6 Reasons to Grow Your Flowers From Organic Seed
As the days lengthen, the air warms, and the soil thaws from a long winter, we’re all ready for spring. And with spring comes flowers. Lots of them. From Easter to Memorial to Mother’s Day, to any sunny bird-song filled day, there is no shortage of reasons to buy flowers.
Instead of heading to the supermarket to pick up a bouquet, consider these 6 reasons to grow your own.
Local flowers vs. Imported Flowers
If you care about local food, you should care about local flowers, too. While the local farmer-florist movement has been growing, 80% of flowers sold in the U.S. are imported from other countries, the majority coming from Colombia, with Ecuador a distant second, and Mexico and the Netherlands accounting for just 3% of sales combined.
Growing your own flowers shrinks that global footprint and brings the blooms to your backyard, decreasing the negative environmental impact of imported crops.
Conventional cut flowers carry high pesticide loads
Since we don’t typically eat flowers, conventionally grown flowers are sprayed with many more chemicals than food crops. Aside from the pressures of delivering a product that appears perfect, pesticides are also used to ensure no bugs hop a ride on international shipments.
Though crops aren’t tested for pesticide load at borders, in order to mitigate the risk of introducing an invasive insect, flowers are searched for pests and an entire shipment can be turned away if just one insect is found.
Pesticides don’t just stay on the flowers—chemicals end up leaching into the soil and water, and can have long-term persistent effects on the land, water, wildlife, and people.
Pesticide exposure from conventional cut flowers
We don’t wash flowers as we do food, and that means our exposure to pesticides from cut flowers lingers and can be taken in through direct contact and breathing.
A 2017 study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health showed that florists are exposed to pesticide concentrations “1,000 times higher than the concentrations which are usually detected on foodstuffs . . . Moreover, ten active substances are also suspected of causing cancer after prolonged or repeated exposure.”
While florists may get the most consistent post-harvest exposure, bringing conventional cut flowers into your home means you’re also bringing pesticides into your home. Another reason to grow your own, or to purchase locally grown organic cut flowers.
Flowers grown from organic seed will thrive in an organic system
Many seedlings sold at big box stores are treated with neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides that are known to be fatal to bee populations. If you’re hoping to offer a safe home for pollinators and have beautiful bouquets for your kitchen, steer clear of seedlings treated with pesticides.
Another benefit to starting with organic seed is that seed crops grown in organic conditions are selected to thrive in your garden—they’re not dependent on chemical inputs, and therefore are better able to grow when tended to organically, without pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
Growing flowers from organic seed is more affordable than buying seedlings
While a 6-pack of flower starts will cost you around $5, a packet of seeds will give you hundreds of flowers for as little as $2.95.
It’s easy to start your own seeds, and for the price of a few seed packets and potting soil, you can have a summer filled with organic flowers.
Even if you don’t have a big garden space, flowers can grow well in containers, too.
Beauty should be beautiful at all stages
Flowers are meant to be beautiful, and that goes as much for how they’re grown as for how they look in a vase. When you grow your own flowers, the blooms will brighten your garden just as much as your kitchen, and create a welcome home for pollinators.
Growing your own flowers from organic seed will not only bring you beauty all season long, it will also ensure that beauty is free of chemicals, so you and the pollinators can breathe deep, stay healthy, and “stop to smell the roses” without worry.
Kate Spring is an organic farmer, mother, and chief inspiration officer at good heart farmstead in Worcester, Vermont. All photos courtesy of the author.