30 More Years Of Greenhouse Growth Is Within Our Grasp

Dick Meister
Dick Meister

The great growth era for floriculture that occurred from the end of World War II up until the beginning of the 21st century was a triumph of technological progress plus discovery of new cultivars that brought bright colors to the landscape. It was also an era that was remarkable for an astonishing and marvelously insatiable boom in demand for flowering plants to beautify the expanding middle class investment in homes, patios and gardens.

The growers who adopted the technology, and the professors and land grant colleges that taught and preached it came from the vegetable side, where there was experience in annual plants, their propagation and growth.

Our American Vegetable Grower magazine began to devote more and more space to an editorial section called Greenhouse Grower, which worked hand-in-hand with the newly formed organization, Bedding Plants Inc., at Michigan State University under the leadership of Dr. Will Carlson. Bedding Plants Inc. quickly grew to national stature as growers reaped profits, with cash registers, as one grower put it, ringing a merry tune. In 1983, the flower plant section in American Vegetable Grower was spun off to become a standalone magazine, and Greenhouse Grower was launched.

It is hard now to comprehend how great was the surge in flower and plant sales. Sales weren’t increasing at 20, 30 or 40 percent, they were doubling and tripling. In the 1970s, flower and plant sales tripled in size to $1.5 billion and foliage plant sales grew by 12 times. By the end of the century, sales had doubled again, to $3 billion.

Positioning For Another 30 Years Of Growth

Now, at the beginning of 2014, the great boom is long over. We are in a mature market. Consolidation is taking place and there is a daily war to keep market share. Dire predictions are being made about the future of this business, especially taking into account a millennial generation fascinated by smartphones and iPads, with seemingly little concern for landscape beauty and gardens.

However, the lesson of the past 30 years is that the greenhouse industry is strongly resilient and it is premature to say the growth era is over. There are still large numbers of producers because flowers and plants are a perishable crop, subject to variations in quality and performance, and considerable skill remains a prerequisite. Nearly all greenhouse businesses are family operations, which are well-adapted for survival and can stay in business long after others have thrown in the towel.

And greenhouses produce that most desired of plants — the fragile and beautiful flower, which enhances the senses and beautifies the landscape. Flowering plants are essential for a sense of well-being and wonderment at the beauties of nature, of which we are an integral part. The desire for beauty in the landscape is basic.

Combine the power of flowers with developments in breeding new plants, which are sure to outdo even such current favorites as bush hydrangeas, Knock Out roses or trailing petunias, along with the advent of new technologies in growing, and an expanding future can be just around the corner.

Advice From The Past That Still Makes Sense Today

Will Carlson wrote a monthly column in Greenhouse Grower from 1983 until his death in 2010 — 37 years without missing a column, quite a record in itself. We put together the best of his columns in a book called “One to Grow On.” One of his columns asked “Will Floriculture Continue To Grow?” His answer is worth reviewing today when he said, “Yes, floriculture will continue to grow. New plants, technology and consumer trends will develop with your help. All you need to do is be the first to react to them and know what to do with them.” And then, with typical Will urgency coupled with practical advice, he wrote “Keep squintin.’” (Meaning keep looking, studying and learning).

That’s good advice as we look forward to the next 30 years.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

More From Grow Initiative...

May 23, 2017

6 Simple Ways to Acquire New Customers

Even the most successful brands need new customers if they want to grow their business, or stay profitable.

Read More
Tyler Beasley

May 21, 2017

Final California Spring Trials Thoughts From Allan Armitage Scholarship Winner Tyler Beasley

“I went home from California Spring Trials realizing that the students enrolled in our Greenhouse Management program at Spokane Community College need to experience the trials. Attending opened many doors of opportunity for me.”

Read More
Cannabis Adobe Stock feature

May 1, 2017

Why I Turned Down a High-Paying Offer to Grow Cannabis (More Than Once)

Young growers have passion for all aspects of organic and sustainable growing. The key to not losing them to the cannabis industry, according to Kelly Vance, a Technical Consultant for Beneficial Insectary, may be nurturing their interests in these fields by aligning greenhouse production with sustainable growing practices.

Read More
Latest Stories

May 23, 2017

6 Simple Ways to Acquire New Customers

Even the most successful brands need new customers if they want to grow their business, or stay profitable.

Read More
Tyler Beasley

May 21, 2017

Final California Spring Trials Thoughts From Allan Armi…

“I went home from California Spring Trials realizing that the students enrolled in our Greenhouse Management program at Spokane Community College need to experience the trials. Attending opened many doors of opportunity for me.”

Read More
Cannabis Adobe Stock feature

May 1, 2017

Why I Turned Down a High-Paying Offer to Grow Cannabis …

Young growers have passion for all aspects of organic and sustainable growing. The key to not losing them to the cannabis industry, according to Kelly Vance, a Technical Consultant for Beneficial Insectary, may be nurturing their interests in these fields by aligning greenhouse production with sustainable growing practices.

Read More
National Collegiate Landscape Competition Feature

April 27, 2017

Hoffman Nursery Cheers On the Next Generation of Hortic…

Hoffman Nursery was a sponsor of the recent 41st National Collegiate Landscape Competition, an event that offers several opportunities for companies in the green industry to meet and recruit the next-generation of horticulturists.

Read More
Kaylee South

April 22, 2017

American Floral Endowment Announces Winners of 2017 Pau…

Four students pursuing careers in horticulture now have scholarships to help them along the way, thanks to the American Floral Endowment.

Read More
Basil Planting feature

March 29, 2017

How You Can Embrace Greenhouse Food Production With Con…

Maintaining balance, learning continuously, and seeking support will help make your transition into producing greenhouse food crops a smooth one.

Read More
If your Wi-Fi is truly secure, your staff can help customers on the sales floor starting today

March 25, 2017

What Marketing Approach Can Attracts the Most Customers…

Inc.com surveyed more than a thousand customers to find out which marketing strategies worked best to entice them to try out a new business

Read More
Greenhouse Loyal Customer

March 16, 2017

How Brand Enthusiasts Can Be Your Most Loyal Customers

A marketing expert shares three core principles that direct-to-consumer companies can follow to create brand enthusiasts.

Read More

February 17, 2017

How to Keep Customers Coming Back With Top-Notch Servic…

A recent article on Forbes.com outlines seven ways organizations can take their customer service from good to great and beyond.

Read More

January 27, 2017

Why Greenhouse Growers Must Know Their Costs to Stay Co…

Tom Dudek, Senior Educator at Michigan State University Extension, says greenhouse growers should evaluate their production costs to determine if they need to make adjustments to stay competitive.

Read More
Workplace Trends

January 20, 2017

10 Trends Predicted to Impact the Workplace in 2017

Here are 10 workplace trends that Forbes contributor Dan Schawbel predicts for 2017 that may change the way you do business in the future

Read More

January 10, 2017

Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship Endowment Fund Accepting …

The deadline for applications is May 26, and 12 scholarships of $1,500 each will be awarded at the SEGreen Conference in August.

Read More
GROW Logo

December 28, 2016

Greenhouse Grower’s GROW Initiative: A Year In Review

Staying ahead of the competition in today’s world is about remaining in constant motion with innovation. To create a competitive advantage, you must consistently experiment with and learn from new ideas. Greenhouse Grower’s GROW initiative provided cutting-edge ideas and actionable advice.

Read More
Grow Summit 2016 group shot

December 20, 2016

Less Talk, More Action At Greenhouse Grower’s GRO…

Investing in technology, developing new marketing solutions, and recruiting young growers were just a few of the issues covered at GROW Summit 2016.

Read More
Dramm-Echter-Pink-Gerbera-Daisies

November 22, 2016

Dramm & Echter Donates Pink Gerbera Daisies During …

“As a local flower farm, we are honored to show our support by sharing symbolic pink flowers with each participant as they reach the midway point on their amazing journey,” says Bob Echter, Owner of Dramm & Echter.

Read More
deming-pdsa-cycle

November 21, 2016

How The PDSA Cycle Can Help You Improve Your Business

No successful business stays stagnant, which means you should constantly be looking for ways to make improvements to your business and your products. Are you looking for a good model to follow? Try the PDSA Cycle.

Read More
afe-fundraising-dinner

November 17, 2016

AFE Fundraising Dinner Celebrates Success, Raises Almos…

The American Floral Endowment’s biggest fundraising event of the year, the 2016 Annual Fundraising Dinner, did more than just honor industry champions. It also raised nearly $20,000 for the future of floriculture programs.

Read More
hoffman-nursery-owners

November 9, 2016

How Hoffman Nursery Invests In The Future Of The Greenh…

Hoffman Nursery believes in the future leaders of horticulture, and the operation invests in several programs to cultivate young people in their careers.

Read More