Many growersâ€ˆaround the country are celebrating the end of a very successful spring growing season, according to our 2007 Annual Bedding Plant Survey. A little over 60 percent of respondents rated the year an eight or better on a scale of one to ten. Here’s a look at what made it so good, and how growers plan on making next year even better.
Variety Successes And Challenges
The top five crops based on sales volume this year were impatiens, geraniums, petunias, begonias and coleus, a relatively new top crop. Several growers reported trying something new with their crop mixes this year, some with good results, some not so good. Successes included ‘Diamond Frost’ euphorbia, Ornamental Black Pepper (“Planted 2,000, sold 99 percent of them in one-gallon containers for $8 each,”) mixed patio tubs, Ellepots for landscapers and Charm begonia. Several reported switching sizes and types of containers with success.
“More merchandising of the plants,” says a grower/retailer from Ohio. “Each plant table had a minimum of two displays with the plant on that table. Worked exceptionally.”
“We configured one retail greenhouse,” says another grower/retailer, this one from Wisconsin. “Changed the aisles around and added new display fixtures. Had lots of compliments, but won’t know till the year is over if they boosted profits.”
A few new strategies didn’t work as well. “Tried a pot delphinium, not as good as expected,” says a Michigan grower. “Uneven crop.”
“Hanging baskets were not well received here, probably because we bought them in and the plant assortment didn’t work,” says one Connecticut grower. A New York grower says, “Kalanchoe grew fine, no major sales.” About 38 percent of respondents say they didn’t try anything new this season as far as varieties go.
The services a grower offers can make him stand out in the crowd. Services our respondents offer include product/product care information (33 percent), overnight/24-hour delivery (19 percent) and in-store help (10 percent).
A Massachusets grower who sells to independent retailers says the company sends weekly availability sheets of its best products with no minimum quantity, “but we do charge for freight,” the grower says. “We guarantee delivery that week if the order is received by noon on Tuesday.” Other perks include single plant packaging for mail order nursery customers, plant labeling, potcovers, one-on-one service, custom containers, made-to-order UPCs, point-of-purchase materials and assistance in quality and color selections.
“We do everything except run the register,” says a large grower in Michigan. As growers look forward to next year, let’s hope many feel like one survey respondent from Michigan. When commenting on this season: “Would love another season just like it.”