Market Research into local cut flowers

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Market Research into local cut flowers

Postby diggernotdreamer » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:55 pm

I am hoping to get a litle business off the ground soon. I don't expect to make a fortune at it, but it will help the space in my head a bit and maybe give me a bit more structure.

I want to get into cut flowers and woody cut stems, I have some ideas of things I would like to grow. I once gave a bunch of my cottage garden flowers to an American friend and she thought they were lovely and unusual. So my question is this, what kind of flowers and foliage would you like to be given in a bunch that aren't your usual kind, and can be grown in the UK and Ireland climate and if someone gave you a bunch of cottagey kind of flowers would you be a bit disappointed not to have something a bit more exotic.

Would really appreciate your input, thanks very much from Lyn
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Re: Market Research into local cut flowers

Postby marshlander » Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:28 pm

I love being given any flowers and often take bunches from the garden to friends. I've cut flowers from the garden, roses, alchemilla mollis, cosmos, cornflowers, dahlias, sweet peas etc all my life and grow paperwhites and hyacinths for Christmas. A couple of years ago Sarah Raven’s Grow Your Own Cut Flowers inspired me to grow more so I plant extra tulips to cut and quite a lot more thinking about it. Oh yes, I also cut peonies. I always send my mother Cornish anemones, daffs and garden flowers in season.

I would love to make a little business too but have a shortage of 'round tuits' plu I think my visitors are used to free flowers now! :lol:

This year I grew ammi visagna and orlaya grandiflora for the first time though a big jug full of cow parsley looks just as pretty. I've also been growing more and more lavender and pinks. I'm picking single Chrysanths right now and they'll be flowering 'til Christmas.

I've made some mistakes, rather too many probably including growing lots of mixed lilies. I bought mixed as the bulbs were less expensive than specific colours but they all came up bright orange, not my favorite. Ironically they come up year after year - I should harden my heart and dig them up.

Do you know how to properly condition cut flowers? Do you have a flair for colour combination and arranging?

There is definitely a niche market, I've met Rachel Petherham several times and she has a successful business http://catkinflowers.co.uk/index.html specializing in weddings. This must grow as people become aware of environmental concerns and 'natural' is fashionable of course.

Getting customers to accept they won't get the vase life from garden flowers as they do from the ubiquitous supermarket xanths may be a problem. When I was a florist (try de-thorning 2000 red roses for Valentines day :pale: ) some customers would ask for xanths and carnations because they last well.

Back to the plot, I would be thrilled with early violets or forced lily of the valley both of which my grandfather used to grow for my Grandmother.
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Re: Market Research into local cut flowers

Postby berry » Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:11 am

i always add the feathery fronds of ferns to my cut garden flowers. they grow so easily in shady parts and really are striking with some flowers but not for everyone :(

you can get day even just a few week beginners florist courses really cheap too which will help with eye for colour etc yes the focus will be on imported flowers but can be applied to uk grown.

for me, i grow a lot of flowers for the house. i love the mix of bluebells and ladys smock in early spring. bluebells do last a good 10 days for me. ladys smock lasts barely 3-4 days. i pot up hyacinths around dec for early indoor flowers. gladioli and sunflowers in summer. i even cut sweetpeas to go in vases indoors. getting the public to accept this, try it will be hard but not impossible.
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Re: Market Research into local cut flowers

Postby diggernotdreamer » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:14 pm

Thanks for the suggestions. Marshlander, I am no florist, but I can grow things quite well. If I pick flowers I usually arrange them and I think they look pretty, a florist would probably think not. I was planning on going to the local florist to see it I could sell the cut stems and flowers to them. I bought a book called The Flower Farmer which was very interesting, and deals with how to deal with the blooms when they are cut and keeping them chilled, but any advice would be gratefully received. I have been meaning to buy Sarah Ravens book, it is useful to have lots of different ideas. If it takes off, I may get a tunnel for cut flower production but for now some can grow in the tunnels I have. My sweetpeas grow 10 feet tall, I picked bunches of not just single stems but whole branches and gave them away, this year, they did look lovely with the leaves and tendrils attached, not sure if that is right for the commerical flower market though. We have lichens growing here on the trees and when I used some in christmas table centres lots of the locals asked me what they were and where I got them, so using wild carrot and angelica, ferns may not be out of the question, don't think some people notice what grows wild around them.
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Re: Market Research into local cut flowers

Postby cideristhefuture » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:56 pm

What I like...

Sweet peas, never see them in shops....

Also Delphinium Pacific Giant, esp blue/ purple never see them being sold. they look fab in a big vase.

and, dinner plate dahliahs.
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Re: Market Research into local cut flowers

Postby Skippy » Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:02 pm

I'm not a florist and don't really know much about flowers, indeed on those rare occasions I bring flowers for my wife she normally says "who's garden have they come from?" or "off the building site then?"
That said I don't think you can go wrong with roses especially red ones, thinking romance and all that. Other than that from a commercial point of view I'd be thinking of growing in greenhouses so that you can offer flowers "out of season" so to speak, you know bright flowers on a dismally dull winters day. You'd need to look at wheather it could be finacially viable .


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Re: Market Research into local cut flowers

Postby GeorgeSalt » Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:23 pm

cideristhefuture wrote:Sweet peas, never see them in shops....

They don't last long enough for picking, transport and then the shop.

Skippy wrote:I'm not a florist and don't really know much about flowers, indeed on those rare occasions I bring flowers for my wife she normally says "who's garden have they come from?" or "off the building site then?"


If she only knew.. ..

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Re: Market Research into local cut flowers

Postby Skippy » Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:24 pm

GeorgeSalt wrote:
Skippy wrote:I'm not a florist and don't really know much about flowers, indeed on those rare occasions I bring flowers for my wife she normally says "who's garden have they come from?" or "off the building site then?"


If she only knew.. ..



She does , nothing much gets past her


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Re: Market Research into local cut flowers

Postby Mustardseedmama » Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:30 pm

When I arrange flowers from my beds for indoors I like to fill in with the beautiful feathery stuff from the tops of my Sweeties' asparagus...not too much of course or I'd hear it!
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Re: Market Research into local cut flowers

Postby sleepyowl » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:59 pm

Peonies, my other half bought me some when I was having a bad day & it cheered me up somewhat, you don't see them in the shops much but there is a florist who sells seasonal flowers in a booth in Moor Street Station & he does do unusual things. The peonies were a beautiful deep red & the scent was amazing (somewhere between a damasc rose & a honey smell)
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Re: Market Research into local cut flowers

Postby diggernotdreamer » Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:44 pm

Your partner must love you, peonies must have cost a fortune. Hadn't acutally thought of them, but something for the future, I guess you wouldn't get that many blooms per plant but a couple in a posy would be gorgeous, who was it called them the blousey old tarts of the border. There are lots of lovely ideas here, thanks.
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Re: Market Research into local cut flowers

Postby oldjerry » Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:06 pm

Thought I'd wait a bit and see what everyone suggested ,think there's some good'uns but here's a couple more(dad and I have grown most of these for a cash crop): Alstromeria(bit tender,but great seller)

Agapanthus(ditto,but VERY lucrative,and perrenial)
Nigella (easy from seed,good summer stuff)
Cornflowers(ditto)
Sunflowers

Galliardia (as above but perrenial)


Helianthemum (ditto)

Last ,but not least,think nosegay: so ,Violets,Primrose,Snowdrop,Myosotis etc.etc.

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Re: Market Research into local cut flowers

Postby GeorgeSalt » Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:06 pm

diggernotdreamer wrote:Would really appreciate your input, thanks very much from Lyn


Do you plan on selling them to the public yourself? Or do you plan on selling wholesale to local florists? - they'll have different expectations.

The personalised wedding market is probably very lucrative with the "grown just for your special day" appeal, but an insurance or contingency plan may be a necessity.
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Re: Market Research into local cut flowers

Postby diggernotdreamer » Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:23 pm

GeorgeSalt wrote:
diggernotdreamer wrote:Would really appreciate your input, thanks very much from Lyn


Do you plan on selling them to the public yourself? Or do you plan on selling wholesale to local florists? - they'll have different expectations.

The personalised wedding market is probably very lucrative with the "grown just for your special day" appeal, but an insurance or contingency plan may be a necessity.


My thoughts are that I will go to the local florist and sound her out, see what she would expect and if I would have to prepare the flowers in a certain way or just pick them and take them as they are. I am a bit scared of Bridezilla's, I think I prefer to not be tied down to certain flowers or colours, this year all the perennials were 4 weeks later than normal. We have a local shop that might take bunches, I always take some into my local hairdresser and the post office, for the counters,and everyone thinks they are lovely, people here don't do gardening, if they grow anything it would be hydrangeas or daffs, it's really only the English blow ins that do flowers,so they are a bit of a novelty.

I like the idea of agapanthus, they grow very well here, lots of good ideas there OJ, , thanks for the suggestions.
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Re: Market Research into local cut flowers

Postby seasidegirl » Sat Nov 24, 2012 8:34 am

I've got experience of cut flower growing (and selling) and am writing a book about it. Well very slowly unfortunately but it's on the way. Years ago I had a small flower stall and then when I went into growing sold flowers to florists and direct to customers at markets and school fetes, and wherever I could.

My advice would be to firstly establish which will grow well where you are and therefore give yourself the best chance to grow quality. I personally wouldn't recommend that you ask florists in advance because most likely they will expect your stems to be very amateurish and say no. It's better to just go along when you've got something good to show them.

Hardy annuals are very cheap to produce so worth a go. Blue cornflowers are popular and also sweet pea. People know they don't last long but will buy SP for the scent. If they are grown well and conditioned well they will last longer than any that people have cut from their garden. Timing is everything and also the fact that yours are cut often means they haven't been on the plant too long.

I think one of the hardest things is getting a succession of flowers and also enough of one plant (ready to cut) to make up a number of bunches.

I steer clear of weddings usually. Extremely difficult to plan for a specific colour flower to be ready on a specific day if you're growing on a small scale. Much easier, and safer in my opinion, to offer to whoever, what you have available at any time.
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