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Beyond blossoms

By Lynn Byczynski

 

If you're growing flowers for fresh or dried florals, don't limit yourself to plants with blossoms. Grasses, grains, herbs, and even a few vegetables can be important components of a flower business. Here are some ideas and variety recommendations for unusual additions to your floral menu:

Herbs can be useful in both fresh and dried floral designs. Not all herbs are good for cutting, however, because they may lack stem length or vase life for fresh cuts, or they may turn brown when dried. Basil, for example, is available in numerous attractive cultivars, but only a few will hold up for a week in the vase. These varieties are highly recommended:

  • Basil 'Cinnamon' and 'Mrs. Burns Lemon'
  • Dill 'Vierling'
  • Echinacea purpurea
  • Garlic chives
  • Wild marjoram
  • Common sage

Grasses and grains. Ornamental grasses add movement and contrast to fresh flower bouquets. Two of the best are Panicum 'Frosted Explosion' with airy, sparkly plumes, and Eragrostis 'Ruby Silk' with gracefully bending red plumes. Millet, barley, wheat, and rye are used fresh and dried. Several inexpensive cover crop varieties are attractive enough to be used in floral design, or you can grow specially selected varieties from the flower section of the catalog.

  • Barley, 6-row
  • Winter rye
  • Spring wheat
  • Millet 'Highlander' and 'Purple Majesty'
  • Wheat, 'Black Tip' and 'Silver Tip'

Vegetables. For cut flowers, artichokes and cardoons are exotic and valuable cuts. A wide array of peppers can also be grown for cutting and drying. Customers who buy cut flowers in summer will purchase pumpkins, gourds, and winter squash for ornamental purposes in fall. Here are some varieties to try:

  • Artichoke, 'Tempo'
  • Cardoon
  • Gourds
  • Pepper 'Nippon Taka', 'Prairie Fire', 'Numex Twilight', and 'Black Pearl'
  • Specialty pumpkins

Lynn Byczynski is the editor of Growing for Market and the publisher of The Hoophouse Handbook.

Articles by
Lynn
Byczynski

About
the author:
Lynn Byczynski was growing organic vegetables and cut flowers for market when she decided to create a magazine that would help market gardeners nationwide share experiences and information. Her first issue of Growing for Market appeared in January 1992 and it has been published continuously since then. GFM is renowned in the market gardening world for realistic articles that give growers practical, how-to information about growing and selling produce and flowers. Lynn is now partnering with Johnny's to provide similarly useful information for the johnnyseeds.com website and other publications.

Lynn, her husband Dan Nagengast, and their two children have grown vegetables and cut flowers since 1988, selling through a CSA, at farmers markets, to chefs, grocery stores, and florists. They currently grow cut flowers and hoophouse tomatoes on about 2 acres of their 20-acre farm near Lawrence, Kansas.

Lynn is also the author of several books about market farming:
The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower's Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers; The Hoophouse Handbook; Market Farming Success
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