Predictions: What Will The Next 30 Years Hold For Growers And Greenhouses?

GG 30th anniversary logoSince Greenhouse Grower was founded in 1983, our industry has evolved in ways we never could have predicted. Only time will tell what the future holds for us. Will growers change their crop mixes to appeal to health-minded consumers? Will eCommerce change the face of garden retail forever? And what impact will technology have on how and where growers produce plants?

Here are a few predictions for the next 30 years. What are your predictions? Tell us in the comments below.

“Urban gardening, including rooftop gardening, vertical gardening, municipal landscaping and grow-your-own, front-yard plots, will evolve and become more prevalent as Generation Y and Generation Z become stronger buyers seeking experience-related hobbies to help them take prescribed ‘technology breaks.’

“Healthy lifestyle choices will become even more important as healthcare costs continue to skyrocket. This will translate to an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption and demand, as well as more active lifestyles that include ornamental and edible landscaping and gardening.”

Laura Drotleff, Editor, Greenhouse Grower


“Greenhouses will be able to grow plants using multiple layers in the greenhouse with the use of LED technology. We will no longer need as much square footage to grow our products. We will also use the science of producing plant pheromones through LED stimulation to grow plants with zero chemicals.”

Rob O’Hara, Head Grower, Rainbow Greenhouses


“I think eCommerce is going to penetrate big time and the consumer will be so used to getting their things directly delivered at their house that plants will be one area that will definitely be convenient to get, especially if they have a project in mind. One of the big draws for eCommerce is convenience for the consumer — that’s going to deliver it. There are other perishables that have done it. Our industry needs to look to those examples to figure out how to do it well.”

Marta Maria Garcia, Marketing Manager, Costa Farms


“Garden centers must respond to a rapidly changing customer, one that is accustomed to using technology to learn everything she wants and who expects stores to make purchasing as easy as possible for her. That means that the current shake up in how retailers order plants will continue to change. Orders will be on even shorter notice and more varied.”

Carol Miller, Editor, Today’s Garden Center


“There will be a need for flowers and plants that will grow well in gravity-free conditions for those living in outer space.”

Troy Thorup, Plant Breeder, PanAmerican Seed


“Greenhouse production facilities will not exist in 30 years. I think that all plants are going to grow in warehouses because of all the LED technology that’s coming.”

Susie Raker, General Manager of Sales and Marketing, C. Raker & Sons


“Growers will be able to link energy-efficient light sources such as LEDs with local sources of free or cheap renewable energy, such as the thermal waste from power plants and the biomass waste from landfills and other sources. Research is developing the necessary protocols for lighting of specialty crops, which will occur continuously over the coming five years.”

Dr. Cary Mitchell, Professor of Plant Physiology, Purdue University


“By 2043, growers will have evolved into two different animals. The largest growers will be even bigger and will service the mass merchandisers exclusively with hyper-efficient, high-quality production. Small growers (and the 2 to 5 acre growers who are willing and able to adapt) will find healthy, profitable niches producing more unique offerings for independent garden centers, boutique shops and other unexpected retail locations, and most importantly, online. Plants and flowers will be available to consumers in any form that suits them, at any time, just about everywhere they look.”

Richard Jones, Group Editor, Greenhouse Grower and Today’s Garden Center


“Houseplants will make huge a comeback. Because consumers are so connected to technology for work and play, they crave a connection back to the earth while they are indoors. Breeders will develop new genetics for growing today’s outdoor annuals in healthy and thriving indoor gardens. Half of all plant sales will happen online.

“As suburban sprawl builds homes where greenhouses and farms used to be, the greenhouse will move back into the city centers, feeding the buy local trend. Greenhouses will supply product year round — the busy season will last 12 months of the year. Production will be automated to carry out the hard-labor tasks of the greenhouse, but the grower will still provide the knowledge required to produce a healthy crop.”

Sara Tambascio, Senior Editor | Online, Greenhouse Grower and Today’s Garden Center


“Greenhouses will be converted to glass warehouses to generate solar electricity to power high-efficiency, low-cost lighting.”

Carey Senders, iGROW


“There will be fewer independent garden center brands but more locations, with franchised garden centers next to Starbucks and McDonald’s. All plants will be branded, the franchise will be the brand. Imagine 100 little Wojo’s locations selling only Wojo’s branded plants.”

— Joe Lutey, Retail Manager & Buyer, Wojo’s Greenhouses


“There is only a future if the whole chain can make a profit.”

Ruud Brinkkemper, Plant Breeding Manager, PanAmerican Seed/Kieft Seed


“I believe it is just a matter of time until you will be able to place an order online and have plants show up the very next day. Amazon, I know, is already talking about it.

“There’s going to be a lot more to do with augmented reality where people can actually see plants grow. We’re moving into a lot more digital anyway and there’s going to be a whole new shift into seeing what your garden can look like in five to 10 years through augmented reality.
“Also, it would be very interesting to have a reality show about gardening, like a competition similar to what the cooking shows and even fashion do now. Real people or — even better — celebrities would be given a house and a budget to rework the garden. That’s the kind of fun exposure gardening needs! That’s really what has helped make cooking sexy.”

Christine Lonergan, Director of Sales & Marketing, Garden State Growers

What are your predictions? Tell us in the comments below.

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One comment on “Predictions: What Will The Next 30 Years Hold For Growers And Greenhouses?

  1. Should we ask ourselves the question: Is our mission to educate people on the benefits of gardening – or – should we be doing more to show them how to incorporate plants into their life style.

    The two biggest factors I see that impact buying and growing plants are;
    1. The space where we live our lives.
    2. The time we willing to allocate to tending plants.

    We can apply all the technology, emails, web sites, QR codes , social media, Aps…etc…but if we don’t provide the product/message the consumer wants we will not develop and grow our market.

    Do we need to “Think Outside the Garden”?
    The new American Garden is the porch, deck, balcony, patio and containers in the garden.
    Gardening in the ground is like cooking from scratch…fewer and fewer people do it or want to do it. Container Gardening holds huge potential growth for our industry. We might want to spend more time showing consumers how to ‘use’ plants in their enviornment and less time on how to grow plants.

    Smoke Signals on the horizon….

    Where do we live? Where will we be living?

    Multifamily housing comprises 14% of all suburban housing. (US Census Bureau, 1973-2005)

    Multifamily building starts, are up 115 percent in December 2012 – National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)

    The NAHB economic forecast for multifamily construction projects another 31% increase in 2013.

    Multifamily building permits are now being issued at a rate of more than 300,000 units per year, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

    Condo sales are up a whopping 33 percent from 2011, NAHB data reveal.

    Estimates show there are more than 40 million existing decks in the U.S.

    How Much Time do we have to garden?

    42% of US families are dual income families. US census.

    Single Parent Households with Children. US census.
    1980 > 19.5%
    2008 > 29.5%

    “When people who live in single family homes hear the word gardening they hear the word ‘work’.”

    “When people who live in multifamily developments hear the word gardening they think it doesn’t apply to them.”

    To own and enjoy plants, no matter where you live or how much time you have to tend to your plants is a challenging marketing message.

    Gardening is alive and well and evolving.

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