Behind the Scenes: Flower Production

Feb 26, 2024

Have you ever wondered what it takes to grow the irresistible hanging baskets and planters you see at Colonial Gardens?  In this blog series, I hope to enlighten you on the challenges and processes of growing quality healthy plants for you to beautify your home! 

     There are many steps in the process of growing these gorgeous hanging baskets and containers you see in the greenhouse each spring here at Colonial Gardens.  Here is the process we follow in a simplified version, so you have an understanding of the health and quality of the plants you purchase at Colonial Gardens. 

Designing recipes.  July-September, my staff and I, design recipes of plants that will play nicely with each other in a container.  

  • Things to consider are: the vigor of the plants you choose must be similar, otherwise one plant may choke out the others
  • All plants must enjoy the same level of shade or sun
  • Colors must be in harmony or contrast with one another to attract the eye
  • Texture and color of foliage are important for an attractive look
Placing Orders. After weeks of designing the recipes, now it is time to place orders for the starter plants.  We select the best varieties for our area from reputable brokers/growers.  Many customers ask us if we grow our own plants from seeds or cuttings - we rarely do. The reason is most of the best plants on the market today are patented.  You must have a license from the breeder or company to legally propagate many plants.  That licensing is very expensive, and we don’t have the state-of-the-art facility for rooting large quantities of cuttings. The beautiful foliage baskets we grow are made from non-patented plant cuttings.  It takes nearly 20,000 of them!  We do grow some vegetables from seed, but not flowers.  When ordering, you must consider the following things before placing the order and how many plants are needed. 
  • How many baskets or pots am I going to grow?
  • When do the baskets or pots need to be ready to sell? 
  • How large are the baskets or containers I am going to grow them in? 
  • How many plants does it take to fill each basket or container when the plants are mature? 
  • How long does it take for the plants to mature into their saleable beauty to determine the appropriate ship date of the starters? 
  • How many plants are needed to fill all the containers and baskets you want to grow for each recipe?
Now that we have the plants ordered, it is time to order the baskets and containers.  What goes into this process? 
  • Order the amount needed per recipe
  • When do they need to be shipped to be planted in the time to hit the target finish date? 
  • Are my orders big enough to meet minimum shipping requirements, or do I need to combine orders? 
What else needs to be ordered in advance to have everything needed before the first plants arrive? 
  • Fertilizers. What analysis is needed for what I am growing.  Test your water, test your potting soil to determine what kind of fertilizer is needed.  How often and how many plants you are going to grow will determine how much is needed so you can determine how much to buy and have shipped on time. 
  • Insecticides. Most likely there will be insect intruders at some point if not multiple points during the growing season.  What insects are likely and what are the best and safest insecticides needed. 
  • Beneficial insects.  I always want to try to use beneficial insects to suppress and or stop insects from getting on my plants.  Remember, I want to sell healthy and high quality plants for my customers!  What kind of beneficial insects are likely to be needed, and how many and when to I need to ship them?   
  • Diseases.  Diseases are less likely to be an issue, but still need to be prepared in case a disease shows up in my crop!  What are the likely diseases and what products should I have on hand in case a disease needs to be stopped?   

Now that the prep work is done, what comes next?  In Part II, I will go into the greenhouse operations and testing equipment before putting your crops in them during the winter months!  I will also go into how to grow the crop until it is ready to sell!  This is the fun, but also the very challenging part of growing irresistible crops!  Stay tuned next month for Part II! 


Written By "Rockin' Kev" Kevin Keilig