stems (like lilacs) need a vertical cut up the stem post harvest. Learn a little more about your flowers and their individual quirks so you can set them up for success in the vase. Always harvest with clean, sharp shears so you don’t blunt their stems (making it harder for them to drink up water and flower food). As you harvest, clean 2/3 of the leaves off the stem. This will save the flower the effort of keeping all those leaves hydrated and instead it can focus more energy on the bloom. After harvest, bring them inside and let them rest in a cool place outside of direct sunlight before you play with them. It is also a good idea to boost them with some flower food after the trauma of being cut.
As always, each post is a labor of love and the result of hours, sometimes days, of work. I would love it if you commented below. I like hearing from you (and knowing someone is out there), plus it boosts my website in the Google servers. Happy Flower Farming!
Besides being good for the bees, did you know flowers are good for your your mental health too?
Some months ago, a friend posted a picture of flowers she recieved anonymously with the caption, “Every time I walk in the kitchen, I remember someone loves me.”
I think of that story whenever someone says flowers are not worth the money “because they die.”
It is my beleif that giving a little kindness to yourself and/or others is never a waste. Keep reading to find out why.
Here are 5 Mental Health Benefits of Flowers:
Flowers ease recovery of hospital patients: Research shows that patients recovering in the hospital benefit from fresh flowers in their room. Patients were less likely to need additional pain medication, they also had less anxiety and feelings of fatigue. The same study also noted better blood pressure readings and heart rates thanks to the bedside blooms.
Flowers have a long-lasting impact on happiness: “One study reported that 80% of people who received flowers had a positive change to their mood that lasted for days.” So not only, are you making someone’s day by giving them flowers, you are making their whole week. And yes, the flowers will fade, but the memory will last forever. That doesn’t mean you have to wait to receive flowers to enjoy the benefits of improved mood. Another “study showed that when frequently exposed to flowers, people reported lower levels of depression and anxiety and lower stress levels, with higher enjoyment levels and a stronger sense of life satisfaction.” (Source FlowerFox.com)
Flowers in the home reduce depression and anxiety: Want those good moods to stick around? A Harvard study revealed that flowers feed compassion and chase away anxiety and worries. “The research participants lived with fresh flowers for just a few days and reported increases in feelings of compassion and kindness for others. Overall, people simply felt less negative after being around flowers.” (Society of American Florists) Psychologists also noted that “flower moods” are contagious. Basically, the lucky people that have fresh flowers, spread the good vibes around. They are more compassionate and considerate to others.
Flowers get the creative juices flowing: Green work spaces that have plants or flowers are known to reduce stress levels and in one study increased creative ideas by 30%. Another study, concluded that green spaces in the workplace resulted in more good ideas, innovative thinking and better problem-solving abilities.
Flowers make the giver happy too: This comes as no surprise to me. Studies show that those that those that give flowers are happier. You send a bouquet to brighten someones day and you brighten your own! That’s what I call a win-win situation.
The next time you contemplate getting yourself or a loved one some blooms, just do it!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!