|Selling Cut Flowers
Presenters: Shirley Bankston
Mark Harvey, Old House Dahlias
At the Portland Dahlia Club meeting tonight, the subject of the presentation was "Selling Dahlia Cut Flowers" presented
by Shirley Bankston, a long time club member and Mark Harvey the owner of Old House Dahlias.
Shirley has been selling cut flowers from a small stand on her property in a middle class neighborhood in Southwest
Portland for over 15 years. She has only a back yard plot with a few hundred dahlia plants. Shirley always puts together
bouquets using dahlias and other greens and flowers that she grows on her property. I did not get the name of the plant
she uses for greens as she could not remember it. She gave us a cutting of it a few years ago and it is a deciduous
bush with long stems to use for filler. It grows about 8 feet tall and Shirley cuts it back to about 2 feet each year to
encourage it to provide lots of smaller stems. She uses other flowers in the bouquets such a Buddleia(summer lilac,
banned in some states as it is supposedly invasive). She put together a nice bouquet from flowers brought by club
members as hers are not blooming yet. I believe she charges $8.00 for her bouquets.
The other presenter was Mark Harvey who a couple of years ago quit his job and now is a full time Dahlia grower. He
grows 4 acres of dahlias on leased property in three locations in the Portland metro area. The majority of his income
comes from cut flower sales although the percentage of tuber sales is rapidly catching up and will eventually exceed the
cut flower sales. He does not sell in farmers markets as he says the competition for cut flower sales makes the prices too
low. He instead sells to florist departments at the large grocery stores in Portland. Mark is an organic grower and this fits
in well with the types of stores that carry his flowers. Organic foods is really big in Portland. Another advantage is the
new program that stores are buying from local vendors and even putting signs up giving the names of the local vendors.
He sells mostly bouquets that are put together to the stores, From his residence he still sells flowers by the stems. He
brought several buckets of dahlias to the meeting, picked from his overwintered dahlia patch. He heat treats all the
flowers he sells in 160 degree water(Swan Island does this also). He picks extremely long stems averaging about 20
inches because the florists like them that way. He says it is hard on the bushes but the money is good. He has three
prices for the very large bouquets: a wholesale price to the florist that he did not relate, a retail price of $9.00 to retail
customers and $11.00 for special order bouquets(weddings and such). Mark does not mix any other flowers or greens
with his bouquets because as he says he is a " dahlia seller".