Can you really make money growing and selling cut-flowers? You may have heard that cut-flowers are one of the most profitable specialty crops you can grow. But how profitable is flower farming really? Here’s the truth, from a flower farmer with over 25 years of experience.
We all know that to make a profit you have to spend less than you earn, but putting that into practice can be harder than it sounds, especially if you’re just starting out. But if you play your cards right, you can make a lot of money. For example, one summer I grew and sold enough sunflowers to buy myself a brand new tractor! And that was just one of the many flower crops I grew that year.
Here are my tips for maximizing your profits as a commercial cut-flower farmer:
#1: Focus on high-profit flower crops
Anything that you can grow from seed will have a lower upfront investment cost. Warm-season annuals are typically the easiest to start with, such as sunflowers, zinnias, and celosia. These flowers have broad appeal and will sell throughout the season. By comparison, perennials and bulb/tuber crops require more upfront investment, may take years to get established, tend to bloom in a shorter window of time, and generally require more skill to grow, harvest and maintain.
#2: Keep your fixed costs low
Costs such as your mortgage or property lease don’t change, no matter how many flowers you can produce. But the great thing about flower farming is that you don’t need a ton of space to produce high volume crops. At one point I was producing thousands of stems per week on just a half acre plot! With flower farming you can keep your fixed costs low compared to other types of farming.
#3: Educate yourself in farming and in business
Your level of knowledge and expertise matters! Expanding your knowledge with education in both farming and business can put you on the fast track to profitability, saving you from making costly mistakes. From there, everyone learns over time how to be the most efficient and produce the best results in their own unique situation, and that time you spend gaining expertise should also be considered an investment that pays off with better profitability in the long run.
#4: Run the numbers: Always evaluate labor cost vs. yield
Your time is valuable! When it comes to labor, time truly is money. Did I NEED a tractor? Technically, no. However, I ran the numbers and determined that I could grow and sell so many more flowers each season if I had one, and it helped me save on labor in many other aspects of my farm as well. A big investment might produce an even bigger yield and greatly improve profitability, but you have to run the numbers to figure that out.
The Bottom Line: Profitability will be unique to you & your farm
While flower farmers across the US are reporting average sales of $25,000 to $30,000 per acre, we know that this 100% depends on the type of market they’re selling into, the region, and the skill set of the grower. For example, farmer-florists can get the highest revenue per stem for their design and wedding work, but also face the highest inputs in labor and supplies. In contrast, growers wholesaling to florists potentially earn lower revenue per stem but can have far lower labor and supply costs.
In the end, every farmer is in a completely unique situation, with different costs, different levels of knowledge and expertise, different labor and material resources, different selling outlets, and the list goes on and on. What ultimately determines your potential level of profitability is how well you manage all of these variables over time, whether you can stick to the routine of making profitability part of every decision you make. Can you really make money growing and selling cut-flowers? The truth is, it’s up to you!
So those are my top tips for a profitable flower farming business. I hope they inspired you to take profitability seriously and to always keep it in mind when making decisions for your business. I wish you loads of flower farming success!
About The Author: Lisa Mason Ziegler – Is a leader in the cut-flower growing industry, author, accomplished speaker, virtual course instructor, & the owner of The Gardener’s Workshop. Click Here To Learn more!