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'
- 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.