FRANKFORT – Nothing says summer like fresh flowers. This July, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky Horticulture Council (KHC) are celebrating that fact with the second annual Kentucky Grown Cut Flower Month.
“Nothing brightens a room more than the addition of beautiful flowers,” Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles said. “Flowers grown in Kentucky offer just a piece of what makes Kentucky beautiful. Bringing that beauty inside your home, your business, or adding it to your summer wedding celebrates what Kentucky’s farmer-florists provide for consumers.”
With the number of farmer-florists increasing by more than 30 percent in the last five years, Kentucky is now home to more than 90 cut flower operations with a market value of about $0.5 million. To celebrate the special beauty these farmer-florists produce, each day in July, the Kentucky Horticulture Council will feature cut flower growers across KHC’s social media channels.
This event is the second annual Kentucky Grown Cut Flower Month co-hosted by KHC and University of Kentucky Horticulture Extension Agents. Each day will feature snippets on how Kentucky’s farmer-florists make their products available to customer through farmers markets, on-farm sales, pop-up shops, CSA deliveries, and more.
One of the favorite features of last year’s event was viewing the gorgeous flower bouquets produced by farmer florists.
“The diversity of flowers we can grow commercially in Kentucky goes well beyond the common rose, mum, and lily crops,” said Kristin Hildabrand, Warren County Extension Agent for Horticulture. “Most consumers don’t realize that Kentucky cut flower growers can produce magnificent displays of daffodil and ranunculus stems in the spring, striking sunflower and zinnia bouquets for summer, as well as a variety of other attractive blooms and foliage throughout the fall growing season.”
While about 80 percent of cut flowers in the United States are imported from countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, and the Netherlands, Kentucky conditions are well-suited for commercial production.
“Cut flowers are a rapidly expanding industry segment in Kentucky horticulture and can be quite profitable for growers,” said Cindy Finneseth, KHC executive director. “Most of our growers sell directly to consumers, with an increasing number of farms selling through retail sites and wholesale markets.”
Buying Kentucky-grown flowers isn’t just for July, you can purchase and enjoy Kentucky grown flowers almost all year long. “Using crop planning strategies and protected agriculture technologies, growers can manage production for near year-round harvest,” said Alexis Sheffield, Boyle County Extension Agent for Horticulture. “From early season crops like anemones and ranunculus in early March to late season holly berries and spruce into December.”
Want to connect with a local farmer-florist? KHC and local UK Horticulture Agents have partnered with the University of Kentucky Center for Crop Diversification (CCD) to make a map available that displays many operations across Kentucky, with details about where to find products (https://uk-horticulture.github.io/KY-Cut-Flowers/). The map doesn’t include every operation in Kentucky, so keep your eyes open - there may be flower farm very close to you.
July is also American Grown Flower Month sponsored by Certified American Grown, a national trade promotion organization.