Once an afterthought in the home, houseplants are now valuable assets that add a touch of class to interior design schemes. Consumers are asking for tropicals and foliage plants that are less mainstream and more unique. And they want functionality and emotional connection all wrapped up in an easy-care package. In short, houseplants have become a lifestyle choice, thanks to marketing campaigns that promote their long-term benefits.
Marketing Efforts Address The Why And How Of Growing Houseplants
Programs comparable to Costa Farms’ O2 For You and Delray Plants’ Plants With Benefits promote the physical and psychological benefits of plants and convey the message that they’re an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Even more essential, these types of programs provide a way for companies to communicate the why and how of growing houseplants.
Social media is also a powerful platform for companies to air their messages and stay up to date on current trends. Bell Nursery, a large wholesale grower in the Mid-Atlantic, keeps an eye on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter to see what garden ideas consumers are implementing. Once it identifies what the popular trends are, it gears its own social media profile to match and gauges the reactions from its customers.
“By monitoring shares, favorites, and pins, we are virtually hearing what our consumers are into before they visit a store,” says Mat Van Rhoon, Marketing Director at Bell Nursery.
Tropical And Foliage Plant Trends Reflect Consumer Lifestyles
The use of plants for home décor is one trend that is hot right now on social media, and companies are using it effectively to market and raise plant awareness. Costa Farms, a Miami-based grower has worked hard to create on-trend, upgraded combo containers that make it easy for consumers to bring stylish plants into their homes.
And Delray Plants, another Florida-based foliage grower, recently hired an outside company to conduct a research project that breaks down how the consumer shops by room. The company hopes to gain fact-based research that will help enlarge the overall live-goods market to include tropical foliage, says Natalie DiSciascio, Director of Trade Marketing at Delray Plants.
Phyto-design, or using plants and flowers to create a peaceful atmosphere and eco vibe in the home, is driving many of the current houseplant trends. Modern-day interior designs featuring simplicity and clean lines reflect people’s busy lives and favor foliage plants known for their architectural qualities like sanseviera and the areca palm, as well as ones that make artistic statements such as the pony tail palm and yucca (Yucca elephantipes).
Air plants are also super trendy because they are sculptural and easy to grow. Millennial and GenX consumers are especially attracted to combinations that mix air plants with succulents, says Justin Hancock, Consumer Marketing and Digital Specialist at Costa Farms.
Colorful plants like red aglaonema and jewel-toned cacti are also in demand. Costa Farms’ Desert Gem line of cacti and Exotic Angel Plant varieties including Gynura ‘Purple Passion’ and the purple waffle plant (Hemigraphis alternata) are great examples of plants that fit this category.
Another influence driving tropical sales is the size factor. People are calling for smaller plants to fit small spaces. In response to this growing trend, Delray Plants has renewed its focus on 4-inch tropical foliage that works well for downsized interiorscaping.
Younger Customers Want Houseplants That Stand Out From The Norm
Perhaps most important to the current direction of the market for tropical and indoor plants is providing product options that allow people to express their individuality. Consumers, especially younger generations, are after distinctive plants that are a far cry from the typical 70s feel, when ferns and spider plants were as much of a staple as the kitchen sink. And the containers housing those plants have to be as exceptional as the plants themselves.
Bell Nursery is seeing more momentum with combo planters and houseplants in contemporary containers, Van Rhoon says, which is a good indication that consumers are leaning toward simple, finished products with instant impact.
Orchid Growers Supply The Distinctive Products Consumers Crave
Similar to other growers, Bell Nursery faces the challenge of catering to its already established market of gardeners, while also offering unique products that appeal to younger generations. The company addresses this need by providing upgraded, high-end options such as orchid gardens, inked orchids, and exotic orchids (Vanda and Lady Slipper).
With the variety of orchids available and their lower price point, consumers are finding it more affordable to make a statement that reflects their personalities. The Phalaenopsis orchid is still a top choice, and suppliers are coming up with new ways to update this favorite.
“We’re excited about how the higher levels of design are elevating the Phalaenopsis’ relevance with consumers,” says Maxwell Sherer, Sales Director at Green Circle Growers in Oberlin, OH. “With the creation of Triple-Crown triple-spike orchids, waterfall orchids with large and cascading blooms, new colors for dyeing orchids, well-crafted dish gardens, luxurious multi-orchid planters, and novelty sizes like the mini orchid, it’s clear that the
Phalaenopsis variety has lots of ongoing excitement that consumers are definitely enjoying.”
Green Circle focuses on Phalaenopsis orchids to fit every moment and every space. It offers orchids under its Just Add Ice brand, along with other Just Add Ice products like anthuriums, bonsais, money trees, and easy-care bromeliads. The company concentrates on making the consumer experience with orchids successful, It messages that orchid care is easy — just add three ice cubes per week.
“Accessible pricing has jumpstarted the orchid category,” says Marcella Lucio-Chinchilla of Silver Vase. “For less than $20, they can venture into the orchid world and learn about this very forgiving plant.”
While the demand for disposable income is high, value for those dollars is important, too, because the combination of high-quality plants with a lower price point leads to expanded first-time and repeat purchases, says Maxwell Sherer of Green Circle Growers, noting that increased sales in the category attract innovation dollars to the industry that ultimately help improve the consumer experience.
Florida-based Silver Vase, an orchid and bromeliad grower known for the innovative ‘Blue Mystique’ orchid introduction, also focuses on orchids that accommodate a variety of spaces and have different looks to match a season or a specific mood or feeling. Marcella Lucio-Chinchilla, Vice President of Marketing at Silver Vase, says the company’s new Innovation line of orchids featuring select varieties grown into various shapes ties in well with holiday gift-giving and allows consumers to express emotions like love, for example, with the heart-shaped ‘Hugs and Kisses’ orchid. And Silver Vase’s new ‘White Swan’ orchid is meant to convey feelings of tranquility and serenity.
Closely aligning with the growing demand for smaller plant sizes and distinct products, mini orchids such as Silver Vase’s 2-inch Tea Cup and Espresso orchids and Green Circle Growers’ Just Add Ice minis have become a big hit with consumers as starter orchids. And at Bell Nursery, the smaller-size trend has created a demand for planters that combine orchids with succulents, tropicals, and tillandsia.
As orchids become more mainstream, brick-and-mortar sales are beginning to migrate online. Green Circle is seeing an increase in e-commerce gift giving that translates very well to orchids. And Sherer says gift giving has a hidden benefit. It removes the fear-of-care barrier for the giver and lets the receiver have an ownership experience with low risk. And a positive experience makes it possible to convert gift receivers into future givers or repeat owners, benefiting everyone involved.
Page 2 – Sidebar: Economical Luxury Orchids Grow The Market