Natives Are A Competitive Advantage At Homestead Gardens

Homestead Gardens Perennial Area
Homestead Gardens’ buyers select native perennials that will not become invasive within its delicate coastal and river region.

Native plant sales have become a big part of our success at Homestead Gardens, due in large part to our location. We are next to the Chesapeake Bay and Severn River near Annapolis, Md. When any of the homes in Anne Arundel County that are along the river begin a landscaping project, they have to reforest with native plants. It’s a county law. Based on the amount of landscaping they do, they have to reforest with many trees and shrubs.

On our website, we have a link to “Marylanders Plant Trees” (trees.maryland.gov), a state-run program that offers tips on the proper native trees to plant along with a coupon to our stores and others that participate in the program.

As a result, we attract a lot of business from these waterfront homes. It’s made natives a category that has increased every year that we’ve been open.

We Commit To The Category

We have two locations: our main store is in Davidsonville and our smaller second store, where I am the nursery manager, is in Severna Park.

At the Severna Park location, I have all the natives in one area where people can shop for that entire category in one spot. I try to give it as much size as any other individual category, although it’s growing quickly enough that it now has more space than my azalea department. It takes up a fair percentage of our plant yard, about 10 percent overall.

I try to display all the native trees with the shrubs. To draw attention to it, we have included concrete statues of a Maryland Terrapin, a popular mascot in our area.

A lot of people are stunned that we have the native selection that we do and how much they can choose from. Most people are used to seeing two to three options at the other stores they might visit. They come here and there’s 50.

Lately, our best-selling varieties are the ones that attract birds, such as serviceberries and viburnums. Any plant that is tied to outdoor birding is becoming more popular. These varieties may include Amelanchier ‘Autumn Brilliance,’ Cornus sericea ‘Baileyi,’ Cornus alba ‘Ivory Halo,’  Viburnum nudum ‘Brandywine’ and Viburnum dentatum ‘Blue Muffin.’

We maintain about the same margin for our native plants that we do for the rest of our materials. Just-in-time deliveries tend to work best for us. We use about 10 to 12 different vendors for this category. All of them offer natives along with several other plant types.

We Help Our Customers Make The Right Decision

Because our county is giving many of our local residents a list of shrubs to choose from, we have a built-in customer base. They simply have to decide which to buy, and we can help them make this decision.

In many cases, they’ll want northern or southern-type native plants, things that don’t handle our conditions well. A lot of it is based on where they grew up around the country. I try to steer them toward trees and shrubs that are hardier for our local climate.

Water restrictions are always possible in our area, although it’s been a few years since they were enacted by the county. If Northern Virginia or Southern Maryland experience a drought during the summer, watering regulations may be put into effect. This is when having those native plants in the landscape can be beneficial.

We will soon be doing more marketing on our website for our native selections. We have a new web designer, and he is creating a section that will list the native plants we carry.

Customer Service After Planting

In the summer of 2002, Homestead Gardens hired Gene Sumi as its garden horticulturist. Sumi, who started working at an early age in his father’s landscape maintenance business in Garden Grove, Calif., had worked for many years with the Behnke Nurseries Company in Beltsville, Md.

Today, Sumi is the educational coordinator at Homestead Gardens, where he manages educational programs to benefit customers and staff. Included in these programs are garden seminars and workshops held on and off the nursery premises, coordinating group tours at Homestead Gardens and overseeing the Golden Spades, a gardening group for senior gardeners that meets monthly at Homestead Gardens’ Davidsonville and Severna Park locations.

Leave a Reply

More From Retailing...
Ian Baldwin

March 31, 2017

Ian Baldwin: Aim High With Your Pricing This Spring

In his latest blog posting, the garden retail consultant says consumers are spending more today, which means it’s a good time to consider raising your prices.

Read More
GCA Summer Tour 2017 Andersons Newport Beach

March 23, 2017

Garden Centers of America Unveils Stops on Its Summer Tour in Virginia

Registration for the event, which includes visits to several garden centers each with their own unique highlights, is now open.

Read More
MSU Guide To Attracting Pollinators

March 9, 2017

New Guide on Bee-Friendly Plants Available From Horticultural Research Institute

The guide is designed to help grower-retailers educate and motivate their customers to purchase and plant pollinator-friendly materials.

Read More
Latest Stories
Ian Baldwin

March 31, 2017

Ian Baldwin: Aim High With Your Pricing This Spring

In his latest blog posting, the garden retail consultant says consumers are spending more today, which means it’s a good time to consider raising your prices.

Read More
GCA Summer Tour 2017 Andersons Newport Beach

March 23, 2017

Garden Centers of America Unveils Stops on Its Summer T…

Registration for the event, which includes visits to several garden centers each with their own unique highlights, is now open.

Read More
MSU Guide To Attracting Pollinators

March 9, 2017

New Guide on Bee-Friendly Plants Available From Horticu…

The guide is designed to help grower-retailers educate and motivate their customers to purchase and plant pollinator-friendly materials.

Read More
Grapevine Balls, Glass House, and Galvanized Dish Gardens (Flori-Design, Inc.)

March 6, 2017

Cool Product Awards from Garden Retailers Announced at …

This year’s Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) once again served as a great spot for the Cool Product Awards, an annual collaboration between TPIE, Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association, and The Garden Center Group.

Read More
Nursery Photo

March 6, 2017

How Great Photos Can Help You Sell More Plants

More consumers than ever want to see what a product looks like before they buy it, and that includes plants. Here are some tips on taking top-notch photos at your nursery or garden center.

Read More

February 28, 2017

Registration Now Open For IGC Show in Chicago

Find out how you can save on early registration, and get a sneak peek at what’s new at this year’s event aimed at independent garden centers.

Read More

February 21, 2017

Ian Baldwin: 2017 is Off to a Strong Start For Plant Re…

Many garden retailers are telling garden retail consultant Ian Baldwin that sales and the consumer’s attitude toward spending have been very strong the last two months.

Read More
Summerwinds Proven Winners display FEATURE

February 17, 2017

Proven Winners Makes Improvements to Its Retailer Certi…

Understanding the challenges of training new and seasonal staff at independent garden centers, Proven Winners says it is working to equip managers with tools to prepare their employees to better handle customers’ questions and boost their confidence in selling plants this season.

Read More
TPIE 2017 tradeshow floor

February 14, 2017

Trendsetting Products and Ideas From TPIE 2017

If you're a trend watcher, the 2017 Tropical Plant Exhibition, held in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, on January 18-20, was a can't-miss event. In case you missed it, here are a few highlights of the cool products, trends, and ideas seen at the show.

Read More
Plant in box for Amazon feature image

February 6, 2017

Amazon is Coming to Plant Retail; Here’s What it …

Plant e-commerce may finally take off soon. The question is, are you ready?

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

February 6, 2017

GrowIt! App Now Offers a Listing of Independent Garden …

The team behind GrowIt!, the app designed to help connect consumers with plants, has launched a new platform that allows independent garden centers to sign up to be a “Garden Shop,” helping new gardeners and community members find garden centers in their specific areas.

Read More
Monrovia Trends Floratourism

January 26, 2017

9 Trends That Could Influence Gardening in 2017

From color-changing conifers to smaller-sized luxury looks, plant experts at Monrovia predict nine trends that will drive consumers to do more gardening this year.

Read More
Bundle Pricing sign at Farmington Gardens

December 23, 2016

It’s Official: Growers Stink At Pricing Plants

The industry’s first pricing survey exposes serious problems in how plants are priced. It’s past time for us to change that.

Read More
Greenhouse Retail Center

December 20, 2016

Top 10 Things I’ve Learned From The Garden Retail…

After covering this industry for close to 20 years, I've picked up a few life lessons along the way.

Read More

December 19, 2016

Smart Retail Tech All Garden Retailers Can Use

Your store may be dark for the winter, but it’s never too early to think about the light of spring and opportunities to improve within your store. Take note of how many national retailers are making capital improvements, altering product assortments and brands, employing more part-time staff, trying new promotional tactics, and modifying services including store hours. Are you thinking of making changes to retain your best customers? Are you considering taking control of some operational costs? Is there a dark side to your retail environment? Retail shopping survives today because it has evolved. Retail has morphed into a blend of displays, services, events, category-specific brands, exclusivity, location and, most importantly, customer satisfaction! It’s more than the thrill of the hunt for a great bargain; it’s an experience. Are you striving to offer a “good to great” retail environment that entices today’s consumer to shop your store? Who will spread […]

Read More

December 13, 2016

The Industry’s Take: How We Can Win More Customer…

Check out these customer winning ideas, which range from smaller, European-type garden to boosting the decorative side of plants to just waiting for Millennials to start buying homes.

Read More

December 12, 2016

How To Merchandise Plants With Pantone’s 2017 Col…

It's great that "Greenery" is Color Of The Year, but how can plant retailers take advantage of a color that most of their products already have? Pantone has an answer for that!

Read More

December 5, 2016

Benary’s Jennifer Calhoun: How We Can Make Plants…

I see one main issue facing our industry in getting more people to buy plants — we assume that the way we used to sell plants is the way millennials will want to buy them. Nothing could be further from the truth. We sell plants in small packs that you plant in a hole in your garden, with a generic label that says “blooms all season.” Millennials don’t have gardens, so they want a plant they can put on their fourth floor apartment balcony, or better yet on a shelf in their living room near a window.  We give them too little information to help them be successful under those circumstances. But what we don’t realize is that if the plant dies, they feel personally responsible for killing another living thing which is so painful that they would prefer not to take the chance a second time. If we sold […]

Read More