• South Africa has a diverse and highly suitable natural environment for the production of flowers. Indoor and outdoor production occurs across differing climactic regions of South Africa.
  • Most commonly produced products include Roses, Carnations, Chrysanthemum, Proteas, Foliage, Gypsophila, Limonium and a wide range of seed grown flowers e.g. Lisianthus, Delphinium, Helianthus, Limonium, Grasses, Craspedia, Carthamus, Larkspur.
  • South Africa’s indigenous flowers such as gladioli, nerine, freesias and gerberas, have undergone many years of extensive research in Europe, and have become major crops worldwide.
  • Flower bulbs are also produced in great numbers in a wide variety of species.
  • Production is both for the local market as well as various export markets.
  • South African proteas and so-called Cape greens (fynbos) are concentrated mainly in the Western Cape. South Africa is the leading exporter of protea cut-flowers,
Sources: Jac Duif and the SA Yearbook which can be found at www.gcis.gov.za. 

International business environment

Developed countries in Europe, America, and Asia account for more than 90% of demand.

International trade in floriculture, to a large extent is organised along the regional lines:

  1. Asia-Pacific countries are the main suppliers to Japan and Hong Kong.
  2. African, Middle Eastern, and other European countries are the principal suppliers to Europe’s main markets.
  3. Colombia and Ecuador dominate the market in the USA.
Source: www.intracen.org/itc/market-insider/floriculture/at-a-glance/ 

Local business environment

  • The Multiflora flower auction is by far the most important and convenient marketing channel for local marketing. The auction, situated at City Deep, has daily auctions from Mondays to Saturdays from 07h00 where major agents and wholesalers buy flowers. The auction is market driven and prices for products are determined by supply and demand. For newcomers to the industry a visit to Multiflora is absolutely essential to see the heartbeat of sales in the floricultural industry in South Africa. Contact 011 613 4011 or visit www.multiflora.co.za for more information.
  • There is also a strong network of flower wholesalers, distributors and exporters. Bunches For Africa buy flowers from farmers, for example. Visit www.bunchesforafrica.com for more information. Another example is Flora Town who used to do flower auctions, whose focus now is on import/export and wholesale/retail. Contact them at 011 548 0700. The Multiflora website gives contact details for flower shops, agents and flower wholesalers in Greater Johannesburg area.
  • New on the scene is the Cape Town Flower Show, to he held in October. See www.capetownflowershow.co.za.
  • Find out about the Cape Floral Kingdom Expo at www.capefloralkingdom.co.za.  Read about the fynbos and protea sectors at Cape Flora SA website, www.capeflorasa.co.za.



Find details of Freight forwarders and export agents under the “Companies involved” heading.

For the newcomer

So you want to be a flower farmer? Potential growers and investors have to reflect on a few vitally important facts beforehand.


The flower industry is complex and requires specialist knowledge and input. It requires:


  1. Massive capital expenditure (mostly millions).
  2. Extensive technical knowledge – more than often a grower learns from a family business.
  3. Intensive, sustained daily management.
  4. And most importantly, a market. Over-supply of crops on the domestic market occurs regularly, resulting in a downward trend in prices. The export market is new and still expanding, but requires careful market planning.


According to the World Bank Technical Paper, the following preconditions are laid down for the SA Flower Trade:


  1. Basic market opportunity – One has to have sold the product prior to starting the venture, or you have to know where a market for that product exists before planting. Access to Europe is difficult and expensive. Often there is an over-supply, and farmers are the ones to suffer.
  2. Availability of sustainable human capital – Human capital in the form of learned and committed people who are prepared to take a risk is required. South African labour, compared to the rest of Africa, is no longer cheap.
  3. Minimal level of infrastructure – This pertains to availability of airfreight, cooling facilities, roads, telecommunications etc. Also of importance is an internal infrastructure relating to hot¬houses, fertigation, pesticide systems, heating-and-cooling, storing facilities.
  4. Financing arrangements – High capital investment is a pre-requisite.


Before starting a new farm, you will need a detailed business plan. Issues such as weather, soil types, water quality, fertilising and spraying programs, harvesting, pack¬aging and marketing should be addressed.

Source: South African Flower Export Council

Also refer to the “So you want to grow proteas” document on www.capeflorasa.co.za.

National strategy and government contact

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD)

  • Directorate: Plant Production Tel: 012 319 6072
  • Sub-directorate Agricultural Product Quality Assurance Tel: 012 319 6231 / 6018 / 6023
  • Find Export Regulations and Standards for flowers here

Find information and contact details of the different DALRRD directorates at www.daff.gov.za.

Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) www.thedti.gov.za

Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) Tel: 021 930 1134 www.ppecb.com

Associations involved

Intensive Growers Association (IGA) Tel: 032 814 0150 http://intensivegrowers.co.za

South African Flower Export Council (SAFEC) c/o HORTGROSERVICES Tel: 021 870 2900 www.saflower.co.za

SAFEC represents all the flowers of South Africa. It is an export council used to apply for funding from government. It is a federation of member organisations and consists of Cape Flora SA (fynbos industry – based in Paarl), South African Flower Growers’ Association (SAFGA) (traditional flower industry – roses etc. based in Jhb) and the Intensive Growers Association (IGA). SAFEC is also managed by its four board members, CEO and Hortgro as the service provider.

The South African Flower Union (SAFU) represents flower arrangers and other forms of floral art. Take a look at www.safu.co.za.

Training and research


Find details of relevant universities on the “Floriculture and nursery crops” page.

  • The Agricultural Research Council’s Tropical and Subtropical Crops (ARC-TSC) provides training courses which covers management, general nursery practice and propagation procedures necessary for running the nursery effectively as well as cultivation. Tel: 013 753 7000. The ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij manages genebanks including one for indigenous flowers. Call 021 809 3100.See www.arc.agric.za.
  • Durban School of Floristry Tel: 031 563 1097 http://durbanschooloffloristry.co.za
  • Jill Manson’s Floral Design School. Visit www.jillmanson.co.za or call 079 873 5002.
  • Nkele’s Florist offers a training course in flower arranging. The number is 082 780 7443. Visit www.nkelesflorist.co.za.
  • Contact Sandy’s Floral Academy at 083 461 6306 or by email, flowers.annette [at] gmail.com
  • Find the “Shows, demonstrations and workshops” option at www.safu.co.za, website of the South African Flower Union. Contact details for the SAFU National Teachers’ Panel and the SAFU Examination co-ordinator are also available here.

Companies involved

  • www.multiflora.co.za gives contact details for flower shops, agents and flower wholesalers in Greater Johannesburg area.
  • The SAFGA membership list covers categories like flower growers; consultants; suppliers of greenhouses, fertilisers and growing mediums; freight forwarders and export agents etc. Find SAFGA’s details under the “Associations involved” heading.
  • For the various inputs consult the other chapters on this website e.g. “Hydroponics and undercover growing”, “Fertiliser” etc.


Freight forwarders and export agents


Suppliers of plant material

SAKATA Seed Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd Tel: 011 548 2800 www.sakata.co.za


  • Sakata Brits/Marble Hall 012 252 0942 / 083 252 1886
  • Sakata E Cape (West) 073 889 9893
  • Sakata Free State & North West 082 374 5076
  • Sakata Gauteng & North West 082 825 0970
  • Sakata Limpopo 082 881 0234
  • Sakata Limpopo (West) 083 638 0532
  • Sakata Mpumalanga 082 687 6886
  • Sakata Northern Cape
  • Sakata Western Cape (North) 079 519 7497
  • Sakata Western Cape (South) 021 850 0011

Visit the website for details of distributors in the different provinces and in other African countries. These include C Baard, McDonalds Seeds and Seedplan Distributors in South Africa.


See the “Floriculture and ornamental plants” page.

Protea specific

Find the list on www.capeflorasa.co.za.

Read about AMABLOM, the brand name under which all floral produce is sold that has been produced by a collective of flower grower apprentices at the Timbali Technology Incubator and independent/graduate flower growers. AMABLOM produces over 5.5 million flowers a year which are sold all over the world. Visit http://timbali.co.za.

Websites and publications

Visit the websites listed earlier in this chapter e.g. www.multiflora.co.za, www.saflower.co.za and www.capeflorasa.co.za.

Share this article

Recent Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search