Cut flowers may be taken from long lasting or short lived plants (e.g. a rose plant gives flowers for many years, but annual flowers are replanted each season). Annual crops may be more suited for automation. Flowers for the cut flower industry may be grown in a greenhouse or in the open, such as fields of tulips.
Scope of Work
Outdoor flower production:
Preparing and forming the soil
Digging trenches for planting larger plants
Indoor flower production:
Preparing pots for planting
Spraying for pests and diseases
Some of these tasks may be done manually, depending on the nature and scope of the flowers being produced, the size of the facility and costs. Otherwise, they may be automated and carried out by machines.
What You Need to Learn
Flower knowledge - Botany, identification, classification, use as cut flowers
Harvest & post-harvest - Harvesting methods & equipment, processing (e.g. drying flowers), storage
Cultural techniques - Pruning, watering, planting, transplanting, staking, fertilising
Health management - Plant pests, diseases and environmental disorders, biosecurity
Propagation - Cuttings, seed, division, layering, grafting, tissue culture
Environmental control - Ventilation, irrigation, heating, cooling, lighting, CO2 injection
Soils - Potting media & soil structure, chemistry, soil management techniques
Tools & equipment - Selecting the right tools, correct use, maintenance & repair
Communication skills - Dealing with clients, arranging appointments, giving advice
Sales skills - Interacting with customers, selling flowers, earning repeat business, networking with suppliers, placing orders, keeping inventories, marketing, advertising
Health & safety - Assessment of risks & hazards, use of personal protective equipment, alarms & drills, basic first aid procedures
Starting a Career
Entry pathways include:
General garden labourer
Nursery or garden centre work
Voluntary work with gardening clubs or local horticultural enterprises
Working in a related area, such as crop production
Networking at flower shows and taking classes
Studying the basics of flowers and taxonomy
Skills needed vary with the type of role taken, but it is quite possible to learn on the job. Wherever you start, spend time learning from other staff. Identify gaps in your knowledge and look for courses and books to fill them.
Progressing a Career
Hard work and perseverance will get you far in the cut flower industry, but if you want to advance a career then you will need to learn more! It's important to know about different types of plants, plant cultural techniques, and plant health. If you understand different methods of propagation and working in protective structures like greenhouses or glasshouses, then there are likely to be more opportunities to change jobs and get into the upper echelons of management.
Keep up to date with current trends and technological advancements:
Join trade associations or bodies
Attend garden shows, agricultural shows and trade shows
Attend workshops and seminars
Undertake further study
Any courses taken should be ones which help to reinforce what you learn rather than quick fix courses. They can be evening courses or courses provided by distance education, so long as the course providers have suitably qualified tutors who can provide adequate feedback.
Within the cut flower industry there are opportunities to move up the ladder from general assistant to supervisory or management positions. Some may even seek to ultimately establish their own cut flower business, or perhaps switch toward floristry.