Cut Flower Production

Course CodeBHT221
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Cut Flower Production - Join a Dynamic and Expanding Industry

ACS student comment:  I am enjoying my course and it has given me an understanding of what I need to do once I have completed my course.  I find the course to a valuable learning experience. I am able to do it in my own time (I have young children) and the learning is interesting.  Melanie Sumpter, Australia - Cut Flower Production course.

Everybody loves flowers

This course provides a thorough basic training for the commercial cut flower grower. This is a diverse industry with potential in virtually every corner of the world.  Cut flower growing involves many considerations that require unique knowledge and skills such as:

  • How to initiate flowering out of season
  • How to ensure blemish free product for optimum prices
  • Harvest and post harvest treatments to increase shelf life
  • Crop selection in the light of changing fashions and supply/demand fluctuations

Cut flower growing has experienced rapid expansion in recent decades, resulting in increased demand for training in the skills and knowledge required by this industry in increasingly affluent countries.

Learn how to grow cut flowers: Correspondence Course studies: self paced distance eduction. 

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Cut Flower Production
    • Scope and Nature of the Flower Industry
    • International Flower Market
    • Succeeding in the Trade
    • Flower Structure
    • Development of a Flower
    • Introduction to Hydroponic Culture
    • Understanding plant growth … roots, stems, flowers, leaves
    • Types of flowers; perennials, bulbs.
    • Review of Flower Crops; Alstroemeria, Antirrhinum, Amaryllis, Anigozanthus, Aster Carnation, Chrysanthemum, Dahlia, Freesia, Gerbera, Gladiolus, Iris, Narcissus, Orchids, Rose, Stock and others.
  2. Soils and Nutrition
    • Soil composition
    • Soil texture
    • Soil structure
    • Colloids
    • Peds
    • Characteristics of clay, sand and loam soils
    • Naming the Soil
    • Improving Soil Structure
    • Improving fertility
    • Benefits of adding organic matter to soils
    • Soil life; earthworms, mycorrhiza, nitrogen fixing, etc.
    • Soil Water
    • Understanding dynamics of water loss
    • Improving soil water retention
    • Types of soil water (Hygroscopic, Gravitational)
    • Soil analysis
    • Plant tissue analysis for soil management
    • Measuring pH
    • Other soil testing (testing salinity, colorimetry, etc)
    • Measuring Water availability to plants
    • Soil Degradation and rehabilitation (Erosion, Salinity, Acidification, etc)
    • Soil Chemical Characteristics
    • Nutrient availability and pH
    • The nutrient elements; major, minor, total salts
    • Diagnosing nutritional problems
    • Fertilisers (types, application, etc)
    • Natural Fertilisers
    • Fertiliser Selection
    • Composting methods
    • Soil mixes and potting media
  3. Cultural Practices
    • Site selection
    • Production
    • Cultivation techniques
    • Using cover crops
    • Green manure cover crops
    • Nitrogen Fixation in legumes
    • Crop rotation
    • Planting procedure
    • Staking
    • Bare rooted plants
    • Time of planting
    • Mulching
    • Frost protection
    • Managing sun
    • Managing animal pests; birds, etc.
    • Pruning
    • Water management and Irrigation
    • When to irrigate
    • Period of watering; cyclic watering, pulse watering, etc
    • Sprinkler irrigation
    • Trickle irrigation
    • Sprinkler systems; portable, permanent, semi permanent, travelling
    • Types of sprinkler heads
    • Sprinkler spacings
    • Selecting surface irrigation methods
    • Weed control
    • Preventative weed management
    • Hand weeding
    • Mechanical weeding
    • Chemical weed control
    • Classification of weedicides
    • Natural Weed Control Methods
    • Review of common weeds
  4. Flower Initiation and Development
    • How flowers Age
    • Managing flower longevity
    • Effects of Carbon Dioxide
    • Getting plants to flower out of season
    • Types of flower response to temperature
    • Ways to cause controlled flowering
    • Narcissus flower management
    • Managing Azalea flowering
    • Seed sources
    • Hydroponics for controlled growth
  5. Pest and Disease Control
    • Integrated Pest Management
    • Chemical Methods of Pest Control
    • Chemical labels
    • Non Chemical methods of pest control
    • Pest and Disease Identification and Management on flower crops
    • Anthracnose
    • Blight
    • Canker
    • Damping off
    • Galls
    • Leaf Spot
    • Mildew
    • Rots
    • Rust
    • Smut
    • Sooty Mould
    • Virus
    • Wilt
    • Caterpillars
    • Leafhoppers
    • Mealy Bugs
    • Millipedes
    • Mites
    • Nematodes
    • Scale
    • Slugs or Snails
    • Thrip
    • Whitefly
    • Viruses,
    • Others
    • Environmental Problems
  6. Australian Natives and Related Plants
    • Proteaceae Plants (Aulax, Banksia, Dryandra, Grevillea, Hakea, Isopogon, Leucadendron, Leucospermum, Macadamia, Mimetes, Persoonia Protea, Serruria and Telopea.)
    • Culture of Proteaceae cut flowers
    • Proteaceae propagation
    • Anigozanthus
    • Other Australian Cut Flowers
  7. Greenhouse Culture
    • The greenhouse business
    • Greenhouse system
    • Components of a greenhouse
    • What can be grown in a greenhouse?
    • Siting greenhouses
    • Types of greenhouses
    • Shade houses
    • Cold frames
    • Heated propagators
    • Framing and cover materials
    • Thermal screens
    • Wind breaks
    • Benches and beds
    • Environmental control; Temperature, moisture, irrigation, shading -both natural and with blinds/curtains, light-including supplemented light if needed, ventilation, levels of CO2, mist/fogging
    • Photosynthesis
    • Plants that respond to Carbon dioxide
    • Day length manipulation
    • Lighting and heating equipment
    • Horticultural management within the greenhouse
  8. Harvest and Post Harvest
    • Harvesting
    • Flower deterioration
    • Post harvest
    • Shelf life
    • Major factors that affect shelf life
    • Post harvest treatments
    • Other treatments
    • Grading standards
    • Conditioning flowers for market
    • Harvesting and grading carnations
    • Harvest and post harvest of selected orchids; Bud opening, transport, storing flowers
    • Cost Efficiency Standards
    • Quality Standards
    • Quantity Standards
    • Judging flowers
  9. Developing a Production Plan
    • Managing a cut flower farm
    • Deciding what to grow
    • Production plans
    • Decisions that need to be made
    • Farm layout
    • Design of a store
  10. Export Marketing
    • International flower marketing system
    • Aspects of export
    • Flower Exporting case study
    • Understanding marketing your produce
    • Consider your markets
    • Market research
    • What to research
    • How to sell successfully


  • Explain the physiological processes which affect flower development in plants.
  • Identify plant varieties suitable for commercial cut flower production.
  • Evaluate the suitability of different plants as cut flower crops.
  • Determine soil and nutrition requirements for cut flower growing.
  • Determine the cultural requirements for commercial production of a cut flower crop.
  • Determine harvest and post-harvest management practices for cut flower crops.
  • Develop a production plan for a cut flower crop.
  • Determine export market opportunities for cut flowers.

What You Will Do

  • Describe the botanical mechanisms involved in the process of flower initiation for different plant genera.
  • Explain the effect of carbon dioxide enrichment on flowering for a specified plant species.
  • Determine the factors causing aging of flowers in different genera of commercially grown cut flowers.
  • Compare three different treatments to preserve cut flowers after harvest, including: *Glycerine *Drying *Pressing.
  • Determine procedures to produce cut flowers out of season for different cut flower species.
  • Compile a resource file of different sources of information regarding commercial cut flower varieties, including: *Publications *Suppliers of seed and/or planting stock *Industry associations *Relevant government contacts.
  • Describe herbaceous perennials suitable to cut flower growing in a specific locality.
  • Describe annuals and biennials suitable to flower growing in a specific locality.
  • Describe bulbs, corms, rhizomes or tubers suitable for cut flower growing in a specific locality.
  • Describe plant varieties commonly used as fillers in the floristry trade.
  • Differentiate between twenty different plant varieties suitable as cut flowers, including: *Family, genus, species & variety name (if applicable) *a description of the physical characteristics of the plant *a flower description, flowering season and length of flowering.
  • Develop criteria for the selection of plant varieties to be grown as cut flower crops on a specified property.
  • Determine Australian native plants with potential as a cut flower crop in a specific locality.
  • Determine different exotic plants with potential as cut flower crops in a specific locality.
  • Explain the success of specified Australian plant varieties as cut flowers.
  • Describe different plant varieties suited to grow as cut flowers, including; Family, genus, species & variety name (if applicable) a description of the physical characteristics of the plant *flower description, flowering season and length of flowering.
  • Analyse the commercial viability of different cut flower crops being produced in a specified situation.
  • Perform simple tests on different soils to determine: *Soil type *pH *Drainage *Water holding capacity.
  • Compare the performance of a specified variety of cut flower in different soil types.
  • Determine appropriate cut flower crops to grow in different types of soils from your region.
  • Recommend soil preparation techniques for a specific site, for a specified cut flower crop.
  • Compare the suitability of different types of fertilisers for use with different cut flowers.
  • Analyse the nutritional management being practiced by different growers, on specified cut flower crops.
  • Identify nutrient disorders on different cut flowers.
  • Explain the results of a plant tissue analysis to provide fertilizing recommendations.
  • Compare plant establishment techniques for five different cut flowers, including planting and staking.
  • Explain the applications for different types of irrigation system, for cut flower production, on sites you visit.
  • Differentiate between greenhouse and open field growing of a specified cut flower crop, grown in a specific locality.
  • Develop guidelines for the pruning of different flower crops.
  • Determine common pest and disease problems, on specified cut flower crops, in your locality.
  • Prepare pest and disease management plans, for a twelve month period (or the life of crop), for different cut flower crops.
  • Compare commercially available propagation methods for different species of cut flowers.
  • Evaluate the use of ground and tap water for use on a specific cut flower crop.
  • Develop an integrated pest management program for a specific cut flower crop.
  • Describe common harvesting techniques for cut flowers.
  • Compare alternative post-harvest storage facilities for cut flowers.
  • Explain the commercial grading procedures for different types of cut flowers.
  • Determine the quality of five different cut flowers inspected by the learner, using a standard judging system.
  • Describe methods to extend cut flower life during storage and transport.
  • Evaluate the market value of different specified cut flower crops.
  • Determine cut flower crops with under developed commercial potential in the learner's locality.
  • Describe appropriate post-harvest techniques for a selected flower crop.
  • Determine factors which effect the marketability of a selected flower crop.
  • Describe appropriate marketing methods for a selected flower crop.
  • Prepare a management plan, including: *materials and equipment lists *schedules of crop husbandry tasks *estimates of production costs *marketing strategies *contingency plans, for three selected flower crops.
  • Describe the production requirements for exporting cut flowers to a specified country.
  • Describe the market requirements for cut flower exporting to a specific country.
  • Analyse the current export market for Australian cut flowers, including; *quantities and types of flowers being exported *where cut flowers are being exported to *prices growers are obtaining *trends in the market.

Learn to Grow Flowers for Special Days

....and other days too

Weddings, Christmas, Mothers Day, St Valentines Day and the like can be book times for the flower industry. If you know what to grow and how to grow it; those are the exceptional times - but people do still buy flowers all year round too.

St Valentines day is the one day in the year when you’d better not get it wrong. Giving your partner a “death lily” is not going to achieve the same result as a bunch of 12 long-stemmed red roses. Similarly, you will score a lot more points if you give your partner a flower that survives beyond the next day.

So then, what do different flowers mean, and what flowers are going to remain healthy and be admired for a long time after they are given?


  • Bluebell - constancy
  • Forget-me-not – true love
  • Honeysuckle – devoted affection
  • Jasmine – amiability
  • Lily - purity
  • Lily-of-the-valley – return of happiness
  • Nasturtium – patriotism
  • Poppy - consolation
  • Rose – pure love
  • Snowdrop - hope
  • Violet – modesty
  • Wallflower - fidelity
  • Zinnia – thoughts of absent friends


This depends not only on the variety, but also the stage at which they are picked, how old they are when you buy them and how they are cared for.

  • Orchids will often last for quite a while (some Cymbidiums have been known to last up to a month or more).
  • A potted plant (eg. African violet, gloxinia), or a flowering rose in a pot wil last longer than a cut flower. If you give something like this you might attach a romantic note like “I wanted to give you something that would go on forever, like our love” … then explain how to care for it. (Your plant supplier should be able to advise you.)
  • Some tropical flowers like Globba gingers are known to last anywhere from one month to three months as a cut flower in water. Flower recipients are surprised to find roots have been produced in their vases after this period of time.
  • Proteaceae related flowers like Banksia, Protea and Leucodendron can last a couple of weeks.
  • ‘Green Goddess’ lily (Zantedeschia) and Oriental lily are known to last very well up to 14 days in water.
  • Anthuriums with their plastic looking flowers are favoured by florists for their colour and lasting ability.
  • Statice lasts very long in bouquets and can be used in dried floral displays after all the others have died.

What to look for:

  • Avoid flowers if the leaves are wilting or petals are dropping
  • The plant tissue (stems, flowers & foliage) should be turgid (ie. firm).
  • Avoid buying flowers that are starting to droop, or the foliage doesn’t have any resilience (spring) in it if you lightly squeeze it
  • The base of stems should not be rotting or showing signs of discolouring
  • Flowers that are completely open when you buy them will not last nearly as long as flowers just starting to open. Most buds should be starting to show colour, although a few closed buds are OK because this means you will have flowers for a longer period.

Tips for Buyers

  • Avoid buying flowers that have been left outside on display, especially if left in full sun. Check to see if they have more of the same plant inside in a more protected position.
  • Buying early in the morning will usually get you fresher flowers, but make sure you keep them in a cool, protected position if you are holding on to them before giving them to your “special person”.
  • Make sure you give yourself enough time to buy the flowers you want, in case your local suppliers run out.

How to Care for Cut Flowers

If you can’t put the flowers in a vase straight away, put them in a bucket filled with deep, cool water. They can also be stored for a short time in a cool room, or the lower part of a domestic refrigerator. Before arranging the flowers in the vase, recut the stems to the required length on a slant, using a sharp knife or secateurs. Make sure the vase doesn’t receive direct hot sun and remember to change the water every few days (sooner with daisies because they may produce an unpleasant smell).

Various additives can be placed in the water to prolong the life of cut flowers. Some people use sugar or aspirins. Chemical preparations are also available, such as Chrysal. These are often supplied by your florist when you buy flowers from them, or you can usually obtain some from them for a small price.

You can also make your flowers last longer by treating the stems. Different methods are used for different plants, and are based on the type of stem - soft, hard, woody or hollow. Some examples are:

  • Aster – Remove the lower leaves and make a slit in the ends of stems and place in deep water for one hour.
  • Carnation – Stand stems in deep water and then dip flowers in water for a few minutes.
  • Chrysanthemum – Crush the lower stems up to 8 cm then stand in deep water for 2 hours. • Dahlia – Scald the ends of stems in hot water for 30 seconds then stand in deep water for 1-2 hours.
  • Daisy – Scald the ends of stems.
  • Lilies – Cut the stems at an angle and stand in deep water for one hour.
  • Poppy – Scald the stems then stand in deep water for 30 minutes.
  • Rose – Scrape the ends of stems for 2-3 cm and then split them.
  • Wallflower – Split the ends of stems then crush lightly. Scald the ends with hot water for 30 seconds then stand in deep water for 30 minutes.

What About Flowers for Men?

Traditionally, flowers have been given by men to their wives, girlfriends or partners. In these enlightened (hopefully) times, it is more common now for girls to buy flowers for their men. The meaning of flowers given above tends to be more appropriate to women, whereas men see flowers more from an aesthetic perspective and an emotional connection between the giver and receiver without the various interpretations.
For most males, acceptable flowers to give them include:

  • A carnation for the lapel
  • A plant for the garden (for a garden lover), with a note attached saying “something to grow along with our love”
  • Proteas, banksias, waratahs and other native flowers.
  • A colourful indoor plant for their house or flat, or perhaps a plant in flower to remind them of you to go on an office desk.
  • Anthuriums (naughty and suggestive!)
  • Bold tropical flowers like heliconias and gingers
  • Roses – yes men appreciate roses too!


How Can This Course Help Me?

This course is designed to be of benefit to people who are interested in learning how to grow flowers for the floristry industry or related industries. This course may also help with running or improving an existing cut flower growing business.

Take this course if you would like to:

  • Grow flowers on a small scale for home use or as a self-employed florist.   
  • Successfully operate an existing cut flower business.
  • Find ways to improve an existing cut flower business. Enhance your employability in the cut flower industry.

Graduates of the Cut Flower Production course follow a range of opportunities - some undertake this course to gain a foothold in this industry and go on to work within it. Others already working in the industry use this course to further their career opportunities. Some also start off small businesses supplying niche markets or run a 'farm gate' direct to buyer business. Others sell flowers at farmers' markets. Whatever your aspirations this course will help you gain skills and knowledge to be a success in this field.

This course may be studied by itself or along with other 100-hour modules as part of a self-designed proficiency award, certificate or higher level qualification.

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