Growers Guide for Cut Flowers for Louisiana and the Gulf Coast

Growers guide cut flowers for Louisiana and the Gulf Coast banner.

Formal cut flower production began in the Netherlands in the 1600 and 1700’s with the development of the greenhouse in Europe. Greenhouses allowed the forcing of outdoor plants so they could be produced out of season and the flowers sold. Lilac bushes were dug, subjected to normal seasonal cold temperatures and brought into the greenhouse using supplemental heat to induce flowering. Cut stems were then harvested and sold commercially.

As Europeans settled the United States, they brought cut flower production with them, beginning with the first greenhouses being built near cities in the mid to late 1700’s. The development of air transport and refrigerated trucks allowed the industry to move further from cities to areas with the best climates for optimum production and lower production costs. Carnation and rose production moved to the front range of Colorado and then to Coastal California, gladiolas and chrysanthemums to Florida and California. At this time, only a few species, like gladiolus, were grown in the field. California eventually dominated the U.S. cut flower industry in both field and greenhouse production.

Cut flowers do not have roots or soil, and therefore they were not restricted by normal plant quarantine policies.

With an interest in disrupting the drug trade in South America, U.S. officials encouraged cut flowers as an alternative crop in Columbia and the first carnations were produced in Bogotá in the mid 1980’s. A mild climate with high light and cheap production costs like labor and greenhouse heat made the industry boom and Ecuador soon followed. Currently the three crops that are the backbone of the florist industry (carnations, chrysanthemums and roses) are all imported from Mexico and South America.

After a difficult time, most big U.S. producers switched to potted or bedding plants and small, local producers emerged to fill the need for high quality flowers that had not been boxed and shipped dry over long distances. Varieties, floral trends and marketing also developed beyond the highly structured, traditional floral design and sales customs. A broad range of cut flowers is now sold directly to consumers at farmers markets, to specialty florists, supermarkets and wholesalers. These are called “field grown specialty cut flowers”. Much of the production occurs in the field but also in greenhouses, limited heat hoop houses and unheated high tunnels.

See PDF for more information about growing flowers, recommended cut flower species for Louisiana, when and how to plant, specialty cut flower planting guide, general stages of maturity for harvesting flowers, organic and natural management for common cut flower, insect, pests and diseases, postharvest and storage, and marketing.

6/7/2024 1:50:40 PM
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