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...
Asclepias tuberosa

April 29, 2017

Greenhouse Growing Tips for Asclepias tuberosa

Madeline Maynor, Growing Operations Manager for Landenberg, PA-based North Creek Nurseries, shares greenhouse growing tips for Asclepias tuberosa, the 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year.

Read More
Andropogon gerardii Blackhawks (Intrinsic Perennial Gardens)

April 25, 2017

Kelly Norris: Diversity is the Key to Growing the Ornamental Grass Market

Offering a selection of ornamental grasses that cater to customer needs will keep sales from stagnating.

Read More

April 25, 2017

41 New Vegetative Petunias From California Spring Trials 2017: Northern Sites

With the abundance of new introductions for the 2018 retail season, we’ve made it easier for you to sift through them by separating out the vegetative petunias from the Northern sites, which includes selections from Westhoff Flowers, Sakata Ornamentals, Danziger, Proven Winners, and Syngenta flowers.

Read More
Latest Stories
Asclepias tuberosa

April 29, 2017

Greenhouse Growing Tips for Asclepias tuberosa

Madeline Maynor, Growing Operations Manager for Landenberg, PA-based North Creek Nurseries, shares greenhouse growing tips for Asclepias tuberosa, the 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year.

Read More
Andropogon gerardii Blackhawks (Intrinsic Perennial Gardens)

April 25, 2017

Kelly Norris: Diversity is the Key to Growing the Ornam…

Offering a selection of ornamental grasses that cater to customer needs will keep sales from stagnating.

Read More

April 25, 2017

41 New Vegetative Petunias From California Spring Trial…

With the abundance of new introductions for the 2018 retail season, we’ve made it easier for you to sift through them by separating out the vegetative petunias from the Northern sites, which includes selections from Westhoff Flowers, Sakata Ornamentals, Danziger, Proven Winners, and Syngenta flowers.

Read More
Begonia Spectre Silver Terra Nova Nurseries

April 20, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries Releases Two New, Attractive Begon…

Stardust is the latest addition to Terra Nova Nurseries’ existing T Rex Begonia series, and Silver is the first introduction to the company’s new Spectre Begonia series.

Read More

April 18, 2017

Cool Combos From CAST 2017 – Editor’s Choic…

With container gardening becoming more of a lifestyle among consumers than a trend, and breeders continuing to put more effort in container mixes and components, I feel I would be remiss if I didn't share some of the special combinations that not only caught my eye at California Spring Trials, but absolutely took my breath away and made me want to immediately get started gardening.

Read More
Danziger New Hires

April 16, 2017

Danziger Invests in Continued North American Business G…

As part of a new business structure for its North American market, Mike Fernandez has been appointed Market Manager North America for Bedding Plants and Perennials, and Kate Zvara was named as Key Account Manager and Retail Specialist.

Read More
Florida Flower Trials

April 12, 2017

Looking for Info on New Varieties for Hot Climates? Che…

The Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association’s Florida Flower Trials, which are focused on new and improved varieties able to thrive in the extremes of Florida’s climate, are a great opportunity to connect with national breeders.

Read More
Lupinus Staircase Series (Green Fuse Botanicals)

April 11, 2017

Begonias, Celosias Among Dr. Allan Armitage’s Favorites…

Check out some of Allan’s top picks from his final day at CAST 2017, which included visits to Green Fuse Botanicals and Floranova.

Read More
Rex Begonia container mix at Green Fuse Botanicals

April 11, 2017

Green Fuse Botanicals’ Rex Begonias and First Looks; Fl…

Here are the highlights from Green Fuse Botanicals and Floranova on the last day of CAST 2017.

Read More

April 7, 2017

Hort Couture Wows With Farm to Table; Florist Holland R…

On the last day for GroLink and the second to last for the Greenhouse Grower team, the wealth of genetics, marketing programs, and announcements were pleasing to our eyes, ears, and hearts.

Read More

April 7, 2017

California Spring Trials Day Five: Notable New Plant Va…

See some of the new varieties for 2018 displayed at Ball Horticultural and GroLink Plant Company on day five of California Spring Trials 2017.

Read More

April 7, 2017

PanAmerican Promotes Pentas, Plug-and-Play, and Veggies…

On Day 5 of the California Spring Trials, the Greenhouse Grower team hit the Southern California Trials and saw a multitude of new introductions and exciting programs.

Read More

April 7, 2017

CAST 2017: Musings of a California Spring Trials Rookie…

The number of opportunities presented to me are enough to make me rethink my location, but I still have a lot of big decisions to make for the future.

Read More

April 6, 2017

Dr. Allan Armitage’s Top Picks From Ball and GroL…

Here are Dr. Allan Armitage’s five variety picks, plus one display, from on Day 5 of CAST 2017.

Read More

April 6, 2017

Dümmen Orange Provides Retail Concepts; Terra Nova Offe…

Greenhouse Grower hit the Central Coast of California on our Day 4 of California Spring Trials, and what we saw was inspiring and exciting.

Read More

April 5, 2017

California Spring Trials Day Four: New Plant Intros fro…

The Greenhouse Grower team saw loads of memorable plants during day four, as it visited Dümmen Orange, Chisan Orchids, and Windmill Nursery. Dümmen had several notable introductions, including Wild Romance New Guinea impatiens in Blush Pink and White, which inspired the theme of its displays. One of the standout displays was its perennial combos with some new leucanthemum additions. Chisan Orchids in Los Alamos, CA, with Israeli breeders Hishtil, Jaldety, and Cohen Propagators, was a new stop on the route this year. Hishtil has a new gaura series out that includes a compact, low-growing variety, ‘Baby,’ with a mass of pink blooms. Cohen displayed Verbena ‘Mickey Red Rose,’ a unique bi-color that looks like a mixed combo, and Jaldety featured an interesting Cyperus prolifera. Windmill Nursery was the last stop of the day, with breeders Terra Nova Nurseries, Kientzler, J. Berry Nursery, and KiwiFlora. Terra Nova had several new heuchera for show, including ‘Onyx,’ which is a mounding, […]

Read More

April 5, 2017

CAST 2017: Musings of a California Spring Trials Rookie…

Set-aside all the varieties - I have come to the realization that being a grower is where I belong.

Read More

April 5, 2017

Dr. A’s Day Four Top Varieties for CAST 2017

Check out Dr. Allan Armitage's top five picks from visits to Dummen Orange, Chisan Orchids, and Windmill Nursery during day four of California Spring Trials 2017.

Read More