Tag Archives: flower farmer

Growing Heirloom Mums

Apricot Alexis heirloom mum
Apricot Alexis, intermediate incurve

King’s Mums in Oklahoma opened their website for orders this week. I ordered many new varieties for this year. I am trying some quills, reflex, and spider cultivars in addition to some decoratives and incurves. Last year, I grew Seatons Je’ Dore, Apricot Alexis, Coral Charm, and Honeyglow. King’s Mums ships rooted cuttings to you in early spring. Apricot Alexis was gorgeous. She has that dramatic look like a dahlia. The color is hard to describe as it has an amazing bronze tone.

Honeyglow heirloom mums, growing chrysanthemums,
Honeyglow, decorative class.

Honeyglow was the first to bloom in my cutting garden. The plants are highly productive and grows well as a spray. This is a great color for the fall.

Seaton's Je Dore heirloom mus
Seaton’s Je’Dore, decorative class.

I sell to local florists, and they loved Seaton’s Je’ Dore. The pink color is so eye-catching! The stems of these mums are very sturdy and hold up well out in my cut flower field.

Coral Charm heirloom mum
Coral Charm, decorative class.

Coral Charm was very productive and has a great fall color. I do not disbud as much as I should but these grew nicely as a spray.

I will receive the rooted cuttings in March. I will pot the plants up in 6″ to 8” pots. As they grow, I can take some cuttings to increase the number of plants. I will not be planting them in the field until May when there is no threat of frost. I will be spacing them 12″ apart. If you are limited in space, you can grow them in pots. My plants did grow to 3 to 4 feet.

King’s Mums have growing instructions and growing tips on their website. They do recommend pinching your tall cultivar plants if they are over 10″ tall on July 1st. They do need some kind of support. I use hortonova netting as that is what I have on hand. I add a 2nd layer on hortonova netting later in the season. In October and November, they will surprise you with such beautiful blooms. A light frost can damage the flower buds so you will need to cover them. If you overwinter your plants, you will need to mulch the plants heavily. I do not worry about overwintering the plants even in my zone 7. I just dig up a couple plants of each variety and overwinter them in my basement. In January, I will place them in a warm room. As they grow, I will take cuttings.

I cannot believe I have not been growing these flowers sooner. They are so gorgeous. If you are not growing heirloom mums, you may want to give them a try. They are not your average chrysanthemum. We need to bring back these forgotten heirloom flowers.

Flower Farming Spring 2018

seedlings under lights

I am starting my second full season selling to local florists.  This is a room in my basement with plastic up on two sides to keep the room warm and humidity higher.  There are 5 shelves on one rack.  Each rack holds 20 seed trays.  I know a greenhouse would be nice, but I do not want to spend the money at this time.  This room is fine for starting seedlings.  The seedlings receive 16 hours of light.  I try to keep the room at 70 degrees for cool flowers and 75 degrees for warm season flowers.

growing lisianthus

I am growing lisianthus from seed.  They are so slow growing so I start the seeds in January.  I keep them under lights inside for about 60 days.  For the first 30 days you need to make sure the temperature does not go over 75 degrees or lower than 60 degrees as this could stress the plants.

Lisianthus seedlings

Lisianthus likes the cold to establish their root system so you can plant them in early spring.  They should bloom in July when we have warmer temperatures and long days.

planting lisianthus

I plant 2 lisianthus per six inch square so I am able to plant 2000 plants in a 100 foot row.  They are a tiny seedling.  The seedlings should have at least 4 true leaves when transplanting out to the field.  Lisianthus does have a sensitive root system so you must take your time planting them.

harden off area for flowers

My husband built this temporary area for my seedlings to harden off before planting in the field.   I am not ready at this time to purchase a high tunnel.   I am trying to keep my costs down this year.  My first 2 years, I spent a lot time building my soil with compost and cover crops.  I established 40 one hundred foot rows which are surrounded by 8 foot deer fencing.  Now that I have all that in place, I can focus on what sells well and gain experience.

season extension low tunnels

I have planted lisianthus, strawflower, scabiosa, ammi, bupleurium, and eucalyptus.  I use Agribon AG 19 fabric row cover for frost and wind protection.  We make the hoops from 9 gauge galvanized wire which we cut to length.  You can purchase the wire in a roll from your local home improvement store.  We use 6″ U-shaped wire pins to secure the row cover to the ground as it is very windy in March.  These are the same pins we use to hold down our drip irrigation lines.

strawflower for cut flower production

I planted these strawflowers on 2/24/18.  This is how they looked on 3/31.  They have some cold weather damage on their outer leaves.  The center of the plant is very green.  I could not believe how much they had grown.  March was cold and below average in temperatures.

flower farmer

The first 3 rows are yarrow that I planted in October.  Yarrow is such a cold hardy plant.  I fall planted Coronation Gold, Paprika, and Summer Pastel Mix plugs.  I also planted Colorado mix that I grew from seed.  Since I prepared the field in the fall, I can just focus on planting in the spring.  In January and February, I worked on my field layouts, successive planting dates, and did a lot of researching online.  I am a member of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers so I watched videos from conferences and learned a lot from experienced flower growers.  They also have a Facebook members only page where you can ask questions and communicate with other flower farmers.   This time of the year is also a great time to read books about flower farming.  My favorites are “The Flower Farmer” by Lynn Byczynski, “Cool Flowers” by Lisa Mason Ziegler, and “Cut Flower Garden” by Erin Benzakein.  If you are thinking about selling cut flowers for profit, start small and keep it simple.  It is really important to take time to do soil tests and build your soil with compost and cover crops.  You will have enough invested just in building your soil, establishing your rows, fencing, netting, row covers, stakes, and other supplies.  I feel a walk-in cooler is important also.  So far I have been able to sell to florists without a greenhouse or high tunnel.  I do post weekly on Facebook and Instagram @gardenbeeflowerfarm.  Spring is finally here after a below average winter in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina.  I can’t wait to start playing in the dirt!  Happy Spring!

Flower Farming Fall 2017


In the Fall, I put down more compost.  This summer was the first time I planted flowers in the second field so the field needed some more improvement.

My soil tests came back with a pH of 6.8 which is great for flowers.  I still need to keep adding organic matter to the soil.  Compost helps a lot but I am going to try to use buckwheat as a cover crop when possible in the summer.

silage tarps

Silage tarps help with weed suppression and erosion.


flower farming

I have yarrow, snap dragons, and queen’s anne lace planted in the field which are all cool flowers.  I put mulch on top of my tuberose plants to protect them from freezing temperatures.

Flower Farming Summer 2017


ABC White Lisianthus that I planted in March from plugs that I purchased from Raker through Germania Seed.  They bloomed in July.  The florists loved lisianthus.


ABC Purple Lisianthus that I planted in March from plugs.  Lisianthus blooms have a great vase life.


Arena III Apricot lisianthus that I grew from seed.  They are very slow growing and take 3 months before they have their 3rd and 4th true leaves so that you can plant them outside.


Flower delivery of ageratum, tuberose, lisianthus, celosia, and sunflowers.


Sunflower sales really picked up from August through October.  Florists gave me several large orders due to weddings.

This was my first year growing dahlias.  I fell in love with them and so did florists.


Dahlias started blooming in July with short stems.  You just keep them cut back and by August I had longer stems.  Dahlias bloomed from August to the beginning of October.

celosia cockscomb

Celosia Chief had so many beautiful colors.  They were easy to grow from seed.


This is Colorado pastel mix yarrow that I grew from seed.

The weather really affects blooming of sunflowers.  When it was hot, they bloomed within 45 days.  When the weather cooled down a little, it took 55 days to bloom.

Spring 2017

silage tarps for weed suppression

We have had wind gusts of 30 – 40 mph lately and the silage tarps are staying in place.  I have around 50 to 60 sand bags down on each section.  The sand bags are filled with compost.

agribon covering for frost protection

We had a warm February; however, March has been very different.  This week we had nighttime lows of 22, 33, 20, and 19 degrees.  I put a 2nd Agribon AG-19 on the 3rd row with the ranunculus.  It was so windy and cold from Tuesday – Thursday that I had to leave the 2nd cover on the row.  I finally was able to take the covers off yesterday.  The cold did not affect the anemones at all.  It did burn the leaves of the larger ranunculus that are getting ready to bloom.

sweet peas

This is a picture of the sweet peas last weekend.  I only had a layer of Agribon AG-19 on this row.  The sweet peas did get hurt from this week’s really cold nighttime lows; however, I feel they will bounce back.

tilling in compost

Last week, I was busy spreading compost on the rows in field 2.  I tilled the winter rye cover crop and compost into the soil.  It was too windy and cold to work in field 2 this week.  I still need several more loads of compost and hardwood mulch to finish this field.

deer fencing

Last week, we pounded in 30 ten foot poles for our 8 foot deer fencing around the second field.  I will have 2 gates in this section to make it easier for me to drive the pickup in this field.

stock seedllings

I have 3 flats of harden off stock ready to go to the field.  However, I held off from planting them this week due to the really cold nights.  I kept them in our garage.  The nighttime low in the garage was 40 degrees.  It did not seem to affect them at all.

seed germination racks

Since it was cold and windy outside this week, I did a lot of seed sowing.  Since I started using the clear humidity domes, I am getting great germination.  I needed the top 6th shelf so we added lights this week.  I have trays of ammi, feverfew, yarrow, mint, cerinthe, gomphrena, rudbeckia, ageratum, atriplex, celosia, dianthus, etc.  We just purchase light fixtures from our local home improvement center.  We are using T12 lights.  They do not get as hot as T5 lights so I can have the lights close to the seedlings.