Working with Flowers and Plants

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Working with flowers and plants – Careers for you in horticulture and floriculture                                     

There are plenty of opportunities for short-term jobs, and long-term careers – from driving a forklift to discovering a new species.

You’ll find out more about individual jobs in the interactive online Careers Guide. Here’s our suggestions on how to choose the right job for you.

Are you creative? Are you good at putting colours together?

Then training as a designer florist would be ideal for you. Try to find courses where you can develop your design skills, enter competitions, and learn a wide range of new techniques. Floristry is like hairdressing in many ways; some hairdressers do a standard repertoire of haircuts, for a loyal group of customers; while some design extreme hair creations, for magazines, catwalk shows, and competitions. The more skills you learn, the more efficiently you can work.

Are you good at dealing with people? Do you have a head for numbers?

Running a florist shop might be a good career for you. Many people open a florist shop because they like working with flowers. That is a part of the job, but more important is an ability to balance your accounts every week; to train and motivate your staff; to establish good relationships with suppliers; and to manage stock levels so that you have enough products to offer, but not too many that they remain unsold. If you have retail experience from other industries, that would be very useful.

You don’t have to run the business, of course. If you have floristry skills but no head for numbers, you can work for someone who has the business skills, but needs the creative input you can bring.

Do you like competing against yourself, and others? Can you speak another language?

Then being a flower wholesaler, or working for an importer, could suit your skills. Flower buyers trade product from all around the world, looking for the right quality of product to buy, at the right price for their customers. They need to react quickly, and take calculated risks. They also develop good relationships with their suppliers, to ensure they have first access to the products they want. Some importers not only buy direct from the growers, but also what is called “on the clock”, which is from the global auctions. This takes extremely quick reactions and an expert knowledge of the product , and its value.

Are you good at detail? Do you like discovering new things?

Have you thought about flower breeding? Many flowers that florists use bear little relationship to their wild relatives. Over the years, breeders and growers have found a single plant that has a bigger flowerhead, or a different colour petal, or a smoother stem; they have cross-pollinated this plant with others to develop better flowers for floristry use. Now, science has found ways to speed this process up, so instead of waiting for a new plant to germinate, grow and flower (which might take years), we can make “cross-pollinations” in the laboratory. That way we can see if two parent plants make a better offspring, without waiting so long.

Many exciting new developments are happening in this field, with genetic discoveries, micropropagation, and using plants to regenerate and rewild areas of the country, such as disused mining quarries.

Do you like working outdoors? Are you a practical, “hands-on” person?

There are many opportunities for cut flower and foliage growers in Australia. Without flowers and foliages, there would be no floriculture industry! The country has a huge range of climates, which means a huge range of flowers that can be grown, from cold mountainous regions, warm farmlands, bright deserts, and humid tropical rainforests. Some flower and foliage crops are quick to grow, requiring only a few months from planting to harvest; others (particularly large shrubs and trees) need longer investment of time before the flowers are ready to cut. Some crops are year round, requiring steady ongoing maintenance; others flower in a short few weeks, so it’s all hands to the field when harvest time comes!

Use this interactive guide online to find your ideal career

Interested in finding out more about the Australian flower industry? Subscribe to Australian Flower Industry Magazine, the only national trade magazine for the flower industry. Subscribe here

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