Smackdown: Should We Sell Plants In Bud Or In Bloom?

By [] |

Instant gratification or the full experience of growing a plant from bud to bloom? While color may catch the customer’s eye at retail, does that make for a successful gardening experience at home?

“The joy is in the journey not the destination,” said Joe Lamp’l during his keynote presentation at OFA Short Course. “It’s nice to have plants in bloom when you put it in the ground, but that evolution is what we have to educate customers about.” The conversation continued during the Town Meeting discussion later that night. Here were some comments from participants:

  • Too many plants lead up to a climax of the retail ready shelf. That’s where plants are at their best and it’s all downhill from there. We’re paying the price of focusing on the retail display which will not give us long-term customers.
  • Growers want to hold plants down with PGRs to keep them shelf ready. We can’t expect the consumer to be successful if they get plants and can’t take care of the plant once it grows out of the PGR.
  • Are we training customers to only come into the store once a year because that’s the only time plants looks good and are in full bloom?
  • We’re an urban garden center, and pick the things that will take the heat and humidity to get customers in later in the summer. It’s hard to find growers who will ship smaller amounts. We’re receiving shipments in June, July and August and then fall crops and veggies in September.
  • I was taught to pick blooms off plants when I bought them so that they would grow even fuller later. Now when I garden, I look for plants with one bloom or even no blooms. We’re known for cutting flowers off people’s plants after they’ve bought them. We do a lot of business with school fundraisers, and we intentionally ship plants not in bloom, and nobody complains that much. We tell them not to expect them to be in bloom, and they don’t freak out. And they tell us, ‘When we get plants from you, they always outperform what we get from retail stores.’
  • We want to create successful gardeners, but with our generation, we’re not interested in the long term. We’re interested in the short term. We’re about instant gratification. Remember why your woman gardener is coming into shop.

So where do you fall on the spectrum? Could and do you sell plants in bud or do your customers want the instant gratification of plants in bloom? Somewhere in between? Leave your thoughts in the comments.


Leave a Reply

One comment on “Smackdown: Should We Sell Plants In Bud Or In Bloom?

  1. Mountain Gardens

    We sell mostly perennials, and have plants in every phase of growth, but there's no doubt–when a plant comes into best bloom, that's when it sells.