If you had to choose only 5 varieties, what would they be?

sgiesler(USDA 5)April 3, 2005

If you could choose only 5 varieties of flowers to plant, what would they be? In addition, if one of those varieties you could only plant 3 of, what would that be? I have it firmly locked in my mind that I need Mexican Heather from one of these types of posts. It is snowing here with weather advisories to stay home. The sun should be back in a day or two. So why not pick out some more must haves while I can't go out to play? Btw, anyone know the best place to get mexican heather? I can't wait to hear your responses. Shirley

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I would say.

Snaps (rebloom and smell); Statice (rebloom); Lilies (great flower); Sunflower (everyone love's); Peony (smell and color).

Flowers have become my pringles, I can't stop. My wife doesn't like this time of year, because I am doing something until bedtime. Trimming til dark, transplanting until bed.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 2:22PM
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GrassIsEvil(z6 TN)

Daffodils (the bright promise of spring); peonies (lush, fragrant, and gracious); zinnias (cheerful and easy); forsythia (early, large arrangements); hydrangeas (cut and dried)

Those are my personal favorites and they would provide a respectable income.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 2:52PM
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sgiesler(USDA 5)

Daffodils? Forced or naturalized plantings? Also what varieties? I have lots of the plain yellow daffs and a few fancier ones. Planning on buying pink charm in the fall. However, in this area we practically have daffs growing in the ditches. I can't imagine selling any if one waited for them to get bloom at the same time as everyone else has them blooming. I do love the idea of a crop as early as daffodils. I can get forsythia cuttings from a friend. I love peonies. We have one large clump I am hoping to divide this year. I haven't done it cause I am scared to kill it but will this year. I also bought more peonies recently. Zinnias are definitely in the plans as well as sunflowers. I have some seed for both but want to buy more. I do have some statice sprouts but no luck with the snaps. I want to buy plugs if I don't have any success with the seed. This is just a trial year to see if I can establish a base of perrenials and do a good job with the other plants. I bought some lily bulbs locally but not sure if they will be dead by the time I am done with them. I would love to know where you pros buy your lily bulbs. I saw a post saying they can be bought for well under .50 a bulb but I haven't found out where yet.
Eeeeks. It is like a blizzard outside. Gardening is like a fantasy at the moment. I did take a peak at the forecast and 50's and 60's are coming my way pronto. I hope we don't go from a foot of snow to a foot of mud. Oh well, sooner or later I will be back outside preparing more and more places for all my plants. Already have 40 x 60, 6 12x 50's and all sort of beds around the house and experimental spots. Hubby just brought me a load of huge tractor tires to make planters of too. Now to figure out what flowers would be happy living in the tires. Plenty to work at if the snow will please go away....
ps. What about Glads? Do these make anyones favorite 5?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 4:14PM
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katnip_ct(z6 CT)

FINALLY .... Got into our little solar greenhouse and got those seeds started. Could it possibly be that winter is over? It's been a Looooong one here in Connecticut this year.
Lets see, my top 5 plants that I start from seed anyway.... Dahlias (got 3 varieties), Petunias (surprised that I could grow them), Sunflowers, Zinnias and my most favorite, DELPHINIUMS! I will be planting out the ones that wintered over in the raised bed nursery last year. They will bloom in May/June. Then the new ones growing this year will bloom late in the summer in the "nursery" raised bed.(guess I'm addicted) LOL :) HAPPY SPRING EVERYBODY!!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 8:12PM
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Okay. It's Tired and Cranky's turn. Don't ya think five is a little confining? I am of the same mindset as Pam Arnosky when she says her favorite flower is the one they are picking today. "Ya gotta love the one you're with." I can't imagine being a flower farmer, and not loving all of them. That's why we do this, isn't it? I know I have to do a "reality check" now and again. But, I think it is.

Daffodils, Peonies, Forsythia, Zinnias and Hydrangea are going to provide a respectable income??? You're kidding, right?

I'm sorry. I think I need to put myself to bed. I'm gonna have to ponder this some more..............

    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 8:22PM
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In order of sales...sunflowers, lilies, zinnias, Amazon Neon, Ageratum Blue Horizon....I'd put glads in IF I could be guaranteed no thrips! Plus (I know I'm over my five!) I'd want something for filler...Ann

    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 8:24PM
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GrassIsEvil(z6 TN)

One more time--I don't sell cut flowers in markets. I cut flowers for arrangements. It's called "Value Added".

The daffodils that are so common begin the year of subscriptions and contracts.

The forsythia? Pruned wands potted and rooted are sold as shrubs. Foliage is used as greenery. A half-dozen properly presented arching wands produce a $125 arrangement.

A single bloom from a Casablanca peony, again PROPERLY PRESENTED, brings $25. Delivered to the president of the company out of town, it's $125 plus a delivery fee.

Zinnias hold those contracts through the summer when the glamor boys slack and hydrangea hold them through the winter when the growing season is over.

I cleared $5,000 dollars over the Easter weekend. Admittedly it was a three-day holiday weekend intimately entertwined with flowers, but how did you do, flowerfarmer?


    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 10:14PM
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sgiesler(USDA 5)

Please let me know what is a proper presentation of a Casablanca peony. $25.00 for one blossom is beyond my wildest dream. I could definitely impress hubby if I could pull that off. I do realize that you apparently have wonderful contacts. However, I am sure I need to know more about proper peony presentation because I plan to grow more of them. Another wow! for the forsythia. I was planning on getting some from a friend to plant but I think I will plant a lot more of those. How about some pics of your forsythia's and peonies being properly presented for the bigger bucks? I think I really need to know..... For that matter any of you getting lesser but good money can post your pics too. I wouldn't know proper presentation if it bit me in the face. That is because I haven't ever done flower arranging. I know what I like when I see it. I am just hoping what I like and what customers will like are similar things. The bottom line is I have lots to learn and am grateful for each morsel of information. You guys are great! And Ray, don't forget to let me in on your secrets. Thanks SO MUCH!!!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 10:54PM
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GrassIsEvil(z6 TN)

In this case, properly presented simply means a single lovely blossom in an exquisite crystal vase belonging to the president of a company.

Yes, contacts are very important. I had the opportunity to properly present the peony because I knew the person in charge of seeing that a fresh flower arrangement is on the president's desk each Monday morning. The person entrusted at that time with that duty had been supplying a mixed bouquet. My contact was pretty sure the president wasn't happy with the flowers but didn't know why.

A mixed bouquet in the president's opinion was an improper presentation of the flowers, an opinion I learned of over dinner conversation. The president is Japanese and he would only discuss such important matters as flower arranging with another man. :)

I'll have to post a photograph when the peonies bloom. It's really quite breath-taking in its classic simplicity, but how could you miss with such a bloom and such a container?

You would enjoy a flower-arranging class; almost anyone who likes flowers does. If nothing else, you learns tips and techniques for arranging flowers in your own home.

Do you really think anyone would be interested in my methods of operation? They're fairly idiosyncratic, but I suppose I could do something of a case study for them. Add it to the list, I guess.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 12:46AM
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sgiesler(USDA 5)


I don't know about anyone else but I am sure interested in your methods of operation. I don't believe I will have the opportunity to hob knob with company presidents though. However, any knowledge I gain is potentially adaptable to my circumstances. That said I do hope to take a flower arranging class before too long. I like the idea of selling some single stems, growers bunches and wildflower boquets too. My SIL has hundreds of beautiful glads every year too. If I don't have enough, she would sell me hers. She told me she thought they were worth about 50 cents a stem at market and my opinion is $1.00 each. What do you sell yours for? About 25 years ago, my mom sent some glads with my sister and I to sell at a booth we had rented for a day at the farmers market. I remember the very first thing we sold were the 4 or 5 velvety red glads my mom had sent. I still remember that she wanted 3.00 for the bunch and I thought she was crazy. 25 years ago that was quite a bit for such a few flowers. Well I was young 25 years ago and it seemed like a lot then anyhow. After all we could have lunch at McD's for a 1.00 and get change back then. Thanks again for any info given and to come!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 1:14AM
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Who in the he$$ are you trying to fool? Twenty five dollars per stem? I hope nobody besides Shirley believes that.
As far as your list goes I don't know what night you made that one up, but you should probably keep it to yourself.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 6:54AM
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susiq(NW AR 6B)

Ray, I'd love to know your methods too, whatever they are, idiosyncratic, or "normal"--whatever that is.

I'd like to know if you "get" to deliver that peony (or similar classic flower) every week, or if it was a one-time deal. And how'd you get to meet and have dinner with the president of the company?

Pete, if Ray can get $25 per stem from somebody willing to pay him that, why the uproar? I'm sure it's not "normal" for everybody else, but if he's getting that price, let's cheer for him! And then we can set about trying to find wealthy clients too!

Back to the subject at hand, I'd have to say my 5 varieties would be: Daffodils, Tulips, Roses (antiques and moderns), Larkspur, and Columbines, because those 5 are what I usually have the most of any given spring. My summer plantings have been dismal, so I can't give history on summer flowers.

Regarding the Daffodils: there may be a million "out there" for "anybody" to pick, but FEW people do. Whether the daffs are in their own yard or on the roadside, hardly anybody I've come across EVER cuts them. They are always so amazed at how pretty they are, that they smell good, and that they come in all the colors that they do! After a few years experimenting, I'm "trying" to limit my daff purchases to "just" the ones that the copy says, "great petal substance", because I believe those will hold up better in a bouquet. The ones w/o that phrase seem to have very "Thin" petals, almost fragile. They're still beautiful, just probably won't hold up to the rigours of flower shop arrangers, maybe just useful for bouquets you make and sell yourself.

The same comment (they're everywhere on the roadside, too common) I've heard people say about the lupines you northerners have in abundance. I speculated last summer the same thing-- how many people actually go to their gardens or get out of their cars to actually cut them for a bouquet?

Ditto the oohs and ahs on tulips, esp. the parrots & doubles, ("Are THOSE tulips?" they ask in delighted amazement!) and the roses, esp the fragrant Hybrid Teas, and the Antiques, and whatever it is you cut and bring to someone!


    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 9:32AM
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susiq(NW AR 6B)

My daffodils have been blooming since mid-late February. When I deliver daffs now, people exclaim: "You STILL have daffodils?" (because, I assume, they just bought or know about only the early kind.) And I say "Yes, I do, and I'll still have them for a few more weeks."

Buy the ones that bloom early, midseason, and late, and you too will have more than just the ordinary early yellows. I don't think "any" daff is ordinary! As Ray says, there're just so representative of the promise of spring.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 9:44AM
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Pete, Where did that laid back, easy going attitude go? I know and have personally seen casablanca lilies go for $20 a stem in rural Utah. I know I can't believe how a .25 bulb goes from a grower, to a wholesaler, to a florist, to the bride for $20.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 10:22AM
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Jeanne_in_Idaho(z5 N.Idaho)

Five is too few.

My biggest mainstays, in approximate order of bloom: tulips, peonies, Asiatic lilies, glads, sunflowers, Oriental lilies, Chinese/annual asters (Callistephus).

Glads would certainly be in the top five, but we don't have a thrips problem here, so glads are fairly easy. Zinnias aren't on the list because I can't grow them here! My short-season, cold-nights mountain climate doesn't get along with them.

I sell glads for $1 per stem, 6 for $5, mostly because that's just about what everybody at our market has been selling them for. I might try to ratchet it up a little this year. The very biggest and nicest usually end up in my mixed bouquets, not in the bulk buckets.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 11:21AM
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I have to admit, I was taken aback by the price obtained by Ray, until he said the buyer was Japanese. My neice spent the summer in Japan, living with a Japanese family. She reported that single pieces of fruit, say an orange, will sell for very high prices, if they are absolutely perfect, without any blemishes.They are given as gifts. Ray says the peony was perfect, and as such was a peice of art in its simiplicity and perfection on the desk of this man.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 12:07PM
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kristenmarie(Z4-5/New Mexico)

Lilacs, because of the smell. Nothing else needed! Don't need five!


    Bookmark   April 5, 2005 at 12:09AM
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sgiesler(USDA 5)

I am happily back into nicer weather. Folks just slightly north of us had it really much worse. Many are still without power. What a difference a day makes. It will be too wet with all that snow melting off to work on the flower beds much for awhile yet. More time to buy seeds : ) and bulbs! Thanks for all the positive posts. I don't want to miss any good tips because I am eager to call people liars. I don't think it makes me gullible because I keep digging for all the information I can get. Yes I know I am not going to be selling any peonies for $25.00 a stem. However, maybe I can learn to maximize the worth of my flowers. If Ray is lying to us then he isn't likely to provide any useful info. If he is telling the truth, he is likely to provide us all with many a good tip. Tips that I would hate to miss because of hasty judgement. Thanks again for the helpful replies!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2005 at 1:33AM
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GrassIsEvil(z6 TN)

The last entry on this topic for me:

No one said, "Hey, we'll give you $25.00 for a single peony." $25.00 a week was budgeted for flowers for the president's desk. The previous person used lots of stems for a mixed bouquet the president didn't like; I used a stingle stem for something the president did like. As long as the president was happy with the flowers supplied for his desk, no one else cared if I used one peony, fifty roses, or a hundred mice on forsythia skewers.

I had the opportunity to chat with the president of the company where my better half is employed because he wanted to have dinner at the home of a company 'family'. With the changing business world, companies no longer have a cadre of experienced corporate wives to chose from. We volunteered. The competition thought the president was being invited to a 'fixer-upper' house, overgrown gardens, ten children, and a house husband. What he got was a house filled with flowers, none in mixed bouquets; a garden with a contemplation bench and luxuriant, mature plants; children who demonstrated for a lonely grandfather about sliding down bannisters, introduced him to a hometown pond carp named 'Coy', and played baseball with him; and an absolutely outstanding meal of the 'American' foods he liked.

Not everything about the visit went right, but enough did.

I gave him a flower he particularly admired; he gave me the contract. I protested the flower was a gift; he pointed out that even happy children need shoes.

Reception areas in the various buildings need flowers (such as forsythia) weekly; an entire flower (such as zinnias) subscription service works nicely, and on special occasions (such as Easter) flowers (such as daffodils) go to the pink-collar workers.

Now, we could have discussions on how I went about researching the president's likes and dislikes, how I stage managed his visit, how I designed the scene dressing to emphasize the flowers, how I prepared dialogue to lead up to the contract--but of course it could all be lies and therefore not worth any more of our time.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2005 at 5:25AM
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"But of course it could all be lies and therefore not worth any more of our time."


    Bookmark   April 5, 2005 at 6:26AM
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susiq(NW AR 6B)

Dang, it Pete, hush!

I think you have a lot to offer this forum with your experience, but your bad temper/ cynicism keeps coming through instead.

And Ray, stop egging him on! You told us a bunch of wonderful information, related beautifully, which I choose to believe. But you "ruined your presentation" when you added that snide business at the end.

Back to the great contract: how many daffodils did each woman receive, and how did you deliver them? ie, in a vase, in a wrapped bouquet, what time of day?

Please, everyone, be nice! We want to learn from all of us!

Susi, running to work.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2005 at 9:50AM
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sgiesler(USDA 5)

Lol, I know you guys all know how to be nice. I just can't even imagine a sour puss grump selling many flowers. Of course, someone will likely write and challenge this theory. I am used to being told I am wrong so I can take it. Just yesterday, I was at Giant Eagle. I was leaving my kids at the eagles nest. On display there was a large white easter lily with an asking price of 36.00. Lots of the blooms were dying and it was looking rather sad. I commented on how I didn't think it would sell for 36.00. The worker assured me someone would pay that much because they could still plant it. I figure after easter and in that condition she was nuts. She of course was equally sure she was right and was in the know. No use arguing about that. However, imho if anyone buys an easter lily after easter that has half dead blooms for 36.00 (in a depressed economy here) that we can sell anything. So here is hoping they keep there yucky looking flowers overpriced and our nice looking ones will then be a bargain at most any price. Well I can dream, right?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2005 at 10:29AM
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Poochella(7 WA)

Prices schmices... I have no reason to disbelieve Ray. He presents an eloquent history on how he researched and delivered the goods to this particular man that sounds like sheer genius to me.

But what really tickles me silly is the vision of a hundred of mice skewered on forsythia presented just so.... LOL! Ray, if you're reading this, I adore your wicked sense of humor, your ability to write and congratulate you on your flower selling successes. You should consider a book someday.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2005 at 10:30AM
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Noni Morrison

"a hundred of mice skewered on forsythia presented just so"
WHat a hilarious image!

OK, I will go for what plants I can't resist...Lilies of course, in all their variations, Roses in all theirs, Dahlias in every rainbow color and form, zinnias for all the other colors, and neon dianthus for theirs. (Do I have to count the ammi,ladymantle, fall asters etc I use for fillers?)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 3:39PM
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honeybunny442(z6 TN)

Welcome Shirley,
I think that clerk at the Eagle was giving you a line of bull to try and get you to buy the plant. Our big garden and gift chain here was selling the lilies for $1 after Easter. Wish I would have known that! I'm sure they're all gone now.
Yez, boys, play nice!
Look at the prices on florist's sites, I'm astonished by them.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 1:43PM
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Jeanne_in_Idaho(z5 N.Idaho)

The skewered mice, presented just so, got me giggling!


    Bookmark   April 9, 2005 at 2:22PM
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You better be careful. The reference to skewered mice borders on pathological behavior.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2005 at 7:49PM
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But funny just the same.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 9:29AM
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If you live in an area where they grow well, try dahlias. You can also sell the tubers in spring for early income. We grow well over a hundred varieties and the blooms are really popular at markets. Some are much better suited for cutting than others; if I were just starting with them I'd check with a specialist tuber supplier for recommendations. 'Chilson's Pride' would be at least one good one to start with.
Next to dahlias, sunflowers are our best sellers. Zinnias are great too. Hope this helps! Chris

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 11:24PM
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sgiesler(USDA 5)

I imagine dahlias grow here well as they seem to be selling plenty of the tubers here. I plan to plant just a few this year to try them out. I plan to try lots and lots of stuff out in small lots this year with suns and zinnias as the main crops. Also planning on putting perrenials in steadily but it will take me awhile to afford everything I feel I need. I started with some lilies, peonies and glads and going from there. Dahlias are definitely on my buy more of list. Thanks for suggesting them. Shirley

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 11:20AM
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joyce69(van island)

Lots of interesting thoughts here, just thought I would chime in with my five favorites.

Oriental lilies for their beauty, fragrance and their ease of growing.

Delphiniums, love the range of colors, great for drying and arrangements.

Hydrangeas for cut and flower. Again the color range is stunning. Great landscape plant too if the dang deer don't eat it!

Peonies, mmmm, old fashioned, romantic, fragrant beauty.

Sweet Peas, good cut and love a climber.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 1:36PM
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