Hi KSpraire, I grew cut flowers for 16 years and it was always a joy, hard work, but still I enjoyed it.
If you are serious I suggest that the first year you start putting in a few of the perennial types. You don’t have to put in lots but they take time to get to cutting size so if you have the space and a little extra cash you will be glad you did.
Second I suggest you contact wholesale companies, many will sell to small cut flower farmers, and I could buy packages of sunflower seeds, snaps, bells of Ireland etc. for one tenth the price. The packages are large but I have kept them for at least 5 years with no loss in germination. I can help you with some company names if you PM me.
Third, start a binder. Mine is a 4 inch one and is packed full, you will not be able to remember start dates, germination times, how much you planted so the next year you can do more or less, and if you like the variety or not. You will come to love your binder as it will hold more information valuable to you than any book.
Perennials I would never do without
Peony- but then I am a peony root grower, I had 1000 roots in for fall root sales. The corals fetch a premium price and the local people all grow the regular pink, white and red doubles so they snap up any other one. Cytheria, Coral Sunset, Mrs. FDR, Red Charm and Raspberry Sundae are the top sellers that I grow. Pictures don’t do them justice they are absolutely stunning.
Echinops- the round blue allium in the front picture
Annuals, easy to grow.
With annuals it is important to select seed that is specifically bred for cut flower production. Why? Because it makes your life easier. They are bred so the stems are as long as they can be. Anything less than a 14 inch stems means that once you cut it, the florist trims it when she gets it, and then it is re-trimmed for a bouquet there is not enough stem left. Also, cut flower breeds are specific to long vase life so one snap dragon variety is not like the other. Cut flower varieties are just as easy to grow as non cut varieties, so increase you chance of success with a good quality flower.
Sunflower- Mine are Pro-Cut Orange, there are others that are good as well. With sunflowers it is important to get the ones rated for cut flower use, this is not the same as the ones that are generally listed as a cut flower, but a cut flower specific variety. These sunflowers are bred so the heads don’t droop when cut.
Dianthus- Amazon neon duo, the pink flowers on the left. Not all dianthus is equal, again a cut flower specific variety as the stems are long enough. The Sweet Series is also great as you get coral, deep red and whites.
Pannicum- an annual grass that is stellar in bouquets, it is way at the back against the door. It is the best ‘filler’ I have found and the public loves it. Violacium is the pink droopy one in the front on the left, another lovely grass.
Statice- another must- that is the blue and pink on the right. I do the QIS Series but the Seeker is easier to cut as the stems are thinner and not so unwieldy in a vase. It comes in wonderful shades of pink, white, orange, coral, blue and sky blue. It is easy to grow and dries wonderfully.
Snaps- another must, but again, go for the tallest variety you can get. Once you grow something other than Rocket you will notice the quality difference. Opus and Ovature come to mind.
Zinnias- Benary’s Giant were my go to, they never disappoint, and come in the most wonderful pinks, purples.
Those are my staple annual cuts and I make sure I have lots of them planted. I add other annuals every year to experiment and make the bouquets look interesting but these flowers will always perform so I can rely on having something good.
Dahlias- but be careful with these, you definitely need cut flower ones, they can be picky when assessing vase life.
Others planted in small amounts
Bells of Ireland- hard to germinate and small picking window
to name a few.
Difficult to grow, picky and need special care
Lisianthus- florists love these and they are a premium, but they are very difficult
Stocks- beautiful easy to grow but they need cool temps to do well
Aster- only difficult because they can be a disease and bug magnet
Celosia- I just find it picky up here
I know this is a lot of info, but it is not rocket science and if you love flowers you will learn what grows best for you. My season is short, you may get to take advantage of many flowers I could not grow. I did buy some books but there is so much info on the net that I find that most books don’t cover enough varieties.
Start with about 6 staple annual flowers, that is plenty of variety and experiment with others as you progress. Put in 4 or 5 perennials, Lillies can be considered but the more you cut the more they decrease in quality and amount, many growers cut and throw away the bulb, planting fresh every spring. But that can get expensive for a first time grower.
PM me any time you like, I love to help, and my binder, since I have retired from the cut flower market, needs to be opened and shared.