Flower Farming

Growing flowers in the hoophouse

Growing Flowers in the Hoophouse

Growing flowers in a hoophouse can be rewarding.
A successful hoophouse planting of dianthus and delphinium

Cut flowers are one of the most profitable crops to grow in a hoophouse. The minimal protection of an unheated hoophouse brings a wide range of benefits: excellent flower quality, longer stems, fewer pests, and a much longer season of harvest.

The best varieties to grow in a hoophouse depends somewhat on your latitude and regional climate. You should use the valuable space inside a hoophouse for crops that won't do well outside or those you can't grow outside at all because of wind or late frosts.

The key to successful hoophouse production of cut flowers is to experiment. Your climate and markets will dictate the best varieties for your situation. Here are some basic guidelines to consider in choosing the best crops for your hoophouse.

Cool Weather

In the South and in mild coastal areas, some cool-loving flowers will grow all winter without adding heat to the hoophouse. In colder areas, the hoophouse provides just enough protection to grow these varieties very early in spring or later in fall than usual. Daylength may limit blooming for some varieties, but even flowers that won't bloom in the short days of winter can put on significant growth and be ready to send up stems as soon as the days get longer. Day-neutral flowers will bloom as long as the temperature is acceptable. Some of the top crops for hoophouse production in cool weather:

Hot Weather

It may get too hot for human comfort inside a hoophouse in summer, but some flower varieties can take the heat and even thrive on it. Be sure to provide as much ventilation as possible, such as by removing end walls, so that the hoophouse cools off at night. And pay attention to the plants' water needs they may require more frequent irrigation inside the hoophouse than in the field. Don't plant varieties that are prone to foliar diseases because the relatively still air inside the hoophouse may worsen the problem. Zinnias, for example, are more prone to problems inside than outside.

  • In areas where summers get extremely hot, the best flowers for the hoophouse are celosia, lisianthus, and ornamental peppers.
  • At higher latitudes, however, most summer flowers can be grown in a hoophouse. Delphinium, for example, will bloom repeatedly throughout the summer in a hoophouse.
  • Lilies, too, can be planted sequentially for a long season of harvest.
  • Annual dianthus such as those in the 'Amazon Neon' Series can be succession-planted for several flushes of flowers.

For more ideas about hoophouse production of cut flowers, see my books: The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower's Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers and The Hoophouse Handbook.

About the Author
Author Lynn Byczinski
Lynn Byczinski
Author & Founder of Growing for Market
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 GFM has been published continuously ever since, becoming renowned in the market-gardening world for realistic articles that provide practical, how-to information about growing and selling produce and flowers.

Byczynski and her family have been growing vegetables and cut flowers since 1988, selling through CSAs, 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.

She is also the author/editor of two of our favorite books about market farming, The Flower Farmer and The Hoophouse Handbook.