Springing Into Bloom

Springing Into Bloom

Several growers said they’ve had success promoting gift
plants like these that can be planted in the garden later for
extended enjoyment. Proven Winners’ Spring Magic
varieties (above) are cold hardy and bred to perform in
containers -perfect for early spring holidays like Easter.

This is our first attempt to assess trends in the winter and spring blooming potted plant market, mostly tied to holiday sales for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day. For many years we have presented results from our post-season poinsettia survey in February and bedding plant survey in September. Another one we would like to add is on fall crops later this year.

Our survey was successfully delivered to about 700 random blooming potted plant growers with 37 responses representing about 5 percent. These respondents represent 23 states. While half are both wholesale growers and grower retailers, one fourth are strictly wholesale, and the remaining fourth grow for their own retail only.

They range in size from operations with just a few thousand square feet of greenhouses that are only open from April through October to a Top 100 Growers operation that has more than 900,000 square feet in greenhouse production. While the average size is 112,000 square feet, the median size is 39,000 square feet, just under an acre.

The crop mix grown is very diverse, with growers producing nearly 40 different crops listed to varying degrees. By far, the top five blooming potted crops being produced are geraniums, begonias, perennials, herbs and gerberas. Most of our respondents consider themselves bedding and garden plant growers who also produce blooming potted plants. Only four consider themselves true blooming potted plant specialists.

Most buy in plugs and liners and sow seed, and less than half also buy in unrooted cuttings or take cuttings from their own stock plants. Half buy in bulbs, one third buy in prefinished plants, and just a few buy in tissue culture. About half produce two crop turns between January and May with some producing more, and others only one turn because they fire up greenhouses later.

Market Trends

The retail customer of choice is independent garden centers, with 20 of our respondents selling to those, followed by nine selling to florists. Other indicated customer bases include box stores, chain stores, churches, farmers markets, interiorscapers, landscapers, plant stores, roadside stands, specialty shops, wholesalers and their own retail garden center.

One aspect that was surprising is how much variation there is on price. There was no commonality at all or price points you would think would stick in people’s minds as the right tiers for a certain size pot. Perhaps this is due to the fact that we are covering a broad range of crops versus pricing for specific crops like poinsettias or geraniums. This was the case in both retail and wholesale pricing. For a statistical summary, see Pinpointing Price on the right.

We also asked growers for strategies they use to add value and make plants retail ready. On the growing side, responses include:

– Planting more plants per pot.

– Allowing more bench time for a fuller finished size

– Planting combinations

– Adding slow-release fertilizer

– Premium quality with decorative wraps and bows

– Using colored pots and decorative pots

– Branding

– Using eco pots

Most do use packaging to dress up the plants for these key holiday sales. Foil wrap and pot covers dominate, accented by tags, ribbons, bows and gift cards. Decorative baskets and pots also are popular upgrades. 

Holiday Promotions

One thing we discovered is Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day promotions aren’t nearly as important as Easter and Mother’s Day. Part of it is because some grower-retailers aren’t open in the winter. St. Patrick’s Day is pretty much limited to oxalis, the signature plant. One retailer added Blarney stones and incorporated some of the newer colored oxalis instead of just green.

Valentine’s Day retail presentations and crops included:

– Cyclamen wrapped with a balloon and candy stick for $20

– Tulips and hyacinths in a double basket with a spring plaid bow for $27.99

– Love trees

– Forced bulbs

– Mini roses

One grower-retailer who goes all out says, “We sell cut flowers but do a nice job with orchid plants that we augment with terracotta, branches, reindeer moss and No. 40 French ribbon priced at $70-100. Bulb gardens are also nice. Men want a difference from roses but still spend the same amount of $70-100, so we have ideas for them.”

Easter and Mother’s Day promotions are pretty similar with a focus on big, blooming potted plants, combination planters and hanging baskets. This is where spring really kicks in and there is equal interest in garden plants and gift plants. Lilies, hydrangeas and roses are especially popular.

Easter-specific retail promotions include:

– Easter baskets in pastel colors with a selection of annuals and Easter lilies

– Bunny and chick decorations in plants, foil wrapped with ribbons

– Easter egg hunt

– Church sales

Ideas our readers shared for Mother’s Day include:

– Mixed containers in decorative clay pots filled with specialty annuals and highlighted with Happy Mother’s Day picks

– Hanging basket promotions at farm markets

– Encouraging children to “plant a flower for mom”

– Open houses and events including music and food

We also asked growers how the timing of Easter affects production. When Easter falls late, space is tight for spring bedding production. An early Easter leads to increased heating costs for earlier production. But if Easter is the first week of April, growers can get an additional crop turn for Mother’s Day.

We also asked growers if they have had success promoting gift plants that can be planted in the garden later for extended enjoyment. Fourteen said they have. Effective strategies include:

– Planting perennials in combination pots

– Promoting the concept with signage and tags. (This has worked great with hydrangeas, mini roses and tree roses in fancy pots.)

– Having cool crops ready as soon as the snow melts, including euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost,’ heather, campanula, herbs, primrose and ranunculus.

As we went to press, we were attending the California Pack Trials, where breeders shared all kinds of ideas for upgrading plants at retail and positioning them for new uses.

For complete coverage, check out our Pack Trials coverage online at www.greenhousegrower.com and stay tuned for our June issue.

Leave a Reply

More From Marketing...

October 13, 2015

Bayer CropScience And OHP To End Marketing Partnership In October 2016

The move allows Bayer to market its ornamental products directly to greenhouses and nurseries, although OHP will still service a limited line of Bayer products.

Read More

October 13, 2015

USDA Provides $17 Million To Support Beginning Growers

The grants are for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which aims to develop a strong, diverse next generation of farmers, and support efforts to bring veterans and socially disadvantaged entrepreneurs into farming.

Read More

October 13, 2015

Horticultural Propagation Company JRT Nurseries Purchases Provitro Bioscience

JRT Nurseries, a state-of-the-art propagation facility based in Canada, announced it has acquired Provitro Bioscience, located in Mt. Vernon, Wash. The purchase will position the company to better serve the horticultural market in the U.S. and Canada.

Read More
Latest Stories

October 4, 2015

ePlantSource Adds 5 New Partner Companies

ePlantSource has announced an additional five companies that have been added to its partner distribution list. Not only do the additional partners offer more supplier options to ePlantSource customers, but the website now also provides a more diverse product list with the addition of bulbs, clematis and many new varieties. New partners added for the 2015 – 2016 season: A.D.R. Bulbs Lennon Farm Greenhouses Micandy Gardens Pacific Growers Roseville Farms “We make it a priority to respond to our customers, and we have had many requests for additional options and a more diverse product line, so we are continually evaluating suppliers that work well with our non-traditional approach to the sale of live goods,” says Gary Falkenstein, President and CEO of ePlantSource. “We feel that it is good for our company, our customers and the industry as a whole to keep looking forward and seeing how we can improve and expand how […]

Read More

October 2, 2015

How To Make Your Website More Google-Friendly

During a presentation at Cultivate’15 this past July, Katie Dubow of the Garden Media Group offered several tips on how you can use search engine optimization (SEO) tactics and Google’s search features and updates to your advantage.

Read More

September 28, 2015

Filmmakers Release “Field To Vase, The Documentar…

“The Field to Vase Dinner Tour is a series of meals set on flower farms across the country. Each dinner is curated by a local chef and floral designer, highlighting the region’s produce and flowers. This is the story of Santa Cruz, California.” These opening lines introduce “Field to Vase: Santa Cruz,” a new documentary filmed, written and produced by the Los Angeles-based husband-and-wife team, Hyunsoo Moon and Haejung Kim. This past June, Haejung and Moon traveled to Santa Cruz in pursuit of a visual narrative that had captured their creative imaginations. They were enamored with the storytelling potential of the Field to Vase Dinner Tour and wanted to document their observations on film. The result of their efforts is “Field to Vase: Santa Cruz,” a documentary about the American grown flower movement and the people involved in the floral renaissance that is taking place on farms and in flower […]

Read More
Gerbera Revolution Series (Kieft Seed)

September 23, 2015

Join SAF And Other Growers To #PetalItForward And Sprea…

Next month, the Society of American Florists (SAF) will tap into the popularity of random acts of kindness with its latest public relations campaign, "Petal It Forward." Find out how you can join SAF and other growers to take part in this campaign and spread happiness with the power of flowers.

Read More
Retailers declined a coupon deal for hanging baskets because of timing

September 19, 2015

Retailer To Grower: Why Aren’t Garden Stores Letting Gr…

Have you ever sat around at a family gathering and heard someone recount a story from your childhood, except knowing your own version of the story, it’s something that casts an entirely new light on everything you think you experienced? It seems like that dynamic happens a lot between growers and retailers. Both sides know the same story, but each version is so different, it’s like two unconnected stories. This came to mind when I was talking with a regional grower, Elmer Grosser, who owns Cincinnati-based Diefenbacher Greenhouses. The operation serves about 50 customers — an even mix of local garden stores and landscapers. Grosser first came to my attention last fall, when one of his customers, Chris McKeown of Bloomin’ Garden Centre, told me I needed to call Grosser, because he was a great example of a grower who cares about retail. When Grosser and I connected, he was […]

Read More
eMailMarketing feature image

July 23, 2015

Is eMail Dead?

Email as a marketing technique may seem outdated, but when done well, it is still an effective way to share content and market your brand.

Read More

July 22, 2015

Cultivate’15: Keynote Nancy Fire Says Use Passion…

In the second keynote presentation at Cultivate’15, Nancy Fire, founder and creative director of Design Works International, discussed how the horticulture industry can capitalize on the latest design and lifestyle trends. Fire works with companies to help bring their designs to the next level, and she has expertise with textiles and surface design, market analysis and corporate rebranding. She was appointed as design director for HGTV HOME in 2011. Fire says customers today are interested in companies that show passion for what they do. That, combined with following the general direction of trends and maintaining a brand, are what will keep horticulture businesses relevant to their customers. A trend isn’t just a passing fad, Fire says, but rather, it indicates that something is developing or changing in a certain direction. Plants are important to consumers today, and fit into current trends, both inside and outside the home, Fire says. “I don’t […]

Read More
LuxFlora logo feature image

July 21, 2015

Luxflora Launches With Cultivate Speaker Event, New Web…

A new organization for women in horticulture that aims to change the way consumers think about flowers, launched at Cultivate’15 by sponsoring Ketty Maisonrouge, a marketing expert, who presented “How To Create A Luxury Brand.” Luxflora recently launched its website, as well as a page on LinkedIn, to facilitate networking among women in horticulture. The organization is working on next steps, including setting up a board of directors and officers. Updates and information on future events will be available at the Luxflora website as they are scheduled. Read about Luxflora’s mission and what it hopes to accomplish in “Luxflora Wants To Create A Lifestyle Movement.” In the session during Cultivate, Ketty Maisonrouge, owner of KM & Company, adjunct professor of luxury strategy at the Columbia University Business School and the author of “The Luxury Alchemist,” presented her ideas and expertise on luxury strategy marketing, and how it applies to horticulture. […]

Read More

July 15, 2015

New Products Featured At Cultivate’15

A multitude of new products were on display at Cultivate’15, held in Columbus, Ohio. Attendees were given a first-hand look at new plant introductions coming to market, as well as innovative hardgoods, technology and equipment. One of the new options for varieties featured at Cultivate’15 was Sporticulture, winner of the 2015 Fresh Ideas Award. Sporticulture offers access to major sports leagues’ licensed products and packing. Team logos can appear on containers and tags, allowing growers and retailers to benefit from the loyalty customers have for their favorite team. Some of the featured plant varieties included Jolt interspecific Dianthus, from PanAmerican Seed, plus six new varieties from Sakata, including ColorWorks petunias, ‘Dragon’s Breath’ Celosia, PartyTime Coleus, ‘Proud Mari’ Marigold, SunPatiens Impatiens and Vitalia Vinca. Emerald Coast Growers featured its Marsala-toned plants, as a nod to Pantone’s Color of the Year. The collection included Pennisetum messiacum ‘Red Buttons,’ Pennisetum ‘Rubrum and ‘Eaton […]

Read More

July 8, 2015

Behind The Sale: Why Dümmen Orange Bought Florexpo, And…

Dümmen Orange recently announced it has acquired the product portfolio of Florexpo Costa Rica, a leading specialist in the production of perennials, herbs and annuals. During the fall of 2015, Dümmen Orange will start up production of perennials at its upgraded Antigua Flowers Guatemala farm, formerly the Ecke II facility in Antigua, Guatemala. The Altmanns, who founded Florexpo, as well as some of the key managers in the Florexpo team, will be assuming roles in this new endeavor. “In its long history Florexpo has built a good assortment, an outstanding sales network and a professional team of employees,” Perry Wismans, managing partner at Dümmen Orange, said in a press release. “With this move, Dümmen Orange takes the next step in realizing its growth strategy – aimed at creating synergies in technology, production and sales. We realize these synergies by distributing a variety of breeding programs and cross selling these products […]

Read More
Feature image The 2015 Perennial Plant Of The Year, Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo.’

June 27, 2015

Perennial Plant Association Wins The 2015 Excellence In…

With its emphasis on education and its Perennial Plant Of The Year program, the Perennial Plant Association boosted the popularity of perennials and helped make it the vital category it is.

Read More
baker creative

June 23, 2015

Baker Creative Wins International Award For Work With J…

Baker Creative, a local branding agency, was recently selected as a Gold Award winner for the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals’ 2015 Hermes Creative Awards. Baker Creative won in the Advertising/Direct Mail Piece category for creating a factory opening invitation mailer for Jiffy Group . Hermes Creative Awards is an international competition for creative professionals involved in the concept, writing and design of traditional and emerging media. The Hermes Gold Award is presented to those entries judged to exceed the high standards of the industry norm. Only 22 percent of the entrants received the award. “When Jiffy needed to make a splash to draw attention to the opening of its new substrate facility in West Bridgewater, Mass., we turned to Baker Creative. The video card created by Baker Creative assisted us greatly with getting the much needed attention when inviting professional growers to the official opening,” a Jiffy Group […]

Read More

June 17, 2015

Marketing Ideas You Want To See From 2015 California Sp…

Back when California Spring Trials (CAST) were still called Pack Trials, new plants were placed on growing benches in packs so attendees could see for themselves how uniformly the plants grow. It was practical and useful. Today, CAST is primarily about introducing new plants in a way that catches your imagination and convinces you that these plants are not only disease resistant, need almost no inputs, including plant growth regulators (PGRs) and have excellent timing, but also that they are plants consumers will fall in love with. In other words, marketing. Some of the breeders go a few steps further and pull together ideas and information that growers can use for their own businesses. It can be methods to connect better with their retail customers or even to help promote our industry and its great plants directly to the public. Here are some of the standouts from CAST 2015. Pacific […]

Read More
Medal of Excellence Award

June 10, 2015

Greenhouse Grower Announces 2015 Medal Of Excellence No…

On this page, everybody’s a winner, because we’re announcing Greenhouse Grower‘s 2015 Medal Of Excellence nominees for two of our three awards in breeding, the winners of our Medal Of Excellence for Industry Achievement and Excellence In Marketing awards and the winners of our Grower Of The Year program, who are finalists for Operation Of The Year and Head Grower Of The Year. All honors will be presented during Greenhouse Grower’s prestigious Evening Of Excellence on Monday, July 13, during Cultivate’15. We hope we will see you there! Correction: Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ was bred by Kieft Seed, not Darwin Perennials, as we mistakenly printed in the June 2015 issue. Medal Of Excellence Watch Benchrunner in the coming weeks to read profiles of our Industry Achievement and Excellence In Marketing award winners, and look for these articles in our July 2015 issue. Industry Achievement Award The Kientzler Group Excellence In Marketing Perennial […]

Read More
Double Whammy Merchandise Display At CAST2015

May 28, 2015

Grow Inspiration To Grow The Horticulture Industry

We need to work together as the horticulture industry to inspire and instruct consumers with our plant knowledge and marketing expertise.

Read More

May 28, 2015

PlantSelect.org And FindPlants.net Assist Consumers Wit…

The recently launched PlantSelect.org and FindPlants.net websites offer growing and maintenance tips, where-to-buy information and design ideas to help consumers have success with growing and finding plants.

Read More
Four Star Greenhouse Proven Winner Plants At English Garden

May 26, 2015

Retailer To Grower: It’s Time To Offer Services To Loc…

Retailers wonder why mass merchants are the only ones to receive stocking, merchandising and plant care from growers.

Read More
New Guinea Impatiens

May 14, 2015

10 Tips To Improve Retail Shelf Life Of Bedding Plants

Good-looking plants at retail lead to stronger sales and less postharvest shrink. Try these 10 ideas for maintaining quality and keeping plants looking beautiful.

Read More