The Right Plant At The Right Time

The Right Plant At The Right Time

In the hotbed of bedding plant producers of Cheshire, Conn., the staff and employees of N. Casertano Greenhouses and Farms keep their eyes fixed on the big picture of the market. The goals of the company constantly keep the home gardener in mind. That idea affects everything, including how the greenhouse helps its retailers, its stance on marketing and the products its offers. Reaching through to the end consumer is wrapped up in everything the company does and believes in.

“We no longer exist in the bubble of wholesale producer,” says John Casertano, vice president and general manager of Casertano Greenhouses. “We’re much more keenly aware what’s required to be on retail shelves and make our customers more successful.”

A Plant For Each Season

To give extra guidance to home centers and small regional chains selling their plants, Casertano Greenhouses breaks down its product mix into five mini-season umbrellas: early spring (pansies, groundcovers and early perennials), May madness (during which, Casertano says, demand is nearly limitless), summer (larger perennials, combos and larger annuals), fall (mums, cabbage, kale, millet and aster) and Christmas. This lets retailers know what they should have on their shelves each month of the year.

“Our philosophy to make retailers successful has been the right plant at the right time,” says Casertano. “We’re not interested in selling an A to Z group of annuals or perennials in early April, clogging up retail shelves and then waiting for a reorder.” This method keeps consumers coming back to stores to see what’s new and keeps the turn rates for both the retailers and Casertano Greenhouses high. The greenhouse’s head of sales Mike Joy credits Casertano with being a pioneer in this method of marketing and selling.

“He’s sold 15 to 20 varieties in bud and bloom in a two-week window and has tried to build the business in inventory turns and color in the perennial section of the garden center,” he says. “It’s created fast growth in the perennial section and has helped our retail customers develop repeat visits.” There are still some retailers who buy an A to Z menu from Casertano, but those who have converted to the five seasons have grown at least two to three times per season, according to John Kam, vice president of Casertano Greenhouses.

Growing New Gardeners

With many in the Baby Boom generation hanging up their gardening trowels in favor of landscapers, and a Generation X that isn’t sure what their place is in the gardening world, Casertano Greenhouse’s approach to reaching both audiences has changed recently. The company marketed its own line of branded products until 2003, when it came to the conclusion that there wasn’t strong brand recognition for its products and the investment wasn’t worth such small reward. So Casertano scaled down its own product brands and stepped aside for the big branding programs, like those from Ball and Syngenta, to push through Casertano and to the retailer.

“It seems to be much more effective than a lot of smaller, family owned businesses coming up with their own marketing programs that were creating a lot of gray mass and nothing emerging as identifiable,” Casertano says. “This has allowed some real brands to emerge.”

A joint effort–a marketing campaign, a slogan, a person who will act as a lightning rod for the industry–is a necessary effort, says Kam.

“If you look at us as a high-tech farming industry, some of our brethren out there have taken what used to be a generic product and turned them into differentiated, improved products,” he says. “We have ‘Got Milk,’ we have ‘The Other White Meat,’ we even have the beef industry out there now.”

This type of marketing effort would put more focus on getting more people into stores and buying gardening products rather than pushing one brand or product.

“It may not be the most worthwhile effort to spend money on branding if we can’t get our customers into the stores,” Casertano says. “We don’t want it [gardening] to become what skiing has become–too expensive and people are not interested anymore.”

Becoming more familiar with what appeals to the end consumer is the new responsibility of the grower, Kam says. The largest retail trend the company sees is sustainability, which Casertano Greenhouses plans to address with a 2008 sustainable perennial plant line.

“We were production operations,” Kam says. “Now we have to be in tune with what the gardening public is interested in and what they’re going to buy.”

The Growing Landscape

Another trend Casertano Greenhouses is working to satisfy is the landscaping boom. The astronomical increase in the professional and rewholesale business at Casertano in the last three to four years has led the company to begin work on a new rewholesale yard designed around the time crunch landscapers often face. The new yard will be a small area with a broad selection of products so landscapers can get in, see everything, make choices and get out fast.

This new trend, along with the diverse customer base the company supplies, is reflected in a diverse product line, which includes four perennial sizes and annuals in two styles of flats, 4 1/2-, 6 1/2-, 8- and 12-inch pots, 16-inch combos and 10-inch hanging baskets. Managing that product and customer mix also affects the greenhouse’s production setup. Everything is potted on a line with an overhead soil carrying system, but transplanters are not used. The operation propagates all its own perennials and groundcovers (3 million finish perennials per year), roots its own cuttings and germinates all its own seed.

“The setup we’ve created fits our needs well, because it allows us to run a broad spectrum of pot and flat sizes very easily,” Casertano says. “Because of our diversified customer base, we’re required to do that.”

Through all its retail customers, however, Casertano Greenhouse sees its biggest challenge as finding and exciting a new generation of gardeners. “We’re interested in and are marketing to the landscape industry and understand there is a do-it-for-me trend at the moment, but we’d be very disappointed if home gardeners and people who have traditionally bought our products continue to decline,” Casertano says. “We’d really like to focus our efforts on developing that new generation of gardeners.”

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Wave Petunias Team

May 3, 2016

Hot Pink Wave-Rave Van Making Its Way To The Big Apple To Promote Wave Petunias And Pansies

Imagine driving down the road, minding your own business, when you’re passed by two smiling, waving, happy women driving a hot-pink van that’s adorned with petunia and pansy flowers. That’s not something you see every day, but motorists in the Midwest and Northeast may catch a glimpse of the Wave-Rave van this week as Ball Horticultural Co.’s Claire Watson, Product Marketing Manager, and Katie Rotella, Marketing Communications Manager, make their way to a media tour and plant giveaway in New York City. Watson and Rotella visited Cleveland’s WOIO Channel 19 news on Tuesday morning to tell consumers about Wave Petunias and Wave Pansies, and remind them to visit their local garden centers to purchase gifts for Mother’s Day this weekend. Check out this clip on Periscope. After the morning news, the ladies stopped by to visit the Greenhouse Grower staff at Meister Media Worldwide in Willoughby, OH. Next stop: Chelsea Garden Center in Brooklyn, NY, where […]

Read More
National Garden Bureau CAST 2016 Bloggers

May 3, 2016

5 Things Gardens Bloggers And Writers Learned At California Spring Trials

For the second year in a row, the National Garden Bureau hosted five popular garden bloggers and writers on a trip to California Spring Trials. Here’s what each of them had to say about their experience.

Read More
Chick Charms

April 29, 2016

Kelly Norris: Why The Plant Collector Market Is Set To Explode, And What It Means For You

In his latest column for Greenhouse Grower magazine, Kelly Norris says there are more plant collectors out there than we think, which opens the way for the gift plant market to explode.

Read More
Latest Stories
Wave Petunias Team

May 3, 2016

Hot Pink Wave-Rave Van Making Its Way To The Big Apple …

Imagine driving down the road, minding your own business, when you’re passed by two smiling, waving, happy women driving a hot-pink van that’s adorned with petunia and pansy flowers. That’s not something you see every day, but motorists in the Midwest and Northeast may catch a glimpse of the Wave-Rave van this week as Ball Horticultural Co.’s Claire Watson, Product Marketing Manager, and Katie Rotella, Marketing Communications Manager, make their way to a media tour and plant giveaway in New York City. Watson and Rotella visited Cleveland’s WOIO Channel 19 news on Tuesday morning to tell consumers about Wave Petunias and Wave Pansies, and remind them to visit their local garden centers to purchase gifts for Mother’s Day this weekend. Check out this clip on Periscope. After the morning news, the ladies stopped by to visit the Greenhouse Grower staff at Meister Media Worldwide in Willoughby, OH. Next stop: Chelsea Garden Center in Brooklyn, NY, where […]

Read More
National Garden Bureau CAST 2016 Bloggers

May 3, 2016

5 Things Gardens Bloggers And Writers Learned At Califo…

For the second year in a row, the National Garden Bureau hosted five popular garden bloggers and writers on a trip to California Spring Trials. Here’s what each of them had to say about their experience.

Read More
Chick Charms

April 29, 2016

Kelly Norris: Why The Plant Collector Market Is Set To …

In his latest column for Greenhouse Grower magazine, Kelly Norris says there are more plant collectors out there than we think, which opens the way for the gift plant market to explode.

Read More
Pennisetum Fireworks

April 28, 2016

Why Ornamental Grasses Are Great For People In Condos A…

Allan Armitage says breeders need to do a better job of making growers, brokers, and garden centers aware of better ornamental grass cultivars for the increasingly shrinking garden space.

Read More
Andropogon gerardii Blackhawks (Intrinsic Perennial Gardens)

April 27, 2016

Know Your Market When Choosing Ornamental Grasses

Growers have no shortage of choices in the ornamental grass market. Narrowing down the selection comes down to finding the right plant for the right purpose.

Read More
Bee on Bidens

April 25, 2016

Breeders Go The Distance To Bring New Plant Varieties T…

Breeders are meeting the demand for new varieties that perform and sell well by extending trialing to engage the grower community, using advanced technology, and encouraging international collaboration.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

April 20, 2016

Growers And Breeders Are Always Looking For A Better To…

While edibles become more diverse, there's one goal that hard-core gardeners and urban foodscapers share.

Read More
Syngenta Pentas

April 20, 2016

Syngenta Flowers Opens Its Perennial Genetics To The Ma…

California Spring Trials 2016 visitors to Syngenta Flowers found the breeder company and its employees happy and excited for the future, in the wake of the announcement of its acquisition by ChemChina. Now Syngenta Flowers is ready to move forward with its breeding efforts in geraniums, pentas, and other crops, and it is opening its perennials offerings to the whole supply chain for a better chance to get those plants to retail.     Syngenta Wants To Revolutionize Geranium Breeding The big news in this year’s trial, says Karl Trellinger, Technical Services Representative at Syngenta, is the change in Syngenta’s breeding efforts in geraniums and pentas. The Calliope geranium series, long considered a premium line in the market, is getting a makeover. Growers have told the breeder that they love the colors available in the Calliope series, but the plants are just too vigorous for smaller containers and combinations. As […]

Read More
Petunia Vista Bubblegum (Proven Winners)

April 20, 2016

Proven Winners Funds Gardening “It Couple,” Names Plant…

Since 1992, Proven Winners has been changing the gardening game, and it’s not stopping now. With new plants, improved series, and interesting retail customers, the brand aims to make planning easier for growers, and make gardening easier and more fun for consumers. At its new 2016 California Spring Trials location at Kirigin Cellars in Gilroy, Proven Winners had the space and a beautiful setting to lay all of its offerings out, from new and improved varieties in annuals, perennials, and shrubs, to marketing and retail programs. Check out the slideshow below for highlights.   Proven Winners Is Flexing Its Marketing Muscle One of the ways Proven Winners is working toward better use of its products and gardening in general, is by supporting the gardening authorities that gardeners of all ages trust on social media. Director of Marketing Marshall Dirks says while searching for influential gardeners, he came across a young […]

Read More
Scaevola 'Purple Haze' (Danziger 2016)

April 19, 2016

Allan Armitage Picks His Favorites From Proven Winners,…

From “crazy” petunias to container pentas, there was plenty that caught Allan’s eye during the final day of 2016 California Spring Trials.

Read More
CallaFornia Red

April 19, 2016

Golden State Bulb Company Shows Off New Concepts In Cal…

There’s no question that Golden State Bulb Company’s specialty is in breeding virtually any color of Calla Lily, available in about any habit — cut flower, bouquet pot, upright pot type — the list goes on. But now, the bulb specialist is focusing on making calla lilies more accessible to the masses, for use in combination planters and the landscape, with calla six-packs. Calla breeder Peter Beckman showed us the shrunken-down version of these beauties, and they’re certainly perfect for patio pots, planting along paths or at the front of the garden, or en masse for an elegant statement. This presentation makes it easy for consumers to pick up and use callas, without the intimidation they might feel from a bulb crop, says Dr. Allan Armitage.   They’re also versatile for growers to plant in early to mid-February to add to finished containers in the spring, or to sell in […]

Read More
Disney Trial Garden

April 17, 2016

Mark Your Calendars For Florida Flower Trials In May

The two-day event, which takes place in Orlando, is held in conjunction with the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival and offers educational seminars, tours, and open houses.

Read More
Dianthus Paint the Town Fuchsia_CJW14 (2)

April 16, 2016

Proven Winners Focuses On A Better Consumer Garden Expe…

Excellent, long-lasting performance, and easy maintenance are at the core of Proven Winners’ introductions.

Read More

April 15, 2016

Pacific Plug & Liner Features Plenty Of New Varieti…

One of the best-merchandised spots on the California Spring Trials is always Pacific Plug & Liner (PP&L), where the greenhouse is stocked with beautiful plants and displays, and the people are dressed to the nines and graciously ready to help in any way.

Read More

April 15, 2016

American Takii Commemorates 180 Years Of Industry Commi…

American Takii, Hilverdakooij, and newcomer HMA Plants show off zombie-zone celosia, new dianthus, and hip succulents.

Read More

April 15, 2016

Ernst Benary of America Takes Plant Fashion Week To The…

Ernst Benary of America gave growers a taste of the fashion world during the new variety promenade held during California Spring Trials 2016.

Read More
Fashion Show At Benary

April 15, 2016

California Spring Trials: Dr. Allan Armitage Notes Emer…

Attractive new varieties will draw the eyes of consumers, but innovation and creativity will keep them coming back.

Read More
Delizz Strawberry packaging

April 14, 2016

ABZ Seeds’ Delizz Strawberry Makes Mouths Water At Spee…

Speedling, Inc. hosted Hem Genetics, Thompson & Morgan, ABZ Seeds, Plant Source International, and Vista Farms For California Spring Trials 2016. Here are some of the highlights of the trial.

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