Growing Statice: Easy and Profitable

If you're looking for a flower that's easy to grow and sells well, consider growing statice this year.


| January/February 1985



091-090-01

Lovely statice can be an extremely profitable crop for the small-scale grower, particularly since the flowers can be sold fresh or dried!


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS EDITORS

For the past few years at our southern Oregon organic flower farm, we've grown hundreds of flower species and cultivars that we sell — both fresh and dried — to florists, supermarkets, businesses, offices and individuals. Naturally, we continually seek to maximize the returns from our limited garden space, so we are always looking for any crop that is easy to grow and sell. One such discovery is statice, a plant whose several varieties are in the genus Limonium .

Having also been involved in a vegetable truck farm, we've had the opportunity to compare dollar yields per acre of the usual vegetables to those of our flower crops, and flowers, among them statice, rate much higher than vegetables in dollars earned. In addition, growing statice is easy, it's a cinch to sell, and it offers little risk because it's easily dried. In other words, we think it's the ideal crop for the small-scale grower.

Choosing Statice Seeds

Statice seed can be purchased in single colors or as a mixture. The best colors, from the viewpoint of customer preference, are the roses, pinks, blues, apricots and purples, with yellows and whites being the least desired. We plant half of our area in the individual colors and the other half in a mixture, giving us a usable proportion of yellows and whites.

You'll find that statice seed comes either "clean," called easy-grow, or still embedded in the dried flower heads, which we crush as finely as possible with our fingers. We've grown many strains from a lot of different seed producers without developing any particular preferences. However, because some colors are peculiar to particular strains, we grow small quantities of as many types as we can find, with the exception of dwarf varieties. These we avoid, since — as flower sellers — we need plants with long stems.

Seed catalogs may offer annual and perennial types of statice. Limonium suworowii, for example, is an annual that produces valuable blooms for dried arrangements, though it's more fickle to grow than Limonium sinuata. Limonium lacifolia and Statice tatarica are both hardy perennials that produce very airy, delicate blooms for fresh and dried arrangements, and as fillers, they are often considered superior to the popular gypsophila. Both of these varieties are relatively uncommon and in great demand, but they require a year before the first blooms are produced.

Limonium sinuata, on the other hand, blooms its first year and has a number of attributes that make it our favorite. First, it withstands frost quite well, thriving in our garden a month before the last spring frost and giving blooms a month after the first fall frost. Second, its very dense, broad-leaved, low foliage helps control weeds. In fact, it literally smothers them. Third, the long stems grow from the base of the plant and open their individual florets slowly, giving the grower a period of a week or more to cut each bloom in its prime. (Most cut flowers must be harvested every two days.) Fourth, statice has no insect enemies and no special requirements other than rich soil, full sun and plenty of water. And, fifth, the plant produces blooms (here in southern Oregon) from July to November, giving the grower a steady supply from a single planting.





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