This time of year is all too familiar for most farmers, the slow down of the winter season allows for much needed rest, reflection and planning for the fast approaching growing season. As a beginning flower farmer, working with the shorter growing season in our pocket of Virginia has made me take a much closer look at how season extension can help bring my flowers to market sooner. As the winter weather starts to thaw, people are desperate for those first bursts of color and life that only spring blooms can bring. Early blooming cut flowers can add an eye-catching boost to your farmer’s market table, farm-stand, or wholesale offering. If your operation is already set up for season extension with an unheated high tunnel, caterpillar tunnels or a greenhouse, flowers can be an easy and profitable addition to add into the mix.
When growing cut flowers you have a few great options depending on how much time and space you wish to dedicate. There are varieties that can be sown in the fall, allowed to establish before winter sets in and can survive the winter with minimal protection. These will come back to bloom in spring before any early spring seeded flowers. Another option is to fall start bulbs and corms in either trenches or bulb crates with minimal covering during extended freezing periods for some of the earliest cut flowers. You can also begin sowing seeds in winter (Jan/Feb) in a heated greenhouse for early crops of most spring and summer varieties. Seeing what kind of flowers fellow growers in your community have can also help you figure out what your climate can support or show you a flower niche that you might be able to fill!
Fall Sow for Early Spring Blooms:
- Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia)
- Sweet Williams (Dianthus)
- Bachelor Buttons
- Sweet Peas
Spring Flowering Bulbs/Corms:
- Daffodil (fragrant Narcissus)
Early Spring Sow:
- Icelandic Poppy
- Bells of Ireland
- Nigella (Love-in-a-Mist)
- Chinese Forget-Me-Nots