Succulents: What’s Old Is New

Succulents meet consumers. Consumers meet succulents.

That may be a little extreme–they aren’t complete strangers–but a familiarity of this market on a consumer level has definitely been lacking. Until now.
As one grower states, succulents are far from new and with consumer tastes becoming more refined, these plant types are beginning to see a resurgence in popularity.

Making Sense Of It

When it comes to ease of maintenance, clean-lined aesthetics and durability, succulents are at the head of the class–a message many growers aren’t passing onto retailers, who are then missing out on their customers. Grower Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm, Kintnersville, Pa., says, “There’s a definite disconnect between the grower and the buyer for the store.” He says growers are not giving a clear message to the retailers, and also many buyers aren’t concerned with hearing this message because it doesn’t impact them directly.

“Succulents don’t use water and they’re low maintenance. You also don’t have to worry a lot about insects,” Traven adds. “They’re easy and that is what’s not coming across. Customers will look at succulents in a store and say, ‘Oh, I don’t have enough light’ or ‘I don’t have desert-like conditions for that to survive.’ And the fact is, the vast majority of succulents like it cool. Sure they can handle scorching hot, but they don’t like scorching hot.”

This grower says there’s no doubt succulents are gaining popularity points, now more than ever. At Peace Tree Farm, Traven is seeing a greater demand in mixed combinations, which is not limited to standing containers. Hanging succulent baskets are proving to be standout sellers. “Retailers are asking us for composed patterns. Not freeform, but mosaics, geometrics,” he says. “They want a definite theme and a pattern that’s duplicated precisely.” Traven is also noticing a call for more specimen plants.

“I don’t mean grafted cactus with eyes glued on them,” he says. “I mean they are looking for something that can stand alone in a clay plot. Something beautiful, full, lush. Not something in a thermo-formed orange plastic pot with little pebbles. They don’t want to spend a ton of money, but they want it to look elegant.”

Plug Connection’s Juan St. Amant agrees with Traven that the succulent stock is on the rise. So much so, Plug Connection decided to get into this market just a few years ago with its Tessera collection. “With concerns about water usage here in the Southwest and across the country, succulents fit the bill,” St. Amant says. He explains that the California Spring Trials have been a great way for Plug Connection to open up a dialogue on succulents. “No matter how much the staff likes them, as long as the broker and grower community isn’t interested, there’s no sales potential,” he says. “But for us that hasn’t been the case. There’s a lot of interest.”

St. Amant goes on to quote a Plug Connection grower: “Everything that is old is new again.” He says old favorites that have been around for many years are being redone and are cycling back into popularity again. He also notes that green roofs and living walls are being spotted in Southwest high-end shopping centers and private homes. “Sedums and sempervivums are doing really well in those,” he says. “Going into this spring, we were able to get stock material for eight or 10 of the very, very cold hardy sedum varieties that are popular in green roofs.”

Who’s Really Responsible?

Deena Altman of Altman Plants is a believer that succulents went undiscovered for a long time and now consumers have, in general, a more sophisticated palate for plants. “They’re buying orchids and bromeliads,” she says. “Over time, like cooking, tastes in plants have really evolved. I think they were just waiting to be discovered.” Altman says people aren’t just looking for flowers anymore and they are starting to appreciate the plant’s shape and its subtleties.

“Designers and tastemakers are the ones really responsible for this trend,” she says. “Ads, consumer magazines and architects have been key over the last few years. It takes time for people to catch up with that.” Altman also credits high-end interior living stores like Crate & Barrel and West Elm for using succulents in catalogs and in-store displays. “Succulents are very geometric and clean, not like ferns and begonias that are more of a cottage looks,” she adds.

Debra Lee Baldwin, garden photojournalist and author of the newly released “Succulent Container Gardens,” agrees with Altman. “There is a whole new type of gardener now. They have a finer and greater appreciation of foliage over flowers.” She says in addition, “They have a drought-fueled interest. Succulents are the closest thing to plastic in the plant world. They don’t really need to be pruned or deadheaded and they’re great for people who travel.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
finneran bee on snakeroot

September 28, 2016

Which Annuals And Perennials Are Good For Pollinators?

If you are a grower looking for information on producing plants that are safe for pollinators, or which plant types can be marketed as good food sources for bees, the new publication “Protecting and Enhancing Pollinators in Urban Landscapes” provides a good resource.

Read More
phlox-fashionably-early-flamingo-walters-gardens

September 27, 2016

Walters Gardens Partnering With Darwin Colombia On Unrooted Cuttings

Beginning in spring 2017, Darwin Colombia will offer unrooted cuttings of more than 40 varieties of Walters Gardens’ new genetics, including many popular genera such as Agastache, Monarda, Nepeta, and Phlox.

Read More
Streptocarpus Ladyslippers Grape Ice (Green Fuse Botanicals)

September 27, 2016

9 New Blooming Potted Plants To Jazz Up The Home And Garden

Blooming potted plants are the ideal gift for anyone, from a homesick college student to a spouse in need of some cheering up. Check out nine these new introductions hitting the retail market in 2017.

Read More
Latest Stories
finneran bee on snakeroot

September 28, 2016

Which Annuals And Perennials Are Good For Pollinators?

If you are a grower looking for information on producing plants that are safe for pollinators, or which plant types can be marketed as good food sources for bees, the new publication “Protecting and Enhancing Pollinators in Urban Landscapes” provides a good resource.

Read More
phlox-fashionably-early-flamingo-walters-gardens

September 27, 2016

Walters Gardens Partnering With Darwin Colombia On Unro…

Beginning in spring 2017, Darwin Colombia will offer unrooted cuttings of more than 40 varieties of Walters Gardens’ new genetics, including many popular genera such as Agastache, Monarda, Nepeta, and Phlox.

Read More
Streptocarpus Ladyslippers Grape Ice (Green Fuse Botanicals)

September 27, 2016

9 New Blooming Potted Plants To Jazz Up The Home And Ga…

Blooming potted plants are the ideal gift for anyone, from a homesick college student to a spouse in need of some cheering up. Check out nine these new introductions hitting the retail market in 2017.

Read More
clematis-taiga-feature

September 24, 2016

Plantarium 2016 Honors Winning Novelty Varieties

Novelties at Plantarium 2016 were judged by an expert committee from the Royal Boskoop Horticultural Society.

Read More
mukgenia-nova-flame-terra-nova-nurseries-feature

September 23, 2016

Growers Offer Advice On How To Grow Mukgenia ‘Nova Flam…

‘Nova Flame’ is best brought in as a summer or fall crop and bulked over the winter.

Read More
deutzia-yuki-snowflake

September 22, 2016

Allan Armitage Suggests Plants That “Even My Neig…

When the urge to garden strikes, every homeowner needs a few plants like these for their yard.

Read More
Phlox 'Pink Profusion' (Green Leaf Plants)

September 13, 2016

Aris Horticulture Names Blair Hoey As Managing Director…

Hoey brings more than 20 years of greenhouse production and management experience to Green Leaf Plants, a young plant supplier of perennials serving the U.S. and Canadian markets.

Read More
hibiscus-hollywood-hot-shot

September 12, 2016

New Variety Award Winners Announced At Farwest 2016

A panel of industry experts, as well as show attendees, selected a thornless blackberry and a hydrangea for the top honors.

Read More

September 7, 2016

Check Out The Best Annuals For Attracting Bees And Butt…

Public interest in protecting bees and other pollinators has initiated a new market for flowers that are good food plants for pollinators. Here's a list of annuals Michigan State University Extension recommends that are attractive to bees and other pollinators.

Read More

September 6, 2016

10 Colorful Spring Plants For Sales In 2017

Trends with plants come and go, but color always sells. These spring crops for 2017 offer color choices ranging from bold and vibrant hues to understated, softer tones, and they’re versatile enough to be used in baskets, containers, beds, and borders.

Read More

September 5, 2016

7 New Shrubs And Foliage Plants For Spring Interest

Perennials and annuals aren’t the only plants that supply spring color to the garden. Shrubs and foliage plants also add color and interest and are a great way to round out your spring product mix.

Read More
Janikia Eckert

September 4, 2016

All-America Selections Presents Achievement Awards At I…

Jim Nau of Ball Horticultural received the AAS Medallion of Honor, while Janika Eckert of Johnny’s Selected Seeds took home the Breeders Cup.

Read More
Phlox 'Pink Profusion' (Green Leaf Plants)

August 30, 2016

14 Cool Season Plants To Kick Off The Spring Season

These new cultivar introductions for 2016 are spring bloomers that can take the cold for early-season sales.

Read More
Penn State University Trial Day

August 26, 2016

How Greenhouse Growers Can Broaden Their Horizons

Allan Armitage says you can learn new ideas to help your business when you get out to visit plant trials and other growers.

Read More

August 23, 2016

Kick Spring Sales Up A Notch With 20 New Plant Introduc…

It’s time to look forward to the spring season and what plants will get your business off to the right start. These 18 new cultivars have all the traits of good breeding — uniform habits, bold colors, showy blooms, good vigor, and excellent branching.

Read More

August 23, 2016

Gardens Alive! Parent Company Buys Zelenka Farms

  Zelenka Farms, which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, says LM Farms, which owns Gardens Alive!, has purchased the company and all of its assets. BFN Operations LLC and its affiliated entities, d/b/a Zelenka Farms, operated one of the largest wholesale nurseries in the U.S. Its products include shrubs, trees, perennials, roses, and groundcovers. The owners of Gardens Alive! have successfully purchased several other companies from bankruptcy and are experienced nursery managers. Niles Kinerk, Chairman of LM Farms, stated that “the opportunity to purchase Zelenka Farms assets and to continue the turnaround that is well underway is exactly the kind of opportunity that we look for. We understand the efforts of the management team led by Eric Ek and others have been successful, and we will support the management team in the coming months and years.” Zelenka Farms operates its six facilities across the key growing regions in the […]

Read More
Coreopsis-UpTickCream-19793-DarwinPerennials

August 20, 2016

Growing Tips On Coreopsis UpTick Series From John Wilso…

Editor’s Note: In this new feature, the Greenhouse Grower varieties team will choose one noteworthy variety each month we think is worth bringing to your attention. Then we’ll share growers’ and breeders’ perspectives on the best ways to produce it successfully at your operation. This month we focus on the hardy Coreopsis UpTick series, winner of Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Industry’s Choice Medal of Excellence for Breeding. Growing Tips From John Wilson, Seville Farms When asked about producing Coreopsis UpTick, John Wilson says he doesn’t have much to say because it was so easy to grow. Wilson, a Corporate Grower for Seville Farms, says based on the new series’ strong performance during the trialing he has done so far, the nursery ordered a large quantity of the plants for future growing. “If breeders were looking to come up with something that says ‘wow,’ they have done it with the UpTick Series,” […]

Read More
Eucomis arrangement from Golden State Bulb

August 19, 2016

What’s New With Blooming Potted Plants

From exotic orchids and lilies to flashy red cyclamen and jaunty gerberas, new blooming potted plants come in every shape, size, and color.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]