Study cut flower production of orchids by distance education, learning how to grow orchid flowers for commercial farming as a greenhouse crop, or outdoor crop.

Course Code: VHT240
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
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All orchids belong to the Orchidaceae family one of the largest flowering plant families, with 735 genera and 17,000 species and divided into two basic growth types - monopodial and sympodial. There are hundreds if not thousands of these species which are well suited to cut flower production.

Orchids occur naturally from very cold temperate climates through to tropical locations; and provided you choose appropriate species and treat them according to location, it is feasible to grow orchids as cut flowers almost anywhere.

Tips for Marketing Orchids

Cut flowers are usually marketed the following ways

  • Direct sales to the public (eg. from the packing shed on your property, or from a roadside stall). Some growers have supplemented their income by tapping the tourist market and catering in other ways to people visiting their property. It may be very viable to consider setting up conducted tours of an orchid farm together with direct sales of produce, and perhaps a shop selling souvenirs, refreshments etc.
  • Selling direct to retail outlets/ selling from the back of a delivery van. Some wholesale flower distributors have developed a network of florist shops which they supply this way. (Many growers develop arrangements to supply wholesalers who have this type of operation.  This is often difficult to break into if you are new to the industry). An independent grower may sell this way however, it may take time to establish a reputation.
  • Selling at wholesale fruit and vegetable markets. A selection of most fruit and vegetable markets will be devoted to cut flowers.  Wholesale agencies maintain permanent stands at these markets.  They will take flowers and sell on commission. Independent growers can purchase a site and sell independently at such markets.  However many florists will buy on reputation which may take time for you to establish. Selling to an agent can also be extended to agents overseas ie. export.
  • Contract growing. Some companies will contract produce to be grown for processing in factories. Generally the price paid for produce is predetermined, limiting the amount of profit which the grower may make, but giving a guaranteed sale.

Generally speaking, high quality produce will always be in demand.  If you are producing quality, you will sell it, even if you are new.  If your quality is low you may have trouble, even if your price is cheap.

Small-scale growers
The orchid industry was initially established by small scale growers and has quickly expanded to become a competitive and high volume industry. For a small grower to compete, it is more usual for them to sell to local markets (rather then to the export trade) and to specialise by growing the more unusual species or lines.
It is advisable that a small grower:

  • Speak to flower marketers before specialising to establish the possibility of a niche market
  • Speak to florists and other market outlets to determine what is in demand (eg. colour)
  • Speak to other local growers to determine local cultural requirements
  • Visit flowers markets regularly to familiarise yourself with the prevailing demand and standards, to compare the products and presentation of your competitors, learn new ways of presentation and to check on grading. 



Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction.
    • Covers plant names
    • Basic plant classification
    • Information on plant flower structure
  2. Culture.
    • Looks at soil cultivation
    • Container growing
    • Hydroponics
    • Baskets
    • Epiphytes
    • Potting mixes
    • Pruning orchids
  3. Propagation A.
    • Propagation materials and equipment
    • Seed
    • Miscellaneous propagation techniques
  4. Propagation B. (Tissue Culture).
    • Materials necessary for tissue culture
    • Types of tissue culture
    • Plant hormones
    • Diseases
    • Plant nutrients
  5. Greenhouse Management A.
    • Greenhouses and other growing structures
    • Environmental controls
    • Benches and beds
    • Effects of carbon dioxide
    • Yields
  6. Greenhouse Management B.
    • Growing plants in greenhouses
    • Plant needs
    • Temperature control
    • Greenhouse irrigation
    • Cooling
  7. Pest and Disease Control.
    • Horticultural Management in greenhouses
    • Sterilisation
    • Pests and diseases
  8. Management, Harvest and Post Harvest.
    • Harvest and post-harvest
    • Managing a market garden
    • Crop scheduling
    • Standards
    • Farm layout
    • Nursery costs
  9. Marketing.
    • Marketing your produce
    • Economically valuable orchids
    • International flower markets
  10. Special Project.
    • An in depth study of a specific group of orchids.


  • Explain the plant naming system, identify flower parts and compile resources
  • Describe cultural techniques applicable to orchid growing.
  • Describe propagation techniques used for orchids.
  • Explain tissue culture propagation techniques.
  • Describe protected plant production facilities suited to orchids.
  • Explain the day to day management of a greenhouse.
  • Manage Pests and diseases on an orchid flower crop
  • Explain management of an orchid enterprise and the harvest and post harvest of an orchid crop.
  • Explain marketing techniques used for cut flower orchids.
  • Describe a major orchid group

Suggested Reading
  • Titles shown below are particularly relevant to students of cut flower production
  • See our online bookstore at
  • The bookshop includes dozens of titles by John Mason. Mr Mason is one of Australia's most published garden writers, author of over 80 books, garden editor of Home Grown Magazine, former editor of Garden Guide and other magazines.


Member of the Future Farmers Network

UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

Our principal John Mason is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture

Accredited ACS Global Partner

Member of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association since 1993

ACS is a silver sponsor of the AIH. The principal, John Mason, is a fellow. ACS certificate students are offered a free membership for this leading professional body.Provider.

Member of Study Gold Coast

Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (UK)

Principal John Mason has been a member of the International Society of Horticultural Science, since 2003

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Gavin Cole (Horticulturist)

Gavin started his career studying building and construction in the early 80's. Those experiences have provided a very solid foundation for his later work in landscaping. In 1988 he completed a B.Sc. and a few years later a Certificate in Garden Design. I

Dr. Lynette Morgan (Crops)

Lyn has a broad expertise in horticulture and crop production. Her first job was on a mushroom farm, and at university she undertook a major project studying tomatoes. She has studied nursery production and written books on hydroponic production of herbs.

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences.
Initially she worked with the Depart

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