Three Gardening Dilemmas

Three Gardening Dilemmas

Who is fooling who with these 4-inch pots? Or, how do I determine the best minimum pot size for sales to retail outlets?

These questions always come up when 2- to 4-inch containers are discussed. The great myth out there is that there actually is such a thing as a 4-inch pot. I used to teach my students about container sizes, but when we received four different sizes from four different distributors–all under the guise of 4-inch pots–I knew the minds of our future leaders would be forever muddled.

We found increased use of pony pots compared to jumbos, yet both were sold as the same size. Should the choice be based on price or how many of those little suckers one can squeeze into a 1020 tray, or onto a bench? Or, shouldn’t we use the smallest container we can get away with to reduce soil volume and bench time? What to do?

The answer: The intent of the product is to be sold to a retailer, then to the consumer. Therefore, why not use the container size to make their job easier rather than yours. Retailers cannot take care of a standard 4-inch pot, let alone a fake 4-inch one. They are much more able to maintain a jumbo pack rather than a pony pack. If retailers ask for pony packs or reduced 4-inch sizes, they must be told that the larger the container, the easier it is for the consumer to succeed.

The bottom line here is that gardening must be as foolproof as we can make it. A jumbo size, or at least an honest 4-inch pot, is simply a better plant with a better root that will be better able to take the abuse of weekend gardeners. I don’t think we realize the ultimate judge, jury and executioner of our product is the weekend gardener. Faking a 4 inch as a 3 or 2 and reducing a jumbo to a pony simply gives gardeners reason to fail. And why would we want that?

Gardening Is Expensive

This one will get me into trouble, for sure. However, being surrounded by the products we grow, we sometimes forget how expensive a flat of pansies or a gallon container of columbine actually is. Most of you have gardens consisting of what you can get out of the greenhouse or nursery–at a significant discount, perhaps even free.

Wherever I speak, I talk of the value, not the price, of the plants consumers buy. I know that and you know that, but gardening still requires money. And in these times, money is not necessarily in high supply. So please realize people are shelling out lots of money for our material, and we sometimes forget how quickly it adds up. What to do?

The answer: Get out and shop for plants for your own garden to see what I mean. It is an expensive jungle out there. After you shop, you will have additional incentive to grow the best product in the best container so garden failure is almost impossible. If you sell junk and the gardener fails, you are hurting all of us. If the product succeeds, the issue of price essentially disappears. That does not make gardening any less expensive, but it surely makes it a much better perceived value.

People Want Short & Compact

If you have attended the California Spring Trials or talked with breeders about the next great bedding plant, the terms “short” and “compact” always come up. For landscape plants, the argument is justified both for shipping and landscaping reasons. However, don’t for a moment believe that gardeners share the same enthusiasm about this short and compact stuff.

One only has to look at the steep rise in the perennial market and the specialty annual markets to know people are looking for more than short and compact. Ask any self-respecting gardener about size, and it quickly becomes apparent fewer short and compact plants are being used and more larger plant species are being sought. What to do?

The answer: Visit private or public gardens on a weekend to get a feel for what people are gardening. Most communities have a garden weekend, and hopefully all of us know at least one serious gardener. It sounds like a difficult thing to do, but you may even enjoy it. It will quickly become obvious that the public is demanding more diversity of size and color.

If the greenhouse industry doesn’t provide the plants the public wants, the nursery industry will. Use of gallon containers, or at least jumbo packs, and branching into perennials and specialty annuals compliments the short and compact syndrome.

Leave a Reply

4 comments on “Three Gardening Dilemmas

  1. “Gardening IS Expensive”! Finally a point I agree with Allan on. Anyone who has worked at greenhouse or nursery knows that when it comes time to give away, or more often throw away, the excess inventory, everyone outside of upper management runs to the pile to get their freebies. And we grab all we can fit into our car (and it’s often medium to poor quality). Why? Because decent garden plants ARE expensive, even at the box store. Most greenhouse employees, growers, and even some middle management have a hard time paying for garden plants, because they know at some point there will be a giveaway. Senior growers and upper management take what they want whenever. I guess Henry Ford said he wanted his employees to be able to afford his product. I’m not sure that most greenhouse workers think they can afford, or justify, the price of the product at retail. I pay for plant varieties that I don’t grow, but this Spring I might splurge on some of our company’s own product. Henry Ford also said, “It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.”

  2. I am one of probably many who agree with Dr. Armitage on a great many things. I think he is on the money here again. In business I always tried to use the KISS system to run things. When you have virtually the same , or seemingly so, plants in 5 different containers you create confusion. And he is right. We give the homeowner a way to fail by confusing the issue. If they leave confused we may never see them again. And Joe Grower is exactly right…”The customer pays the wages.”

  3. “Gardening IS Expensive”! Finally a point I agree with Allan on. Anyone who has worked at greenhouse or nursery knows that when it comes time to give away, or more often throw away, the excess inventory, everyone outside of upper management runs to the pile to get their freebies. And we grab all we can fit into our car (and it’s often medium to poor quality). Why? Because decent garden plants ARE expensive, even at the box store. Most greenhouse employees, growers, and even some middle management have a hard time paying for garden plants, because they know at some point there will be a giveaway. Senior growers and upper management take what they want whenever. I guess Henry Ford said he wanted his employees to be able to afford his product. I’m not sure that most greenhouse workers think they can afford, or justify, the price of the product at retail. I pay for plant varieties that I don’t grow, but this Spring I might splurge on some of our company’s own product. Henry Ford also said, “It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.”

  4. I am one of probably many who agree with Dr. Armitage on a great many things. I think he is on the money here again. In business I always tried to use the KISS system to run things. When you have virtually the same , or seemingly so, plants in 5 different containers you create confusion. And he is right. We give the homeowner a way to fail by confusing the issue. If they leave confused we may never see them again. And Joe Grower is exactly right…”The customer pays the wages.”

More From Varieties...
crider-rd2-internal_Rough-Brothers_featured

July 1, 2015

Rough Brothers Is Acquired By Gibraltar Industries

RBI Solar Inc., Rough Brothers Manufacturing Inc. and affiliates have been acquired by Gibraltar Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of products for residential and industrial markets, for $130 million. Capitalizing on its 80 years of design-build experience and leadership as the largest greenhouse manufacturer in North America, Ohio-based RBI has established itself during the past five years as North America’s fastest-growing provider of photovoltaic (PV) solar racking solutions. The transaction will enable Gibraltar to leverage its expertise in structural metals manufacturing and materials sourcing to meet global demand for solar racking solutions. The company also announced that it anticipates its second-quarter 2015 financial results will be in line with its previous expectations. “Acquiring RBI is an important step in the transformation of Gibraltar into a company with a higher rate of growth and best-in-class financial metrics,” says Gibraltar CEO Frank Heard. “This acquisition directly aligns with key end markets and product platforms […]

Read More

June 30, 2015

Opportunities Abound For Women In Horticulture, Says Dosatron International’s Lela Kelly

My love for horticulture goes back to my grandparents who were farmers in upstate New York. My family’s involvement in agriculture left a lasting impression that has spanned decades, and still drives my passion for our industry today. I started my career in horticulture when I owned a greenhouse, nursery and garden center in Sayville, Long Island, N.Y. We specialized in ground cover production, later branching out to producing perennials and bedding plants.     I then went onto wholesale hard goods distribution. In the 1980s, I was the first woman salesperson on Long Island. What an eye opener that was! New York is a very special place, different from anywhere else in the country. You cannot imagine how difficult it was walking into greenhouses and nurseries as a woman, in a man’s world. Luckily, I grew up in New York City in an Italian family, who taught me great […]

Read More
Medal of Excellence Award

June 30, 2015

Get To Know The 9 Variety Finalists For Editor’s Choice And Industry’s Choice Awards

Greenhouse Grower‘s Evening Of Excellence reception is rapidly approaching. Here, you can learn more about the varieties that are finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice and Industry’s Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ (Kieft Seed) Vinca Valiant Series (PanAmerican Seed)     Join us Monday, July 13 in Ballroom 2 at the Columbus Convention Center to find out which varieties will receive the coveted awards. The reception begins at 5:15 p.m. and the ceremony […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Medal of Excellence Award

June 30, 2015

Get To Know The 9 Variety Finalists For Editor’s …

Greenhouse Grower‘s Evening Of Excellence reception is rapidly approaching. Here, you can learn more about the varieties that are finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice and Industry’s Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ (Kieft Seed) Vinca Valiant Series (PanAmerican Seed)     Join us Monday, July 13 in Ballroom 2 at the Columbus Convention Center to find out which varieties will receive the coveted awards. The reception begins at 5:15 p.m. and the ceremony […]

Read More

June 24, 2015

Perennial Container Combos And New Intros Shine At 2015…

Despite a rainy start to the day, more than 300 perennial enthusiasts showed up at 2015 Darwin Perennials Day to see the latest perennial introductions first-hand and connect with some of the best suppliers in the business.

Read More
2015 Readers' Choice

June 24, 2015

The 2015 Readers’ Choice Finalists Up Close And P…

You’ve narrowed the Readers’ Choice Finalists down to top picks in the Annuals, Perennials and Best of the Rest categories. Now it’s time to pick the overall winner. Here’s a closer look at the three finalists to help you make your choice. Then join us during Cultivate'15 at Greenhouse Grower's prestigious Medal of Excellence reception on Monday, July 13, where we will reveal the winner.

Read More
WavePetunias-GrowIt_contest_featured

June 18, 2015

Wave Petunias Sponsors Photo Contest Through GrowIt! Ga…

The gardening season is heating up and the Wave Petunias Team wants to see the #WildestWave. The popular plant brand has joined forces with the GrowIt! Garden Socially app to host a two week contest in June that encourages Wave Fans to share and rate photos of their favorite Wave Petunias. The grand prize is a $100 gift card to the garden center of the winner’s choosing. “We are excited to work with GrowIt! and see our Wave Petunias tagged in cities from coast to coast,” says Claire Watson, brand manager for Wave. “Seeing gardeners’ creative photography, awarding a winner, and learning what each region likes about Wave Petunias will be extremely useful as we further promote our ‘Wow ’em With Wave’ ad campaign this season.” Gardeners can place an entry into the contest by downloading GrowIt!, filling out a profile, and uploading photos of Wave Petunias. Placing the tag #WildestWave in the photo’s comments section […]

Read More
Kaleidoscope Abelia (Plant Haven International)

June 17, 2015

PlantHaven International Launches National Campaign To …

PlantHaven International has partnered with BlueSkye Creative to initiate a national consumer ad campaign that carries across radio, video, print and social media to increase sales of Abelia Kaleidoscope.

Read More

June 17, 2015

Green Leaf Plants Plans Two Open House Events June 25-2…

Green Leaf Plants will hold two open house events this summer to give the public a chance to view trial gardens, take guided tours and learn about new varieties and programs. Both events will be held at Green Leaf Plant's facility in Lancaster, Pa. The event in July will coincide with Penn State University Extension Trials in nearby Manheim.

Read More
Suntory_EuroAmerican Propagators_CAST2015

June 17, 2015

ePlantSource Welcomes EuroAmerican to list of Partners

ePlantSource recently announced a new partnership with EuroAmerican. A complete assortment from EuroAmerican is now available on ePlantSource.com and varieties are available for sale now to customers for the 2015-2016 season. In addition to the innovative varieties included in EuroAmerican’s “Growing Opportunities — 365 Days a Year” program, Savvy Succulents, the Sunny Collection, the Senetti Collection and offerings from breeders such as Suntory and Ball Ornamentals, ePlantSource customers will also gain access to the well known Proven Winners assortment and combination containers. “During the recent California Spring Trials, I had the opportunity to sit down with John Rader at the impressive display in Ventura from EuroAmerican and I couldn’t be happier to now offer the complete EuroAmerican assortment to our customers,” says Gary Falkenstein, president/CEO of ePlantSource. “EuroAmerican is a visionary company and we are proud that they have chosen to work with ePlantSource for the coming seasons.” Catalog listings, […]

Read More
Pleasant View Gardens Open House

June 14, 2015

Pleasant View Gardens And D.S. Cole Growers Open House …

D.S. Cole Growers and Pleasant View Gardens, both a short distance away from each other in Loudon, N.H., have set July 30 as the date for their open house events. Attendance is free, but registration is required.

Read More

June 13, 2015

Bailey Nurseries’ Minnesota Expo 2015 Takes Place…

Bailey Nurseries will hold its Minnesota Expo 2015, a jam-packed event showcasing its farm and plants, on July 30 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in St. Paul, Minn. In addition to farm tours, participants can enjoy new varieties, hot picks and merchandising displays, as well as attend various seminars through the day. Registration is required.

Read More
2015 Readers' Choice

June 12, 2015

Vote For Your Favorite Finalist For Greenhouse Grower&#…

It's time for you, our readers, to decide which variety is picked as the best new introduction in 2015. Voting is now open for Readers' Choice Finalists.

Read More
gapanthus DuchessofDazzle_featured

June 10, 2015

24 Plants That Can Handle Drought

These drought and heat tolerant varieties are both eco-friendly and worry-free garden performers.

Read More
hort couture_Asclepias Monarch's Promise_featured

June 9, 2015

ePlantSource And Hort Couture Partner On Variety Availa…

ePlantSource, a Colorado-based online broker of live goods to professional greenhouse growers, recently announced that the complete collection from Hort Couture is now available to be purchased through ePlantSource.com for the 2015-2016 season. The collection from Hort Couture, which offers exclusive varieties to be retailed through independent garden centers only, includes a full line of annuals, tropical, succulents, herbs, vegetables and ornamental grasses. “We are very excited to add the Hort Couture collections to what ePlantSource offers to professional greenhouse growers,” says Gary Falkenstein, president/CEO at ePlantSource. “We feel they have an exciting concept and they do a fantastic job at selecting products that bring a great draw to independent garden centers.” In making the announcement, ePlantSource touted Hort Couture’s pride in selecting varieties that will help independent garden centers stand apart from their big box counterparts, as well as its rigorous genetic evaluation program to ensure success for growers, […]

Read More
Allan Armitage At Tradeshow

May 15, 2015

Allan Armitage On Plants: We Are Alive And Well, Thank …

Allan Armitage tells why the horticulture industry is about the people, not the plants, not the marketing and not the social media, and why horticulture is here to stay.

Read More
Coleus-Campfire-BallFloraPlant

May 6, 2015

Costa Farms Releases 2015 Midseason Top Performers

Costa Farms has announced the mid-season top performers in its 2015 Season Premier Trial Garden. Its research and development team has been working to grow and evaluate hundreds of varieties and their findings have been published online.The plants presented in the report have thrived in Miami’s mid-spring conditions. Every spring, the company’s research and development team trials more than 500 varieties of annuals, perennials and tropical plants from plant breeders around the world. All of the varieties have been tested in Costa Farms’ 2-acre Season Premier Trial Garden in Miami, Fla. The team assesses the plants for abundance of bloom, crop uniformity and overall performance. Within the report, the varieties are organized by their color. “There’s one thing pretty much everyone who shops has in mind when they step into a garden center: color,” the report states. Because of that, the report is divided by hue, so everyone can zero in on their favorite. Click here to […]

Read More

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
PP&L CAST 2015 intros

April 22, 2015

6 Breeding Companies Serve Up New Varieties At Pacific …

Pacific Plug & Liner’s theme this year, Labyrinth, a conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants, was perfectly topped off (pun intended) with fascinators for the women and newsboy caps for the men. The PP&L team dressed their part to act out the gothic “conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants.” Truly, the displays looked like they practically popped out of a catalog, and the costumes were a nice touch. Retailers take heed, the fully merchandised displays at Pacific Plug & Liner are worthy of emulating. We’ll let the pictures tell the story of all the fabulous variety introductions presented at  Pacific Plug & Liner’s 2015 California Spring Trials, where Cultivaris, Cohen Nurseries, Histil Nurseries, Jaldety Nurseries, Southern Living/Sunset Collection and Pacific Plug & Liner all highlighted their 2016 introductions.  

Read More
Speedling 2015 CAST intros

April 22, 2015

Speedling Inc. Presents New Varieties From ABZ Seeds, H…

You name it, we saw it at Speedling's California Spring Trials location in San Juan Bautista, where five companies showed off their new introductions for 2016.

Read More
Danziger_Coreopsis_Solanna Glow1

April 22, 2015

Industry Perspective: McHutchison’s Vaughn Fletch…

Vaughn Fletcher with McHutchison Horticultural Distributors is part of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence For Industry’s Choice Panel. Fletcher recounts some of the standout varieties he saw while visiting Danziger "Dan" Flower Farms and Beekenkamp during California Spring Trials.

Read More