July 9, 2016

Cut flower production provides indoor growers profitable market opportunities. Research indicated LED lights are essential for maximizing yields, bloom quality, and revenue.

 2.1

Gerbera daisies are in high demand in the US florist industry.

If you plan to expand and diversify your indoor grow operations, consider the opportunity offered by the cut flower market. In 2015, cut flowers generated $31.3 billion in retail sales and demand for domestically grown cut flowers is increasing. Since the US only has 280 flower growers that produce only 36 percent of the cut blooms sold, the time is right to enter the wholesale cut flower market as florists look to reduce their costs by eliminating the expense of importing flowers. Since hydroponic and greenhouse growers control the environment in which they propagate their plants, they offer florists high-quality blooms year round, which gives them a significant strategic marketplace advantage over outdoor growers.

LED Lights Essential for Successful Cut Flower Production

While a significant body of research demonstrates the multitude of benefits of using LED grow lights for vegetable and non-flowering plant production, the scientific literature lacks similar studies for cut flower production. In an effort to fill this gap, a three-member research team from the School of Environmental Science at the University of Guelph located in Ontario, Canada designed and conducted a rigorous study comparing the effects of LED grow lights and HPS lights on Gerbera daisies.

Experimental Design

They chose to use three different Gerbera varietals in this groundbreaking study to reduce the possibility that any differences may be attributed to the unique characteristics of a particular type of Gerbera. In addition, the scientists used the same drip water irrigation system for both experimental groups and ensured the temperature and relative humidity were also the same. The LED grow lights utilized a recipe of red, blue, and white LED diodes.

Study Results

As you might expect, the researcher found that plants grown under the LED lights had higher rates of photosynthesis than those cultivated using HPS lights. Similar to vegetable, fruits, and non-flowering plants, the Gerbera exposed to LED lights had a greater biomass than those produced using HPS lights. As with previous studies, using LED grow lights resulted in a 40 percent energy savings when compared to HPS lights.

In terms of the parameters unique to cut flower production, the scientists report several benefits of using LED lights instead of HPS grow lights.

  • Plant exposed to LED lights produced more significant more marketable blooms (85 percent) than those grown under HPS lights (70 percent).
  • The diameter and stems of the flowers cultivated using LED grow lights were greater than those exposed to LED lights.
  • The cut blooms from plants grown using LED lights lasted longer than those produced using HPS lights.

 

2.2

Look for LED grow lights optimized for flower production like our Diamond Series Extreme Bloom LED lights.

Plans for Future Research

The scientists state that they plan to conduct similar studies with other types of cut flowers to document the advantages of LED grow lights. In addition, they are planning to investigate the effects of various LED light recipes on cut flower quality and crop yields.

Are you considering addition cut flower production to your grow operations? Why or why not? If you already grow cut flowers for wholesale, what is your experience?

Sources:

Society of American Florists. (nd). Flower Industry Overview. About Flowers.

Zheng, Y., Llewellyn, D., and Vinson, K. (2014). LED Light Evaluation. Practical Hydroponics and Greenhouses, 150: 28-41. (PDF)

Zheng, Y., Llewellyn, D., and Vinson, K. (2014). LED Superior to HPS for Cut Gerbera Production.