Beyond Mums: Plants You Can Still Sell In Fall

Capsicum annuum Sangria Ornamental Pepper (PanAmerican Seed)

A few years ago, PanAmerican Seed’s Tom Contrisciano (a product representative for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic) wanted to explore which plants not only perform well in fall, but would be as easy to grow as mums.

Performance is only one side of the coin. If retailers want to carry these plants outside their traditional season, the plants would have to be in production and available for orders.

What followed was a multi-year testing of popular spring and summer season plants for their performance in fall and how well they responded to the low-care growing conditions. The lineup of plants is called Mums Pal.

Contrisciano talked to us about the process and the results.

Which plants are included in your Mums Pal program?

Tom Contrisciano: Gaillardia, ornamental pepper, zinnias and several others.

What spurred your research?

Contrisciano: I was getting feed back from commercial and retail people that there’s a demand for non-traditional fall-oriented plants.

There’s an overall trend in the country to decorate in the fall. Homeowners finish their summer travel and get back into the routines and want to nest and decorate their homes. And they’re looking for not only traditional plants, they want different options.

How did you go about figuring out which plants you wanted to include in your non-traditional fall plants line up?

Contrisciano: We began looking at the different varieties on offer, and we wanted to find a way to grow these plants that’s similar to fall mums – drip irrigation in the fields, not a lot of babying going on. We were looking for plants that would not need much more than drip irrigation (no pinching), that would finish at the same time, with consistent height and strong consumer appeal but different enough from the usual array of fall plants.

We did Elburn, Ill., trials in the middle of summer. We mimicked mum production with a lot of different plants. That was the process of figuring out what worked and what didn’t.

So all these plants are field grown?

Contrisciano: Actually, we began looking at those same plants in a greenhouse as well as outdoors. Light quality in the greenhouse is different. And there are some things that happen outdoors that change how they grow. For example, wind is a good growth regulator. How the plant adapts to light and no wind can be different.

We wanted to come up with a simple, easy-to-replicate and easy-to-implement list of plants that don’t need a lot of supplemental care. The greenhouse-grown plants research began about four years ago. Each year the program has expanded.

We had initial success with these plants, but some things throw you a curve. You think it will be fine, but with the day length, the height, there are a few curves. So far we have done this with only PanAmerican and Kieft plants. There are other brands in the works.

We want to take the guesswork out for the grower, both in production and the sale. I think the production techniques can be adapted to any part of the country. The greenhouse grower would have to adapt the timing a little.

What is the production schedule like?

Contrisciano: The assortment is first-year-blooming perennials and ornamental peppers, which are planted first because they require a longer crop time. Two or three weeks later, we add plenty of other annuals, two to three weeks apart. Most greenhouse growers can deal with this kind of schedule.

How has the program been working?

Contrisciano: We found a couple other interesting things about the program when we were gathering feedback from customers. We thought the plants had to be frost hardy. The feedback we got is that so long as the consumer got the plant early in the fall, they are going to get four to 10 weeks before frost. There’s a value to that.

What’s nice about these items is that they continue to fruit or flower throughout that time. A traditional mum is one and done. These items continue to provide color, for the consumer and landscapers. For the retailer on a rainy or hot weekend, these will continue to produce color for a longer amount of time. It can be hard to hit that ideal sell date for your mums. They continue to produce color over many weeks, extending the selling season.

Leave a Reply

More From Retailing...
Ian Baldwin

April 3, 2018

Ian Baldwin: Why the Roles of Garden Retail Staff May Be Changing

In his latest blog posting, garden retail industry consultant Ian Baldwin says the role of grower-retailers has changed from providing information to validating or correcting what consumers have already learned when browsing online.

Read More
TREEosk-from-Bower-and-Branch

March 25, 2018

Tree-osk From Bower and Branch Offers Unique Way to Buy Plants

The Tree-osk, which has become a fixture in several garden centers, provides an interactive consumer experience when buying trees, shrubs, and perennials.

Read More
GCA-Summer-Tour-McAuliffes

March 9, 2018

GCA Announces Complete Seattle Garden Center Summer Tour Details

The Garden Centers of America Summer Tour in Seattle will feature visits to some of the most unique plant retailers in the Pacific Northwest.

Read More
Latest Stories
Ian Baldwin

April 3, 2018

Ian Baldwin: Why the Roles of Garden Retail Staff May B…

In his latest blog posting, garden retail industry consultant Ian Baldwin says the role of grower-retailers has changed from providing information to validating or correcting what consumers have already learned when browsing online.

Read More
TREEosk-from-Bower-and-Branch

March 25, 2018

Tree-osk From Bower and Branch Offers Unique Way to Buy…

The Tree-osk, which has become a fixture in several garden centers, provides an interactive consumer experience when buying trees, shrubs, and perennials.

Read More
GCA-Summer-Tour-McAuliffes

March 9, 2018

GCA Announces Complete Seattle Garden Center Summer Tou…

The Garden Centers of America Summer Tour in Seattle will feature visits to some of the most unique plant retailers in the Pacific Northwest.

Read More
Hand-Crafted Stone Mushrooms (Stone-Age Creations)

February 9, 2018

Garden Retailers at TPIE Highlight Their Favorite Produ…

A team of garden retailers once again participated in the 2018 Tropical Plants Industry Expo Cool Product Awards.

Read More

February 6, 2018

Registration for 2018 IGC Show Now Open

The event takes place Aug. 14-16 in Chicago and features keynote presentations from horticultural economist Charlie Hall and Daymond John from the TV series “Shark Tank.”

Read More
Cordyline Candy Cane (Excelsa Gardens, Inc.)

November 14, 2017

Garden-Retailers Pick Their Favorite Products From The …

Grower-retailers have once again named their favorite new products, this time as part of the Cool Product Awards at The Landscape Show 2017 in Orlando, FL. Awards were presented to 12 companies, representing 14 products.

Read More
Ian Baldwin

September 26, 2017

Gardening Industry Not Recovering as Much From Recent R…

In his latest blog posting, garden retail industry consultant Ian Baldwin says changing consumer demographics mean that, unlike past indicators, the garden business hasn’t surged after a recession — and it’s not going to under the current model.

Read More
Hydrangea mac. Fire Island (Monrovia Nursery)

September 19, 2017

Grower-Retailers Pick Their Favorites From Farwest 2017

Members of The Garden Center Group once again named their top selections in both live and hard goods for the Retailers’ Choice Awards at Farwest 2017.

Read More
Trends Slide - No Logo

September 12, 2017

Garden Media Group’s 2018 Trends Report Highlights Natu…

This year’s Garden Trends report offers seven trends that you can use to inspire mental wellness. Take a look to see how many trends you’re already using to connect with your customers.

Read More
GCA Bathroom Winner Wingards Market 1

September 8, 2017

Garden Centers of America Announces Best Bathroom Award…

If you’re a grower-retailer, your restroom may end up being the most important part of your customers’ experience. Find out the big winners of this year’s Garden Centers of America’s Best Bathroom Awards.

Read More

August 29, 2017

7 Popular Retail Trends from the 2017 IGC Show

Almost every type of retail garden product imaginable filled the booths on the tradeshow floor at the 2017 IGC Show held in August in Chicago, from pots and containers to garden tools, patio furniture, and decorative items. Here are seven gardening and product trends that stood out at the show.

Read More

August 21, 2017

50 Cool Products on Display at the 2017 IGC Show

Check out these cool products vendors showed off at the 2017 IGC Show on the Navy Pier in Chicago, August 15-17.

Read More
griffin-expo

August 15, 2017

Griffin Becomes Newest Distributor for Master Nursery G…

The agreement allows Griffin to join Master Nursery’s network of more than 150 supplier partners, while giving Master Nursery access to new product and service options for member businesses in the Midwest, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific Northwest regions.

Read More
Decorative Premium Hanging Baskets (Ainong USA)

July 25, 2017

16 Products That Garden Retailers Loved at Cultivate’17

In what has become an annual tradition at Cultivate, a team of garden retailers presented awards for their picks as the best new products (both live goods and hard goods) from Cultivate’17.

Read More

July 11, 2017

Grower-Retailers Invited to Help Pick Their Favorite Pr…

The Garden Center Group is inviting grower-retailers to join them on their quest to highlight the best new retail products on display at Cultivate’17.

Read More
Hort Couture Farm to Table Display

July 7, 2017

New Marketing and Retail Display Ideas to Boost Your P…

Innovative marketing displays and retail concepts at California Spring Trials 2017, inspired by popular consumer trends and the need to encourage consumer success, overflowed with exciting new ways to promote plants.

Read More

June 19, 2017

IGC Show Features Talks on How to Cash in on the Buy Lo…

This year’s event, which takes place Aug. 15-17 in Chicago, also includes a free workshop on what you might do when starting your business over from scratch.

Read More
Robert O'Neill

May 11, 2017

Former SEAL Team Six Leader to Address Attendees at IGC…

Robert O’Neill is a highly decorated combat veterans and the author of the just-published memoir, “The Operator: Firing the Shots That Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior.”

Read More