May 25, 2012
Dianthus: A New Take
This year’s California Spring Trials highlighted dianthus as an emerging shining star, and for good reason. Breeders have been working hard to ensure the genetics for a new generation of dianthus exceed home gardeners’ expectations. This new generation is versatile, too, promising long-lasting, floriferous performance in the garden as well as clean-looking, scented pot plants for gifts and holidays. Despite the focus on home gardeners, breeders haven’t forgotten about growers. The genetics also have benefits for growers, including easily programmable crops that will flower during the early season sales window and cool-weather hardiness that means fewer input costs. “The classic vegetative pot dianthus tends to be old fashioned; they are slow, not hardy enough and bad performers in the garden,” says Danziger Senior Breeder Gideon Scovel. “For many years there were no really new breeding initiatives to upgrade dianthus as a product.” That’s changed as breeders have rediscovered the profit […]
May 22, 2012
Grasses For The Next Generation
Grasses have been growing in popularity the past two decades thanks to their beauty and functionality in the landscape. A wide variety of grasses emerged as a solution to a multitude of issues, including extreme drought, growing deer populations, poor soil fertility and extreme heat. “I would speculate the more widespread use of ornamental grasses inlandscapes over the past 10 or 15 years was spurred on initially by drought and water-use restrictions across the United States,” says Susan Martin, Walter’s Gardens. “Once people saw how grasses thrived under these stressful conditions and how graceful they could look in a landscape setting with little care, more people gave them a try. People love to plant what looks good in their neighbor’s yard, so once they catch on, it’s an easy sell from there.” Grasses have uses from borders to specimens and masses, as well as in containers for their swaying beauty […]
May 21, 2012
What You Need To Know About Selling At Auction
There are practical benefits to selling greenhouse equipment and structures at auction: simplicity, speed and a quick payoff. “Usually when people decide to sell equipment, they want to cash out, or it’s time to retire,” says Doug Sheridan, vice president of Sheridan Realty and Auction Co., in Mason, Mich. “The seller needs to make sure there’s a stringent set of terms and conditions, like the winner pays for the item in full before removing it.” Sell With Speed When it comes to the speed factor, a grower in need of fast cash or more space can auction off equipment, trucks or other property within a short amount of time. Sheridan recommends researching auction companies before deciding on one to use, and ask the following questions – particularly for a large auction with multiple pieces of equipment: • How much is your marketing budget for advertising the auction? • What kind […]
February 8, 2012
What Growers and Retailers Can Learn From Fashion Trends
Let’s face it: A new outfit can lift your spirits. Likewise, a rough half-hour in the dressing room can ruin your day. Men may not want to admit this, but it’s something most women – a garden retailer’s target audience–know and understand about fashion. At its heart, fashion is all about evoking emotion. “Most of us that are involved in horticulture today have grown up in a society that taught us to care about our looks. Fashion does that, whether it’s a new pair of jeans or a new T-shirt,” says Layci Gragnani, ornamental sales and marketing director for Greenheart Farms. “You always feel good when you buy something new, and you think it’s fashionable.” For better or for worse, fashion – now a $1 trillion global industry–is revered as the place where trends start and fads go to die. And what starts in fashion permeates through a wide variety […]
January 6, 2012
What Floriculture Can Learn From The Alcoholic Beverage Industry
Never underestimate the power of marketing, or the potential of a product with a great story behind it. These are the two primary elements that launched Grey Goose from an unknown contender in the vodka category in 1996 to a premium brand and a $2 billion (that’s right, billion) pricetag in its sale to Bacardi a mere eight years later. How is that possible, you ask? It’s all in the story, a killer marketing and advertising strategy and a little bit of serendipity. You see, founder Sidney Frank identified a hole in the vodka market, where a $17 bottle of Absolut was the top of the line. He topped that with an ultra-premium brand at an eye-popping $30 a bottle with his French-imported vodka, and concocted a marketing scheme that engrained its talking points of quality and luxury with bartenders, distributors and influencers – the consumers who mattered. “Bacardi purchased […]
December 27, 2011
Take The Guesswork Out Of Plants
Take a stroll through Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma or even ABC Carpet in New York City, and observe what’s around you. What are you looking for? The answer is a story. It’s that story, told in colors, textures, marketing and promotions material and through customer service, that sells the products in those stores. And, it’s where growers can really take a page from the home furnishings industry. Growers can use stories to convey the message that plants really aren’t as difficult as they seem. They can also learn how to satisfy a picky retail customer and the key to separating quality from price. Judy George, a longtime home furnishings retailer who now has her own line of products (Judy George International), excelled at changing the way customers viewed purchases of big-ticket items like furniture. In fact, as CEO of home furnishings retailer Domain, she traveled the country to ask women […]
December 9, 2011
4 Stores That Get Their Customers
Sephora: Creating Custom Experiences Sephora isn’t all that different from a garden center. The store carries a seemingly endless supply of beauty products, all from a variety of different vendors. So what does Sephora do so well? It educates consumers on how to apply products in store for maximum impact. It also creates an emotional experience for shoppers, which encourages them to pay a premium price for makeup, perfume and other beauty supplies. Samples are a huge part of Sephora’s business. It allows customers to try on products, either by themselves or with the help of associates. It has easy-to-read instructions on makeup application to take away the intimidation factor, and the handout includes space for writing down product details so customers can come back and find exactly what they need, time after time. The Sephora model can be replicated in the garden center with mixed containers, or even small […]
October 12, 2011
8 Tips For Getting Started In Social Media
1. Set your goals ahead of time detailing what your operation wants to get out of social media. This will help you focus your message appropriately. 2. Research each channel to find the one that suits your goals the best. 3. Identify the audience you want to reach ahead of time: is it consumers, retailers, growers or some other segment? 4. Have a plan for posting – who does it, how often, who answers consumer questions, what type of content at what time, etc. 5. Keep it fresh on each channel if you do multiple (i.e., don’t post the same thing on Facebook and Twitter every single time). 6. Go with your existing strengths when choosing content and channels. If you have an extensive photo gallery, send your audience to photos via Facebook or Twitter. If you have video, send them to YouTube or videos on your website. 7. Track […]
October 12, 2011
Social Media 101
What the heck is a Twitter? If you’re not yet schooled, check out this quick summary of the free social media channels available to you: Facebook. With more than 750 million active users, Facebook has a population more than twice as large as the United States. Users “friend” other people and “like” pages for companies or general topics. Users see a news feed that shows status updates, links, photos, videos and other information from all the people and pages they follow when they sign on. Twitter. A form of a mini-blog, Twitter lets users “follow” other accounts, and limits all posts to 140 characters or less. Twitter is a great option to feed followers to websites, blogs, photo galleries and videos for more information. YouTube. A video warehouse, YouTube is the second-largest search engine behind Google. Users upload videos and can create a “channel” that others can subscribe to and […]
October 12, 2011
Social Media Isn’t Just For Retailers Anymore
Bell Nursery CEO Gary Mangum received conflicting advice on the merits of social media from the people around him who know it best: his kids. “My then 14-year-old let me know Facebook was no place for an old person,” Mangum says. “And my then 28-year-old daughter told me we ought to be on Facebook to capture the young people.” Mangum, whose company produces plants solely for Home Depot, started out on Facebook with just a personal account to catch up with old friends “with the side benefit of keeping up with the children.” But he soon realized there was a natural extension to the business in communicating directly with the end consumer. He set up the Bell Nursery page about 18 months ago to drive end consumers to either Home Depot stores or the retail giant’s Garden Club website. Right now there are about 3,000 people who “like” the Bell […]
December 15, 2008
Back To Basics
Mitch and Patty Rabin know in tough economic times, it’s best to stick with what you know. The duo, who are partners in life as well as in business, have streamlined their businessâ€“Living Colors Nursery in Homestead, Fla.â€“to focus primarily on their bread and butter: guzmania bromeliads. When the operation started in 1993, they had the idea of selling guzmania bromeliads along with orchids. The orchid production had to wait several years, though, until they could find the proper tissue culture labs to work with and receive quality young plants. They found a variety of quality labs over the years, despite the challenges of cloning Phalaenopsis orchids, and offered many options in color and form. In the 1990s, they even worked with a California breeder to start a line of seedling Phalaenopsis orchids in art shadesâ€“new shades from the traditional colors that had dominated the marketplace at the time. From […]
October 21, 2008
2008 Field Trials: Putting Newcomers To The Test
Each year the country’s extension agents, university horticulture professors and botanic experts put varieties to the test with field trials. Sure that begonia performs perfectly in a grower’s greenhouse or for a few weeks on the bench. But how does it do in action? We asked for information about the location, such as the trial manager and location, planting dates and weather conditions during the trials. We also asked for the “Best In Show,” or what stood above and beyond the other varieties, as well as the trial manager’s Top Five. Here are the results. Scroll down for an Interactive Map of university bedding plant trials. Penn State University University of Illinois Mass Hort Elm Society Ohio State University Dallas Arboretum Cornell University Colorado State University Michigan State University University of Florida Oklahoma State University Click on the blue tabs on the map for links to our coverage and trials […]
August 25, 2008
Cooking Up Sales
Ask Karen and Mark Langan of Mulberry Creek Herb Farm in Huron, Ohio, and they’ll tell you they have an herb farm first, and it just happens to be all certified organic. “Growing plants is the priority, and we just happen to do that organically,” says grower Mark Langan. It’s a small but important distinction in a market currently obsessed with the words organic, sustainable and green. He adds the business has thrived for many years and only recently have some customers started to visit the small, family-owned operation because of its organic designation. For the Langans, the decision was simple as they watched their two sons running around the farm. It had to be safe for them. And though the Langans don’t tout Mulberry Creek (www.mulberycreek.com) as an organic destination, the organic and environmentally friendly way of doing business has attracted a large fan-base–some from as far as two […]
August 1, 2008
The entire planet seems to be on a shift toward “green” living. Because of the fairly recent change in the zeitgeist, many garden center retailers have been taking the opportunity to look at what they’re selling and ask, “Is this what my customers are looking for?” But to carry new lines of products that are either certified organic, natural or sustainable, the challenge becomes training the employees in the benefits of said products to pass that along to the customers. We asked a few retailers who have been in the business of selling earth-friendly products to provide some helpful hints on how to get employees up to speed. Straight From The Source Many retailers have brought in specialists or representatives from earth-friendly product manufacturers to provide detailed information about these types of products. One example is Rockledge Gardens in Rockledge, Fla., which brought in Suzanne Wainwright-Evans of Buglady Consulting, a […]
July 22, 2008
Growing Green: Marketing Sustainability
Gary McColeman of Bellan International watched closely as the sustainability revolution took off in the United States. McColeman’s company manufactures biopots–biodegradable containers made of rice husks, bamboo and straw. The pots made their debut three years ago at OFA Short Course, and McColeman has since seen an evolution as some ornamentals growers transitioned from skepticism to adoption of sustainable practices. “The first year … they stood across the aisle and scratched their heads,” he says. “The second year it was like an evangelical movement; people moved inside the booth and they picked it up and felt it, squeezed it and broke it. “They knew a little bit more about the environment at this point.” This year, Short Course has a Green Industry Showcase to highlight sustainable products. And McColeman says the push is definitely coming from the end consumer and big retailers who are making sustainability a priority, […]
June 16, 2008
Do You Know HD?
You may think you know Home Depot, but do you really? I only ask that because I thought I did – only to find out a few new juicy tidbits about the mega-retailer during a Retail Forward Webinar recently. And why should it matter? Because Depot is looking to diversify its offerings, hire more qualified employees, cater to more female customers and improve its layout and displays to inspire customers. For independent retailers, that’s dangerous, because that’s their bread and butter. But The Home Depot is looking at significantly slowing market share growth, so it has to compensate by thoroughly servicing the customers it does attract. The Retail Forward Webinar put Home Depot’s place in the home improvement market in perspective with the other major boxes – Lowe’s, Wal-Mart and Sears. Depot’s sales are nearly twice that of Lowe’s, which trails a distant second in the race for home improvement […]
June 12, 2008
A New Way To Bid
Bruce Knox’s first experience with West Auctions’ online capabilities came when he watched the public sale of another grower operation. “I had followed one of their auctions in California,” says Knox, president of Knox Nursery in Florida. “I had one of my truck drivers go to pick up and he said that everything sold. Everything!” Knox decided to use West Auctions when he had to get rid of equipment from his original location that was closing and being consolidated into another facility. He chose an online auction because he didn’t want to limit the number of people who could participate. Roughly 100 companies signed up for the Knox online auction, which improved Bruce’s chances of getting better prices for the equipment. For The People The beauty of an online auction is the accessibility, says Daniel West, the general manager of West Auctions, Woodland, Calif. Growers have specialized items that only […]
June 11, 2008
Cutting Costs By Giving Back
Missouri Botanical Gardens’ Dr. Steve Cline created a recycling program for consumers, retailers and greenhouses. The idea of saving money while helping the environment used to be a bit of wishful thinking. However, with the price of oil continuing to rise, the latest trend popping up all over the country is plastic recyclers. This can open a whole world full of savings for the average greenhouse grower, who produces all kinds of plastic waste–from pots, flats and plug trays to greenhouse poly and irrigation tubes. The grower can achieve all these savings while preventing those plastics from going into the landfill to sit for the next thousand years. Why It’s Important Now The first question is why would you want to go through all the effort, right? Greenhouse growers are always looking for ways to cut costs, rather than raise prices. If that is, indeed, the goal, then greenhouse growers […]
August 22, 2017
Greenhouse Company Earns Spot on Inc. 500 Rankings
rightFarms, a company that finances, designs, builds, and operates greenhouses at or near supermarkets, was recently included in the 36th annual Inc. 500, ranking #235 among America’s fastest growing private companies.
August 21, 2017
NatureFresh Farms Delays Expansion Due to Labor Shortag…
One of North America’s largest greenhouse tomato growers says it is holding back on an expansion because of the company’s ongoing struggle with finding workers. At the same time, another producer is planning a new 75-acre facility in Georgia.
August 20, 2017
Proven Winners and Kentucky Nursery and Landscape Assoc…
This year, KNLA is combining its summer outing with the Proven Winners Landscape Roadshow for an informative event that will take place on September 21.
August 19, 2017
New Lighting Guide for Vine Crop Growers Now Available
The new guide from LumiGrow is intended to help greenhouse tomato, cucumber, and pepper growers use LED lighting more effectively to maximize profits, boost yields, and increase crop quality.
August 18, 2017
Four Star Greenhouses’ 2018 Catalog Includes New Variet…
The new catalog is available in both print and digital formats, and features information on new trays that allow for more plugs per square foot.
August 17, 2017
Shinoda Scholar of the Year is Aiming for a Long Career…
Gage Willey, a senior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, is working toward a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in Greenhouse/Nursery Production. His goal is to own a production and retail nursery.
August 16, 2017
Looking to Host an Intern This Year? Consider AFE’s Sch…
The American Floral Endowment is accepting applications for its Vic and Margaret Ball Intern Scholarship Program and Mosmiller Intern Scholarship Program until Oct 1. Interested companies can apply anytime to become a host employer.
August 15, 2017
Greenhouse Environmental Sensor is Truly “Out of This W…
Delta-T’s multi-parameter WET Sensor has been used by Chinese astronauts aboard the Tiangong-2 Space Lab to cultivate lettuce plants within the weightless atmosphere.
August 15, 2017
Griffin Becomes Newest Distributor for Master Nursery G…
The agreement allows Griffin to join Master Nursery’s network of more than 150 supplier partners, while giving Master Nursery access to new product and service options for member businesses in the Midwest, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific Northwest regions.
August 15, 2017
AmericanHort Has a New Director of Government Affairs
Tal Coley, a U.S. Air Force veteran who has an extensive background in issues advocacy, will play an active role in AmericanHort’s upcoming Impact Washington event in September.
August 15, 2017
How to Know Which Plastic Containers You Can Recycle
Michigan State University’s Garrett Owen offers tips to help you properly dispose of plastic containers, flats, and trays.
August 15, 2017
Ornamental Seed Scientist Francis Kwong Dies at Age 65
Kwong was most recently the Director of Seed Technology for PanAmerican Seed, and his research was instrumental in the development of calibrachoa, angelonia, and other plants.
August 15, 2017
Why Consumers May Be More Interested in Plants Than You…
A visit to a local lavender event is a reminder that when you tap into something consumers are excited about and want to experience, the reward can be long-lasting,
August 14, 2017
Canadian Greenhouse Conference Features Focus on Techno…
This year’s Canadian Greenhouse Conference kicks off on October 4, and there is no shortage of presentations devoted to how growers can implement new technology in their greenhouses.
August 14, 2017
How Young’s Plant Farm Invests in New Structures and Eq…
The Auburn, AL-based Top 100 Grower operation is improving its production infrastructure so it can continue to efficiently produce quality plants and keep up with demand.
August 11, 2017
Greenhouse Bench Systems Designed to Handle Any Space
HOVE bench systems from HOVE International can accommodate multiple levels while allowing for run-off water collection.
August 10, 2017
New Sensors Can Help You Manage Your Greenhouse Crop 24…
The wrong environmental conditions in your greenhouse can potentially lead to significant crop loss. Here’s how sensor technology manufacturers are helping you safeguard your greenhouse.