The Public Marketing Of Horticulture

I am fortunate to be invited to speak in many horticultural venues. I thought for sure it was my good looks, but no such luck. People actually want to hear about what we do.

I have been doing this for some time and am noticing a trend in the public marketing of horticulture that is a wee bit troubling. Perhaps it has snuck up on us, but without noticing we have become somewhat irrelevant.

Most of the time, I speak to you–the industry. We have been educating each other, sharing thoughts, problems, answers and the joys and despairs of what we do. Whether educators, growers, retailers or brokers, we are all trying to enhance our businesses through efficiency and marketing–but we constantly talk to each other.

Evolution Of Garden Shows

Ten years ago, I was often invited to speak at “home and garden” shows in Detroit, Cleveland, Atlanta and other parts of the country. I would be on some decrepit stage, competing with the guy in the next booth over who was hawking Ginzu knives or the newest 18-speed whirligig blender–or something equally useful. But at least there was one plant person talking about gardening.

People listened and learned, but even then, there were few speakers about the “garden” part of the show. Attendees were also able to visit vendors of plants, bulbs and garden accessories along with the local radio garden guru broadcasting live from the show–all vying for time with window sashes, hot tubs and gutter guards.

In the last five years, though, home and garden shows have not needed us. Whenever I visit such shows (and I do so very seldom now), it is depressing. The knives have given way to kitchen sets, the sashes have become entire window treatments, the gutter guards are front and center and, oh my, I can’t imagine a single house in Cleveland without a hot tub.

As for the “garden” part, a few hardy souls have some vegetable seeds and bulbs and maybe a maple or two, but the few vendors on the “garden” side of things are selling garden gloves, tools and nozzles, not to mention ceramic mushrooms and mailbox numbers. Is it only me or do those tools, gloves and nozzles not need a garden in which they can be used?

Growers Missing An Opportunity

While I am upset at the demise of home and garden shows, I am not surprised. This is nothing more than a reflection of the demise of the “G” in HGTV. As far as public persona of “gardening” in the home and gardening market is concerned, we have become extraneous.

Yet, it is not some “they” that is keeping us from interacting with the public. I have also noticed that even in the few true surviving garden shows, the public is faced with many more vendors of gizmos and gadgets, photography and paintings than with plants and gardens. The Southeast Flower Show in Atlanta was beautiful–smaller than ever because of the difficulty in obtaining sponsors–but really quite lovely. There was only one nursery selling plant material, but oh my did he do well. He sold a ton of plants from his small booth and earned even more public relations for his nursery. Why were there not more? Perhaps we have given up on the public. Perhaps we think they are irrelevant. I sure hope not!

I don’t wish to sound pessimistic. Maybe shows are flourishing all over the country and I am not visiting the right ones. I am truly optimistic about our future. I think we are going to have the best season ever. People will buy our plants, our retailers will sell more deck furniture and spring will renew the passion to create. The lack of a public persona for gardening has always been a problem, but we seem to be muddling along just fine anyway.

As for me, I keep waiting for invitations to speak at the next home and garden show–those Ginzu knives were really neat.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “The Public Marketing Of Horticulture

  1. Allan, great article! Nice work. — After years of marketing in the Hort. field, we have seen that the most successful growing operations use “consumer messages” as part of their overall marketing plans. We agree it is not the retailers alone who should promote gardening and plants; rather, it is up to growers, suppliers, product manufacturers, and all of us. Here’s to a proactive marketing and successful sales year for all.

    Don Eberly
    Eberly & Collard Public Relations

  2. Allan, great article! Nice work. — After years of marketing in the Hort. field, we have seen that the most successful growing operations use “consumer messages” as part of their overall marketing plans. We agree it is not the retailers alone who should promote gardening and plants; rather, it is up to growers, suppliers, product manufacturers, and all of us. Here’s to a proactive marketing and successful sales year for all.

    Don Eberly
    Eberly & Collard Public Relations

More From Marketing...
Luxflora Networking

May 1, 2018

Luxflora Launches Flourish Funding to Support Women-Led Industry Initiatives and Networking

The nonprofit, floriculture organization plans to announce its first Initiative winner at Cultivate in July and encourages interested applicants to submit their applications by May 31 to be considered.

Read More
Seed-Your-Future-Initiative-Release-3.3.16-1

April 24, 2018

Bloom Campaign by Seed Your Future Will Address “Plant Blindness” Among U.S. Youth

BLOOM! connects young people to the power of plants to build a pipeline of future talent for the industry behind them: horticulture.

Read More
AFE-Flower-Marketing-Videos

April 20, 2018

Your Weekly Chance to Market the Positive Vibes That Flowers Bring

Each week between now and the end of the year, American Floral Endowment will post a new video promoting flowers.

Read More
Latest Stories
Luxflora Networking

May 1, 2018

Luxflora Launches Flourish Funding to Support Women-Led…

The nonprofit, floriculture organization plans to announce its first Initiative winner at Cultivate in July and encourages interested applicants to submit their applications by May 31 to be considered.

Read More
Seed-Your-Future-Initiative-Release-3.3.16-1

April 24, 2018

Bloom Campaign by Seed Your Future Will Address “Plant …

BLOOM! connects young people to the power of plants to build a pipeline of future talent for the industry behind them: horticulture.

Read More
AFE-Flower-Marketing-Videos

April 20, 2018

Your Weekly Chance to Market the Positive Vibes That Fl…

Each week between now and the end of the year, American Floral Endowment will post a new video promoting flowers.

Read More
Dual Income No Kids (DINK) Young Couple

April 10, 2018

Make Plans to Attend the NICH Annual Conference in Atla…

Everyone in every aspect of consumer horticulture is invited to attend and help create a unified, strategic plan around industry-wide priorities.

Read More
Banker-Plants-at-Thiels

March 19, 2018

Bug Your Customer About Biocontrols

Getting customers educated about your biocontrol use and using it to build your brand is all about telling your story in way that attracts attention.

Read More

March 11, 2018

National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture Releases …

A new series of four #PlantsDoThat Inside infographics focuses on the multitude of ways indoor plants affect where we live, where we work, where we heal, and where we learn. The first two infographics are now available.

Read More
Garden-Tribe-Monrovia

February 27, 2018

8 Trends Influencing the Garden World in 2018

Expert trend watchers at Monrovia predict that suburban plant hunters, garden coaching, and perfect pines will be just a few of the top consumer gardening demands in 2018.

Read More
Amazon-Online-Plant-Store

February 7, 2018

The Latest on Amazon’s Online Plant Store

There is debate throughout the industry over how Amazon’s presence will affect growers who are looking to sell plants online.

Read More
Nature-Hills-Nursery-Plant-Shipping-feature

February 2, 2018

How You Can Tackle Online Plant Sales

Selling your products online can open up a new revenue stream, but there are several factors you need to consider along the way.

Read More
Max-Luthy-TPIE-keynote

January 18, 2018

TPIE Keynote Maxwell Luthy Turns Trends Into Opportunit…

Maxwell Luthy, Director of Trends & Insights for TrendWatching, showed how to turn trends into business prospects for attendees of the 2018 Tropical Plant International Expo keynote address.

Read More
NGB Year of the Tulip

December 23, 2017

How You Can Participate in Promoting National Garden Bu…

Promotional materials for the National Garden Bureau’s four “Year of the” crops for 2018 are now available. The materials are designed to help growers and garden retailers encourage consumers to discover and embrace new, exciting crops each year.

Read More
Petal-it-Forward

October 3, 2017

October 11 is Your Chance to Petal it Forward

The Society of American Florists’ “Petal it Forward” campaign returns in 2017. Learn how you can participate in this day of spreading kindness through flowers.

Read More
Micandy Gardens Team

September 17, 2017

4 Ways Micandy Gardens Greenhouses Reaches Out to Mill…

Micandy leverages social media to get the word out about its products and spread the word about how flowers can make a difference in people’s lives.

Read More
Costa Farms Exotic Angel Idea Book

September 12, 2017

Costa Farms’ New Lookbook Offers Consumers Ideas on Bes…

The new “Bring Your Home to Life” lookbook is a curated collection of more than 300 unique plant varieties best suited to grow in homes and offices.

Read More
Certified American Grown Flowers

September 5, 2017

Certified American Grown Flowers Names New Third-Party …

The organization’s new partnership with Where Food Comes From Inc., an agriculture-focused certification company with more than 20 years of experience, will be launched via video conference on September 14.

Read More
Container Gardening

September 5, 2017

14 Consumer Gardening Trends That Have Stood the Test o…

In early September, the Garden Media Group will unveil its 2018 Garden Trends report. To whet your appetite, here’s a look back at several trends that remain relevant today.

Read More

August 29, 2017

Know Your Grower: New Platform Brings Consumer Transpar…

The new Follow Your Flower or Plant vignette from MPS allows consumers to learn all about the producers of the plants and flowers they see at retail, and how sustainably their products are grown.

Read More
green-plan-it-gardening-outdoor-nature-explore-classroom

August 29, 2017

First-Of-Its-Kind Federal Grant Designed to Stimulate C…

The National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture has received a USDA grant to help develop strategies and tactics to grow the practice of gardening 20% by 2025.

Read More