Thailand At Work – Village Flowers
A Love of Fashion, Flowers and Hard Work
Wonderful Wi’s passion for fashion, albeit, blatantly missing in the above photograph is only really surpassed by her love of flowers. At long last, my village girl has decided to turn her hobby into a small fledgeling business. A business she hopes will bloom someday into a nice little earner.
In Thailand marigold (dao ruang) flowers represent success and good fortune, hence their popularity and use as good luck garlands and decorative floral arrangements for Buddhist festivals, weddings and even politics. Thailand’s Loy Krathong Festival and both local and nationwide elections are a massive business for marigold flower growers.
Wilai’s contribution to Thailand’s money-making flower market is for the time being a small one. Nonetheless, one which like the marigolds she nurses from seeds to full bloom is growing each day. However, those days consume a lot of time, patience, effort and tender care. And now, after months of meticulous graft Wilai has about 3,000 marigold flowers in various stages of growth dancing to the rhythm of the wind on a small plot of land at the rear of our village house.
The first stage of Wilai’s flower production line starts by planting tiny marigold seeds into small nursery beds. After 7-10 days the seeds begin to sprout into small plants. From there, they are replanted into the main flower nursery with each plant spaced about 10-12 inches apart. A marigold flower takes about 40-50 days to grow from seed to full bloom and will re-bloom many times over. Marigolds are very durable flowers and once fully grown, need little care.
So when do the rewards come in and how much?
Little Reward For a Lot of Hard Work
Wilai’s nursery plot can cultivate about 5,000 flowers, but at present, she is still working at reaching that limit. At the moment, she has to content herself with having around 500 marigolds in full bloom at any given time. That means for the time being there is only a minimal reward.
The marigold floral arrangements displayed above, along with the cut flower heads, are Wilai’s sole source of income from her business. Once made, the marigold bouquets get passed on to a shop in a nearby town, then sold for 7 baht each on Thailand’s Buddhist Days. Wilai’s share is three baht (10 US cents) for one. That’s not enough money to rouse a westerner from his sleep. For an Isaan villager 200-250 baht, three or four times a month is very helpful indeed.
The bigger bucks, or in truth baht, will come when Wilai is ready and able to cut 1,000 or more flowers at one time. Already a flower seller has eyed the quality of her growing crop and is waiting to buy marigolds in bulk from Wilai. Those days are not too far away, but the rewards in western terms do not add up to much. Below is the proposed price for every 1,000 marigolds sold in their various sizes.
- Large – 600 baht ($20 US)
- Medium – 500 baht
- Small – 400 baht
Reaping the Rewards
Wilai’s target of 5,000 plants could reap a harvest of 8,000-10,000 flowers each month. Those figures will gross a level of earnings that would convince most westerners to turn over and go back to sleep. In Thailand, that income is a very significant slice of one month’s salary. And Wi’s eventual goal is to rent a small plot of land adjacent to her current one to allow her marigold venture to bloom even more.
Wilai’s passion for flowers is now beginning to draw some small reward, that’s good. I will keep this website updated on my Isaan girl’s progress in trying to nurture a one-time hobby into a big booming blooming flower business.
Village Flowers is another addition to my Thailand at Work series which you can explore further by clicking on the link provided.