On top of vegetables, cut flowers are gaining popularity in the market. Maybe you’ve considered adding flowers to your repertoire of vegetables, but you don’t know where to start. If so, then this episode is for you.
Benny and Courtney Pino of Abby Garden Floral (previously Loblolly Farms) made a list of the top 10 warm-season flowers to grow or consider growing in a small farm to get you started on growing those blooms. We’ll go into the why of each flower, how difficult it is to grow, and how you might want to use that in a bouquet.
Today’s Guest: Benny & Courtney Pino
Previously vegetable growers, Benny and Courtney have switched to marketing cut flowers over in Abby Garden Floral (previously Loblolly Farm). Alongside growing and selling flowers, Courtney also does flower bouquet arrangements for weddings.
In this episode of Farm Small, Farm Smart
- Warm-season, cool-season, and crossover flowers (02:30)
- Limiting to bouquet flowers (05:30)
- Warm-season vs. Cool-season flowers (07:05)
- Harvest periods vs. features (09:50)
- Planning and harvest windows (13:00)
- Sunflowers (16:25)
- Disease resistance (17:00)
- Zinnia (28:34)
- Choosing variety (30:50)
- Harvest cycle (34:25)
- Cosmos (35:10)
- Whimsical feel (38:25)
- Celosia (40:00)
- Bouquet work and colors (43:20)
- Gomphrena (45:55)
- Marigold (49:15)
- Bouquet arrangement with marigolds (52:35)
- Dahlia (55:10)
- Variety (57:00)
- Bouquets (58:50)
- Tubers (01:02:10)
- Basil (01:04:45)
- Wilting and preserving (01:05:45)
- Frosted explosion grass (01:08:15)
- Hibiscus foliage (01:11:30)
- Work to learn (01:15:15)
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Diego: [00:00:00] Today, it's the top 10 warm season flowers that you should be growing on a small farm. Stay tuned for that. Coming up. Welcome to farm small farm smart. I'm your host Diego Dai ego today's episode is brought to you by paper podcast, your source for all things, farm efficiency. That's the direction we're trying to go.
And we're trying to provide tools. And resources like this podcast to make the work that you do more efficient and more effective. So that's why we sell tools like the paper pot transplanter, which allows you to get onto and off the field very quickly when it comes time to transplant crops. Now, when you think paper, pot, transplanter, you might be thinking it's only useful for vegetables, but as we go through this flower series with Benny and Courtney Pino, keep in mind.
That the majority of crops that they transplant are done using the paper pot transplanter. So yes, the paper pot transplanter can be used with flowers. Now, what types of flowers? A lot of them, and some of them you'll hear mentioned today in this episode. Now let's get to that.
In today's episode, I'm joined by both Benny and Courtney Pino, and we're talking the top 10 warm season flowers that you should be growing or at least consider growing if you're a small farm that wants to grow in produce cut flowers. As we go through this list, we'll get into the why of each type of flower, how difficult it is to grow and how you might want to use that in a bouquet when you ultimately harvest it and go to sell it.
There's a lot of information in this one. Benny and Courtney are a wealth of knowledge and I'm grateful to have them come on and do this series and share their knowledge with you all. So let's jump right into it and get to that top 10 list with the flower growers. Benny and Courtney Pino join with Benny and Courtney Pino.
And today we're talking flowers again, specifically 10 flowers, warm weather flowers that you should look into growing. If you're growing flowers. When I first approached you about this idea of these 10 flowers, how did you start to think about it? There's a lot of choices out there and you're the one that suggested the warm season flower list.
When you think about putting this list together, why warm season and why in general, did you put these types of flowers on the list?
Benny Pino: [00:02:31] So I sent you this list of warm season annuals because they were the first flowers that we ever learned about and what most growers going into the flower space will first encounter.
They are sunflowers, zinnias, and cosmos. They are the flowers you grow during the middle of the summer and are the easiest to be successful with. So I really wanted to start people off with the flowers that they can build confidence on.
Diego: [00:02:58] And when you talk warm season, cool season, and then there's also this concept, which we were talking about, and you emailed me about a kind of transitional or crossover flowers. When you start trying to slot flowers into these categories, how would you define warm season cool season and then crossover?
Benny Pino: [00:03:19] Warm season flower. That's going to be frost tender. It's going to be a flower that you absolutely have to plant after your last frost state and is going to grow really well during your hottest months.
A cool season flower is it's a very unique category that most gardeners slash farmers who do veg wouldn't have much experience with the closest analogy I can give is like a, spinach, but even then, so there's these flowers. Are planted mostly in the fall. if you plant a cool season flower in the fall and it overwinters, it does exceptionally well in the springtime.
And one of the main reasons you want to do that is because they're the first flowers to bloom and you really get a leg up, you get Your cool season flowers coming up a month to even a month and a half before your warm season flowers are notoriously, long to maturity. They're about two to three times longer to maturity than most of your vegetables. So you definitely, they want to have that ability to grow cool season flowers and have them early in the spring.
And then the crossover category. I just call them that. I've never read that anywhere, but there's a lot cool season flowers than there are warm season flowers. But a lot of those flowers, say Snapdragon, for example, technically is a very hardy cool seasoned flower, but it's very resilient in the heat as well.
So I've started to call them crossover because honestly you could grow them in the spring time and only in the warmest places, which are snapdragons, suffer too much that you wouldn't even want to grow them in the summer. So I've started to coin those crossovers.
Diego: [00:05:04] And Courtney, when you guys were thinking about this, of putting together, 10 flowers everybody should think about one of the parameters for narrowing this down was, how are we going to utilize these flowers? There's a lot of ways the flowers could be utilized and you guys came down to bouquets. So these are 10 flowers warm season that you should grow. If you're thinking about arranging and selling bouquets. Why is that constraint of we're going to limit this to bouquet flowers important when you think about the range of what is out there?
Courtney Pino: [00:05:38] So, like for example, when you start talking about sunflowers, which is the first, the first flower on the list, you can, there's so many different types of choose from and we'll get to that. but we wanted to focus on bouquets. Because that's where the most of the sales and the profit is going to come from is those value added.
But for example, sunflowers. You can buy the bigger varieties and grow the bigger varieties and sell those percent, or, in a group of five or eight. Whereas when you're doing bouquet work, you really want those kinds of slender stems. They're easier to work with. So we opt toward different types of varieties of sunflowers for bouquet work versus selling by the stem, but you'll have more profit, and higher return on those value added bouquets.
Benny Pino: [00:06:24] And I also want to point out that the cooler season flowers are more predominantly popular with your florists, especially wedding florists, I should say and that's one of the markets that we're trying to appeal to.
as soon as you get good at cool season flowers, then you can open the door to another venue or another market stream. But with the warm seasons, you definitely have what you need for bouquets.
Diego: [00:06:50] Painting the very broad strokes here. Warm season flowers versus cool season flowers is one harder than the other?
Benny Pino: [00:07:00] Oh yeah. There's A whole book that is, by Lisa Ziglar called cool season flowers. And I, I suggest that everyone, if they get interested in growing cooler season flowers, that they check that book out. She explains everything pretty clearly, but to give you like a snapshot, the warm season flowers are where I suggest everyone start, kinda like I was mentioning earlier because they are a lot more resilience and you don't have to, continue with winter.
If you want to over winter flowers, these cool season ones, you have to hit the timing just right. Like we failed with them a number of times, I'm not gonna go into too many details with that right now. But yeah, I would say definitely warmer seasons are much easier.
Courtney Pino: [00:07:43] And the warm season flowers, they coincide with vegetable growing really well, so you're starting them around the same time if they have the same, very similar days to maturity. You can, these are this list has some of the lower, days to maturity as flowers go. It's an easy add-in to a vegetable farm, as far as the whole process is concerned, whereas once you start getting into those cool season flowers, there's a lot more, special rules and this one likes to be treated this way and a lot of different things that they require to be successful.
And there's a learning curve with that, a significant learning curve, which we're still going through.
Diego: [00:08:31] Yeah. Like everything. I imagine it's a experience game and the more you get the easier it gets. Given your experience now with growing these, when you think about putting 10 on a list�10, that everybody should think about growing, how do you look at something like length of harvest?
Meaning let's say we're talking cut lettuce, you might be able to get depending on your climate. Four or five cuts out of that same planting over six weeks. When you think about flowers, do you look for that same type of criteria? Do you want something that you can plant harvest and then it'll regrow?
Or are you looking at stuff that depending on what features it has, it's just a one and done, you cut it. And it's over. When you think about this list and what people can grow, do they want long harvest periods?
Benny Pino: [00:09:28] Yeah, that's a really big topic. And one that I've had, a lot of different, I've researched exhaustively and there's many different ways that growers approach the answer to that question.
And I would suggest that when people start out that they look at something that is a little bit longer blooming and has more cuts. I read a really great paper recently about zinnias detailing they researched, how long it took for them to get to cut. And it was like 60 days.
And then their peak when they were blooming, at peak blooming, and they were harvesting the most cuts, or the most stems per bed was right around, eight weeks and then it kept going for four weeks and then it dropped off. What are you trying to get out of bed is the first question I was at would ask yourself, what are your expectations?
And I would say for most people, a bed of zinnias is going to be really productive across six to eight weeks. And you don't need to worry about peak production, but on a flower farm that's trying to burn and turn let's say a thousand bouquets a week, then you end up.
Focusing on just those four weeks where zinnias are truly in their peak production, but to give it more of a simple answer, a lot of these, warm weather flowers will keep cranking out, just say a kale crop will, so you can cut and come again. And that's a lot of their appeal.
Courtney Pino: [00:10:56] You still need to turn them over and do have them on rotation.
I would say, similar to vegetable production. Probably not really planting, Benny gave the example of kale. You wouldn't want to plant it once you would one, I would say you probably want to plant it
Benny Pino: [00:11:14] like three or four times a season.
Courtney Pino: [00:11:16] Yeah. but you're the, those star cut and come again flowers are those perennials. Once you start getting into perennials, you can come to those, quite often. And that's a whole another podcast.
Benny Pino: [00:11:29] Yeah. And so with our practice this year, we're actually going to clear cut beds every single week and then replant every single week. And we're doing it very differently than we have traditionally, but we can expand more on that later.
Diego: [00:11:46] And then thinking again about, let's say harvest periods and you probably want to spiel to supply bouquets over. A long period of the season. I don't think a lot of growers are going to put a lot of effort in just to have bouquet say four weeks a year. So you want to have it for maybe the better part of a market season.
How do you think about, let's say really fast growing crops, like the radish of flowers, something that you can plant harvest and turn over and do that versus something that might take a lot longer to get to maturity, but then have a longer harvest window?
Benny Pino: [00:12:24] Yeah, I need to burst anyone's bubble, but, there is no radish in the flower world.
Unfortunately, there are like�On this list, like Courtney was mentioning earlier the sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, they are more like a 60 day to maturity. And that's about as quick as you're going to get, and they will give you a five to six month growing season here. And that's really your principle market that you're going to be looking at.
Diego: [00:12:58] Okay. If there's 60 days at the short end, Looking at the list of 10. What do you think the long end is?
Benny Pino: [00:13:03] Dahlia's are a little longer to maturity and celosia. Most of these come in at 60, if you really look for them, but yeah. They'll come in at 75 or so, hibiscus foliage that can take a little while to get started, but then it's such a big plant and it's so productive that you have for almost the whole season.
Diego: [00:13:23] Okay. So with no real turn and burn quick radish crops in the flower world, this means you're planning ahead quite ahead to make sure that these things are in the ground, they'll be ready when you want to start selling them. And then it's just matching doing enough rotations or succession plantings to try and maintain enough variety to continue making bouquets over the period that you want.
Benny Pino: [00:13:52] Yes, that's correct. I feel like we have gotten so much better at our planning because of, the necessity in that, you also have to think about if you're growing per bouquet filling a bouquet out and having, you can't just have one or two flowers. if you were harvesting radishes, you could just bring those to market and they're a product in of itself.
You would have a harder time I'm like, zinnias by themselves or celosia by themselves. Sunflowers, you actually can sell by themselves. But that's the only exception really in there that, you can even take up like five or six sunflowers, put them in a bouquet of value, add them real quickly. And,
Courtney Pino: [00:14:29] you could do that with a sunflower cosmos and dahlia on that list. Those are the three�
Benny Pino: [00:14:36] So you should have a plan to have, I would say at least five, if not six or seven of these flowers in production at the same time.
Diego: [00:14:47] Okay. So I think these are all important macro considerations, and that's why I want to get into these before we got into the list, because there's a reason why these ones ended up on the list and there's some reasons people need to be thinking about when they look at this, if they want to try and parse it down. Number one on the list, it's came up quite a few times. It's sunflower. Why sunflower for a lot of farms.
Courtney Pino: [00:15:13] So some flowers are the easiest to grow of that list. They're the quintessential farm flower. I think when people are shopping at the farmer's market, they expect to see sunflowers. When that�s your market stream, you don't want to cut these out.
So there's so many different types of varieties which can make it seem overwhelming, but they're the flowers�they're just the easiest to grow and you don't really have to do a lot of� pay a lot of attention to them or tend to them as much as some of the other crops.
When you're looking for sunflowers for bouquet work, you want to, the larger kind of thicker stem varieties can be difficult. So you want to look for, branching sunflowers. We like to use those for bouquet work while they can be smaller, they're much easier to work with when you're making a bouquet.
Diego: [00:16:09] What do you think the biggest diameter is of a sunflower that you'd want in a bouquet? If it's not justice on far because so it's going to have to balance out against the other flowers in the bouquet. How big is too big?
Courtney Pino: [00:16:22] I would say the three inch would be the highest that you'd want to go for the bloom diameter.
Benny Pino: [00:16:30] Yeah. They'll typically list like three to five inches for these ones. Something in that range.
Diego: [00:16:36] From my experience, looking at seed catalogs, sunflowers are like the tomatoes. I see lots and lots of varieties and you alluded to that. Beyond size, how do you think somebody narrows it down?
Do you go with a tried and true, the yellowish color scheme? There's oranges. there's ones that look like fluffy and fuzzy. There's different petal shapes. How do you avoid analysis paralysis and just say, Hey, I need something that's going to work and be productive.
Courtney Pino: [00:17:08] So the another quality to look for is pollen list a that's something that not all sunflowers and the pollen list if it's not the worst thing in the world to have a sunflower that has pollen, then what happens is it just dust the table underneath, but pollen can stain clothes and it's not always appealing, to have to wipe that up all the time from the table. So that's another quality we look for.
The sunflowers tend to de-petal if they're harvested too late. So we also look for that in the descriptions. And where they say that, the bill last longer in the base or, they make a better cut flower, things like that. As for color, you definitely want to have those quintessential yellow sunflowers, the black centers and then we get creative and pick two more like maybe something that's strawberry or red, or maybe a little bit paler, yellow, but I would say maybe growing about, one non-branching sunflower that has to be, that one has to be rotated quite often. And then I would choose to branching sunflowers, in a yellow and like a different color. So I probably wouldn't go more than three or four varieties.
Benny Pino: [00:18:28] So for your single cut, sunflowers, a single stem, I would go with something in the procut series, most likely. I can't tell you how many times I've heard other flower growers say that's the series that they prefer the most.
So there's a good variety within the pro cut. we tend to find them most easily from Johnny's and there's a lot of information on them there. And/or GOC and the pro con you want to cut like usually the whole bed. There's very few growers that I've ever heard that do multiple cuts from a bed of single stem sunflowers. And with the branching sunflowers, you can usually get three to four weeks.
Diego: [00:19:11] When you think about growing these and some of the practices that go along with growing them is a sunflower or a sunflower, or do you notice different? Let's say disease resistance, difficulty in growing some of these subtle cultivars of sunflowers.
Benny Pino: [00:19:28] Yeah. The branching sunflowers are definitely a little more difficult because you're trying to keep them in the field longer. And so some diseases will creep up. we're part of a mailing list and there was a recent discussion where a lot of people chimed in and said that the branching ones were typical for them or even ones that weren't highly hybridized.
So the ProCut series is. Again, like a lot more resilient for the most part, and they're faster to maturity. So you get them out of the, bed of the ground before those diseases creep up. And then another trick is to harvest them before they, they fully open.
You want to harvest a sunflower when it's showing it's yellow and cracking. If you're going to bring it to market just a little bit later, it's a little bit tricky, you have to get the learning curve right with when you're going to bring the flour to market, because you want it to be in mostly full display people, walking up and picking your, bouquets from the stand are always going to gravitate towards something that's like fully open, even though that really, that means that they're not going to get as much baseline after it, out of it. But if you bring it to say a florist, they're going to understand it doesn't need to be fully open yet.
Diego: [00:20:40] What about general growing practices of sunflowers or we'll do this with all the flowers as we go through the list. One being very difficult, five being easy. Where do you put some flour on the list?
Courtney Pino: [00:20:53] Five for sure. It's probably, I think it's the easiest out of all of them to grow.
Benny Pino: [00:20:58] Yeah,
Courtney Pino: [00:20:59] for sure.
Diego: [00:21:00] I guess one thing I'm thinking of too, in farm planning or crop planning, you're going to want to have a nice balance of stuff out there, but you only have so many beds. Is this a crop that you plant heavy? Like you put more beds in sunflower than other stuff, because you want maybe more sunflower more consistently, or how do you think about that?
Benny Pino: [00:21:26] So I think starting out you do, because there's a small caveat in that you can sell a bouquet of sunflowers by itself and, if you�re really nervous about getting into flowers, you could hedge your bets by doing that.
And, the other thing is that I've noticed to be wholesalers. They'll take a bunch of sunflowers too, because they have a hard time getting them from overseas. We've had wholesalers tell us that they buy local for sunflowers as well. so yeah, I would definitely hone in on your sunflowers. There's about three or four flowers on this list that you almost couldn't plants too much of. And sunflowers is definitely one of those.
I will say that as we've gotten more into growing for different market streams and we've curated our brand we've. Cut back on the sunflowers a lot, because we want to elevate the color palette and the selections that were marketing. So we've come down a lot on the sunflower over time, even though it's a good like gateway flower.
Courtney Pino: [00:22:34] And for bouquet work, you'll probably only use three sunflowers in each bouquet. So for, they are the star of the bouquets, so you're not really trying to stuff so many in there.
When, if you're thinking exclusively for bouquet work, then you would probably want to cut back on, mass plantings of sunflowers, just because you can't really utilize. As many in a single bouquet, but, as Benny was saying, I would�building confidence is so important and, since they're so easy to grow, I would just go ham on the sunflowers and then just make bunches of straight sunflowers.
Diego: [00:23:14] Thinking of that. What do you think is the most straight sunflower bouquets you could get out of say a 50 foot bed? Do you have some sort of number. That ties to that. So somebody said they plant 50 feet of sunflower in a 30 inch bed. Do you have any, is that a hundred bouquets? Is that 500 bouquets?
Benny Pino: [00:23:35] I would say it's between 50 and a hundred. You can grow sunflowers, very intensively. You could direct seed them. And there's a six-inch spacing on say� The closer you grow them together, the more upright they're going to grow and the smaller they're going to be. And so I would tell people to go more like six to nine inches on their sunflowers, even though a lot of catalogs will say 12 or 18, those, the recommendations are for like full size head. And I would steer people down on that spacing in order to afford more production. And so in that case, you can fill a bed with quite a few stems.
I would say if you made a bouquet with between five to eight sunflowers piece that you could probably get in the neighborhood of 50 to a hundred bouquets from a full cut.
Courtney Pino: [00:24:29] So the single-stem varieties, you want to plant closer together. Then the branching varieties definitely need more room. If you're making straight bouquets of, probably I would say nine to 12 inches on those, two nine, you'll get absolutely a hundred straight sunflower bouquets out of a branching sunflower bed.
Benny Pino: [00:24:52] But over time. Not all at once.
Courtney Pino: [00:24:54] Right. And then the single stems that you can plant and those that four to six-inch range. For that I would, I don't like working with six stems, so I would probably go on the four-inch spacing and then you could probably get around like the 50 to kind of 75.
Diego: [00:25:12] And if you were selling straight sunflower bouquets at your market, what could you charge for that?
Courtney Pino: [00:25:19] We charge a dollar stem. Is that right?
Benny Pino: [00:25:22] Yeah. That's what we hit. It's been a little while since we've done that. We would always sell them for just a little bit less than our main bouquets. So we would charge like 10 to 15 for our bouquets with variety in it. And then the sunflower bouquets we'd sell for eight. Yeah. Five to eight.
Diego: [00:25:40] Okay. So that's pretty good. So if you think about it, just doing some rough math, five stems per bouquet at a dollar, a piece that's five bucks. And let's say you get on the low end 50 bucks or 50 bouquets per bed $250 of revenue out of a bed on sunflower.
Courtney Pino: [00:25:59] Yep. That's low. That's low balling it.
Diego: [00:26:03] Yeah. And in costs, I'm imagining, unless your labor is through the roof, like the seed's not going to cost you that much, that you're making money doing that.
Courtney Pino: [00:26:10] Right, for sure.
Diego: [00:26:10] So sunflowers, that's the main one that a lot of people can start off with, a lot of people are familiar with that. Go into number two on the list. Zinnia. Why is Zinnia on the list?
Benny Pino: [00:26:21] So here's where you're going to get a lot of, it's probably the most productive flower and has so much variety with your color. And so, I would say out of this whole list, it's probably my favorite next to Dahlia. And this is the one that like, I would almost plant like a whole farm too, just because with the different sizes and the different textures and the different colors, you could probably easily just grow these and have a business all by itself.
Diego: [00:26:55] And zinnias, that was one that you guys said that you could probably sell a whole bouquet of just zinnias?
Benny Pino: [00:27:01] I don't know if we mentioned it earlier, but yes, I think you could, absolutely. Most people are not like so obsessed with texture and nuances. Like when we get into wedding work and all that, we want to have, zinnias, aren't even popular with weddings.
Courtney Pino: [00:27:14] I disagree with that.
Benny Pino: [00:27:15] Okay, most weddings. I don't know. Like it depends on the style.
Courtney Pino: [00:27:17] I think they�re making a big comeback.
Benny Pino: [00:27:18] Oh okay, excuse me.
Diego: [00:27:22] And when you think zinnias, what's the rough say DTM on a Zinnia?
Courtney Pino: [00:27:26] that's 75 days.
Diego: [00:27:29] Yeah. Okay. So 75 days, really productive, a lot of variety. Difficulty to grow them one to five, one hard, five easy.
Courtney Pino: [00:27:39] I would say like a three to four, and I only put them at the just under sunflowers because they are way more susceptible to disease in a humid climate.
So while they get disease, they're still productive through it, but it definitely brings the quality down on the blooms. And so for us, we're in a very humid climate. So we have to, do more successions and more plantings just because they peter out a lot sooner just because of that disease.
Diego: [00:28:11] And with this one, is this a direct seed flower or is this a transplant?
Benny Pino: [00:28:16] No, we transplant, just about everything.
Courtney Pino: [00:28:20] You can direct seeds in, but you can also direct-seed sunflowers, but you run the risk of the birds eating the seed. So we just, transplant everything. And they're very easy to transplant and germinate. We've just found that, we like to control how much goes into the bed rather than come through and thin everything.
Diego: [00:28:40] When you think Zinnia, Benny mentioned a lot of colors, a lot of textures out there. How would you advise somebody to start picking, just go with what strikes to their eye?
Benny Pino: [00:28:49] I would say, think in the context of a size first, at least that's what I gravitate towards. Just because with the market bouquet again, you want to grab people's attention. And so there's a series called binaries, a giant. And they have, I am just shooting from the hip here. I'm guessing like eight to 10 different colors within the binary giant series.
And I would suggest that people start there and, you'll notice that their blooms are about four to even eight inches�maybe more like four or five.
Diego: [00:29:28] in Courtney. When you think about arranging zinnia with other flowers. And if we think about all the flowers on the list, would you say by the end of the episode, that if somebody grew everything, are all these flowers complimentary in a bouquet, or are you going to find some flowers that just don't work with each other in a bouquet?
Courtney Pino: [00:29:47] From this list, you could put all of these in a bouquet. That would be a lot, but, you could certainly do it, but I would, definitely break it up and you can with, with everything on this list, you can break it up into. I would say thirds, taking color into consideration and you could make, three different styles of bouquet in terms of variety.
Diego: [00:30:13] You guys find the need to maybe change up some of the colors, the textures of the pedals as you go through the season, or if you're competing against other market growers where you need something more eye catching or are just the traditional color seems like we talked about in sunflower, they stand out, they're striking enough.
There's somebody has to really try and overthink it to keep things exciting for their customers. If they're always used to seeing say red zinnias, they want to grow pink or whatever other colors out there.
Courtney Pino: [00:30:46] I don't think that you need to overthink the color if you're selling at market. The only area that you need to start really taking color into consideration is when you're doing wedding work or selling to florists who do wedding work. One of the greatest things about flowers is that you can buy seeds in a color mix. And if you're just starting out, I would suggest, or you�re, incorporating, flowers into your vegetable market stand, I would do a mix, in one bed and then you have a lot of choices. to go from in that 50 or a hundred feet and you can switch it up there.
Benny Pino: [00:31:24] And one neat thing that we learned recently is if it says formula mix, that means that the seeds were added at a formula. So that they're even in the ratios. So I would look a little more towards formula mixes, just because then you'll have an even distribution of those colors.
Diego: [00:31:42] And with zinnias are they harvest ones and it's done or are they what's the harvest let's say cycle, like on those?
Benny Pino: [00:31:51] Four to six weeks for peak Zinnia production, again, like what Courtney was saying, it has a lot to do with, your weather conditions. So we would at the max keep a zinnia bed going for four to six weeks. But you could leave them in for 15 weeks in some climates. And, then you're just going to have a smaller amount that you harvest from them per week, but they're branching. so every time you cut from them, you're going to get more glimpse following.
Diego: [00:32:23] Great, it sounds like a really good one to grow sunflowers. Zinnias number three on the list. Cosmos. I don't know if everybody's familiar with cosmos. Why did you like this one? And why do you think it has a place on this list?
Courtney Pino: [00:32:36] So cosmos are that kind of, provide that airy and whimsical feel, or feelings in a bouquet which is why I, wanted to include something like that, in, the warm season crops. And they're also super easy to grow as well. They have a longer day to maturity, so they're, more on the 90, 75 to 90 days of maturity. But when you like carry the bouquet that's the item or the flower that's going to stick out and like blow in the wind. And they're very fun and they're very whimsical.
Diego: [00:33:12] And from a growing standpoint, Benny, what's been your experience with cosmos easy to grow, hard to grow. Is it a one, is it five?
Benny Pino: [00:33:19] So on this list are actually. Probably one of my least favorite flowers to grow, but I think it's just because of personal experience.
I've heard a lot of people say that they're extremely easy, but I think that comes with just getting them established well, and once they're established, then they'll grow, very productively, but honestly I've had the least success overall with them.
From season to season, I would say you're going to have a lot of success if you get the bed established in the beginning and they don't get wet feet and, they don't get much disease, but, I have had a few beds of cosmos make me frustrated, over the years. But, yeah, I would still say that everywhere I read most people were, are obsessed with cosmos and say they grow extremely well.
Courtney Pino: [00:34:09] I think a lot of our frustration comes from trellising. They're a flower that absolutely needs to be trellised. If they are not trellised, they get very tall and they're going to fall over like they will grow to over six feet tall so well over five feet.
And if they're not trellised, they're going to be all over the ground. It's going to be extremely frustrating. we've definitely had beds where they weren't trellised and it's just a nightmare, but. The beds that we did tell us were very productive and, super successful. And it, they're not, when they bloom, they're not as dense as say Zinnia or sunflower.
So that can also be frustrating. You have to pick out stems that are blooming, but they're definitely a cut coming again. They'll bloom for a while. And they're among one of my favorite flowers. So I really, I think they're very important.
Diego: [00:35:11] You mentioned it adds like a whimsical aspect to a bouquet. What do you mean by that? Is that just adding like maybe a sunflower? It's it's bold, it's big, they're bright colors and it's like a solid shape. There's not a lot of little greenery all around it. It's just, there is the cosmos on the other end of the scale, where there is all that greenery, that's the whimsical?
Courtney Pino: [00:35:35] Yes. I think it's the greenery combined with the sturdiness of the stem. So when you think about zinnias and sunflowers, they're very stiff stems and they're very like straight. so they're nice to provide that kind of grid or that sturdiness to a bouquet. but then you also need those kind of bendy twirly.
you'll have a lot of cosmos where this stems are actually like in an S shape where they have really cool, figures to their stems because they're so pliable. the greenery is once the, it starts blooming the greenery towards the top of the bloom is spread out. So you'll have a lot of cousins or you don't use it, but you still, it's very, dill-like that what's that plant family, it's very humble, type of greenery. That's the kind of airiness and that whimsical, it just moves and has, it's fluid and playful and not so stiff and straight.
Diego: [00:36:33] So a lot of things to consider when you're growing these flowers, not just the cultivation aspect, but the seasonality aspect of it, how long you can harvest from them, how they're going to work in a bouquet.
Number four on your list is celosia. How does celosia fit into a bouquet of other flowers?
Courtney Pino: [00:36:50] I prefer to work with the varieties that aren't Crested. So the, Cox comb or Crested varieties of celosia, are nice for bouquets and they do have appeal to them. Depending on how you plant them, they can have very stiff stems where they can be very large. I don't tend to, include that when you're already working with like sunflowers and largers and he is. so if I were just starting out, I would suggest going with the, the plumes or the feather varieties, also because we don't really have many spikes or those kinds of, longer straighter flowers on this list.
So if you're working with those in a bouquet, or if you're working with, strictly this list, using those kinds of plumed varieties, we'll add. A lot of texture to your bouquets and something different. it is a fun to definitely try growing the, Crested types there. They're definitely drawing a crowd just because they look like brains.
And there are some varieties that kind of have smaller stems and slimmer types. I don't think they're on Johnny's, but you can probably find them at Geoseed.
Diego: [00:38:03] In Beni cosmos aren't your favorite to grow. What do you think about celosia?
Benny Pino: [00:38:08] Oh, I love celosia. They're so resilient and they can grow to almost any size that you want to, especially the cockscomb. So you can harvest them whenever you want. The only problem is the stems will get like massive eventually. And then, I bring it in and Courtney is looking at me like, what am I going to do with this?
So yeah, they are like very eye catching. And even if literally you just put them on your stand to draw attention, I can't tell you how many conversations they start cause they do, they look like brains or coral and they have this really bright color palette. We like to air towards the softer colors, and those are a little harder to find, but, a lot of people going to farmer's market will love the fuchsias and those bright pops of color to grab people's attention.
And I will point out that, days to maturity they're a little longer. with those feather ones you have like around 90 days, but with. The cockscomb or the coral kinds, you end up more like a hundred to 120 days.
Courtney Pino: [00:39:11] And then the cockscomb you could absolutely, I think we missed this earlier, but this is something you could put just a bouquet on its own. Like maybe taking 10 stems and making a bunch of that and just selling that straight. I think that would do really well.
Diego: [00:39:25] Say in something like where there's color choice and you can get the cockscomb and it could be a purple or a red. Do you need that color variety to make a bouquet in your experience? Or are people okay with buying a bouquet of, let's say just red celosia or you need contrast and colors?
Courtney Pino: [00:39:46] So for bouquet work if I were using one type of flower, for each variety of flower, I would keep the color the same that, so if you were. Like, if you had a bouquet of, sunflowers, zinnia, celosia, I would choose, one color sunflower for that particular sunflower, one color zinnia. And if you wanted to include two colors of Zinnia, I would do one of the like four-inch bloom binary, giant types, and then maybe. A different color of the smaller, let's say Oklahoma series type, and then celosia, I would do one color of like a plumed variety of celosia.
So me personally, I don't like to put yellow and I'm pink and fuchsia and green, and like colors in of one type of variety in a bouquet. But it's your, this is like your creation and your art. So you could, do whatever you want. If you're inspired to do that, I would say absolutely go for it. You know what look at your customers and look at your, your market and, what selling are you selling all, we've made, bouquets that were just white, just yellow, we've made bouquets that just have warm colors, ones that just have a cool color.
And then we keep track of what's selling and what's not. And honestly, at the farmer's market, those white, bouquets, they don't sell at all. People like to see some color, but we did have a lot of success with doing like a red and a yellow bouquet or like a purple in a pink bouquet, things like that.
Diego: [00:41:25] Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. Mix it up. I love the idea of experimenting with just paying attention. What is the market telling you? From a cultural standpoint, celosia is it a one, is it a five? Is it hard or is it easy?
Benny Pino: [00:41:38] I would say it's very easy. I would put it four or five. Probably one of the easiest flowers you can grow.
Diego: [00:41:47] That's easy. The next one, I am not familiar with this at all. Tell me if I pronounce this wrong, gomphrena?
Courtney Pino: [00:41:54] Yes, that's right. Or you could say gomphrena, but I've heard a lot of people use gomphrena.
Diego: [00:42:00] Gomphrena okay. So gomphrena number five on the list. What is that flower? Why is it on this list?
Courtney Pino: [00:42:08] So it's very easy to grow and, it is another one of those whimsical style of flowers that you'd like to include. It's also very small, so it's, like a tiny little papery. The pedals are very papery and it's a little ball.
Benny Pino: [00:42:24] it's also called a globe amaranth.
Courtney Pino: [00:42:26] Globe amaranth. Yeah, that's right and it has, one stem will have, like five blooms on it. When you include that in a bouquet make that stick out and the stems aren't at the top, they're not very stiff, but at the, they are, which makes them really nice, for a ranging, but they definitely have that kind of airy goodness and they provide different texture in a bouquet. And for those, I would probably just grow to mix it like a cool color. It makes it a warm colored mix. And, they turn over a lot. Like zinnias the bloom time I would say is about four weeks. Is that right?
Benny Pino: [00:43:06] Yeah. honestly, I that's a flower. I would leave in ground the whole season when you're getting started.
Courtney Pino: [00:43:13] Yeah. We have our first year we had a one bed of amaranth or a gomphrena, a go literally almost the entire season. We were nice.
Diego: [00:43:26] And I'm looking at some pictures of it. So when you harvest it, for what I'll call a single stem, there'll be multiple blooms on that stem. And then you work those multiple blooms attached altogether on the single stem into a larger bouquet.
Benny Pino: [00:43:41] Yes. You might strip some of the bottom ones. It�s all about the depth or the height that you're trying to give them in the bouquet. This is like a filler flower category. You have your large disc, your smaller disc, and then your fillers.
And, so you can tuck this in all over the place, but it gives your bouquet height. And so you can look at the act you harvest the stem, you can say, okay, I'm going to probably use this for a lot of height. I'm only going to strip the bottom third a bit. So then you just start stripping from the bottom third of the stem. And you're going to remove say maybe half of the flowers that way.
Diego: [00:44:18] So hearing you talk about it, it sounds like it can be a long harvest period where you've had these beds go for really long times. Culturally, easy to grow, hard to grow. Is it a one, is it a five?
Benny Pino: [00:44:29] Four or five, very easy.
Diego: [00:44:31] Yeah. Okay. So right now we're one through five on the list. We're five-deep. It sounds like everything so far has been relatively easy to grow and a beginner might have some beginner challenges that anybody's going to have with a new crop, but there's been nothing so far. That is really, really difficult.
Courtney Pino: [00:44:51] No, but there aren't.
Diego: [00:44:55] So with that number six, Marigold, as an amateur, somebody on the side, I would say marigold, it's easy to grow from that standpoint. And I wouldn't necessarily think of it as a bouquet flower. So I'm curious, why is Marigold on your list?
Courtney Pino: [00:45:09] So there are two types of marigold, there's the giant marigold, and there's an orange and the yellow. And I would say that, those are probably the only two, the rest of them. I think are bedding plants. So you definitely don't want to use those, but the two marigolds, I believe they're African giant is what they're called. Is that right?
Benny Pino: [00:45:28] I just remember giant in the name.
Courtney Pino: [00:45:29] And you can find those pretty easily on Johnny's. And they're on the list because they're fairly easy to grow. I'd probably put them at a three to four. We'll let Benny go into the why of that. They're just a larger kind of globe style flower that you could, use in conjunction with Zinnia or you could sub out for zinnias. So it's just nice to have a different variety there.
Benny Pino: [00:45:57] Yeah. I would say that on this list, if I were like to rank them from one to 10, I would probably put this close to 10 as in, not my favorite just because I don't find that I get a lot of productivity out of them. They bloom and fade quickly.
And so you would need to be harvesting from them often. I think they could be productive if you were like out there every other day, harvesting from them, but they're also, they attract a lot of Japanese beetles and the problem with flowers is that if they get bit up just a little bit, they look pretty terrible.
I find that I get frustrated by them fairly often because I go out the field and it looks like the plants are covered in color and I'm super excited. And then I come back in, after harvesting and I only have 20 stems. I would say that this was in my experience so far, I haven't been able to crack the way to produce a ton of marigolds. But yeah, I would still say that it's around a three to four in terms of growing it. It's not, it's a hard to grow it. It's just hard to get a lot of productivity out of it.
Courtney Pino: [00:47:04] Do you want to talk a little bit about the, the daylight? They also require like certain daylight hours to reach peak blooming?
Benny Pino: [00:47:14] Yeah. The seasonality on them is a little shorter as well. I'm not super well versed in that, so I'm not gonna really talk about it much, but yes, you do want to have a ton of heat for them to grow.
Courtney Pino: [00:47:26] My understanding was that they do much better in the beginning and the end of the summer, not so much in the middle of the summer.
Diego: [00:47:35] The giant series are ones I've actually grown here in my home garden. The kids wanting to grow it for day of the dead. And so I know exactly what this flower looks like. Like they're saying three-inch diameters are real puffy. They're full, they're vibrant orange. That's the one we had. When you think about arranging these in a bouquet, Courtney, how do you like marigolds in the bouquet amongst some of these other flowers?
Courtney Pino: [00:48:01] They're not my favorite. I would say almost everything on this list needs to be trellised peak production and peak stem quality length, the straightness of the stem and you can get away with not trellising some things like, for example, zinnia or celosia, but marigolds definitely have to be trellised otherwise they will fall down and what happens when flowers blow over from wind and or rainstorms and they fall down is that they, will form a loop, a little L shape with them. Right before they bloom it'll have a hard 90-degree angle in their stem, as they're trying to grow upward from a laying down position.
And, that kind of cuts them out, it mellows the use of that flower and, really anything you just have to cut it and throw it out. So that's a pain point of marigolds is that, they blow over really easily and I only use probably maybe three in a bouquet, like sunflowers.
There's a very limited amount of color choice. You only have yellow and orange. We can easily have that in zinnias. But if I were growing marigolds, I probably wouldn't grow like yellow and orange zinnias.
Diego: [00:49:22] When you refer to trellising, are you talking about say that? I think the brand is Hortonova. It's like the mash fence, woven poly that lays horizontally over the ground, the crops grow up through it, and then you walk the trellis up as the flowers grow?
Courtney Pino: [00:49:37] Ah, so you don't, you wouldn't walk it up as the flowers grow, you would just add another layer. So I would say probably two layers would probably be sufficient for a lot of crops. At the most you could get away with one.
But the, yeah, so it's basically the kind of the opposite is a vegetable growing where like for peas and, you would put it vertical against the bed. The Horta Nova, you want to put horizontal over the bed, like a row cover or something like that. And then the flowers would grow through it.
Diego: [00:50:05] Okay. So miracle an option that's not super easy, not terrible. Does require trellising and has its uses in specific applications. Dahlia tough to grow, easy to grow. You mentioned that this one can be put in a bouquet by itself. Does that mean it's or what's the challenge of growing that?
Benny Pino: [00:50:26] So Dolly has had the most variety out of all of this list we have here. And the sky is the limit with Dolly is it's like the roses, in terms of annuals. Like in terms of popularity, we can never grow enough dahlia's and you have a tuber when you grow a Dolly most times. Johnny's does technically sell a seed and we're going to try that this year, they're expensive to get into, but worth every penny because they have a long seasonality and they are very resilient growers.
The only tough part about them is you gotta be on your Japanese beetle game because as soon as they start coming up, they get like bombarded. They're absolutely worth it because you can grow a prolific number of flowers in a small space and have a very long seasonality.
Courtney Pino: [00:51:26] So they're technically perennials, tubers in zone 10, like I think 11, 10 and 11, maybe nine. You can leave them in the ground and they'll just come back every year, any colder than that, you need to dig them up at the end of the year. So that's why they're on this list because in most climates, they're considered an annual.
I would rank them a little bit harder just for that reason alone. So you have to come back at the end of the year, dig up the tubers, process them essentially like potatoes, and then store them and divide them and store them over the winter. So there's a little bit more work involved. But in the in the fall, they're a flower that will really sing in the fall.
Just when the pest pressure dies down, they just, I don't know what happens, but they just really shine in the late August, September, October, they really take off and they're very productive and prolific, and they just have an amazing quality.
Diego: [00:52:34] With all the different blooms shapes, textures, would you be going for a variety here?
Courtney Pino: [00:52:39] Yes. the only difficult thing is that you can have a lot of choice anxiety when purchasing Dahlia's. But I would probably look for things in dahlias that you don't get in the other flowers. Different colors. You can have a lot of, like very light pink and blushy tones, in dollies. Whereas any of these other flowers, you won't find that, so I would look for qualities like that, in color and petal structure there's Ball style dollies are, they're crusted looking and then there's, dinner plate dahlias where, they can get the size of like a child's head. And then there's also, the other like different petal structures and whatnot. a lot of variety.
Diego: [00:53:25] Looking at some pictures of these, while we're talking, I could see how these could be their own bouquet. You mentioned that they can be their own bouquet. If you're producing a Dalia bouquet, how many blooms are in that bouquet and how much do you charge in say on a per stem basis for that bouquet?
Benny Pino: [00:53:41] I would definitely charge more for a dahlia bouquet, there's no doubt about that. And I would probably err on the side of two, maybe even two 50%.
Courtney Pino: [00:53:50] Yeah. You could get two to $3 per stem on a Dolly depending on your area in your market and right in the size of the dahlia. It's good. The more you put in there, the more expensive it's going to get. A lot of people might not buy an entire bouquet of dollars just for the price. So I might keep like maybe five to eight blooms in there, but you can definitely go like 10 to 15 and they're just so pretty. But, when you buy like wholesale, they usually come in bunches of five.
Diego: [00:54:23] Looking at all the different types of dahlias out there. Is there a go-to source for the tubers that you would point people to at least eliminate that part of the choice confusion?
Courtney Pino: [00:54:31] Island dahlias has a great variety and they have really great pricing as well. I would start there and they don't have a lot of the more English or European kind of types, but I think that they're adding those more and more.
You probably won't find. And like all of the varieties that you would see on Floret, but, you can definitely find everything that you would need in a garden. You do have to purchase them in the fall and then they ship in the spring and that's when you're getting started.
That's frustrating because they won't ship until after the last frost. Whereas if you already have tubers. You can start them earlier than the last frost. And you can really get into dahlias. There's a lot of nuances that you can have like early production and, what, what is the not splicing, but what is it called when you like, divide, you can divide and split, stems.
They're just, you can pinch them. And they're just, there's a lot of subtle nuances to their production. But you do have to purchase the tubers if you're just starting out, you have to purchase them in October and they sell out very quickly because they're so popular. So you really want to be on that, like in September, October.
Benny Pino: [00:55:49] Yeah. Some people will take cuttings in order to reproduce them as well. I would suggest that you get into Dolly is that I would go on YouTube and watch a few videos especially with keeping the tubers. You want to know what you're doing cause you can lose them over the winter, but, if you can split them and replant them successfully, it's like keeping cattle you can grow your herd year after year and before, it you'll have more dollies than you know what to do with. It�s a very lucrative flower.
Diego: [00:56:20] What's the rough cost of say a Dahlia tuber and do you have a sense of how many stems that's going to produce at the end of the day?
Courtney Pino: [00:56:27] Tubers come in packs, and they usually, I think are about like five to $8. The dinner plate ones are gonna be more expensive. And the, like other smaller varieties will be less expensive and you get a pack of two to three. I think we haven't purchased them in a while. You can get a lot off of one plant. They usually start, I would say like around July, June, if you start a little earlier, possibly. And then they go through to the first frost. you'll get a lot of cuttings off of one.
Benny Pino: [00:57:03] Probably. If you really know what you're doing, you're gonna get 15, cuts per plant, maybe 20 if you've got some good soil.
Diego: [00:57:14] May seem expensive on the front end, say two $53 a tuber. But if you're pulling and selling it all 40 50 bucks of stems off of it, it's a good deal.
Courtney Pino: [00:57:25] Yeah. Yeah. And there are another crop that definitely have to be trellised. If you're going to trellis anything on this list, I would absolutely say dahlias. They don't get hortonova trellis, the best trellising method we've found is just the corral method. So you would put a, a post, like maybe every five to eight feet, let's say a T-post. And then you would just use twine to go around the outside just to keep them from falling. So they can lean on each other in the bed in between plants, once they get pushy, and larger they'll they won't fall on top of each other, but you want to keep them from falling in the paths.
Diego: [00:58:06] So trellising, Japanese beetle pressure. The fact that you're planning, tubers, digging them up, storing them, saving them, probably puts them at the more difficult range, one to five. Where do you slot them?
Benny Pino: [00:58:18] Yeah, between a two and a three. If you watch those videos and you take a little extra time to learn about them, you can get to the point where you're extremely successful with without a lot of worry, but definitely learning curve on the Dahlia's.
Diego: [00:58:33] Now number eight, a lot of veggie growers may not need to move too quickly up that learning curve on basil people grow it as vege. Why is it on a flower list?
Benny Pino: [00:58:45] There's a few varieties of basil that are grown just for flower production. like for example, I can never remember exactly. It's like amaretto.
Amaretto is the one that we like the most�taller than your typical Basil and is extremely productive. I love growing Basil for greenery. That's one of the things that's a little challenging to find in the cut flower world. Sometimes that fills out a bouquet very well. This is greenery and so we grow Basil, to accomplish that task, but the difficulty comes in, harvesting it without it wilting.
And so you have to harvest the extremely early or late in the a day. And one thing that we are still working on is singeing the ends of the stem. So you can either use butane torch or a, boiling kettle of hot water, and you just need to dip them in the water for say five to 10 seconds, or hit them with the butane towards like very lightly. And once you singed the ends of the stems, It allows them to keep from wilting.
It's like super hit and miss for us so far. We have had more success than not, but every once in a while, when they do get wilty, it can be pretty frustrating. But honestly, because they're so productive and so easy to grow, I would steer people towards doing it and just get over that learning curve with the wilting.
Courtney Pino: [01:00:19] So one thing that we've started doing is, like the night before, we'll put buckets of water in the cooler, just empty buckets of just having water in them. And then first thing in the morning, the basil is the first thing that we'll harvest, like at dawn, right before the sun rises and they still have that coolness of they've acquired over the entire night. And so we'll harvest them right into, like you have to have the bucket right with you and you just put them right into the cold water.
And then once that bucket's full and you take that immediately to the cooler, we've seen the most success with that. And also, the most success, for us too, is like not, having to boil or cinches desks cause that's, an entire extra step that when you're harvesting a lot of flowers, it's it often gets skipped.
Diego: [01:01:10] When you look at arranging these into a bouquet, is this a filler? And it's just adding greenery, there's the little flowers into it, breaking up against some of the bigger, bolder blooms.
Courtney Pino: [01:01:21] Right. It's a filler and it can also be looked at as a spike. Just because the, so you'll have a lot of greenery at the top, which is a great, filling quality. And then you'll have that very long spike of little flowers that, stick out against the rest of the blooms, to add different like air quality.
Diego: [01:01:41] I see a lot of veggie growers would put basil on the easier side to grow. What are your thoughts for basil growing it from a flower side? If you take out the harvesting side?
Benny Pino: [01:01:52] It couldn't be easier.
Diego: [01:01:55] Moving on to greenery now, number nine on the list, grasses. Why are those important from a flower growing bouquet making context?
Courtney Pino: [01:02:03] So the most popular grass is the frosted explosion. So I would start there. there's a lot to choose from, bunny grass, and millet and things like that. I would get into those maybe a little bit later, but just starting out, I would start with the prostate explosion or, it's also called like fireworks. I think we're fiber optic has a lot of names.
But this grass is an eye catcher at the market and it blows me away because I've never, it's people haven't seen it very often. It's not new, but it's new where compared to a lot of other types of grasses, and people just love it. They love the quality that, has like that kind of fiber optic and that kind of firework, so they're really intrigued by it and it really draws a lot of people into your stand.
And it's super easy to grow. It adds a lot of, like air to your bouquet and a lot of intriguing, texture and things like that. So yeah, it would definitely grow that.
Diego: [01:03:05] And when you're doing that from a cultural standpoint, Benny, are you planting those in, are they in clumps or are you planting it like really dense. So you just have this mat?
Benny Pino: [01:03:14] It grows into a clump, but when you first start it, you can just do it like a little individual transplant, just like anything else.
And it's one of those, sits as a grass problem. I don't know for sure, but it might even be a perennial in some places. It is extremely resilient and productive. It takes a while before it's spent you'll have to pay attention, but over the season, the quality of it will fade, but you can usually get like three, maybe even four months out of a good stand across the explosion.
Diego: [01:03:48] Easy to grow, hard to grow one, five?
Benny Pino: [01:03:50] I would say four, maybe even five.
Courtney Pino: [01:03:54] And then some of the drier climates probably, go by a little bit faster. I know, like for us, if we hit like a dry spell, then you can tell like the, if they don't have enough water that they get dried out.
It's hard to harvest all of it. It does form like a thick mat of grass like in your bed, not in the root structure, it's very easy to pull out and, you don't have any running qualities or anything there, but when you actually look at the bed from a bird's eye view, it's like a very thick mat of this explosion grass. And if you're not harvesting it consistently, it'll start to dry out.
Diego: [01:04:36] A good alternate crop to grow. In amongst some of these other flowers, another one and the final one on the list. Hibiscus foliage. Describe that a little bit. And why does that find a place on this list?
Benny Pino: [01:04:48] So it's like an herbacious perennial. Traditionally it'll grow in some places, it could be 10 feet, and it has much more of a bushy quality. You want to space it at least 18 inches apart in the bed. And it's got this unique color, in terms of it would be considered a greenery would be considered a broad leaf green that you use in a bouquet, just like you would the Basil and the deep, dark mahogany color that it has sets it apart in, a lot of bouquet work.
So it takes a while to get established once it does, you've got this Bush and you can harvest from it very continuously for the whole season. So in terms of wait time and bed spacing, it's like, you think of it initially as Oh, is this going to be worth it? But then once it gets established, it's cut and come again wonder where at the end of the day per square foot is probably one of the most productive plants.
Diego: [01:05:55] And then difficulty of growing that?
Benny Pino: [01:05:56] I would put it four to five. It's very easy. It just takes patience.
Courtney Pino: [01:06:03] Yeah. It has a longer day to maturity, like to the point that you can start cutting it. And you have to be careful not to over harvest because you want it to produce most of the season, it's you don't have to do a lot of succession planting, but it does, it is susceptible to Japanese beetle pressure, which is frustrating to me. I have a love, hate relationship with it and then it is another it's like Basil, it's prone to wilting. You have to boil the stems or, cut it super early in the morning.
Diego: [01:06:30] So as we look back at this list, there's a lot of variety here, we hear a lot of harvest period overlap, a lot of longer harvest. If somebody grows all 10 of these, they're going to have a nice little mix of things to put a bouquet together with.
For somebody who's just starting out in bouquet is just to quickly wrap this one up, Courtney there's 10 different crops on the list. If you're putting together bouquets, how do you avoid making it look cluttered and pair down to something that looks more designed?
Courtney Pino: [01:07:01] So I would say not using too many of your larger discs. Once you use a lot of zinnias, those, binary giant varieties or sunflowers, you, it tends to look packed and clumped together. So you want to use a lot of those flowers that have, very, not stiff stems, they have like more fluid stems where they're, bending over, have edge-shapes to them. Using the filler, like the frosted grass or the, Basil, you want to incorporate more of those types of flowers, which is why they're called fillers.
So you want to use more fillers than you do, your large discs. And I think, letting your disc be a focal point, but more like a delicacy in your bouquet We'll make it look more, designed from a aesthetic standpoint.
Diego: [01:07:59] And then Benny thinking about this from a growing standpoint, growing in the field for somebody who's going to try these the first year.
Do you think you approach it with the philosophy of it's work to learn, not to earn, get some practice in, get familiar with these crops, if you can produce some stuff to make bouquets with. Great, but really try and figure out the nuances of these crops. If you're looking to do this long term and then really try and crush it the following year.
Benny Pino: [01:08:27] I would actually say that because a very unique quality of the bouquet, like it's just like a salad mix. I've heard a lot of growers talk about how, sometimes with the salad mix, you just don't have the mizuna this week. And it doesn't really matter all that much because people, they don't notice.
And they're not going to say off there's no Mizuno, I'm not going to buy it. That's not how it works. With bouquets and stuff. So if you went out there and you cast a wide net with these flowers and say, grew like six, or maybe even eight of these varieties, you would be almost guaranteed as long as let's say, that you're pretty decent at growing vege.
It would be surprising to me if you weren't successful enough to produce flowers, that would give you a bouquet. And again, that's every week you're gonna have variety every week. You're going to have Oh, this one didn't come up or we don't have enough of that. But you, if you take them and throw them into a bouquet and use some of the advice that Courtney just gave, most likely you would be able to produce say 10 or 20 bouquets.
And if you sold us bouquets at $10 a piece, You would be making a decent amount of money right out of the gate. And then year after year, like you hinted at, you would get to the point where you felt really confident and then you could start making expectations about how many bouquets you could have per week.
Diego: [01:09:52] Yeah. Really good advice. Super thankful for both of you coming on to share the experience you've had and inspire people and give them some tools to hit the ground running with arranging flowers and growing flowers this year for people who want to follow along with everything that's happening at Loblolly farm, where's the best place to go.
Courtney Pino: [01:10:15] We're on Instagram at our handle's at loblolly farm. and then, yeah, that's the best place to follow along, through stories and through our posts. and then, our website, we're we'll plan to launch a blog this summer about June or July, I believe. so that. Will be a great resource it's just loblolly.farm/blog and, yeah, mid summer check back with us then.
And we'll definitely, we announced it on social media. and that'll be a great just to follow along with us as well. There
Diego: [01:10:49] you, it flower growers, Benny and Courtney piano. If you love what they're doing and you want to follow along with everything that they're doing, be sure to check them out on Instagram at loblolly farm, which I've also linked to below.
And one thing that you can do to show them a little love is hit them up on Instagram and say, you heard the latest podcast episode. You enjoyed it. It helps and thank them for their time because they're not getting paid to do this. They're doing this because they want to share this information and help other people.
So any thanks that you can give them, I'm sure will be much appreciated.
There'll be more episodes with flowers coming up. So stay tuned for that. Thanks for listening until next time. Be nice. Be thankful and do the work.
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