The floriculture industry is involved with the production, distribution, and utilization of floral products and related goods and services. It is a multibillion dollar industry annually in the United States. Businesses range in size from small neighborhood flower shops to corporations engaging in international trade. Products can be as old-fashioned as a prom corsage and as modern as new computer technology. The following descriptions can only provide a rudimentary idea of what floriculture workers do. Diversity is commonplace, and diverse skills, abilities, and interests are an asset to anyone who would seek employment within this complex industry.
Floriculture crops are grown in greenhouses and other growing structures (described in Chapter 20). They are also grown outdoors in climates in which the winter season is short or nonexistent. Firms that grow flowering and foliage plants may emphasize cut flower production, potted crop production, or both (Figures 15-1 and 15—2). Firms may also choose not to grow crops to maturity, but instead to propagate
figure 15-1. A typical cut crop bench. These are chrysanthemums, necessitating the overhead support racks to hold black cloth for day length control. (Delmar/Cengage Learning. Photo by Jack Ingels.)
figure 15-3. Overhead lighting provided by cool white fluorescent lamps promotes good growth of these African violets. (Delmar/Cengage Learning. Photo by Jack Ingels.)
figure 15-2. Potted Easter lilies in their forcing bed (Delmar/Cengage Learning. Photo by Jack Ingels.)
them and provide rooted cuttings or other reproductive stock to other growers.
Growers should have a knowledge of assorted crop plants, although their knowledge can easily become limited when they grow only a few crops on a repeating basis. Knowledge of proper production hygiene is essential, coupled with the ability to prevent and control the insects and diseases to which the crops are susceptible. The essence of production know-how is the ability to manipulate the environment around the plants in a way that will benefit the crops, not hamper their development (Figure 15-3).
The grower may be the owner of the operation or an employee. In production operations, the grower is a key figure who is given great responsibility and permitted little error. Large operations may employ several chief growers, each supervising several assistant growers. Except for the grower who also owns the business, growers are regarded as skilled laborers. They may acquire their skills through university programs, on-the-job training, or both. In any case, they must constantly update their knowledge through attendance at workshops, seminars, and industry tours. Competition from other firms, both inside the country and abroad, requires that growers stay abreast of the latest information.
Most growing operations are wholesale firms whose clientele are retail florists. Still, there are small growers who retail their own products and produce only what they need. Rural communities often attract or perhaps necessitate grower-retailers because of their distance from suppliers.
In addition to the professionals described, a growing operation may also employ several unskilled laborers who perform valuable tasks to support the growers’ efforts. These laborers may have no technical education or experience when they begin work, but are often highly motivated to learn. After several years, they may qualify as skilled laborers within the same firm or in a similar operation.