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Trying cuts at market again for 2010

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

Did any of you do cuts at market this year? Cuts have done very poorly at our market for 2-3 yrs so I haven't done any but this last year other vendors seem to be seeing sale s pick up again...not greatly but on a small scale.

If you did..what were your best sellers Brain type celosia(huge single stems) ,zinnas(bundles of apx a dz.) and sunflowers(single stems to bundles of 3-5 but single most popular) seem to be winners this passed season.

Peggy

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

Guess no one does market or cuts

Marquette, MI(Zone 5a)

We had an unusually cool Summer, so my sales were down. The plants just weren't producing as much and were very late to start blooming.(mid-August --ouch!!) . I sold everything I brought. Dahlias, zinnnias, love lies bleeding, statice. Dahlias are $3.00 each, zinnias @ 50 cents or dozen for 5.00. I promote my dahlias as being the best, nothing but the best, and take my time chatting with customers about their care, how to make them last. There is another vendor who sells them for less, but mine are BETTER and make no bones about that. Never, never bad mouth a competitor, just promote mine.
Because there are other flower vendors who make nicer looking bouquets and do it so fast, I just market/price them by the stem.
My anecdote about selling dahlias: a customer came to me and asked how she can make them last a week, as hers were nasty in just two days "OMG, that's awful, let me replace them, they should last a week!" "no, no," she says, I didn't buy them from you". (okey-dokey the hook is in...). So, I sold her a few, put in an extra stem or two, taught her how to care for them and now have a loyal new customer.

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

yeah,that's one thing that bugs me about the few others that bring cuts. They don't cut them at the right time(mostly way too late...sunflowers and glads already fully open,others with seeds forming) cutting at the wrong time of day,I can tell they're not pre-conditioning by the looks of them after just 30-60 minutes of being set out for sale.

No,I never bad mouth another vendor. I let my product do my talking.

I'm going to offer single stems of larger flowers,bundles of a 1/2 dz to a dz. of medium sized flowers and a good amount to a bundle of the small filler type.

Do you offer bundles of greens or do you include them in the flowers? My bouquets always sold better than other because I had greenery in them.

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

There's a right and wrong time of the day to cut flowers? I just cut flowers to bring them in the house. When should I be doing that?

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

If your selling,you want to give your customers flowers that have a vase life that's long as possible. Best time is in the am after the dew has dried,the day before you go to market or do your arrangment. The plants cells are plumb w/ moisture early of the am. Have a bucket of water w/ floral crystals that are for keeping cut flowers fresh longer with you as you move about the garden cutting flowers,placing the flowers immediately after you cut them into the bucket. . Can't remember the name of the floral crystals because I don't use it,I use homemade preservative.As soon as I'm done cutting a bucketfull I put the bucket in the master bedroom because it's the coolest room in the house and w/lights off. I leave them overnight then the next morning ,I recut the stems,under water in the sink but not running water because that forces air into the stem then the flower can't take up water completely.I make up my bundles,wrapped in rubberbands then put them back into a bucket of fresh preservative. It's a royal pain because I have to get up before the chickens to get it done before I leave for market at 5am.

Sunflower and zinnas are the only two flowers I know of that you use only clear water on. Flowers with hollow stem such as tulips,poppies and jonquils/daffodils have to have the ends seared with a cigarette lighter to seal them off so the milky sap doesn't cloud the water. These you mostly see sold seperately because they have an adverse effect on other flowers.

Long stem flowers such as tall snaps need to be held straight up and down in a straight sided bucket or they will bend to right themself toward light. Glads should be harvested while the buds are still closed(looks like a tube of lipstick) but in full color on most of the flowers up the stem almost to the top. They open bottom to top so it takes some hit and miss the get them just at the right moment.

A lot of work but most flower conditioned right will last a week or better in the vase. Having small packages of the preservatives and info on caring for cuts is a nice touch but I find most people won't both to add water muchless change it everyday and add preservative.

Oh yeah,Sunflowers are harvested just as the petals have barely lifted of the center.

Now,aren't cha glad you asked?....LOL...TMI...TMI

P

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

Thanks Patty. I had heard/read some of that stuff in bits and pieces, but not everything, Had heard about the toxicity of daffodils and how its not recommended to mix them with other cut flowers, because they still seep sap even when seared. I didn't know that other hollow stemmed flowers are toxic unless the end is seared or soaked in boiling water.

I never have those preservative packs around the house unless I take a few extras when I buy flowers at the supermarket. I just read about making it at home so I'll try that.

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

It really does work and don't forget to change the water daily...and if you want to get some milage out of them: remove any spent flowers,re-cut stem of flower that are still looking good and re-do bouquet arrangement.


y purple loroptalu need a hair cut so I going to use the and soe Begal Tiger canna leaves for a nice arrangeent for the dining table.


oops,got a letter on the keyboard being lazy

Marquette, MI(Zone 5a)

My main florist, who guarantees her bouquets for a week, will only buy glads when they are showing color at the lowest bud on the stem. Glads and snaps, as bigred says, will bend, but they will also bend towards the light/sun. Condition them in darkness.

In my experience, all cut flowers have their own preferences as to how to harvest and condition them. I have both "The Flower Farmer" books by Lynn Bycznyski and an on-line subscription to "Growing for Market". The very first issue of GFM, paid for itself by telling how and when to cut zinnias, storage for the best results. Zinnias do not like to be placed in the flower cooler, preferring room temps. This info I pass on to the customer.

Scissors & knives are disinfected prior to use and also in the field while in use. Buckets are bleached every time they're used.

Poochella, famous on the dahlia forum here, taught me how to harvest & condtion dahlias.

I harvest the evening before market, after it has cooled off. Water in the morning, cut in the evening.

Greens in the bouquet: usually I bring a few buckets of assorted stuff. Could be hosta leaves, ornamental grasses, shrub branches , shoofly (a new favorite), etc. Not everyone cares to have some greens in their bouquets, so I ask. My inference is that they're getting a little something extra. Marketing, marketing, marketing. BTW, the florists embraced the Shoofly as something new and different. My garden buds went nuts for it too.
I'm looking for a few new-to-me annuals & perennials for next year. Any suggestions ? The tall ageratums did reasonably well this year. The timing for harvest can be a bit tricky. Will try 'kiss me over the garden gate' in 2010.

Delphi, IN

Hello all. I don't get to DG except winter, and last year enjoyed terriculture's arrangements and some of the others. Came back to look at more, but I didn't happen to see her on any of the current threads.

I sell cut flower stems and bouquets at a market...about 10 years now. But I still have learning to do and enjoy learning from others, and being a help if I can.

I was well pleased with our market that cut flower bouquet sales were not down. What's worse, is I seem to have more and more competition every year, but our market has grown in leaps and bounds...when I started I was one of only about two or three other vendors who sold cuts, and I was the only one who had cuts generally the whole season, incorporating as many perennials as I could into my bouquets, from early spring to fall.

My best sellers were lilies, gladiolas, cockscombs and dahlias. Lilies are my flowers of choice because I have very little time involved in them.

Granny I don't know what perennials and annuals you already grow, but if you haven't tried Euphorbia 'Kilimanjaro'...it's wonderful. I use it mostly as a filler, it can make a few flowers go a long way, or could just be used in one bunch for that matter. It is gorgeous with lilies. I don't know if you grow Nigella, but my customers love it. Only bad thing is no matter how you cut it, at best, it only lasts a few days in the vase. I have many customers still willing to pay $3 per bunch just for their weekend table. The pods are excellent for bouquets too.

Penstemon digitalis Husker's Red is a great cut flower as are the other taller Penstemons, which some could be classified annuals.

My customers love the look of Salpiglossis (annual), but I find them difficult for cuts because of the very thin stems.

All the ornamental alliums are great cuts. And I usually never go home with a bouquet that has red hot poker (torch lily) in them. Asclepias tuberosa is great too. 3 or 4 mature plants can provide *a lot* of stems. I use it as an accent filler with lilies, or by itself in a bunch with a few allium sphaerocephalon or Monarda purple. Asclepias incarnata white and rose are nice too, but they never last longer than 3 years in my garden, just when they are nicest for cutting. I need to try maybe the gay butterflies mix type. Although Stokesia closes up at night (darkness), even at that, they still look nice in a bouquet and last good.

This year I'm going to try Pentas again (an annual). I grew them 6 or 7 years ago and really liked them for cuts. I then only had a few seed started plants, but hopefully this year I will at least have a short row of them. For perennial, I'm going to try a new colorful Euphorbia. I've liked the annual Kilimanjaro (my customers too!) so well I thought I'd try a perennial type.

And I have to agree that usually my bouquets with greenery or fillers tend to sell best. Same for my lilies. I can bring a bucket full of lily stems and ask $3 per stem, and then make up a quick bouquet with one lily stem, adding a piece or two of filler and maybe two or three other flowers and put them in a vase and ask $5 or $6 (vase not included), and those generally will always sell first.

And Granny, if your customers are anything like mine, they will really like the kiss me over the garden gate. I use it a lot as a filler in my zinnia bouquets and the customers love it. Since I have a lot of repeat customers, they always love to see something new. Is the shoofly = Nicandra physalodes? I looked at that in the plant files and I just can't imagine it being a cut flower. ?? Perhaps shoofly is a common name for some other, or perhaps you are speaking of just using the greenery. Coleus then would be like that too me. I just love it as filler/greener. So many different colors and shapes.

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

Teresa, thanks for all your imput and information regarding all types of flowers for cutting. I don't sell cut flowers, but am always looking for something new/different to grow out in the yard. Some of the flowers you mentioned I wasn't even familiar with so had to look them up. This winter I'm trying a few things I haven't tried before like Amberboa, Cineraria, Calendulas and Larkspur. Am also trying quite a few different flower bulbs for warmer weather zones. I do recall ordering some Lisianthus plants from you in 2008.

Jon

Delphi, IN

Hi Jon, interesting. Did the lisianthus do okay for you? Will Calendulas and Larkspur grow in Florida? I was going to mention those/that to Grannymarsh, but thought she'd probably already tried those. I love the perennial Delphiniums too, but they only last about two years in my garden. I get tired of replanting them for getting only about 3 or 4 cuts per plant in the second year. Sometimes only one or two stems per plant the first year, and sometimes not even that. Although my customers love them. I've not heard of Amberboa, so I'm guessing it's a southern hardy plant. If you are starting your Calendulas and Larkspur from seed, they really prefer cool weather to germinate so I'm guessing you will winter sow. ?? I forgot to mention that I'm going to try to get some of the large flower (long stem) Primula going. Would love to add it as a cut if it will work. Being in Florida you should grow Alstroemeria. Excellent cut flower...Walmart carries it a lot as cuts. And it would be a hardy perennial for you, and it grows well in pots if need be.

Delphi, IN

Hey Jon...I was over browsing the Annuals forum and saw your Ptilotus. I love it! Had never heard of it before. How is it as a cut...did you try cutting any? Have you been able to save seeds from your plant? I think maybe I'll order some seeds and maybe it could be a new annual cut for me. It looks similar to celosia pink candle if you cut out the main flower of the plant it will then form lots of shorter side-shoots.

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

The Lisianthus grew and bloomed well initially, but I have a hard time getting them to keep reblooming after the first flush of blooms. I cut the spent blooms, but would get very few to rebloom. If my memory is correct it was the "ABC Series". Perhaps I need to stick with the shorter "Florida Series" which is better suited for our summer climate.

I'm trying Calendulas and Larkspurs, both from seed, right now. They're doing very well so far. When you experiment with flowers down here you're best to try them during the cooler winter months. Delphiniums are not gonna work down here. They take too long to grow from seed to bloom and would never hold up to our summer heat/humidity. Actually I sew many of the seeds in the kitchen under a low hanging light. Very unconventional, but it seems to work for me. After they germinate, then I move them outside. I always grow many tall snapdragons from seed each fall/winter. They're one of my favorite cut flowers.

Amberboa muricata seeds came from Thompson & Morgan. The description calls it a tall stemmed, easy to grow annual with large purple-mauve flowers ideal for cutting. I've tried Primulas but I failed on that attempt. I've had Alstroemeria "Sweet Laura" and "Freedom" for about 2 1/2 years now. They generally bloom from Feb-July down here and then go quite until the next year.

I'm trying a few new flower bulbs that would be good for cutting....I think. They are Watsonia, Tecolote Ranunculus and Calochortus. Watsonias are similar looking to gladiolas but are supposed to be multi stems per bulb. They are all bulbs that could be left in the ground here. They've all appeared above ground so now its just a "wait and see" thing.

Jon

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

Ptilotus "Joey" was easy to grow from seed, but it only bloomed over the winter months here. Some people in cooler climates have mentioned it bloomed for them all summer. I didn't save any seed from it. I never cut any of it for bouquets, but would think it would make a good cut flower. The plumes/blooms lasted a good 3-5 weeks...I would guess.

Jon

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

I trailed a couple of the "Joey" plants from Lowes. One in a flowerbed and one in a container. They didn't do well in either.

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

Bummer. Maybe it was too hot there also?

Ashdown, AR(Zone 8a)

Could have been because we had an unusually wet and cool year.

Marquette, MI(Zone 5a)

Shoofly is 'Nicandra physalodes'. The flowers are incidental and close in the evening or on overcast days. I wait until the pods are turning burgundy/chocolate color to cut them. Their stout, square stems with those same dark colors are eye catching, plus they are glossy. And the deer and rabbits don't seem to bother them (never say never - knock on wood). The plant is tall, up to 5' in my thin, sandy soil. When cut, they will regrow rapidly, and seem to appreciate a bit of fertilizer. They will self sow, but transplant easily. My florists appreciate having something different to work with, using them as filler. I usually cut off entire branches, my minimums are 18 inches or so.

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9a)

Granny - do you have photos of your shoofly in various growth stages in your garden to to show us? I have never heard of that plant before and would love to see how it looks in your yard. And possibly an arrangement to see how it looks as a filler?

Marquette, MI(Zone 5a)

This is the best photo of it that I have. It doesn't show the growth habits but will give you an idea of the coloring. When it is sprouting, the leaves look very much like the mature leaves, just tinier. I seldom do arrangements, so can't help you there. It does need room, it grows rather like a tree, a central stalk with branching off the sides. It will shade out it's neighbors. Next year it will be in a dedicated bed. I really like the coloring on the stalks.

Thumbnail by grannymarsh
Delphi, IN

So granny then you just sell your cuts as all individual stems? The shoofly is interesting...it reminds me of Chinese lanterns (Physalis) which my customers loved this year combined with bittersweet. However, the Chinese lanterns I *had* to spray because the bugs chew them up badly.

Marquette, MI(Zone 5a)

Ts; yes and no. Generally at Market, I sell by the stem, because there it is mostly dahlias. And, as I said in the earlier post, there are others who make bouquets faster and better. Florists buy by the bunch. Except for dahias, glads, crocosmia, lilies, maybe a few others. I check the USDA market prices daily/weekly. I've only been at this for three seasons, every day is a learning experieince. If I make a mistake, so be it. Correct it, adjust for it, and move on. I've done a bunch of adjusting, correcting and moving on !!
Bittersweet is something I've been pondering. I want to plant the American variety because of the invasiveness of the import. What I cannot find are some guidlines for how much to plant , what an expected yield would be or the time frame for the first crop cutting. I have discovered that it is sold by the pound. (wholesale).

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9a)

Thanks for the photo. I try googling images of the plant, but do not seem to find one that shows a stem that would be what you would be selling at the market for arrangements. Do you always wait for the pods to mature before cutting them - at the stage when the leaves are gone? From the photos, the leaves look very large - so you don't offer them for sale when the branches are green and leafy?

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9a)

Jon - the ranunculus and watsonia do make good cut flowers. Larkspurs grow well in my 9a zone - hope they grow well for you too. Delphiniums always gets eaten by snails, but they don't bother the larkspurs. Here are some ranunculus from this past spring.

Thumbnail by soilsandup
Delphi, IN

Beautiful ranunculus. I love them. Are yours the telcote (sp) strain. In 2008 I grew some cheapies from the dollar store. They did amazingly well. I planted them in ground in early April (before last spring frost) and they bloomed in May and June and then mostly went dormant. The little claw things were tiny when I planted them and when I dug them in October they had increased nicely. I stored them in my basement, and then forgot to plant them in 2009. Since they did fairly well, I'm thinking of investing a little more and being more diligent in keeping them. They were an excellent addition to my shorter spring cut flower bouquets. Would love to have the longer stemmed ones.

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

Nice Ranunculus bouquet soilsandup! I've always passed on trying them before because I wasn't sure if I liked their look. Someone on Dave's Garden, in Zone 10, in Texas convinced me I should give them a try...so I did. They're just a few inches out of the ground right now.

All I have for cut flowers in the yard right now are gerberas, rudbeckias, echinacea, salvia, cosmos, osteospermums, and amaryllis.

Delphi, IN

...ONLY...huh?? LOL...wished I had those right now for cuts. Weather is frightful...cats won't go out.

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

LOL. Yeah, maybe I'm spoiled. The tall snapdragons are getting close to blooms. It's all Rocket Series snaps except for a section of "Animation Cognac". Weather is WAY too hot for December down here. Record high of 87 yesterday and another 87 predicted today. Don't like it this hot in December!!!

Delphi, IN

Jon, I was thinking I saw a photo of your ranunculus...but skimmed back through and didn't see anything. Which variety do you grow? Yeah, that warm is probably not good for the stuff that's just getting started.

You mentioned T & M, and although I get their catalog every year, I am fearful of even opening it. I don't think I've looked for the last two years. Generally always so busy and then I want so many new things, and then I start the stuff and never manage to get it transplanted into the garden. Then I kick myself.

My hopes have been to have a Florida winter home. Clean up things here and go south for December through mid-March. My mom hates the cold, but she has just not quit her job of about 35-36 years, her being past retirement age, although she complains about it all the time. Her parents (my grandparents) moved to Florida in their later years and I'm sure my mom would like to as well. If she ever quits her job, perhaps our family will get a place there. A place large enough where she could stay year round and then kids possibly come stay in winter. We've talked about it, like all chipping in for a place.

Marquette, MI(Zone 5a)

Shoofly: there will be pods and new flower buds forming at the same time, all season long. To harvest, cut off one of the branches, leaving enough of it -1/4 inch?, so that the dormant bud isn't affected. The leaves, pods and flowers will all be there. And top it, by cutting the main stem, this too, is sellable and and stimulates the plant to send out more side branches. I wait until the pods are showing color before I start harvesting and before the outer layer of the pod dries out. I can harvest off one plant about every other week, but I have poor soil. Better than it was when we moved here, improving it every year.
The leaves aren't large, just a good size for filler, smaller than the palm of my hand.
Flowers are an inch or so across and to me, are not the star attraction.
The stem will have a hollow stem, but just a bit hollow, so I usually treat them like I do my dahlias, by poking a sterile straight pin into the stem while it is under water, this lets the trapped air out.
To be more clear, it is the stalks that are glossy, not so much the leaves.
I sell it by the bunch, 10 stems for $5.00.
Hope this explanation is helpful and is clear/organized enough to answer your ??'s.
Marsha

Delphi, IN

Thanks for the info on Shoofly. I may try it for 2010...my customers always love to see something new.

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

I'm growing just a couple of bags of "Rainbow Mixed" Tecolote Ranunculus. I have another bag of 25 Ranunculus that I got on sale up North for $1.99, but haven't planted those yet. My main passion is hybrid hibiscus, but also like flowers that can be used for cutting. The pansies seem to be the most unhappy with this hot weather. It's only supposed to last 1 more day which would be ok. Many of my smaller plants are still inside the screening around the pool. I can grow things a bit earlier than normal in there, because the screening probably filters 20-30% of the suns rays.

Living here from Oct - May would be most ideal for anyone who would like to continue flower gardening during the winter. You can still grow some things from June-Sept, but its much more limited and the heat/humidity is relentless. I like to go up North, in the winte,r and see the snow for a couple of days, but that's it. I get kind of bored and don't know what to do after a few days.

You're right about the Thompson & Morgan catalog Teresa. There are too many temptations in there. Personally I stick to just trying a couple of new things each winter. It's all about not overwhelming yourself and getting frustrated with the upkeep.

Jon

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

Has anyone tried growing either the "Mache Series" or "Bloomingdale Series" of Ranunculus from seed??? I didn't realize, until today, that there are varieties you can grow from seed.

Jon

Watseka, IL(Zone 5a)

lurk...

Delphi, IN

mee too...hey Jon, you need to be making some flower bouquets and posting for us to see. (smile) I wished I had gotten some this past summer, but didn't. Will try for some in 2010...but of course won't be able to post those til winter 2010.

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

Just starting to get some flowers for cutting around the yard. You can't start winter annual seeds here until late September, so it's mid December before things start to bloom. Anyway here are some flowers I picked yesterday and today and put in a vase.

Reblooming Bearded Iris "Blatant"
Salvia "Guaranitica Black & Blue"
Snapdragon "Animation Cognac"
Snapdragon "Rocket Cherry"
Snapdragon "Rocket Pink"
Snapdragon "Chantilly Mixed"

Jon

Thumbnail by amorecuore
Delphi, IN

Woooo! Like fireworks. So beautiful! Thank you, Jon for posting that flower bouquet.

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

Thanks Teresa. I wanted bright bright bright snapdragons this winter. Last winter it was all whites, pinks and yellows and I didn't like them as well.

Watseka, IL(Zone 5a)

Red, are you doing any glads?

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