New growers who want to start growing woody ornamentals and have a limited growing area should choose species that don’t require a lot of space, yet produce enough stems to make a tidy profit per square foot. In addition, growers should look for plants that are:
- Growing in popularity.
- Easy to grow.
- Produce an abundance of stems.
- Last for decades.
Of course, the species chosen must also do well in your plant hardiness zone If you’re not sure of your zone, ask a local master gardener or do an online search for “plant hardiness zone.” Here are five species you should consider:
Boxwood (Buxus). Most gardeners think of boxwood as a hedge plant, but it has long been a profitable woody ornamental, used by florists in arrangements. The dark green foliage is harvested in late fall and early winter for holiday arrangements, wreaths and garlands. Boxwood is easy to grow, the stems are sturdy and have a long vase life after cutting.
Beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana). This fast growing shrub produces spectacular clusters of purple berries in the fall. It is a native of the southeast U.S. and produces long stems that are in demand. Each plant can produce up to 30 stems per year, which are sold to florists and individuals.
Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia). This is one of the top woodies in overall demand, and is harvested both for it’s flowers and foliage. Forsythia is very easy to grow, and best for local sales. There is an increasing demand from florists for the variegated cultivars. The old standby, Lynwood Gold, is still very popular, in part because up to 100 stems can be harvested each year.
Hydrangea. These flowers have been popular for many decades,but now there is a rainbow of color possibilities, thanks to newer varieties that have been created by dedicated plant breeders. Most fresh hydrangeas are sold locally, as the huge flower heads are difficult to safely ship. Growers can also dry the blooms so they can have a year-round income.
Weigelia (Weigelia florida). This old-fashioned shrub produces lovely delicate flowers, ideal for local sales to florists or at the farmer’s market. Potted plants sell well to bird lovers, as this is a “must-have” plant to attract hummingbirds.
These are just five of the over 100 species of woody ornamentals that can be grown for stems. Be sure to have a chat with our county extension agent to find out what other species might do well in your area. To learn more, read Growing Woody Ornamentals For Profit.