ACS Distance Education UK
Cut flowers and/or foliage can be a very profitable mainstream crop; or equally valuable "sideline" cash crop. If you are to make a profit from cut flowers or foliage, the critical considerations are what to grow, producing quality blooms, and how to market your produce.
Many common cut flowers (eg. bulbs, perennials and annuals) are quick cash crops, which require a great deal of attention, but can produce a return within 2-6 months of planting. Plants in this category, such as gladioli, carnations or chrysanthemums, might be grown in paddocks, or some (e.g. carnations) grown as a hydroponic crop.
Other cut flowers and foliage plants are woody, and can take several years before they are producing good crops (eg. Thryptomene, Proteas, Banksias, Dryandras, Roses, or Geraldton Wax). While many cut flower farms devote paddocks solely to such woody crops; there is also potential for them to be integrated with other enterprises, for example, when the principle crop is not in production (e.g. dormant bulbs) a farmer could also utilise the land by grazing cattle or other grazing animals to make use of any pasture species present.
These flowers can be picked & sold in a farm shop, or sold as a "bonus" cash crop to a local florist, or if production is large enough to a wholesaler.
Mainstream cut flower production can require long hours (often more hours than many other horticultural crops), and need precise cultural procedures. Competition is strong both domestically and internationally with the priority on top quality blooms having uniformity and being free from blemishes. New colours and varieties in many cases can offer an advantage over other growers.
Farmers interested in further investigating this area for potential diversification, can contact a variety of associations and organisations (e.g. agricultural departments, cutflower growers groups) for more detailed information (see the directory at the rear of this book).
Some of the popular flower or foliage crops grown include: