What have you planted too much of? Too little?

sgiesler(USDA 5)March 29, 2006

I am trying out many different plants this year. I am interested in hearing which plants you have overplanted in the past and which ones you have underplanted. I am not as interested if you underplanted say lilies just because you couldn't afford too as I am in which plants you under or over estimated their production and usefulness. I am trying love lies bleeding as well as 'hot biscuits' so would especially love comments on the amounts you planted of those. This is going to be another learning year for me. However, I am planning on the best trial run I can muster. Thanks in advance for all the interesting replies.

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Noni Morrison

Well, we all have different clients with different tastes. I have found That Love Lies Bleeding does not go well here, and that orangee, red, brown combinations do not sell well until deep into autumn. My Customers generally want something special like a roses,lilies, daffodils, tulips, dahlias or glads. They will pay for those but not many will buy bouquets made up of meadow flowers. Sweet peas do not sell as well as I would expect. I can use the meadow flowers mixed with the above "Focal points". One customer who sticks in my mind picked up a bouquet full of flowers and looked at it and said, "Where are the flowers, I mean the FLOWERS.?" I had to laugh when I Looked at it and it was just some extras I had brought along in a cup and accidently put out on the stand. But see, she knew the difference right away. I no longer bother with batchlors buttons except blue or black, golden yellow flowers like Eastern star annual chrysanthmum, cutting gold coreopsis, or most daisies. I can sell unusual daisies like Highland White Dreams or Crazy Daisy or Esther Reed.

Items I could use more of are purple and burgundy trachelium, orleya, agrostemma, anything blue,ornamental grasses, bright colored roses,(pinks have more limited appeal), I can sell almost any kind of glad but the green with burgundy ones, or murkey purples. I might love them but if my customers don't then they don't sell. Dahlias, the bigger they are the quicker they sell. So do unusual ones that the lady next door might not grow already. I think it is worth it to buy some of the new ones each year even at the high prices.

Many of my flowers go to people who are visiting someone in the hospital or nursing home so they want them cheerful, bright and long lasting. Some fragarance is a plus but too much is a negative in those situations.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 11:39AM
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sgiesler(USDA 5)

I am glad I only planted 24 cells of love lies bleeding so far. I figured it was just an accent type flower but didn't have a clue on how much to plant. I also planted some purple majesty millet and wonder how this plant fares on production and usefulness too. I am going to have to work at adding the main event flowers over time. I need to learn alot more before I buy 100's of one item (other than seeds) that I haven't tried on a small scale first. Last years tries were helpful but I can see this is a long term learning project for me. Baby steps.....

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 11:02PM
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We can provide a good rule of thumb, but for the most part, it's strictly trial and error, and learning what your customers will pay for. I heard right from the start on this forum about main event flowers, thanks to Jeanne and a few others, and have tried to add more each year. Even though we all have some different ideas on main events, you do need something special in the bouquets that stand out and are showy. I have found that love-lies-bleeding isn't useful enough for me to grow. But hot bicuits is a beautiful addition to sunflower bouquets, so I grow it. I think the package of seeds I bought last year had 100 in it, and I had great germination. But, the flea beetles loved them, so I ended up with less than half of that. I used all I had, and wished there was more. Ditto on the purple majesty millet, it was a nice addition to the suns, and I think florists would buy that as well, it I had planted more of it. The seeds are expensive, but you can save seed from those, and I did last year.
I am new as well, and still have so much to learn, and a limited supply of money, but I do try to add more lilies every year, and other perennials that prove useful. I have cut back on most of the drying flowers, I don't have a market right now, so am not messing with things I don't have the time to push, and would rather use the space for more annuals that I can use. This year I am planting more zinnias, sunflowers, asters, dahlias, snaps, statice, and have some new bare root perennials coming. I'm very excited about a greenhouse I have going up, and now I just pray it's a good year, with sufficient rainfall because irrigation is still something I don't have enough of. Next year!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 11:19AM
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sgiesler(USDA 5)

Thanks so much for your post. I have more hot biscuits and purple majesty millet seed to plant. I think I will devote more space to those plants and less to the love lies bleeding. Congratulations on your greenhouse. I was to have one this year too but I guess it is on hold again. We did get a JD compact tractor with a loader and rototiller though. The loader sure saves a lot of back breaking work. Thanks again. Shirley

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 6:53PM
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Jeanne_in_Idaho(z5 N.Idaho)

Isn't it funny, the different results we all get at our various markets? I couldn't sell Hot Biscuits in ANY form, in sunflower bouquets or otherwise, but then I was always frosted out around Labor Day, and folks don't want the warm autumn colors until after that. Love-Lies-Bleeding went over big, though, drooping gracefully over the rim of a vase and coiling on the table below, in a mixed bouquet. It took awhile for my customers to warm up to them, but then everybody wanted a bouquet with Love-Lies-Bleeding in it. I used them extensively for a wedding once, but I never told the bride any name for them but "amaranth" - their real name might not have gone over very well! (She loved them). The green version of it isn't a very attractive color and I found it to be of very limited use.

The few plants of Purple Majesty Millet I tried one year were just enough to show me it doesn't get enough heat here to perform, so any plants were too many.

Don't you just love your tractor? I've been in love with ours since we got it. It's downright strange, not spending nice spring days on the tractor with the rototiller, or using the loader to get the manure to the rows. We'll be trying to sell the tiller one of these days. It's funny, I don't really use the tractor any more except to plow snow on our road, when it's getting deep and my husband's at work, or to pull neighbors out of ditches as needed, but I still love it. I've never loved a car that much. My husband loves it too, and comes up with the most clever uses for it.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 11:29PM
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sgiesler(USDA 5)


Yes, we do enjoy the tractor. Hubby grew up on a farm and loves using the tractor. It sounds like our hubbies would get along. We have a wood/propane furnace and usually by this time of year we are out of wood and using propane. Thanks to the help of the tractor, this year we are still burning wood retrieved from our woods. So I guess it is saving us a little. Our church owns 70+ acres and hubby has had it up there doing work too. It really is pretty great. Thanks for your response on what you found useful. Shirley

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 9:16AM
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sgiesler(USDA 5)

Just noticed that I mispelled your name in the above post. Sorry about that. Shirley

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 12:28PM
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heidi41(z5 Mass)

I had to laugh when I read how you are in love with your tractors. How well I know that feeling.....My tractor has the prime parking spot in my garage, my truck stays outside. I have a Mahindra with a bucket loader and rototiller, I can't remember live before the tractor. Anyways, I definetely need to plant atleast twice the number of sunflowers as last year. More Zinnias and definetely more dahlias and glads. I've never been a big fan of glads but apparently my customers are.So this year I'll up producion on them. I will also go back to using the Chief mix celosia, was not happy with the Cramer series. No more Red Sunflowers either, I couldn't give them away a couple years ago. HEIDI

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 3:39PM
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Customer preference for almost any item will go through cycles. There really was a day when an Impatiens plant was almost unheard of, believe it or no. And, sunflowers -- who ever thought those clunky 10-12 footers would morph into hot sellers. Now I think they are good but slightly less hot than a few years ago.

So, it seems good to have enough variety that you can offer choices.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 12:34PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

When I was a florist (up until two years ago) I bought local cut flowers in season from a Christmas tree farmer who had extra space and labor available.

Top sellers were sunflowers except 'Teddy', Dahlias, Zinnias and Cosmos.

There is a large Dahlia farm near but it didn't seem to matter, they bought almost every one consistantly, year after year.

I also sold thousands of tulips and hundreds of daffodils but it had to be before the local ones were blooming. Once they were blooming in the yards it was all over.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 1:35PM
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heidi41(z5 Mass)

After walking thru the greenhouse a hundreds times, I now realize I definitely did NOT plant enough celosia. I'm considering reseeding some now. I wonder if they'll bloom before the last frost. You see, I actually had started out with plenty of my Chief Mix. Unfortunately they suffered from very poor germination, then those few survivors died off. The same thing happened to my Pampas Plumes and gomphrena(only used for potpourri). On the happier note, I planted triple the amount of dianthus plugs as I did last year. And everything that is outside hardening off is looking extremely healthy.

Unfortunately, I've given up on the lilies that were planted last fall. I poked around and all I found are a lot of rotted bulbs. The row of Casa Blanca Lilies that were planted a couple years ago (then tilled under by accident by my "well meaning" son) are now flourishing.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 2:28PM
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Jeanne_in_Idaho(z5 N.Idaho)

For my unsophisticated market, there was no such thing as too many sunflowers. They always sold. I had success with the red (more like browns in reality) and black types, but always sold them in mixed bouquets, sometimes multicolored all-sunflower bouquets, sometimes mixed with other suitable flowers. Time of harvest is all-important with the darks - they are more prone to wilt and dropping petals than the yellows are. And my customers LOVED Teddy Bear. They always went like hotcakes. With sunflowers, I was more limited by how many I had time and energy to grow than by how many I could sell.

I'd like to say there's no such thing as too many main events, but there can be. I think I overplanted on Asiatic lilies (hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them) and just didn't have enough secondary flowers to go with them all in their second year, so I ended up trying to sell the rest by the stem in buckets. Bad idea. The flower petals get knocked off with handling, so they get a ratty look that sure doesn't sell. I had the opposite problem from when I'd just started out, when I'd had tons of secondary flowers but few main events. Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, I should have just put four or five different colors of stems together, called it a bouquet and tried to sell them like that. Sometimes you don't think of the solution until it's too late. In this case, that's half a year too late!

I planted too many dahlias two years running. The first year, I got very few blooms, but chalked that up to our short season and that I'd planted mostly single tubers rather than clumps, so they'd spent their energy trying to get bigger and didn't bloom until just before frost. The few bigger clumps I'd had bloomed pretty well. The second year, I replanted the now-bigger clumps, but we had a summer that was even colder than usual - and I got very few flowers, one or two from the fastest plants, none from the rest. I'd given them a lot of precious raised-bed space, so the whole experiment was a bummer. When the fall came along, I was so disgusted with them, I left them in the ground and let 'em freeze. I dug the rotted clumps out this spring.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 6:50PM
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bfff_tx(z8b TX)

Car's broke and I'm sitting waiting at the auto technician's for it to be fixed so have some time to catch up here.

This year I planted more Statice sinuata, Amazon Neon Duo, Dianthus Purple Bouquet, Campanula, Larkspur, and Scabiosa than I did last year. After two years I'm gonna drop Godetia, there's too much of it to cope with, it blooms almost all at once. Won't be dropping it, but Ammi is an excellent producer, especially if you cut the terminal flower branch and let the secondaries flower. I've grown delphinium belladonna for the first time this year in a 4'x 50' row and will double or triple that next year. The stuff just keeps on producing and doesn't seem to phased by Tx weather. Same with Yarrow "Summer Pastels", will plant more next year. This summer I'll be growing more celosia, zinnias and sunflowers. I've learnt that growing more is better. The jury is still out on a few other new varieties I'm trying, so I guess there'll be a follow-up post in the fall.
Hope you got some useful info.
Kim - BFFF

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 7:32PM
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How about some updates from past posts? Did the new plantings work out as expected-as to how many were planted vs sold, was the cost or work involved in a particular plant worth it, whether they lasted well as cut flowers, were your customers impressed?
This is a great forum, with tons of useful information from very helpful growers-thanks to all of you. I've gone back and read most of it, but always have questions about how all the new ideas worked out. The monthly updates and journals are very interesting, too.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 11:01AM
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Noni Morrison

I have not been on much this year...have had a summer full of family visits and a long vacation in Europe while DH was working, but came home refreshed and ready to put my heart back into my business next year.

This year I had too much Neon Dianthus. I sell to a very small group of people and after about 3 weeks of a flower no one wants it again, thay want something different. So once again my problem is not to plant too much of any one thing, but to keep different varieties coming on.

Spring bulb flowers start us off about the first of March, but this year most of my beautiful tulips were virused. They were beautiful Colorblends tulips so I think the virus falls out of the madrona trees that form the border between the street and my garden. I think it is just a plain garden variety of Botrytis, rather then the Dreaded "Tulip fire", and so I am cutting way back on tulips and mostly growing the viridifloras that seem more resistant. THe few others I plant will be in crates(Prefereably early tulips to force) or in sunny spots completely away from any trees!

Clarkia and neon dianthus were big space wasters this year. I think about a dozen plants of white clarkia to use for fillers....another dozen neons, and more white lacy things would be a better use of space.

I also have poor luck with the annual chrsanthmums "Merry maids" but could probably sell all I grow. I grow a lot of dahlias and they are my mainstay in the autumn but I need more fillers to use in their bouquets.

Favorites I never get tired of are Delphinium Blue Bouquet, the cloud larkspurs, and snapdragons. I grew 3 kinds of snaps this year and will do the same with possibly a 4th kind next year. The Madame Butterflies open the season for me and give me buckets and buckets of lovely azalea type blooms in wonderful color combinations. THis year I tried "Snappy Tongues", not sure where I got them, but they have a white trumpet with bright colored crown,,,very striking! THen the wonderful Costa II'S, that have lasted, rust free, until frost.

We had a cooler and greyer summer then usual here so the zinnias did not do well...but even what we had were very useful. I will move them to the sunniest spot available next year and plant lots!

I need more summery foliage and fillers like dill, fennel, etc. And much as I Love Cosmos they do not sell well here at all.

OH yes, I use lots of lilies, roses, and other bulb flowers and plan to plant atleast 500 butterfly glads next year. And I will be opening a stand at my home, and trying to switch my customer base to buying direct, and enticing in "Cut your own bouquet" customers. Also more advertising about subscription service (I deliver) and about doing weddings and parties.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 11:51AM
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Here are some of my farm notes: this year (next year)..

Amaranthus 10,000 (10,000) Hot biscuits, Illumination, Tower, Opopeo

Ammi 1LB (1LB)

Artemsia 1,000 (pernennial no more) silver king

Aster 500 (500) mix

Bells of Ireland 1LB (1LB)

Campanula 500 (500) champion; 1,000 (1,000) medium

Calendula 1LB (1LB)

Carthams 1LB (1LB) orange

Celosia 500 (500) HiZ; 1,000 (1,000) saved seed

Centaurea 500 (pernennial no more)

Cosmos 1LB (2LB)

Delphimium 1,000 (1,000) connecticut/Belladonna, most died too sunny area.

Dianthus 200 (200) duo; 200 (200) magic; 200 (200) purple

Echinecea 1,000 (500) Magnus, primmadonna, white swan

Echinops 500 (no more pernennial) ritro

Glads 1,000 (2,000) mix

Gomphrena 600 (1266) strawberry, carmine, prurple, white

Purple majesty 700 (1266)

Larkspur 1LB (2LB)

Iris 2,000 (no more pernennial)

Lillies 1,000 (3,000) sold out

Nigella 1LB (1LB)

Rubeckia 1,000 (1,000) Indian/sunset

Snaps 500 (1,000) mix

Sorgum 1LB (2LB)

Statice 500 (500) latifolia; 3,000 (5,000) sinuata

Sunflowers 1LB (1LB) mix

Sweet peas 1/2 lb (1LB)

Veronica 1,266 (no more pernennial)

Yarrow 500 (no more pernennial) corination gold

Zinna 1LB (3LB)

Tell me what else I need.. Looking at foxtail lillies, caryopteris, hypericum, millets, grasses..

I am growing on 1 1/2 acres using 6 mil black plastic planting on a 18" X 18" spacing. I grow for 2 wholesalers, 2 FMs (4 FMs next year) and use a lot for dried flower wreaths. Next year I retire from my full-time job and start to farm fulltime!! I will be/have been planting more woodies (willows, rosehip, oregon grape) for wreath making also. I have 10 acres so I am looking at doing a CSA (veggies, herbs, flowers, wreaths). I have tons of pics from the farm this year so I will try and post them this week.

Happy farming. Now to get seeds ordered..


    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 9:51AM
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Noni Morrison

Wow, Brian! Great to hear that you are doing so well with this! You encourage me!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 11:50PM
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