The Green List: Retailers

Charlie Cole
General Manager, Cole Gardens,
Concord, N.H.

  • Create a sticker that identifies eco-friendly or natural products.
  • Push Espoma (which contains more natural ingredients) and other earth-friendly products.
  • Use a potting mix that contains a maximum of 10 percent perlite.
  • Use capillary mats. We use them in our greenhouse and perennial area, which means less watering because the plants will suck up the excess water that goes on the bench.
  • Encourage customers to bring back their pots. We do, and we are then able to get the customer back into the store.

Merrideth Jiles
Garden Center Manager, The Great Outdoors, South Austin, Texas

  • Look at how your business operates. I think every owner, general manager, etc., should spend a few days in the trenches with their employees seeing how the business really operates.  Are employees trying to recycle materials such as grow pots, cardboard, cans, old soil, etc? As much as we do to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” I am amazed at how much trash our store generates. I’m sure I would be appalled at many other stores that don’t do the things we do.  We have a dedicated dumpster for cardboard and paper, bins for aluminum, glass and plastic, a grow pot reuse program and a used soil reuse program.
  • If you order a “package” of product from a vendor that comes with a display you will never use, ask them not to send it. They may even give you a discount on the order since they do not have to cover the cost of the “free” display unit.
  • Ask vendors, when possible, to combine pieces into one larger box instead of several smaller ones. It may save on freight.
  • Look for growers that try to be natural or organic, possibly even using biodegradable pots.
  • Look at the corporate philosophies and histories for the companies you deal with. You may be surprised at how un-earth-friendly some  companies are.

Theresa Riley
Co-owner Rockledge Gardens,
Rockledge, Fla.

  • The most important thing a garden center can do is to be conscious of conserving energy, water, etc. Irrigation practices are very important, as is the use of power to heat, cool, etc. Recycling is a simple step, whether it’s recycling soda cans and bottles, cardboard or plastic pots.
  • Composting (or at least separating compostable materials from trash) is another fairly easy-to-implement practice.

Skip Shorb
Owner, American Plant Food Co., Bethesda, Md.

  • Look at where you buy your material. We just dropped a supplier of over 50 years, because they a ship a product halfway across the country that we can buy within 100 miles of our stores. We sell and promote locally composted waste material (as soil conditioners) that in the past either filled up land fills or polluted local water ways.
  • Look at your lighting. We are currently changing over all of our light fixtures to the energy saving products.
  • Recycle. We sort our trash and paper/cardboard.

John Dromgoole
Owner The Natural Gardener, Austin, Texas

  • Look at what general retailers are selling as consumer green products–alternative lighting (solar, compact fluorescent, etc); low VOC paints;alternative building materials like bamboo; selling a reusable carry out bag that customers can bring in and use again.
  • Look at runoff to ensure it is being managed properly before it gets to local rivers and streams.
  • Use recycled materials in the store, and sell products made of recycled materials.
  • Seek out fair trade items to sell in the gift shop.
  • Think about the next generation. Part of the sustainability philosophy at The Natural Gardener includes directing all charity activities toward schools to create organic gardeners for the future.

Jennifer Zuri
Marketing Communications
Manager, Aquascape, Inc., St. Charles, Ill.

  • One of the easiest things a business can do to move toward being eco-friendly is to adapt a recycling program. Contact the local waste management company to get started. Oftentimes, they’ll supply recycling bins at no extra cost to you. Be sure to take the time to educate employees on the benefits of recycling cans, newspapers, and other types of recyclable trash found at your establishment.
  • Another easy fix for garden centers to focus on sustainability is to look overhead–literally–to lighting fixtures. The next time a light bulb goes out, replace it with a compact fluorescent light. Although these bulbs cost more initially, you’ll not only save on electric costs, but since the fluorescents last up to nine times longer, you’ll be spending less on replacement bulbs over the long haul.
  • Do you sell decorative containers in your retail center? Advertise them as rainwater containers! Either sell waterproof sealant for the interior of the porous container, or take the time to seal the containers yourself as an added service to your customers. Instruct homeowners to direct downspouts into the decorative container. They can then use the captured rain to water their garden plants.
  • Since the majority of rain water runs off the yard and into the local sewer system, it’s important to capture the rain so it soaks into the soil. To show your dedication to the environment’s sustainability, create rain gardens on the property of your retail location:
    • Choose an area a few feet from the exit point of a downspout.  Dig and remove 3-4 inches of soil, then loosen remaining soil to a depth of 8-12 inches. Add sand and organic matter.
    • Dig a trench between the hole and the downspout, and lay a drainpipe that leads from the downspout to the rain garden.
    • Plant the rain garden with a variety of water-loving plants.
  • Better yet, you can hold a rain garden how-to class for customers at your garden center. After the seminar is over, be sure to sell the supplies your customers will need to make their very own rain gardens. Don’t forget to provide a variety of aquatic bog plants from which to choose for the garden.

Tina Mast
Communications Director, Homewood Nursery, Raleigh, N.C.

  • Conserve water.
  • Use integrated pest management in production facilities with a focus on organic methods and chemicals non-toxic or less toxic to humans and that also pose reduced water pollution issues.
  • Sell plants in biodegradable pots.
  • Sell pest controls, fertilizers and soil amendments that are organic and that do not pose risks to humans, wildlife or ecosystems.
  • Educate customers about these things.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “The Green List: Retailers

More From Uncategorized...

May 1, 2015

18 New Grasses To Grow

Ornamental grasses fit in with the needs of today’s landscapers and consumers better than ever. Whether your customers are looking for creative solutions for patio containers or a mass planting in a landscape, some of the 18 new varieties included here are sure to meet the need.

Read More

May 1, 2015

Restoration Landscapes: A Specialized Market For Natives And Grasses

Restoration landscapes, depending on their purpose, often require straight native species, along with a confirmation of their known provenance. Research is key in this area and good recordkeeping is a must.

Read More

April 30, 2015

North Creek Nurseries Welcomes Nikki Drake As New Financial Administrator

Nikki Drake will fill the role of new financial administrator at North Creek Nurseries, with responsibility for the accounting department. She will also serve on the strategic planning committee.

Read More
Latest Stories

March 31, 2015

Manufacturers Are Taking Biologicals To The Next Level

Through acquisitions and new products, many crop protection companies are making firm commitments to the future of the biocontrols industry.

Read More
Aquaponics At Brogue Hydroponics

March 30, 2015

Aquaponics Is Making A Splash At Brogue Hydroponics

The owners of Brogue Hydroponics explain why they expanded into aquaponics, and how the shift has helped them uncover a new market opportunity.

Read More

February 11, 2015

Benchmarks: Find Your Game-Changer

Refuse to accept the status quo in your organization. Explore possibilities until you find what works best for your company.

Read More
Lychnis 'Petitie Jenny'

February 2, 2015

Variety Showcase: A Dainty Debutante

Lychnis flos-cuculi ‘Petite Jenny’ is a dwarf form of the popular Blooms of Bressingham® variety Lychnis ‘Jenny.’ This double-flowered little beauty was discovered by Paul Gooderham at Bressingham in a patch of its parent, ‘Jenny.’ ‘Petite Jenny’ produces masses of large, fluffy, double flowers like ‘Jenny,’ but with a more diminutive habit. The species goes by the common name “ragged robin,” but there’s nothing unkempt about ‘Petite Jenny’. An easy-to-grow, tidy little plant, it is suitable for any sunny or lightly shaded border and is also a good container candidate. Garden Performance Mass of bright pink double blooms beginning in mid-May. Sterile blooms provide a longer flowering period Erect, leafy flowering stems Forms compact, bushy clumps just 14” tall with an 18” spread Attracts bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and is deer-resistant Ideal for containers, front of borders, informal cottage gardens and as cut flowers’ Sun or part shade USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to […]

Read More

January 20, 2015

Register Now For Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Trad…

The first-ever conference, sponsored by Meister Media Worldwide and the Biopesticide Industry Alliance, March 3-5, offers hands-on, real-world technical advice on biocontrols to help you craft a “softer” pest management program focused on resistance management, MRLs and results.

Read More

October 6, 2014

Fighting Fall Foliar Disease: The Best Defense Is A Goo…

Managing foliar diseases starts with evaluating the greenhouse environment. Virginia Brubaker, GGS Pro Technical support supervisor for Griffin Greenhouse Supplies, shares some ways you can defend against fall foliar diseases.

Read More

July 11, 2014

Highlights From The 2013 USDA Floriculture Crops Summar…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its 2013 Floriculture Crops Summary in June. Here are some of the main findings.

Read More

June 16, 2014

Pine Wood Chips As An Alternative To Perlite In Greenho…

This is the third article of the four article series highlighting the production and use of pine wood chips as aggregates in greenhouse substrates. We found growers do not need to adjust their production practices when 20% pine wood chips are utilized as a perlite replacement.

Read More

June 4, 2014

Hortilux To Service Philips Indal Supplemental Lighting…

Hortilux Schréder (Hortilux) will be undertaking the warranty and service work for existing Philips Indal supplemental lighting systems for greenhouse horticulture. To deliver this service, Hortilux is taking over the entire stock of parts and production tools from Philips Indal Horticulture, so Hortilux is able to provide the full range of service and maintenance on these supplemental lighting systems, even after they are no longer covered by warranty. In North America, this will fall under the domain of PL Light Systems Canada Inc., a division of Dool Industries and a sister-company of Hortilux. In North America, PL Light Systems will contact the existing Philips Indal horticultural clients and work with them to quantify their service and maintenance needs. PL Light Systems offers a wide range of service and maintenance services, including on site supplemental lighting measurements, lamp and reflector measurements, trouble-shooting and repair maintenance and automated reflector cleaning services. These […]

Read More

May 29, 2014

Country Raisin’s Joins HGTV HOME Plant Collection…

The HGTV HOME Plant Collection announced Country Raisin's as a new annuals grower for 2014.

Read More

April 24, 2014

ePlantSource Announces Five New Partnerships

ePlantSource has announced the addition of five new suppliers to the list of partner companies who provide their products on The additional partners will offer customers new products as well as expanded options for programs and locations.

Read More

April 16, 2014

Update: House Approves Bill To Raise ACA Full-Time Defi…

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on April 3 that would raise the definition of full-time employment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to 40 hours per week.

Read More

March 27, 2014

Amidst Drought, Solar Desalination Allows California Wa…

California's Panoche Water District has implemented a solar desalination facility in response to the need for cost-effective solutions that would ensure the availability of sustainable water in the vital agricultural region. The facility, located in Firebaugh, Calif., utilizes renewable desalination technology from WaterFX.

Read More

March 14, 2014

Adaptive Plastics Announces Laurie Stribling Will Move …

Adaptive Plastics, Inc. has announced the promotion of Laurie Stribling to a newly created outside sales position. In her new position, Stribling will drive sales of Solexx greenhouse covering to commercial greenhouse and nursery growers.

Read More

March 14, 2014

BASF Empress Intrinsic Brand Fungicide Approved For Use…

BASF Empress Intrinsic brand fungicide has received supplemental labeling from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use on herbaceous and woody plants in greenhouse, nursery container and field production in New York.

Read More
Nicotiana 'Starlight Avatar' from Bioglow is the world's first light-producing plant.

January 31, 2014

Auction For ‘Starlight Avatar’ Went Live To…

BioGlow's auction went live on January 31 for nicotiana 'Starlight Avatar,' the world's first light producing plant.

Read More

January 29, 2014

U.S. Farm Bill Passed In The House After Years Of Indus…

The Farm Bill passed in the House of Representatives on January 29, and could be voted on as early as January 30 in the Senate.

Read More

January 2, 2014

MSU To Host 2014 Independent Plant Breeders Conference,…

If you want an opportunity to learn from and network with other plant breeders, new product development and market gurus and intellectual property experts, consider attending the 2014 Independent Plant Breeders Conference, October 30 to November 2, 2014. Held at the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids, Mich., educational sessions will fill the first two days, focused on helping independent breeders be successful, from technical aspects of breeding through product development and marketing. The final day will include tours of Western Michigan nurseries, garden centers and horticultural landmarks. Sessions will cover topics including: Basic and advanced plant breeding techniques Managing a breeding program Bringing selections to market Intellectual property management Market trends A formal agenda, list of sessions and registration details will be released in the spring. Meanwhile, if you have questions, contact Michigan State University’s Ryan Warner. Find information on hotel accommodations here. Independent Plant Breeders & Students of […]

Read More