Growing and selling cut flowers is a challenging occupation that takes experience in farming and marketing. The competition for a local flower grower and seller comes from overseas as well as domestically. However, most cut flower sellers who grow flowers start off small by finding a niche. That is, they find a part of the business larger operations cannot fill. For example, Zinnia flowers make a nice long lasting cut flower, but do not ship well, so a local grower can deliver a superior fresh product. Defining your target market is also an important part of becoming a successful cut flower seller.
Research the potential customers in your area. If you have a speciality product, you can contact flower wholesalers that sell to florists or you can contact florists directly. You can find out where they are by looking in the phone book yellow pages or do an Internet search.
Visit the potential customer and tell them about your product and when it will be available. If possible, have some product on hand so you can show them the quality of the product you offer. You might give them free samples to encourage business. Consult the USDA Cut Flower Wholesale Price Report to get an idea of what you should charge.
Contact the customer via fax or e-mail once a week at the agreed time to send them your availability list and prices. Never be late, because they can always order from someone else. Also, it is important to quote the prices in standardised quantities the customer is accustomed to seeing on other order sheets. For example, sunflowers are quoted in five stem bunches and Zinnias are quoted in 10 stem bunches.
Deliver the flower orders on time and in perfect condition. No one wants to buy flowers that look bad or are past their prime. For that reason, you must know the correct time to cut the flowers and how long they can stay in a cooler after they are cut. For example, wholesalers want Sunflowers one-half open while a florist may want them three-quarters open. Zinnias must be cut when fully open with pollen showing because they do not continue to open after cutting.
Keep good records so you know if a flower is making a profit. Some flowers may need an extraordinary amount of fertiliser, water or pesticides that add so much to the cost, you lose money when you price it competitively. Roses are a good example of a flower that is expensive to grow with little room for higher pricing in the market.
Don't forget Farmer's Markets are a good place to sell cut flowers. Visit the market first to find out what the competition is like and if the pricing is fair before taking the plunge. Also, remember flowers displayed outside must be sold quickly because of heat and wind damage that may occur.