Evaluating native species for cut flower potential in NYS

CCE-Delaware started a cut flower production project at Birdsong Farm in 2023 and started the Cut Flower Intensive program for growers that summer.

Using the infrastructure there (beds, irrigation, etc.) we would like to install a demonstration and testing project in 2024 evaluating native species as commercial cut flowers.  

While some information is available on these plants, their adaptation to this region has not been carefully studied. Data collected on survival and growth rate, flowering period, pest damage and vase life will be used to evaluate which species and varieties have potential. The project will also be presented at the Cut Flower Intensive cut flower workshop in 2024 so growers can have input on those that they would be willing to grow and use in their operations.

Roles and responsibilities 

While the species will have been chosen and planted before the student arrives, they will be expected to:

  • measure growth and note flower number regularly, including photographs (likely weekly)
  • note and photograph insect and disease damage that occurs during the season 
  • sample plots for insects using a variety of traps
  • run vase life studies 
  • present their project and results at the cut flower grower program and survey growers
  • gather and collate information on each species – for social media and/or fact sheets

Qualifications and previous coursework

This opportunity is available to non-graduating students in Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

  • Interest in plant production
  • Ability to work outside in a variety of conditions
  • Good communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to do independent work
  • A driver's license is required as driving on behalf of the summer project will be required 

Learning outcomes 

  • Understanding of the process of production of commercial cut flowers
  • Understanding of the interaction of species, environment, and pests
  • Practice in the collection and analysis of data
  • Ability to communicate work to others