Think they’re just another pretty face? Think again. Flowers are among the most profitable plants you can grow! And the best part? You don’t need a lot of space. How does flower’s profit power stack up? Let’s find out!
The sun rises, sparkling off the morning dew, you wake to greet a yard filled with beautiful, fresh-smelling, bee-supporting flowers. Or perhaps you climb your fire escape to your rooftop container garden.
As you step outside and admire your brimming garden beauties, a feeling of calm satisfaction permeates your being. Only now, with your new flower business in mind, you can also enjoy the thrill of watching your bank account grow!
Just how much profit power?
A lot. Cut flowers are one of the most profitable crops that can be grown. According to the University of Wyoming Extension’s 2014 report, growers of specialty flowers in the U.S. report sales of $25,000 to $30,000 per acre!
Domestic cut flowers are a powerhouse industry with an estimated annual wholesale value of $326 million! Thinking that maybe you ought to pluck a profit petal off this blossoming industry?
But perhaps you’re not sure if you have enough space.
Click here to watch A Growing Business interview a flower farmer about the joys of small footprint flower farming and its benefits for the community and planet!
Love flowers, but not sure if arranging bouquets is for you? The good news, cut flowers are only one way for flower growers to earn a profit. Read on.
Can I grow flowers where I live?
Yes! The states that top the USDA’s list of flower growers are California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio.
Here I sit, writing this post from Southeast Michigan, where the February temperature is a balmy 14 degrees (and that’s without wind chill!). In a state known to have so much cloud coverage, we are second to Seattle; the fact that we are on the list lets you know – you can grow flowers anywhere!
Even if you don’t have much land, and borrowing or leasing land is not an option, innovations in urban and small space gardening techniques mean you can grow flowers anywhere – in containers, in hay bales, and on rooftops!
Many flowers can even be grown indoors hydroponically! (A topic we will be diving deeper into in future posts!)
How to “Petal” Your Petals
Ah, you know how I love a good agricultural pun! Especially when there are so many ways to peddle your sun-ripened beauties!
Cut Flowers command a much higher profit margin than other crops. Single stalks of desirable varieties like sunflowers sell for $4 to $6 each. Choose these varieties and arrange bouquets that are colorful, bold, and long-lasting to grab interest and keep customers happy!
A large percentage of cut flowers are imported. U.S. growers distinguish themselves by growing non-traditional varieties that don’t ship well. The best news is these same blossoms command a premium price! As a sustainable, locally grown product, they also command premium market attention!
Dried Flowers have increased in popularity as more people use them for DIY projects. They also command a healthy profit with dried bouquets of plants like lavender selling for up to $8. Dried flowers are sold to hobbyists, craft stores, or as decorations for events like weddings.
Ever want to not deal with actual face-to-face human interactions? I hear ya! Well, get this, because dried flowers are long-lasting, they can even be sold online through platforms like Etsy! (Thank you, digital age. You so get me.)
Click here if you are ready to start a dried flower business and want to learn how!
Edible Flowers are exploding. It’s the age of Instagram, and every online baker and chef wants eye-catching photos of visually stunning dishes. So which late arriver is strutting into the online party with a coy, “Oh, you’ve finally noticed me?” Edible flowers, the new supermodels of food fashion.
Soaps and candles. We’ve all seen the soaps made with dried lavender bits or the candles with rose petals. Local vendors of personal care products love to connect with growers in their area who can supply fresh, local, sustainable fresh and dried flowers that give their products distinction and command higher price points.
Essential Oils While pure essential oils can require distilling equipment and large quantities of flowers to produce small amounts; other infusion methods simply require soaking smaller quantities of flowers or herbs in a carrier oil, such as grapeseed or olive. The resulting products can be sold as edible oil, scented massage oils, or for use in professional care products and aromatherapy!
Dyes. This past summer, we camped at a farm that ran a small CSA and grew flowers, like calendula, for use as textile dyes. The colors are typically captured by a simple process of boiling the flower parts for several hours. The resultant dyes can be used to create your own products or sold to fashion and home textile producers or artists and artisans. I know a painter who uses natural, non-traditional mediums like this for her paintings.
Where to Sell
The possibilities are ripe for the picking! Whether you aspire to sell to other businesses, direct-to-consumer, or a combination of both, flowers are an important part of daily life!
Local Businesses. Think about it. Those fresh bouquets you find on reception desks, conference tables, and eateries didn’t just spring up. A flower vendor supplies them, and that vendor could be you!
Professional service businesses like law firms, accountants, architects, escrow agents, and marketing firms often display flowers in conference rooms and reception areas. Clients like these contracts on an ongoing basis for a regular supply of premium blooms.
Retail and service businesses like spas, nail salons, boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops, and cafés are potential customers. Fresh flowers are popular to add charm, and dried flowers can also be used for décor, window dressing, especially during the holidays, or highlight a product line made from a particular bloom, like lavender or rose.
Wedding and Event Planners. No celebration is complete without flowers, especially a wedding. Research current trends in wedding magazines or online, and then contact local vendors to pitch your picture-perfect blossoms. Dried flowers are another popular and interesting non-traditional way to decorate a special event.
Farmers Markets. What flower vendors love most about selling at farmer’s markets is that customers – and lots of them – come ready to shop. A good display of colorful, desirable blooms catches the attention of shoppers. Some vendors sell thousands of blooms at a single market. Contact and visit local farmer’s markets to get a sense of what is being sold and where you could carve a niche.
If your farmer’s market has an abundance of display flowers, you can distinguish yourself by growing lesser-known varieties, edible flowers, or focusing on the display. An eye-catching bouquet displayed in a unique, contemporary way – think driftwood vases, dangling air plants, or imagine this cool Etsy find retooled with your own dried flowers!
Restaurants and Bakeries use cut flowers to add charm and warmth to dining areas, even when those dining areas are inside socially-distanced tents! But did you know that both are potential markets for edible flowers and infused oils? Go into the sales pitch armed with some well-chosen online photos that highlight the appeal of a well-petaled cake, salad, dish, or pastry. These items can also be infused with fresh, locally produced rose oil!
Local grocers, especially smaller, specialty markets are potential markets for selling fresh flowers, infusions, or personal care products. Emphasize the community-nature of your business. Specialty markets love new, local community products because they appeal to customers!
Hotels/B&Bs/Airbnbs. Whether it’s a giant vase of flowers in the reception area of a local hotel or small bouquets in local Airbnb rooms, flowers boost the appeal and heighten the relaxing experience of well-worn travelers. Research your local short-stay market and contact property managers to sell them on a regular supply of fresh flowers, and while you’re at it, some of that lavender-infusion room spray you created!
Craft stores and local artisan groups. Whether for scrapbooking, creating home décor, or making ceramics or glassware, dried flowers are an important decorative element in many creative endeavors.
And if you really get into drying your own flowers, you can even create an additional side business drying bouquets for clients who want a memento of a special event like weddings, graduations, quinceaneras, and baptisms!
How to Sell
Tell your story in words and pictures. Do you live in the area? Have you been here for a while, or are you new and want to contribute to the community? What sustainable practices do you use? What do you love about working with flowers? A well-written blurb with eye-catching images can really warm the vendor-customer relationship and get people excited about buying from you.
A Blossoming Business
Flowers are not only beautiful, relaxing and fun to work with; they are relatively easy to grow and don’t require expensive, specialty gardening equipment. Many grow well in a small space. With a sales potential of $25,000 to $30,000 per acre, it is easy to determine that even with a smaller plot – and that can be pure land, patio, rooftop space, or a combination thereof – there is significant profit power potential!
When you consider the opportunities for additional sales from flower-related products, the profit potential keeps growing! Just like those $5 a pop sunflower stalks.
Click here to watch A Growing Business interview a small scale flower farmer!
Click here for a step-by-step guide to starting your own dried flower business!
Click here to subscribe to the A Growing Business YouTube channel and learn about more sustainable business practices!
Rosamond Rice is a fiction writer, blogger, and organic microfarming enthusiast living in Southeast Michigan.