Drama in the Garden

Dr. Marvin Miller (industry legend, Ball Seed market research manager, economist and trend spotter) joins us to talk about a strategy for greenhouse growers to consider producing more Jumbo Packs and 1801 sized material to meet the new needs of today’s younger shoppers and homeowners. Not only do smaller formats like Jumbo Packs offer a lower price compared to 4.5 inch annuals, but also more opportunities for creativity when planting garden beds. These homeowners see beds planted in commercial landscapes and large estates and want to replicate the look at their own homes but can’t afford to use premium pots and also don’t want to use small cell packs. So what’s the alternative?

Dr. Miller walks us through the demand from a statistical (and anecdotal) perspective, as well as pointing out how the economics are positive for growers. He also shares some top varieties to use in these pack formats (vegetative and premium seed inputs) and finally shares some thoughts on how to market them to retail shoppers.

As he told me after the show, it’s time to think differently about bedding plants – outside the box is not exactly the goal – it’s more like creating a new box:

  • What we grow.
  • How we grow.
  • How we price.
  • Why we do it.


Here’s a link to Dr. Miller’s own photography from The Gardens at Ball in West Chicago – planted from 1801s showing Drama in the Garden: https://www.slideshare.net/bcalkins/drama-in-the-garden

And reflecting his findings that shoppers age 18-34 are all about individualization and creativity, here’s a timely story from the recent IPM Essen Show in Germany: http://www.floraldaily.com/article/13648/Green-stylist-Romeo-Sommers-highlights-trends-for-2018

Connect Four

Content from this episode includes four news stories related to labor – challenges and solutions. Here are some of the links referenced. For greenhouse growers, labor was a critical issue in 2017 and looks to be again in 2018. From training and company culture to automation and technology, there are many ways to mitigate the pressure.

AutoStix – automation to alleviate labor challenges:



Investing to increase efficiency, counteract labor challenges:


Research indicates that workers have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.  – Zig Ziglar

Email Guest Dr. Marvin Miller: [email protected]

Email Host Bill Calkins: [email protected]

Tweet Host Bill Calkins: @billcalkins

Connect with Ball Seed on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ball-seed-co/

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See Ball Seed Videos on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/BallSeedVideo

Ball Seed Website & WebTrack Access: https://www.ballseed.com/

I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the older ones.
– John Cage, composer