Cut Flower Production

Course CodeBHT221
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
  
Grow Cut Flowers Commercially or Train to work in the Flower Trade
  • Learn to grow flowers commercially
  • Identify and compare the relative commercial potential of different flower crops
  • Learn about both the horticulture and business in Cut Flower Farming

Cut flower growing has experienced rapid expansion in increasingly affluent countries. This has resulted in an increased demand for training in the skills and knowledge required by the industry. The course provides a thorough basic training for the commercial cut flower grower.

ACS Graduate comment:  I consider that my success in recent years is directly related to the training I have done with the ACS. The materials were spot on, and the tutors were superb....(read more of Lana's inspiring story that includes owning breeders rights to a specific Flannel Flower and running a successful export business)

ACS student comment:  I am enjoying my course and it has given me an understanding of what I need to do once I have completed my course.  I
 find the course to a valuable learning experience. I am able to do it in my own time (I have young children) and the learning is interesting.  Melanie Sumpter, Australia - Cut Flower Productioncourse

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Cut Flower Production
    • Scope and Nature of the Flower Industry
    • International Flower Market
    • Succeeding in the Trade
    • Flower Structure
    • Development of a Flower
    • Introduction to Hydroponic Culture
    • Understanding plant growth, roots, stems, flowers, leaves
    • Types of flowers, perennials, bulbs.
    • Review of Flower Crops, Alstroemeria, Antirrhinum, Amaryllis, Anigozanthus, Aster Carnation, Chrysanthemum, Dahlia, Freesia, Gerbera, Gladiolus, Iris, Narcissus, Orchids, Rose, Stock and others.
  2. Soils and Nutrition
    • Soil composition
    • Soil texture
    • Soil structure
    • Colloids
    • Peds
    • Characteristics of clay, sand and loam soils
    • Naming the Soil
    • Improving Soil Structure
    • Improving fertility
    • Benefits of adding organic matter to soils
    • Soil life, earthworms, mycorrhyzae, nitrogen fixing, etc.
    • Soil Water
    • Understanding dynamics of water loss
    • Improving soil water retention
    • Types of soil water (Hygroscopic, Gravitational)
    • Soil analysis
    • Plant tissue analysis for soil management
    • Measuring pH
    • Other soil testing (testing salinity, colorimetry, etc)
    • Measuring Water availability to plants
    • Soil Degradation and rehabilitation (Erosion, Salinity, Acidification, etc)
    • Soil Chemical Characteristics
    • Nutrient availability and pH
    • The nutrient elemernts, major, minor, total salts
    • Diagnosing nutritional problems
    • Fertilisers (types, application, etc)
    • Natural Fertilisers
    • Fertiliser Selection
    • Composting methods
    • Soil mixes and potting media
  3. Cultural Practices
    • Site selection
    • Production
    • Cultivation techniques
    • Using cover crops
    • Green manure cover crops
    • Nitrogen Fixation in legumes
    • Crop rotation
    • Planting procedure
    • Staking
    • Bare rooted plants
    • Time of planting
    • Mulching
    • Frost protection
    • Managing sun
    • Managing animal pests, birds, etc.
    • Pruning
    • Water management and Irrigation
    • When to irrigate
    • Period of watering, cyclic watering, pulse watering, etc
    • Sprinkler irrigation
    • Trickle irrigation
    • Sprinkler systems, portable, permenant, semi permenant, travelling
    • Types of sprinler heads
    • Sprinkler spacings
    • Selecting surface irrigation methods
    • Weed control
    • Preventative weed management
    • Hand weeding
    • Mechanical weeding
    • Chemical weed control
    • Classification of weedicides
    • Natural Weed Control Methods
    • Review of common weeds
  4. Flower Initiation and Development
    • How flowers Age
    • Managing flower longevity
    • Effects of Carbon Dioxide
    • Getting plants to flower out of season
    • Types of flower response to temperature
    • Ways to cause controlled flowering
    • Narcissus flower management
    • Managing Azalea flowering
    • Seed sources
    • Hydroponics for controlled growth
  5. Pest and Disease Control
    • Integrated Pest Management
    • Chemical Methods of Pest Control
    • Chemical labels
    • Non Chemical methods of pest control
    • Pest and Disease Identification and Management on flower crops
    • Anthracnose
    • Blight
    • Canker
    • Damping off
    • Galls
    • Leaf Spot
    • Mildew
    • Rots
    • Rust
    • Smut
    • Sooty Mould
    • Virus
    • Wilt
    • Caterpillars
    • Leafhoppers
    • Mealy Bugs
    • Millipedes
    • Mites
    • Nematodes
    • Scale
    • Slugs or Snails
    • Thrip
    • Whitefly
    • Viruses,
    • Others
    • Environmental Problems
  6. Australian Natives and Related Plants
    • Proteaceae Plants (Aulax, Banksia, Dryandra, Grevillea, Hakea, Isopogon, Leucadendron, Leucospermum, Macadamia, Mimetes, Persoonia Protea, Serruria and Telopea.)
    • Culture of Proteaceae cut flowers
    • Proteaceae propagation
    • Anigozanthus
    • Other Australian Cut Flowers
  7. Greenhouse Culture
    • The greenhouse business
    • Greenhouse system
    • Components of a greenhouse
    • What can be grown in a greenhouse
    • Siting greenhouses
    • Types of greenhouses
    • Shadehouses
    • Cold frames
    • Heated propagators
    • Framing and cover materials
    • Thermal screens
    • Wind breaks
    • Benches and beds
    • Environmental control; Temperature, moisture, irrigation, shading -both natural and with blinds/curtains, light-including supplemented light if needed, ventilation, levels of CO2, mist/fogging
    • Photosynthesis
    • Plants that respond to Carbon dioxide
    • Day length manipulation
    • Lighting and heating equipment
    • Horticultural management within the greenhouse
  8. Harvest and Post Harvest
    • Harvesting
    • Flower deterioration
    • Post harvest
    • Shelf life
    • Major factors that affect shelf life
    • Post harvest treatments
    • Other treatments
    • Grading standards
    • Conditioning flowers for market
    • Harvesting and grading carnations
    • Harvest and post harvest of selected orchids; Bud opening, transport, storing flowers
    • Cost Efficiency Standards
    • Quality Standards
    • Quantity Standards
    • Judging flowers
  9. Developing a Production Plan
    • Managing a cut flower farm
    • Deciding what to grow
    • Production plans
    • Decisions that need to be made
    • Farm layout
    • Design of a store
  10. Export Marketing
    • International flower marketing system
    • Aspects of export
    • Flower Exporting case study
    • Understanding marketing your produce
    • Consider your markets
    • Market research
    • What to research
    • How to sell successfully

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Explain the physiological processes which affect flower development in plants.
  • Identify plant varieties suitable for commercial cut flower production.
  • Evaluate the suitability of different plants as cut flower crops.
  • Determine soil and nutrition requirements for cut flower growing.
  • Determine the cultural requirements for commercial production of a cut flower crop.
  • Determine harvest and post-harvest management practices for cut flower crops.
  • Develop a production plan for a cut flower crop.
  • Determine export market opportunities for cut flowers.

What You Will Do

  • Describe the botanical mechanisms involved in the process of flower initiation for different plant genera.
  • Explain the effect of carbon dioxide enrichment on flowering for a specified plant species.
  • Determine the factors causing aging of flowers in different genera of commercially grown cut flowers.
  • Compare three different treatments to preserve cut flowers after harvest, including: *Glycerine *Drying *Pressing.
  • Determine procedures to produce cut flowers out of season for different cut flower species.
  • Compile a resource file of different sources of information regarding commercial cut flower varieties, including: *Publications *Suppliers of seed and/or planting stock *Industry associations *Relevant government contacts.
  • Describe herbaceous perennials suitable to cut flower growing in a specific locality.
  • Describe annuals and biennials suitable to flower growing in a specific locality.
  • Describe bulbs, corms, rhizomes or tubers suitable for cut flower growing in a specific locality.
  • Describe plant varieties commonly used as fillers in the floristry trade.
  • Differentiate between twenty different plant varieties suitable as cut flowers, including: *Family, genus, species & variety name (if applicable) *a description of the physical characteristics of the plant *a flower description, flowering season and length of flowering.
  • Develop criteria for the selection of plant varieties to be grown as cut flower crops on a specified property.
  • Determine Australian native plants with potential as a cut flower crop in a specific locality.
  • Determine different exotic plants with potential as cut flower crops in a specific locality.
  • Explain the success of specified Australian plant varieties as cut flowers.
  • Describe different plant varieties suited to grow as cut flowers, including; Family, genus, species & variety name (if applicable) a description of the physical characteristics of the plant *flower description, flowering season and length of flowering.
  • Analyse the commercial viability of different cut flower crops being produced in a specified situation.
  • Perform simple tests on different soils to determine: *Soil type *pH *Drainage *Water holding capacity.
  • Compare the performance of a specified variety of cut flower in different soil types.
  • Determine appropriate cut flower crops to grow in different types of soils from your region.
  • Recommend soil preparation techniques for a specific site, for a specified cut flower crop.
  • Compare the suitability of different types of fertilisers for use with different cut flowers.
  • Analyse the nutritional management being practiced by different growers, on specified cut flower crops.
  • Identify nutrient disorders on different cut flowers.
  • Explain the results of a plant tissue analysis to provide fertilizing recommendations.
  • Compare plant establishment techniques for five different cut flowers, including planting and staking.
  • Explain the applications for different types of irrigation system, for cut flower production, on sites you visit.
  • Differentiate between greenhouse and open field growing of a specified cut flower crop, grown in a specific locality.
  • Develop guidelines for the pruning of different flower crops.
  • Determine common pest and disease problems, on specified cut flower crops, in your locality.
  • Prepare pest and disease management plans, for a twelve month period (or the life of crop), for different cut flower crops.
  • Compare commercially available propagation methods for different species of cut flowers.
  • Evaluate the use of ground and tap water for use on a specific cut flower crop.
  • Develop an integrated pest management program for a specific cut flower crop.
  • Describe common harvesting techniques for cut flowers.
  • Compare alternative post-harvest storage facilities for cut flowers.
  • Explain the commercial grading procedures for different types of cut flowers.
  • Determine the quality of five different cut flowers inspected by the learner, using a standard judging system.
  • Describe methods to extend cut flower life during storage and transport.
  • Evaluate the market value of different specified cut flower crops.
  • Determine cut flower crops with under developed commercial potential in the learner's locality.
  • Describe appropriate post-harvest techniques for a selected flower crop.
  • Determine factors which effect the marketability of a selected flower crop.
  • Describe appropriate marketing methods for a selected flower crop.
  • Prepare a management plan, including: *materials and equipment lists *schedules of crop husbandry tasks *estimates of production costs *marketing strategies *contingency plans, for three selected flower crops.
  • Describe the production requirements for exporting cut flowers to a specified country.
  • Describe the market requirements for cut flower exporting to a specific country.
  • Analyse the current export market for cut flowers, including; *quantities and types of flowers being exported *where cut flowers are being exported to *prices growers are obtaining *trends in the market.

The flower industry has always been in some respects a luxury; which has thrived as economies thrive.

As the developing world continues to become more affluent, this is an industry that seems set to also grow.

Flowers are in demand all year round with peak requirements at special times of the year, such as for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Christmas, and so on. Particular festivals often influence the type of flowers required eg. red roses for Valentine’s Day.

Floriculture businesses produce fresh and dried flowers and foliage for a mixture of markets such as wholesale flower markets, florists and retail outlets, and in some cases for export. The wide range of different flowers and foliage grown can include roses, carnations, orchids, native flowers, bulb and annual flowers, and tropical flowers. Some flower farms also grow flowers in open fields for their essential oils.

Floriculture includes propagating, growing and marketing of all cut flowers, flower seeds and seedlings, bulb growing, nursery operation, chemical protection of plants, post-harvest storage and handling and use of preservatives.
A proportion of flower production takes place in greenhouses. In addition to the greenhouse production, floriculture encompasses outdoor production of herbaceous plants and flowers, and field production of cut flowers.

 
WORKING IN THE FLOWER INDUSTRY

Cut flower growing work may vary a great deal, depending upon the type of plants grown, growing techniques used, and the harvesting methods.

Crop Options

  • Annual or Perennial herbaceous flower crops (e.g. carnations, sunflowers, poppies, stock, statice).
  • Bulbs (e.g. tulips, daffodils, gladioli, iris) - can sell both the bulbs and the flowers.
  • Woody perennial plants (e.g. roses, proteas, heathers).
  • Tropical or greenhouse plants (e.g. orchids, gingers, heliconias).

Production Methods may include:

  • Row crops in open paddocks.
  • Greenhouse Production.
  • Hydroponic Growing 
  • Potted colour (growing pots of flowers)
  • Harvesting from the wild or gardens

In garden settings, gardens created with beds of cut flower producing plants may have a dual purpose (e.g. a large rose garden may attract visitors who pay to enter the garden, buy food at a café, and the flowers may then be harvested and sold as cut flowers through a flower market).

Some rural producers may grow cut flowers along with other things as a cash crop. A market gardener, for instance, who is primarily growing vegetables, may have a hedge of proteas or banksias around their property acting as a windbreak, but also providing a flower crop that can be sold for additional income.


Work tasks may vary depending upon what is grown, how flowers are grown and how they are harvested stored and marketed.

Growing annual flowers, herbaceous perennials, or bulbs in open paddocks may be relatively low tech. Routine tasks may include cultivating paddocks, planting, weeding, watering, spraying pests, harvesting flowers, lifting and dividing bulbs, post-harvest handling (e.g. packing, applying chemicals to lengthen the flowers lifespan), and shipping.

Flowers grown in a greenhouse or in hydroponics can be a relatively high-tech operation, requiring a high level of scientific knowledge and hands on technical skills. Some flower farms use very sophisticated equipment to control light, temperature and humidity conditions in order to manipulate flowering times. Both potted and in ground plants can be  grown this way to produce flowers all year round, or at times of the year when they are not normally available.  People who work on these more sophisticated farms will still need to get their hands “dirty” at times - but with a high level of automation, they may sometimes feel that their job is more akin to a factory manager than a farmer.

People who work with perennial flowers grown as row crops, as hedges, or in garden beds, will have a different daily routine to those growing annuals. For instance, a big part of rose growing is pruning - something which may be done rarely if at all with some annual flowers. It can take one to several years to establish a planting of woody perennials, before you begin harvesting, but once producing, you do not need to replant each year.

Opportunities
Cut flowers are always in demand.
You may already be growing flowers; or might be planning on developing something on a property that you already have.

  • Farmers will sometimes grow cut flowers as a sideline to provide added income and diversify their risks
  • New comers to the industry may be seeking to buy an established farm, or set up a new one
  • Even small properties of an acre or less can be large enough for a viable cut flower farm; particularly if you are growing very productive cultivars, or using technology (eg. hydroponics or greenhouse growing), to enhance productivity.

Demand for flowers exists twelve months of the year; particularly for weddings, funerals and other occasions; but demand heightens occurs at certain times (e.g. St Valentine’s day).

In many places around the world, certain flowers are seasonal; many cut flower growers have built a successful business based upon providing flowers outside of the normal season. Other growers have achieved success by finding and introducing a type of flower that is not readily available in a market.  

Some flowers are always in high demand and low supply. Everyone tends to love orchids, roses and lavender, for instance, so these are always highly saleable - but the farmer does need to be careful to not oversupply the market, 

What You Needed?
A cut flower grower needs land, knowledge and somewhere to sell.
This course can set you on the right path to gaining the knowledge and finding potential customers. If you already have some land, you are ahead of the game before you begin; but don't be deterred if you don't.

It is a valuable skill to be able to grow a healthy, unblemished flower that is durable after harvest. Once you learn that; you will be an attractive employee for any flower farm seeking staff.

Some growers will sell their produce direct at the farm gate and to retailers (perhaps through a wholesale market stall, or off a truck), while others may sell through an agent.

A more sophisticated greenhouse or hydroponic flower farm will normally be a much greater initial investment, but can be highly productive in the produce it yields per acre per year.  The cut flower farmer here needs to be a very good business manager and employ highly skilled technical staff, if the farm is to return an appropriate profit for the investment made.



Credentials

ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development
ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development

Member of the Institute of Horticulture Careers Advisory Bureau
Member of the Institute of Horticulture Careers Advisory Bureau

Member of Study Gold Coast, Education Network
Member of Study Gold Coast, Education Network

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association

ACS is recognised as an institution by IARC
ACS is recognised as an institution by IARC



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Marie has over 7 years in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie has been a co author of several ebooks in recent years, including "Roses" and "Climbing Plants". Marie's qualifications include B. Sc., M.Hort. Dip. Bus. Cert. Ldscp.
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Leading horticultural expert in Australia. Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer. She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe. In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others. Rosemary has a B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing
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