How to Make Your First $1,000 with Cut Flowers
· What types of flowers should I grow as a beginner flower farmer?
· The one flower you should grow to make your first $1,000
· Where to buy Benary Giant Zinnias
· How to make your first $1,000 in cut flower sales
· How many flowers should you grow to earn $1,000?
· Low pressure and simplicity make hobby growing easier and more fun than a full-time business
In this article I’ll tell you exactly what you need to know to make your first $1,000 with cut flowers, and only what you need to know, so you can jump right in and start earning money growing flowers in your own backyard.
I’ll tell you exactly what flowers you should grow and where to get the seeds; how much you should grow; and how to sell them.
Once you break the wall and earn your first $1,000, you’ll know enough to really dig in to this beautiful and lucrative side hustle.
What types of flowers should I grow as a beginner flower farmer?
First off, start with what you already have. Chances are if you’re considering this side hustle, you already grow something. Even if the flowers you cultivate currently don’t look like what you typically see in stores (which may actually be a really good thing), keep growing them. You can sell them.
Now if you have a small garden and want to expand, your best bet for expansion is planting “cut-and-come-again” annuals from seed.
Cut-and-come-again species of flowers are breeds which throw up an additional shoot (or more than one) after you cut the first stem. These are things like Zinnias, Cosmos, and Amaranth.
Annual species are breeds which require replanting every season (they die off in the winter)
Planting from seeds which you start artificially or plant directly in the ground yourself is vital to keeping costs down when growing for profit. Many home gardeners are accustomed to buying seedlings from local nurseries, but once profit becomes one of the goals of your cut flower garden, buying seedlings often becomes cost prohibitive. As with any new business venture, I recommend avoiding unnecessary expenditures in the production process until you’ve proven you can sell the finished product.
Bottom line: use whatever you already have, but expand with inexpensive cut-and-come-again annuals which you’ve started yourself from seed.
We sell dahlias (did you know that??) but we actually don’t recommend you go out and buy lots of dahlia tubers if your goal is to start earning money quickly with cut flowers.
While dahlias are the undisputed queen of the cut flower garden, dahlias are fussier than many flowers and the seed stock (tubers) are orders of magnitude more expensive than annuals. If you have dahlias already, great – you can make good money with them.
If you’re not already a die-hard dahlia addict with a collection numbering in the hundreds: spend your first year’s seed budget on annual blooms. The money will go much farther. Then spend all your profits on more dahlia tubers! Just kidding. But also, sort of not.
The one flower you should grow to make your first $1,000 is Benary Giant Zinnias
It’s easy to make $1,000 in a season with nothing else but Benary Giant Zinnias.
Zinnias as a species are a staple of almost every cut flower garden for three reasons
· They are very easy to grow in almost any climate
· The seeds are very cheap (less than $0.08 a seed at retail prices)
· They are prolific producers (a true cut-and-come-again) species
· They’re beautiful and come in the whole rainbow of colors
· They are long lasting and sturdy in a vase
· Benary Giant Zinnias specifically are large with long, sturdy stems and can fill a bouquet quicky
Benary Giant Zinnias are a specific type of Zinnias specifically bred for use as a production cut flower. Don’t use any other!
Where to buy Benary Giant Zinnias
You can purchase seeds at any of these online resellers (we receive no commission for these recommendations):
· Eden Brothers
· Harris Seeds
· Johnny’s Seeds
· Select Seeds
· Seed Savers
Any of the above are great sources, but also check out Floret Farm’s extensive list of favorite seed sources.
How to make your first $1,000 in cut flower sales
The easiest way to earn your first grand in the cut flower biz is with a flower stand right outside your own home, or a neighbor’s home.
There are a few other beginner-friendly methods of earning money with flowers but by far the easiest, simplest, and most common is the venerable flower stand.
The premise is simple. You cut flowers. You put them out on the stand. People leave you money for them.
Believe me, it can get quite addictive. The first time you reach your hand into the cash box (or hear that *ding* from the Venmo notification) and see how your beautiful blooms “magically” turn into money, you’ll know what I mean.
How many flowers should you grow to earn $1,000?
To answer this question, you need to know two things: How many mature blooms (or “stems”) each individual plant will produce; and how much you will earn for each one of those stems.
Let’s imagine you only grew Benary Giant Zinnias, and answer each question one by one.
How many flowers can you get from one Benary Giant Zinnia plant?
Some seed sellers like Johnny’s seeds will tell you as many as 20-30 stems. Our experience is that this is a little optimistic. For an experienced grower, ten stems a season per plant in a well-managed garden is probably more realistic.
However, for a first-time grower, it’s safer to assume you’ll only get about 5 flowers from each plant you grow. Some seedlings will not survive, so you have to factor in attrition to the average yield from each plant in your garden. You may plant 12 seeds or even 12 seedlings, but only 10 may survive to produce flowers.
Attrition aside, the biggest factor in determining the yield from a cut flower garden is the experience of the grower. You’re going to learn a ton in your first season growing Zinnias, and I guarantee your second season will have a much higher yield.
For now, let’s assume each plant will yield 5 salable blooms.
On to the second question.
How much can you sell each Zinnia for?
Many wholesalers (the lowest dollar value end of the cut flower market) will buy top-quality Zinnias from growers for as little as $0.75 a stem; some floral designers (the highest dollar value end of the market) will eventually sell those same blooms for up to $3.00 a stem to the final customer, after adding the value of their services.
How much you can charge depends on market conditions in your area and your own skill at adding value to each stem (by creating beautiful arrangements with additional greenery, for example) but for most of the USA, you can safely assume that in your first year you can charge $1.50 per stem for the Zinnias on your flower stand (as of 2023).
So, let’s do the math.
Your goal is $1,000 in sales. Each plant yields 5 flowers. Each flower can be sold for $1.50
$1000 / $1.50 = 670 stems (rounded)
670 stems / 5 stems per plant = 134 plants.
I always add at least a 10% safety factor to our production numbers, and I would encourage you to do the same. It’s much better to have extra to spare than to have too few.
So, 134 plants + 10% extra (134 x 1.1) = 150 plants (rounded)
In order to earn $1,000 with cut flowers in your first season, you’ll need 150 zinnia plants.
A word to the wise: low pressure and simplicity make hobby growing easier and more fun than a fulltime flower business
As with any new side hustle, there is always the potential for burnout in your first year. To help you avoid that, I’d like you to consider two words in all your planning: Pressure and complexity.
In a hobby business, where your daily needs do not depend on the success or failure of the venture, there’s only as much stressful pressure as you bring to it.
And aside from the need rather than the desire to make significant profits from their activities, the biggest source of pressure for full-time flower farmers is the complexity of their operations.
It’s much, much more complicated to produce and sell $50,000 of flowers in a season than it is to produce and sell $1,000 in a season.
Fulltime farmers have to build sizeable sales machines; plan out marketing campaigns; purchase and maintain expensive equipment; fund payroll and insurance; and rigorously plan every single calendar day of the natural growing season (and usually, well outside of the natural growing season) to ensure they can consistently grow, sell, and deliver high volumes of product.
If you want to have a whole lot of fun and make some good money with flowers without a lot of stress, here are my two critical words of advice: Keep it simple, and keep it small.
Keep it simple
Stick to the natural growing seasons. Farming gets costly and complicated very quickly as soon as you step outside the natural rhythms of nature.
Unless you’re already an experienced gardener and also rolling in expendable cash, don’t bother with things like hoop houses, basement hydroponics, or even succession planting. Do everything as close to how nature intended as possible, during the natural growing seasons.
If you try to squeeze every dollar and every ounce of productivity out of a growing season by artificial means you’ll almost certainly squeeze out all the fun with it.
Keep it small
Grow only what you can easily handle with the equipment and labor which you already have. If all you’ve got is your two hands, a garden rototiller, and a lawn mower, don’t try to do what the Instagram farmer with the tractor, three employees, and a full-time business partner does.
Just plant a couple hundred blooms, enjoy yourself, and learn a lot in your first season. After you’ve got a little experience under your belt, you can make a more informed decision about how much (if at all) you’d like to expand next year.