YANKTON, S.D. — Flower farms across South Dakota invite you to purchase locally grown bouquets and beautiful cut flowers to brighten up your home, to make a stunning wedding display, or to gift to your loved ones. The S.D. Specialty Producers Association’s (SDSPA) producer directory provides a listing and map for consumers to find a nearby grower.
Cut flower production rapidly developed in Colombia and Ecuador beginning in the mid 1960’s due to the excellent climate conditions and low production costs related to labor and heating, according to N.C. Extension. The rapid increase of imported flowers had a devastating impact on U.S. production. The cut flower industry also heavily relies on the Netherlands, the world’s leading producer.
In the 1990’s and early 2000’s retailers and consumers moved away from wanting the standard rose, carnation and chrysanthemum, desiring more interesting blooms and mixed bouquets. This has opened a niche for small local producers to offer flower varieties that are unique, high quality, and fresh and do not need to be shipped.
South Dakota now has several small flower producers selling a broad range of cut flowers directly to consumers through farmers markets, subscriptions, U-pick operations and more. Some cater to specialty florists and retail outlets.
To find a producer near you visit the SDSPA Website for a map of flower farm locations in South Dakota at: https://sdspecialtyproducers.org/producers/flowers-plants/.
Learn more about some of our South Dakota flower producers and the benefits of locally grown flowers.
Fleurish Flower Farm, Elk Point, SD
Fleurish Flower Farm is a charming 1/2 acre farm specializing in flowers for U-Pick events, weddings, arrangements, design classes and tours in southeastern South Dakota. Owner Christy Heckathorn, also offers a full service wedding design studio and bulk buckets for the DIY bride.
Flowers are the great connectors of people. One of Heckathorn’s favorite things about having a flower farm is the people she gets to meet, whether it be at a U-Pick event or at a Make & Take class. She loves that she owns a business that all ages can be a part of and enjoy.
People love being able to have a “hands on experience” when it comes to picking their own flowers and Heckathorn loves seeing and hearing their reaction when they experience the flowers.
“Flowers evoke such a strong reaction in people and they often will comment on how a certain variety reminds them of something that grew at their grandmother’s house. Last season I had a 50 foot row of cinnamon and lemon basil. You could smell it before you even got up close, and that’s not an experience that you can get just anywhere,” Heckathorn said.
Not only do flowers bring joy, but Heckathorn is able to provide a product to her customers that has a longer shelf life than if they would purchase flowers elsewhere. It goes straight from the field to the vase. Flower farms are able to provide unique blooms that customers would not normally have access to, some of which are simply not available because they do not like to be stored in a cooler.
Being a farmer-florist is a lot of hard work, but Heckathorn’s farm was born out of a love of flowers plus a passion for floral design. When you combine that with the desire to share beauty, cultivate joy and give back, Heckathorn cannot think of anything else she would rather do.
Pixie Acres Flower Farm , Castlewood, SD
Pixie Acres Flower Farm’s passion is to spread joy through South Dakota flowers. Owner Jessica Ruml strives to show customers the beauty that can be grown here. This small family farm is located on the plains of northeastern South Dakota.
Ruml’s primary sales outlets are weddings, farmers markets, on-farm workshops and retail bouquets. She grows around 50 different flower varieties, including old-fashioned favorites like zinnias, dahlias, foxglove, snapdragons, sweet peas and more.
Cultivating blooms in the northeast, zone 4A climate, is no easy feat! Beyond the subzero winters and hot and humid summers, there is the consistent battle with the wind. Their average frost-free season is only 136 days, but they have navigated techniques that allow them to sell their products from April through November.
The farm has two high tunnel structures that allow them to get a jump on the season and provide protection at the end of the season from both temperature changes and wind damage. On average these structures give them a one-month extension on each side of the normal season.
They typically have tulips blooming inside the high tunnel mid-April and dahlias still producing in the beginning of October. Their field-produced tulips begin blooming early May and outdoor dahlias end with the first frost, sometimes even early September. They are able to plant hardy annuals and other spring bulbs beginning in March inside these structures. Whereas the field may not be free of snow until the end of April. They can then plant a second succession of certain flowers in order to get a longer blooming window.
By growing this way, Ruml has been able to have consistent sales for a season of 240 days versus their 136 frost free days.
“We’ve also been fortunate to fill the gaps between seasons. After the first frost most of our bouquet sales cease; however, we also grow specialty pumpkins and dried fall wreaths that help boost our sales post-frost. Once we enter November, we harvest and make South Dakota evergreen wreaths for holiday sales,” Ruml said.
At Pixie Acres they believe each season of South Dakota is beautiful–from the tulips in spring, sunflowers in summer, dahlias and grasses in fall to evergreen wreaths in winter, and feel lucky to cultivate joy for others.
Prairie Moon Herbs, Vermillion, SD
Prairie Moon Herbs is an organic farm in southeast South Dakota owned by Grace Freeman. She sells most of her herbs, produce and flower bouquets at the Vermillion Area Farmers Market.
The farm grows many perennials and bulbs to supply the bouquets, as well as some favorite annuals like cosmos, zinnia, and baby’s breath. The bulbs, like tulips, gladiolus and dahlia, are a colorful addition and really make the bouquets pop. Varieties change throughout the growing season, and the bouquets adjust accordingly.
“Flowers dress up the farmers market stand and are equal to having sweets for sale! They make people happy just looking at them,” Freeman said.
Freeman invested in a six bouquet sales rack, which allows a deep well of water for the flowers while they are on display at market and shows off the colors. They use bouquet sleeves or recycled shopping bags to place the flowers in. They try to make each bouquet about $10.
Prairie Moon Herbs also sells products through the Dakota Fresh Food Hub. They would like to be able to sell flower bouquets through the food hub, but transporting the bouquets through multiple partners to get to the consumer is tricky.
Bouquet sales continue into the fall and winter. They grow strawflowers, gomphrena and statice to dry for winter bouquets, a hit at the Valentine’s market.
They also force bulbs to sell December-February. This is simply a process of making a plant flower outside of its normal season by creating an artificial environment. Normally a bulb would be in the ground outside under cold temperatures during the fall or winter. You can bypass months of waiting, urging bulbs to bloom earlier by placing them in refrigeration for a period of time and then planting them outside of the normal season.
Flegels Flowers, Lake Preston, SD
From backyard gardening enthusiast to bringing her love for growing fresh flowers to consumers, Tanya Flegel, of Flegels Flowers, sells flower arrangements while incorporating conservation practices. Flegel Flowers is located in eastern South Dakota.
Flegel has always loved to garden and made sure her children would know the value of the food they ate. She started with just a small vegetable garden, but then turned her entire backyard into flowers.
Flegel also has a full-time job as the District Manager at Kingsbury Conservation and a part-time job as the county’s Weed and Pest Supervisor.
“The belief in keeping everything as natural as I can comes from loving my job in conservation and inspiring others to do the same. My hope is that by selling my flower arrangements I can also spread the conservation values I have learned,” Flegel said.
In the spring and summers, in-between planting trees, Flegel helps out with a local Growing YOUth gardening program. The program teaches urban children how to grow gardens and love their vegetables. It has been one of her highlights to bring the knowledge of soil and grow plants to enthusiastic kids. The educators hope to grow this program to other communities in the state of South Dakota.
Floras & Bouquets, Sioux Falls, SD
Floras & Bouquets LLC is a micro urban flower farm within walking distance to Falls Park in Sioux Falls. Owner, Monica Pugh sells wholesale to specialty stores, offers flower subscriptions, and uses her blooms in wedding work and every day arrangements.
Pugh will never forget the very first time she sold flowers. She was a little girl and got this crazy idea to go out and pick the wildflowers that were growing in the field and sell them to those who drove by on their country road. Her father thought it was the stupidest idea, but it just so happened, fate was on her side that day. Little did she know, there was a huge estate sale happening down the road. There she stood at the end of the driveway with her little wildflower bouquets and homemade cardboard sign that was misspelled. She sold every bouquet that day.
Pugh has followed her instinctual heart and passion for growing various perennials and annuals in launching her flower business. She is passionate about feeding the soil and using organic, sustainable practices for the best quality blooms possible. Pugh creates unique designs with her locally grown blooms.
“Customer’s should consider using locally grown flowers because they are generally fresher and last longer, and local flower farmers can also offer a variety of flowers that you can’t find at a regular florist. It also supports the local economy keeping our money local. Everyone wins,” Pugh said.
SDSPA is hosting a flower producer meetup for members on June 14, 2022 at noon Central/11 a.m. Mountain. This will be an informal, virtual, gathering to meet other members, share resources, discuss ideas for possible collaboration or joint education. If you have a specific topic you would like to discuss or have questions contact Laura Kahler, SDSPA Event Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. SDSPA is also working with SDSU Extension to offer a flower-producer educational webinar in the fall.