Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah

By the time you are reading this our Region—well, most of us anyways—will be up to our elbows picking all those fall-planted flowers. When you are not overtired, log in to the Members Only section of the ASCFG website and look for the talks from our March meetings in Georgia and California. I attended the Georgia meeting along with ten other growers from Texas, and several from other states in our region. Our Region was strongly represented by those who risked the ice and snow storms coming and going.Before the Grower Intensive, the ASCFG Board of Directors met for a day and a half. We were busy taking care of all the things boards do and planning some upcoming projects that will certainly help our membership.

As they are implemented, there will be updates via Short Cuts and in The Cut Flower Quarterly throughout the year.

I’m especially excited about the small film we hope to make and distribute to different audiences to educate the American public about locally-grown flowers. There are some others I’m excited about but need some more work to get them up and going.

The first day of the grower meeting, a great slate of speakers gave presentations. On the second day we went on the tours to three different farms and spent the rainy day asking lots of questions and enjoying the hospitality of our gracious hosts. Southeast Regional Director Tanis Clifton did an awesome job and showed her southern hospitality to all. Tanis will do a great job about telling you about the meeting in depth, so please read her column as well. I hope you take the time to read all Regional Reports as they can all be helpful and interesting. I was so happy to see all the new young growers who attended as well as all the familiar faces. I enjoyed all the conversations and more than once thought what a wonderful group of awesome people.

I was so happy to see and meet growers who want to start growing flowers. It’s refreshing to see how excited they are about their new venture and reminds me why I’m in this business. It’s every parent’s dream to hear “I want to do what you do, Mom.” which my son just recently presented me with, and now he has started asking all the questions of how exactly I started. My answer is “Slow, and learn as you go, and not making too many big mistakes.” It also reminds me of how much it takes to get started. Knowledge, infrastructure, good ground, electricity, good water source, and oh not to forget money. I wish them all the best and hope all their dreams come true.

I again had an eventful trip back home because here in south Texas, ice and snow are not common words we use often. I was greeted by a large amount of flowers to make into bouquets so I hit the ground running to help my crew make many bouquets and straight bunches for my store for the next day’s deliveries.

We are busy picking the fruits of our labor from all our fall greenhouse plantings of snapdragons, dianthus, delphiniums, campanula, and ranunculus and anemones. My Georgia presentation illustrated my top ten flower crops. These we produce in mass quantities for use in straight bunches and bouquets. I also shared an availability sheet that I use to tell customers what’s available when. The spreadsheet of my planting schedule is posted in the Members Only section of the ASCFG site. In it I provided a list of what I grow, and where, when, and how it’s planted. I tried to show how we succession plant some of our varieties, as well as spacing, and sources. Please keep in mind that it was created for zone 8b, and should be treated as a guide only, adjusted to your zone.

I recently tried some of the Italian Biancheri ranunculus. I’m excited about ‘Elegance Salmon’ as it is beautiful and has produced well. The plants are healthy and vigorous.

Another color that is really outstanding is ‘Elegance Rosa Charo’, a very light blush pink. The stems are very hardy and nice height.

‘Elegance Crema’ is another beauty. It has a light, almost butter color. You might think it’s white but it has a shade of soft yellow. Also has a good height but stems not as thick as ‘Salmon’ and ‘Rosa Charo’.I decided to try a couple of the more expensive Pon-Pon varieties—‘Ariel’, ‘Aurora’, and ‘Silente’. Of the three ‘Ariel’ was my favorite. I liked the color of the ‘Silente’ but I didn’t get good height. ‘Aurora’ is pretty but ‘Ariel’ is gorgeous. It kind of looks like one of the super green varieties on steroids.My new crush, but at a price of two dollars a bulb, you must have the right market to make money on this one, such as florists and wedding work. I trialed more than 15 colors but the mentioned ones were my standouts.I did have some that came up and slowly died and I probably was the culprit and did something wrong, but it was all variety specific. In all cases the entire planting of the color either survived or it didn’t so not quite sure what happened.

I love trying new flowers and or ways to grow them. This past fall I was able to get some dahlia tubers from Ednie, and grew them over the winter in the greenhouse with my Karma dahlias, using supplemental light and heat. My next experiment will be taking cuttings off all my spring-planted dahlias in hopes of carrying over plants for next winter.

My ‘Café Au Laits’ should arrive this week and I can’t wait to grow this lovely variety much sought after by wedding and event florists. I also am growing a white one called ‘Lady Natalie’ which is available through Ednie. ‘Natalie’ has a large flower with really good stem length. I have a large amount of dahlia bulbs also coming from Banner Flower Farm and I will be testing these for how well they grow and produce in my area. I will try to keep good records and will share my findings with you at the end of the summer.

I’m also trialing several vining plants for sales to florists for wedding and event work. Among these are Clematis recta purpurea, clematis ‘Helios’ from GeoSeed, Clematis tangutica ‘Radar Love’ (yellow flower heads with neat seedheads),  Cobaea scandens ‘Alba’ and ‘Violet’ (also known as cup and saucer vine) covered with huge deep purple bells), nasturtium, and Cardiospermum, love in a puff, a ferny-leafed vine with small white flowers and charming puffy seedheads. I started all from seed that I obtained from Ivy Garth and Geo. I hope to use the vines along with the thornless raspberries and sweet peas in my wedding work, and will experiment with selling straight bunches.

I also will be sending a few emails out to members in the Region, and if anyone has some exciting news, please share with me by emailing me at [email protected]. I hope to arrange a potluck on my farm in August, at which time we would like to spend the day sharing stories and growing ideas. More information to follow. I wish all a great spring and happy growing!

Rita Anders

Cuts of Color

Rita Anders Cuts of Color Contact at [email protected]