Hermann Engelmanns Sandra Kitain, Chuck Romagnoli and Erin Leonard

August 12, 2013

Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses Reaches Out To Consumers With Merchandising, Web Presence And Social Media

Do you grow foliage and houseplants? If not, it might be time to consider it. In a recent Today’s Garden Center magazine survey, of those garden retailers who carry houseplants, 54.3 percent report an increase in sales in 2013. Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses reports good news, as well, with a 5 percent increase within the foliage segment in the past year. So how does the operation plan to keep the good times rolling? The formula for this grower includes marketing directly to the consumer through in-store materials, a loaded website and an active social media presence. But the message being broadcast through all these media is the same — to inspire the customer to create home décor designs and to educate with plant care tips that will turn timid gardeners into experts. “We want to transition our product from a commodity item to a home décor item,” says Erin Leonard, director […]

Read More

June 17, 2013

Hot New Annuals From California Spring Trials 2013

Each year, each stop at Spring Trials offers exciting new plants and products. There were hundreds of new annual cultivars on display. Take a look at what’s new.

Read More

December 11, 2012

The State Of The Greenhouse Grower In 2013

The world of the greenhouse ornamentals producer has changed dramatically since 1983, when Greenhouse Grower magazine published its first issue. Thirty years ago, small growers served independent garden centers with seed-based production of bedding plants. They sold everything they could grow at nice margins and spent much of their time focused on the plants. Today, mega growers serve the big boxes with vegetative production of broad crop mixes. Business plans call for zero shrink and razor-thin margins. And the grower spends as much time on the numbers as on the plants. These operations are still serving their original purpose: growing ornamentals for U.S. gardening consumers. But the business is now fundamentally different. So, for this State of the Industry issue, we’re asking the question: Who exactly is the American greenhouse grower in 2013? Changing Makeup Of The Market Much has been made of grower consolidation in recent years. For reasons […]

Read More

September 27, 2012

Tackling The Tag Room

Ed Overdevest is working toward a solution for a problem that is a thorn in the side of growers everywhere — thousands of dollars of unused plant tags sitting for years in the tag room. By implementing a plan that includes in-house printing for tags that take more than two years to use up and commercial printing for only high-turnover, high-volume plants, Overdevest is slowly whittling down his tag inventory as well as the carrying costs involved in storing many years’ worth of unused tags.     “The cost of in-house printing is pretty significant on a per-unit basis compared with a comparable tag printed commercially,” Overdevest says. “But when you factor in carrying costs, the money invested in tags just sitting there in inventory is pretty significant, and the waste we have in the case of tags that are obsolete is considerable. We also wrestle with relevance issues when tag style […]

Read More

September 11, 2012

James Greenhouses: New Perspectives In A Traditional Industry

Looking at most of the greenhouse operations in the industry, it may seem like having a long line of growers in the family is a requirement. If so, Greenhouse Grower’s Operation of the Year winners Ken and Leah James of James Greenhouses are breaking the tradition. With hard work, an eye for opportunity and insights from industry professionals, this young couple has grown a first-generation business from two workers (themselves) in 1998 to 36 dedicated employees today. The Jameses see both the pros and cons of being newcomers. “It’s a challenge. It really is. We just don’t have that depth of experience to draw on. Even though our customers and our suppliers are certainly the best in the world, in my opinion, we just don’t have that innate knowledge of the industry and how things work. We have made some really expensive mistakes along the way,” Ken says. “But on […]

Read More

August 2, 2012

Recycling Rainwater

Water recycling is not a new idea for greenhouse growers; many have done it for ages. But some growers are taking water recycling to a new level with 5-micron filter technology, ozonation and rainwater harvesting. These methods ensure that the water these growers use is the cleanest, most pure water available, allowing them to reduce pesticide and fungicide use, improve plant health and realize cost savings. And they’re also showing that thanks to rainwater catchment systems, it’s possible to be completely independent of city and ground water. Metrolina Greenhouses’ Quest To Improve Water Quality “Clean water is our number one chemical,” says Abe Van Wingerden of Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C. “Many growers miss that. They test their water quality and use chemicals to mitigate those problems. We do the opposite to reduce chemical usage.” Indeed, the Van Wingerdens have been on a quest to improve their water quality over […]

Read More

July 20, 2012

Are Vegetables Good For Your Bottom Line?

When you listen to ornamental growers talk these days, some of them are talking about vegetables. Not plugs or transplants that other people can grow, but actual produce. It turns out that vegetables may not only be good for your waistline — they may be good for your bottom line. As fixed costs continue to rise and competition and the economy limit margins, growers are getting increasingly creative to find new markets and develop new products. Getting Started In The Edibles Market For some growers, using empty greenhouse space to raise produce in the off-season is that new market and new product. If done right, raising and selling produce can help to offset overhead costs without requiring additional investment in new structures or equipment. It’s not a slam-dunk; careful planning is required to find markets for your produce and to determine which vegetable varieties to grow, as well as to […]

Read More

February 28, 2012

Spring Trials 2012 Sneak Preview

Every year breeders big and small take their show-stopping, conversation-starting, must-see varieties to California for the Spring Trials. In this highly anticipated event, plants are the models in this greenhouse fashion show. Check out the following pages for a color-coordinated sneak preview of the varieties that are sure to be some of 2013’s best. ‘Sombrero Lemon Yellow’ Echinacea – Darwin PerennialsThe Sombrero series of echinacea expands with new Lemon Yellow, a rich, deep color that fits well into this uniform series. Perfect for use in spring-planted programs and easy to produce, Sombrero has proven hardiness, is very floriferous, and extends gardener enjoyment through the season. It is drought and deer tolerant, as well. ‘Summer Sun’ Calla Lily – Flamingo HollandA very beautiful, sunny yellow potted calla lily. ‘Summer Sun’ has medium flowers on a strong stem, nice lanceolate leaves with lots of white spots and a very high flower production. […]

Read More

February 8, 2012

What Growers and Retailers Can Learn From Fashion Trends

Let’s face it: A new outfit can lift your spirits. Likewise, a rough half-hour in the dressing room can ruin your day. Men may not want to admit this, but it’s something most women – a garden retailer’s target audience–know and understand about fashion. At its heart, fashion is all about evoking emotion. “Most of us that are involved in horticulture today have grown up in a society that taught us to care about our looks. Fashion does that, whether it’s a new pair of jeans or a new T-shirt,” says Layci Gragnani, ornamental sales and marketing director for Greenheart Farms. “You always feel good when you buy something new, and you think it’s fashionable.” For better or for worse, fashion – now a $1 trillion global industry–is revered as the place where trends start and fads go to die. And what starts in fashion permeates through a wide variety […]

Read More

January 26, 2012

Dye-Infused Plants: The Point The Industry Is Missing

Fake. Repulsive. Garbage. They’re among the many harsh words critics have used to describe ‘Blue Mystique,’ the dye-infused orchid Silver Vase unveiled at the 2011 Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE). ‘Blue Mystique’ has undoubtedly been subjected to more criticism in the last year from within the industry than any other variety. The criticisms are mainly focused on how the blue orchid is produced and how it was, at one time, marketed. The dye-infusion technique, critics argue, is an insult to the breeders who develop more natural varietal differences in orchids and other plants. The main criticism of Silver Vase’s marketing was that consumers initially weren’t aware the blue orchid they were purchasing reblooms white. Silver Vase has since developed a message for tags, signage and its website that ‘Blue Mystique’ does indeed rebloom white. But, the technique Silver Vase uses to make orchids blue continues to rock a number of […]

Read More

January 6, 2012

What Floriculture Can Learn From The Alcoholic Beverage Industry

Never underestimate the power of marketing, or the potential of a product with a great story behind it. These are the two primary elements that launched Grey Goose from an unknown contender in the vodka category in 1996 to a premium brand and a $2 billion (that’s right, billion) pricetag in its sale to Bacardi a mere eight years later. How is that possible, you ask? It’s all in the story, a killer marketing and advertising strategy and a little bit of serendipity. You see, founder Sidney Frank identified a hole in the vodka market, where a $17 bottle of Absolut was the top of the line. He topped that with an ultra-premium brand at an eye-popping $30 a bottle with his French-imported vodka, and concocted a marketing scheme that engrained its talking points of quality and luxury with bartenders, distributors and influencers – the consumers who mattered. “Bacardi purchased […]

Read More