What Consumers Under 50 Have To Say About Plants, Gardening and Garden Stores [Study Results]

10% Project This report serves as a first installment in the findings from the online focus groups as the first portion of our project with Flowers Canada entitled, “Keeping the Interest in Gardening Alive!” This is the first step in the project. Subsequent steps are to (b) identify marketing campaigns, (c) develop campaigns with Ontario garden retailers for spring 2016, (d) measure impacts of those campaigns in summer 2016, and (e) craft a marketing handbook with the information collected from the project by the end of summer 2016.

Data Collection


In order to ascertain the thoughts, attitudes, and perceptions of three age groups of Ontario residents, we worked with GutCheck (http://www.gutcheckit.com/) to conduct three separate focus groups. The groups were Gen Y (ages 18-29), Gen X (ages 30-49) and parents of children ages 2-12. The first one held was with parents (both fathers and mothers) of children ages 2-12 which took 5 days to collect 21 responses (February 20-24). The second group was collected for the Gen X (ages 30-49) which took 6 days to collect 25 responses (from Feb. 3 to 8). The third group was Gen Y (ages 18-29) which was collected from February 10 to Feb. 22 (12 days) during which we collected only 15 responses. Both GutCheck and the team was perplexed as to why this youngest group was so extremely difficult to fill; it took twice as long as the other two groups and was filled to 10 short of our request. They asked their supplier (who send individuals to the focus group) to push potential participants four separate times. We were eventually both satisfied that we had captured sufficient responses and done all we could to capture those respondents.

It is important to note that not everyone answered every question and, in some instances, multiple responses were recorded. While this summary is not meant to be a statistical summary of the entire sample, response totals may add to more or less than 61 persons, depending on responses. We prodded and asked for additional information. Also, some participants commented on other’s responses and those comments were “counted” in some of the information presented below. Quotes are direct quotes from participants with minimal corrections of spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Respondent Profiles

Our total sample was 61 individuals (37 female, 24 male) who were nearly all educated beyond high school (11 had some college, 9 earned an associate degree, 23 had B.S. degrees, 6 had advanced degrees). The average age was 35.5 years and about a third were married (21), never married (26) and in other relationship statuses (2 divorced, 10 living with partner, 2 separated). Most (56) were Caucasian, but other ethnic heritages were represented in the samples.

The Parents Group was comprised of 16 females and 5 males, 17 of whom were Caucasian and 4 were Asian. The average age was 37.9 years and all had children in the home. Most had 1-2 children; only one had 3 children. Their average level of interest in gardening (on a 1-5 scale) was 2.7. In terms of gardening spaces available to them (and they were permitted more than one space) were porch/balcony (10), front yard (13), and backyard (13). There were 6 from an urban region, 7 from a suburban region, and 8 from a rural region.

The Gen X Group was comprised of 15 men and 10 women, 20 of whom were Caucasian. The average age was 40 years and 2 had children in the home. Their average level of interest in gardening (on a 1-5 scale) was 2.68. In terms of gardening spaces available to them (and they were permitted more than one space) were porch/balcony (6), front yard (16), and backyard (18). There were 10 from an urban region, 5 from a suburban region, and 8 from a rural region.

The Gen Y Group was comprised of 12 females and 3 males, 10 of whom were Caucasian. The average age was 24 years and 3 had children in the home. Their average level of interest in gardening (on a 1-5 scale) was 2.4. In terms of gardening spaces available to them (and they were permitted more than one space) were porch/balcony (6), front yard (9), backyard (12). There were 3 from an urban region, 6 from a suburban region, and 6 from a rural region.

Insights: The majority of women is consistent with what we would expect to see in terms of gardeners or potential gardeners. However, we were able to recruit a significant number of men, which should help the diversity of the profile. While a majority of participants were Caucasian, we again, see some diversity in ethnic heritage of the small samples. It was of interest to note that more Parents had access to a balcony/patio than Gen X or Gen Y. We might have hypothesized that to be the opposite. Some children were present in at least some of the homes in all three samples, again helping the diversity of the samples. Gardening interest was rater lower, on average, in the Gen Y group, not surprising.

Plant Purchase History

More than half (56%) indicated they had purchased a flowering plant or seed while 33% had purchased a food producing plant or seed in the six-months prior to data collection (September 2014-February 2015). So the preponderance of their experience was with flowering plants, mainly outdoors. Several mentioned indoor plants as the data collection was in winter.

Rachel S. wrote, “The flowers/plants/flowering plants I purchase are almost always a selfish purchase for myself – I simply love having them in the home, they boost my mood.  The herbs were bought as a gift for my mother.  She grew some outside in the summer, so I thought she would enjoy being able to do that inside the house in the winter too.”

Jenny C. wrote, “Inside my home, I have potted geranium and orchids.  It’s winter now, so the only thing I have outdoor is a bare Japanese red maple tree.  Once spring and summer come up though, tulips and hydrangeas will sprout out and colour my yards.”

In telling us how they decide to make their purchases, a variety of sources were cited. Ten of the 61 indicated some degree of impulse purchases (that they liked the color or plant itself) which indicates a great degree of influence for plants and displays at the point of purchase. The family had a surprisingly important role in requests or suggestions for plant purchases (cited by 13) which included mother and children. 9 mentioned plant health. 8 mentioned doing some research or looking online for recommendations. Edibles were mentioned 5 times. Other influences stated were staff (3), price (7), tag (2), and maintenance (4).

Jen C. wrote, “I just purchase plants that I like the look of mainly, and also for some of their uses. The aloe plant that I gave to my boyfriend and his family was partly for their sunburns. I look online for advice.” Her comment was more precise and less typical of what Jeff B. said, “I just buy what I think looks nice and isn’t too expensive and won’t die if I forget to water it for a few days.”

First Gardening Experiences

Immediate family influenced nearly all of the participants in our study, primarily the mother (22 mentions). Second was the father with 13 mentions; these would include both respondents that listed either parent or said “parents.” The other family members who influenced the first gardening experiences of our panel were grandmother (5), grandfather (3), sister (1), wife (2), children (2), and brother (1). Clearly, the female influence was substantially larger than the male influence.

Cheryl H. wrote, “When I was a kid, Dad built raised garden plots and grew tomatoes, peppers and corn. My grandparents had rhubarb, raspberries and apple trees in their backyard. The first thing I ever grew on my own were tomatoes, in pots on the deck of my apartment.  I chose them because I like tomatoes and they’re easy to grow.  They turned out tasting like tomatoes. Neighbourhood squirrels would occasionally try them and spit them out.”

The third greatest influence (11 reported) on the earliest gardening experiences was the house/home they had as a young adult. Here are some of those comments:

Sokol D.’s comment was typical of those 11. He said, “We always had flowers in our apartment. With gardening started after we bought the house in 2007. We decided what to plant in the back yard and did everything ourselves. It wasn’t easy the first time but it turned out really good. Especially the tomatoes, the lettuce and the leeks and onion which we didn’t have to plant next year since they came out again.”

Those experiences have evolved, especially toward food. For example, Minh L. said, “I generally like to know how to do…Well, everything, so being able to grow my own food and become more self-sufficient has made me look more deeply into gardening. I like to experiment with different seeds to see what grows even if I have no idea what I’m doing.” and Michele D. said, “Now I do more research into what plants I can grow myself so that I can control what goes into the foods that I eat. It has led to a healthier lifestyle.” Mike M. said, “Yes, they have evolved because I am more conscious of the food I put in my body, and if I grow it I know exactly where it’s coming from and how it was grown, which is very important for me.”

About a third of the sample said they haven’t evolved in their gardening interests. Mike M. summed up many of their sentiments: “They haven’t. I’m horrible with plants.  I like dogs. Dogs are so much better, even though they poop.” and S.N. said, “Unfortunately I don’t have lots of time to invest in maintaining a decent garden.  Having a dog also makes gardening a challenge.  However, having the vegetable garden is a great pleasure that we look forward to planting every summer.” The pet theme comes back again as a limitation of doing more gardening. Surprisingly, some/most people would rather deal with a pet than a plant.

How do they rate themselves as gardeners? Slightly more than half (33) saw themselves as novices while 22 viewed themselves as average. The comparison was made to friends and neighbors, which was primarily the reason so many of them indicated they were average. We might tend to think of consumers who classified themselves as novices like Monica M. who said, “I consider myself a novice gardener. I know many aspects of gardening and plant maintenance but I do not particularly enjoy it and I often have trouble growing flowers of any kind.” The more insightful comment came from Rachel S. who said she was average because, “I know all the basics, and have had experience gardening all my life, but would not really be able to give anyone tips or anything, I don’t have any gardening secrets.  I don’t know the small details that can help a gardener, but I know enough to have a successful garden.”

The Best of Gardening

When they discussed their gardening positive experiences or victories, notice the emotion that many are conveying with the words they use. Monica M. said, “My most successful gardening experience was the first year I ever planted tulip buds. They were given to me as a gift and I was not sure what to expect. The colours were beautiful and it was memorable because they were the only flowers I had ever planted that successfully grew for me.” Kevin R. said, “I ate the peas and carrots we grew last year, as well as the potatoes. If you can eat what you grow, it is a major success.” Most poignantly, Barbara L wrote, “I would have to say an aloe Vera plant, it grew so beautiful and at the time my mother was very ill with her illness she had a lot of pain, we used this plant for her and she actually felt better when we used it on her. This was one of my mom’s favorite plants, it sticks in my head every day remembering her soft soul. That is what this plant does to me every time I see it.”

Word cloud 2Beauty and food were the two key themes that emerged in the focus group with regard to the best aspects of gardening. Beauty was mentioned 27 times while food was mentioned 19 times. But, the real richness of their gardening experiences came from the words mentioned less often. Peace, calm, relax was mentioned 11 times. This is a passive aspect to gardening, but clearly an enjoyable attribute to doing the ‘work’ or having someone else do it. Satisfaction/happiness/ accomplishment were mentioned 7 times and show a different but powerfully positive emotional side to the benefits of our industry. Some other notable terms were watch (3), welcome (3), air (6), pride (3), nature/environment (4), nurture (3), family (3), home value (3), and mood boosting (3).

Monica M. said, “I find plants make homes feel more welcoming and fresh. I like having plants in all public areas and my office. Gardening give me a sense of accomplishment because if your plants grow, you feel like you successfully created and maintained life.” Justin J. commented, “Plants to me represents life, new beginning, and you appreciate nature more. It makes the house and yard more appealing and full of life!”

Gardening Postivies

What are some of the positive aspects of gardening? Some of these responses related to the gardener’s personality, some related to what was gained through gardening. The diversity of benefits gives marketers lots of options to connect the industry’s products with positive feelings and outcomes. Many see working with plants as a healthy (9) way to connect with nature (11) and get some fresh air (8). Gardeners were described as patient (9) and peaceful/calm (7). These positive feelings about the product can be accented or highlighted along with some time- and work-reduction strategies to increase the likelihood of engaging in the activity. The many positive descriptors of gardening included stress relief and relaxation (mentioned by 11), which could be a primary message in marketing communications. These positive messages must be included in future conversations with potential customers.

The bounty of the garden was cited by 8 of the panelists. Some of the positives that may not resonate with future customers were hard-working (4), disciplined (1), dedicated (2), knowledgeable (2), content (1), responsible (1), and passionate (3).

 The Downside of Gardening

Word CloudMegan C. said it best, “People my age can’t pry their eyes from their cellphones for a meal, let alone long enough to tend a garden. Others generally feel it is way too much work, and not worth the reward. Or lack thereof if it fails.” Lack of time (12), hard work (9), and dirt/dirty (7) were the most often cited downsides. Some found gardening boring (4), for hippies (2), or those who were/are obsessed (1) or older (1). The problems were the weather (2), pests (3), frustration in general (2), weeding (2), expensive (2), caused one to be scheduled/tied-down (2) or gave the person too much sun (3) or aches/pains (3).

What is the most fun part of gardening?

Barbara L. commented, “Seeing something grow so beautiful by your own hard work and determination is so very fulfilling.” This was the majority sentiment with 25 mentions of satisfaction or pride in their accomplishment and 19 mentions of beauty. Food production was next with 15 mentions. Angela L. said, “the glory of the harvest and enjoying the fruits of your labour!” Four of the participants said that gardening wasn’t fun. Still, some individual mentions came for watching the progress, relaxing, value, being creative (6), helping the environment, enjoyment, fresh air, and seeing your vision becoming a reality.

How Enjoyable?

Frustrations, also, were emotionally charged. The powerful emotion that plants bring out in us seems to parallel nicely the positive (and sometimes negative) emotion that pets bring out. For Jason S., it was disappointing his grandmother. He wrote, “I once helped plant shrubs at my grandmothers, but after a month or so, some of the shrubs started to die for no apparent reason. We ended removing them and replacing them with new ones which fared much better. It was frustrating because it was expensive and time consuming to replace them.” Frank T. said, “I planted a Japanese maple tree about 5 years ago.  After the ice storm last year, the maple tree was dead.  I felt so sad as this was the first major purchase I made on tree.  It was so beautiful for the last 5 years.  I miss my tree.” Elizabeth D. even said the plants hated her. This is pretty strong emotional language. She wrote, “Every time I buy a Cyclamen it dies.  It doesn’t matter how big or small, young or established.  It is one of my favorite plants but they definitely hate me.” And Melissa R. doesn’t like to spend the money if the plant dies, “Hate spending money on plants/flowers for them to just die a few days later.”

This quote, from Rachel S., summarizes many of the negative aspects our panel perceived about gardening. “I don’t like that it can be unpredictable.  Like you can do everything right and it’s not guaranteed that a plant will survive or thrive.  I am also not very patient, so it is difficult for me to wait the long time it takes for most plants to grow to fruition.  I get so excited and want to check on them at least twice a day, only to find no change.  I also don’t have too much time on my hands to properly care for plants, which is why I have been resorting to lower-maintenance plants in the last few years – house plants I can water every so often, leave on a good shelf in view and in sunlight, and just enjoy them being there.  I don’t think I can minimize any of these aspects because they are least-liked by me only because they are out of my control.  I can’t do anything to change them and that’s what frustrates me.”

Kevin R. made an insightful comment, “It is a lot of work. Watering, weeding, digging the garden beds, etc. It takes up a lot of time and effort. As for what is the limiting factor, we have used pretty much all the space we can for our garden. No more space, no more plants. And if I had any suggestions on how to get around these aspects, I would be doing them, not talking about them.”

The negative side was dominated by how much time (15) and work (12) gardening was and that plants required a lot of care (10). Weather (9) and water (3) were similar and mentioned, when combined, almost as often as the other top three concerns. Dying plants (7) and weeding plants (7) appeared in the middle tier of negative concerns. Other negatives mentioned were pets (3), allergies (1), impatience (3), unpredictable (1), cost (5), being tired (1), space/conditions (3) and one of our panelists found gardening “boring and tedious” {Melissa R.} because it was “just another job to do.”

What keeps you from gardening more?

Gladys K. said, “The basic daily routine. Life and the fast lane. Gardening is a responsibility, and harsh weather is not helping when you desire to plant. Only in spring  and summer gardening can be done. But if you wish to plant isn’t impossible indoors. You can always manage to care for one plant or two.” Cheryl H. added, “Laziness. Really.  Lack of knowledge.  Then there’s the time thing.” Time was cited by 40 of the panelists as the single thing that keeps them from gardening. This was followed by space (15), money (9), short season (8), knowledge (8), weather (7), health (4), interest (3), and (single citation) pests, access, dirt, selection, failure, pets, and selection.

How can we get children more involved?

Jenny C. commented, “Parents should involve their children in these activities because most kids don’t grow up enjoying gardening, which is mostly because they weren’t exposed to it in their childhood.  If they grow up learning up gardening, chances are they will partake in these activities too when they grow up.” And Vanessa M. added, “It gives children a hobby and gets them outside instead of sitting inside watching TV. It also gives you time to bond with them when you teach them how to garden.” S.N. said, “As I mentioned before, when we have our vegetable garden, it’s a family affair.  We always start the plants from seeds, so from the get-go our daughter is actively involved in the process.  Doing veggies also gives kids more opportunities to be involved in looking after the plants, and in terms of finished product, there’s nothing better than being able to eat what you’ve grown.” Elizabeth D. said, “Last summer we started teaching them to garden.  They water the plants, help put the weeds in the wheelbarrow and rake up the grass cuttings.  They are very young so they mostly get in the way and slow things down but its family time and we are having fun so it doesn’t matter.”


Most respondents mentioned more than one location where they buy plants. The number of times a store name was mentioned is shown in Fig x. Some of the reasons for store selections were close proximity, inexpensive, and selection. It does appear as though most of the respondents believe that the box stores are less expensive or offer less expensive products. There was no mention of product quality at either location. If the participant was looking for something “special” s/he went to the IGC (Independent Retail Garden Center). Vanessa M. said, “Local community garden centres because it is close and convenient to get to and helps support local farmers.” Jenny C. stated, “Costco has a good selection in the spring and summer time, as well as Home Depot.  These are close to my home and are reasonably priced.” There is some opportunity to influence where products are purchased. Mitch M. commented, “I have no idea which stores to go to. There are some plant/flower  stores that I have been to but wouldn’t actively go on my own with a plan in my head on what to buy. If I were to choose I would just choose a local store that sells plants and flowers. There are a few that are close by.” The service and product guarantee offered by Home Depot appealed to Krysta T. who said, “Home Depot because they are very helpful with choosing the products you need as well as they have a 5 year guarantee.”

Stores Mentioned

When investigating the reasons for store selection, selection (22 mentions) and price (20 mentions) were the top two reasons. While quality was mentioned five times, only once was quality mentioned with price.

What would it take to get them to shop in the local retail garden center? For some, like Melissa R. would never go. She said, “Doesn’t  apply. I don’t garden enough to make the long drive to a nursery.” The respondents do find that the staff is more knowledgeable (16 mentions) and used the word “expert” several times. There is no doubt that the staff at the local retail garden center is as good as or more knowledgeable than the store they currently shop. However, the main negative was the perception of higher prices. There were 16 mentions of higher prices (as many as knowledgeable). The opportunities to lure them to the independents were deals (4 mentions) and specialty items (8 mentions). So, the panel seems relatively happy with the selection and price at the store they currently shop. There were two mentions of a more limited selection being a benefit.

Reasons for Store Selection

Francine T. said, “I like Supermarket because you do not have to choose from too many varieties of plants.” And Minah L. said, “Price and convenience, mostly. There’s not a horrid selection in these stores, either.”  In his book, The Paradox of Choice xxx said that having fewer choices in jams leads to greater sales. Considering the numerous mentions of selection at the box stores and the relative satisfaction with that selection, perhaps that is the phenomenon we are seeing. The consumers perceive the limited selection at the box store as sufficient for them and not overwhelming. Thus, they accept the options there and, in combination with the lower prices, perceive that combination to be ideal for them. This is not to suggest that the IGC should limit the selection, but consider an area where selections (and even prices) may be limited for the novice gardener.

Reasons to Shop

What kind of plant store would you design? The responses to the question were largely in two camps: adjacent to another store or stand alone. Both groups of response described what would be recognized as box stores (adjacent to another store) or independent retailer (stand alone). Unlike the Ohio focus group, this group mentioned having non-GMO plants for sale. Organic plants were mentioned once as were hydroponic production methods/systems. A few of the more interesting comments related to some specific dimensions. For example, Monica M. said, “If I had a plant store, I would also include fake plants in the store. These are especially useful for people that are not looking for long term maintenance, who may get tired of a certain decor very often, or who simply have no green thumb whatsoever.” Chrystal A. said, “It’d be a stand-alone store where you can buy everything from seeds to fully-grown plants, all the accessories you need to grow pretty flowers or vegetables, cut flower arrangements and a plant triage where people can bring in their dying houseplants and learn how to better care for them. I’d have flower arranging workshops, a community garden in the back and would donate what I can’t sell to food banks and assisted living facilities.” Mitch D. described an open concept store in his comment, “I think it would be a stand alone with access to an outside area that is big and has lots of different kinds of plants. The inside would be simple and open concept. Being able to see everything at once would be beneficial when comparing.” S.N. had no idea as he said, “That’s a really tough question since I have no expertise in business or gardening!  If I wanted it to be viable, it would be located close to other businesses – maybe even a Tim Horton’s or Starbucks!  Perhaps close to home decor types of stores, so when people are buying things to spruce up their homes, they might consider plants, too…” nor did Kevin R. who said, “I have no idea. I wouldn’t even think of starting my own plant store. The only thing I would suggest would be to have a “Idiots Guide to Growing …” beside each plant so that those of us who don’t know what we are doing might have a chance.”

Who is a typical gardener?

Jenny C. summed up the majority opinion about who a gardener is, “The typical gardener to me, based on my personal experiences, is a middle-aged man living in a single house with a front and backyard.  They would be very sensitive, hardworking, and disciplined. This typical gardener may be a blue-collar worker who wakes up earlier in the morning everyday to maintain his gardens, or retired with the free time.” Megan C. said, “I generally think of a gardener as someone older, usually female. Soft spoken, kind,and full of knowledge. From the gardeners I’ve met, they all tended to fall into this category. Probably because they’ve had time of this earth to perfect their gardens.”  And, Francine T. said, “A typical gardener would be someone with a “green thumb. ” The gardener would be in dirt almost everyday, and has to wash clothes a lot of time.  The gardener would be between 25 to 70 years old.  Talks about growth and pruning a lot.  The gardener would have a shed behind the house for storing gardening items. Personality is hard to describe, because the background of the person is unknown.  A typical gardener might have a pleasant attitude. They like beautiful colors, and bright outlook on life.”

Did the participant see him/herself as a gardener? Of the 60 who answered this question, most (48) did not. Jason S. said, “I dont fit this description, I’m young, I dont have time for gardening and I am not creative” and Chrystal A. said, “I’m very much that way except that I’m 28 :)” and Frank T. said, “Not really, maybe another 10 years :).” The happy faces were added by those respondents. Brad M. expressed a sentiment in between yes and no by saying, “yes and no when i’m stressed out i enjoy doing things, planted is very relaxing, peaceful, not something i do as much as my wife does, it’s different.”  There were 12 who did see themselves as a gardener. Laura W. said, “Yes, I do.  I like my house to look nice, but I want gardening to be easy, and it is not number one on my list of things I want to do outside.”

Clearly, gardening and gardeners have a problematic outdated image. The ability or capacity for free-time was the overwhelming attribute of a gardener. Time was mentioned 24 times in relation to a gardener. This need for free time is a misconception that can be addressed through multiple means and strategies. Age was most often mentioned as either older (18 times) or middle-aged (16 times) but not youthful or young. While 15 times, the gender of the gardener could be either male or female, mostly (15 times) respondents believed a gardener was female and there were three mentions of a gardener being male. One respondent indicated that gardeners are female while landscapers are male. What were some other gardener attributes? A love of plants or a passion for plants was mentioned 11 times. Here, again, a misperception that one must love plants to be a gardener can be addressed. Some positive attributes were patient (2), organized and detail oriented (2), concerned about property appearance (4), fit (1), able to take a risk with new plants (1), green thumb (2), love of outdoors and nature (4), active (2), healthy (1), calmer (4), and wanting to relax (1).

In what other activities does a gardener engage? We asked this question to gauge what other activities might be related to gardening. This would provide an avenue to approach individuals who were engaged in what was perceived to be a related activity to encourage them to purchase more plants. The most often cited activity was something done outdoors like camping, fishing, and hiking. Outdoor activities were mentioned 17 times. There was a general perception that gardeners would engage in time-consuming activities like crafts, especially knitting (4 mentions). The DIY or crafting was mentioned 16 times and reading was mentioned 15 times. These were the two second and third most often mentioned related activities. The other responses related to a wide variety of activities. Among the lesser mentioned related activities were cooking (10), followed by caring for pets (6), fitness (8), entertaining (4), gambling (2), golf (2), volunteering (1), wine-making (1), and cross-word puzzles (1).

How can parents and others get more children involved in gardening?

Nearly everyone agreed that it is a good idea to get children involved in gardening. Only one individual said that their children had no interest (a few others without children declined to offer any input). Michael R. said, “I let my kids help out by pulling weeds and picking plants by getting them to get the leaves closer to the ground. It is a good way to spend time with the kids and get them away from the Xbox and Playstation.” The activity offered most was growing (21 mentions) but that letting children help with watering (6), picking/harvesting (4), and digging (3) were also specifically mentioned.  Five people mentioned that they wanted to use the garden to inspire their children and two mentioned teaching responsibility. Eating the bounty was a popular benefit for kids, mentioned by 10 participants. A few (3) mentioned that it was dirty (which may appeal to some children) or that children could be helpful in weeding (2) while a few others (3) said it was a good way to get their children outdoors. S.N mentioned, “As I mentioned before, when we have our vegetable garden, it’s a family affair.  We always start the plants from seeds, so from the get-go our daughter is actively involved in the process.  Doing veggies also gives kids more opportunities to be involved in looking after the plants, and in terms of finished product, there’s nothing better than being able to eat what you’ve grown.” Elizabeth D. said, “Last summer we started teaching them to garden.  They water the plants, help put the weeds in the wheelbarrow and rake up the grass cuttings.  They are very young so they mostly get in the way and slow things down but its family time and we are having fun so it doesn’t matter.”

What might help you want to garden more?

Jackie M. began by saying, “Money to purchase them, time to plant them and for the plants to flourish more fully.” Her quote captured most of the key themes or reasons to encourage people to garden more. Time was mentioned most often (27 times) which was far beyond the other reasons. Space was mentioned 19 times and money was mentioned 12 times. So, it would appear from the conversations that price isn’t they key barrier. Beneath some of the time concerns and outright mentioned in other instances was success (5 specific mentions). This indicates to us that desiring success in a shorter time might be one way to increase participation and/or purchases. Especially since the short growing season or weather was mentioned 8 times, having fruit set on plants may give some of the potential consumers some of the more time and success they are seeking. Knowledge was mentioned by 7 participants, food by 4, and interest by 2. Some, like Francine T., feel they need more passion to be engaged more, “To have me want to have more plants or gardening I would have to have a deep passion. Having a passion for planting and gardening, I would desire having a lot of plants, and ideas of shaping my garden.  And also with that passion, comes the determination to maintain it no matter what happens.” Most of the participants listed more than one reason and it was more about having something (time, space, etc.) than needing some of the benefits. We need to find more benefits that can be delivered more reliably and in a shorter time period. The short growing season needs to be addressed.

Can we increase gardening or activities related to plants?

Many diverse opinions emerged in this question. Gladys K. was most pragmatic by saying, “Anything is possible as long as you have a reasonable budget, and a suitable plan. The perfect theory to increase the number of gardeners is to show them the significance of planting in our lives.”  Angela L. expressed a similar sentiment, “It’s a great idea, but people are so busy nowadays, they might not want the work of a garden. We need to make it easier!” Jason S., summed up the diverse opinions quite well by saying, “possible, yes. likely, no. people are too busy and want to put their time and effort into things that last and don’t need to be maintained on a weekly basis.” Some, like Diedre S., were more optimistic. She said, “Yes, by marketing certain plants as being able to “clean” the home of bad air, or advertise them as something people NEED, then there may be a change.”  And, Jackie M. added, “Yes I do.

Can We Increase

But people need to see it as affordable and beneficial.   It helps to show them the health benefits of gardening and producing one’s own food.”  Laura W. was also pragmatic by saying, “I’m not sure it’s possible.  Depends on the reason why it has decreased.  I know that new houses are being built with smaller and smaller yards, and more and more condos with no yard.  People’s priorities and interests have changed.  Gardening and plants take work, and the need for ‘instant gratification’ and lack of work ethic/laziness seem to be more and more common these days.” Chrystal A. wasn’t as optimistic by saying, “People in general are far too busy for a leisurely hobby such as gardening – technology is partially to blame. Gardening will become popular again once there’s an app. for that :)” Frank T. agreed by saying, “I believe it would be difficult to make it happen.  As the house and the yard is getting smaller, people live farther away from work, which means more time on the road and less time on the house.” Jeff B. said, “Either people want to take the time to look after them or they don’t. I don’t think too many people have the free time to worry about caring for plants these days.” Francine T. also agreed by saying, “I believe it is the situation that people have happening in life. It is hard to bring about. Technology, fewer jobs, and moving away from a community has caused the low participation.  A community would need a sign made that reaches out to plant related people.”

How do we get them to change? Molly K. summed up the 27 mentions of community by saying, “Every town or city should have a community place where people can gather as a group and plant their favourite veggies or herbs or just grow plants in the park to keep the environment green. The parks or even the condo commuinity space hardly have any trees. residents should be encouraged to grow more in their own community.” This far exceeded the remainder of the responses. Only six mentions of a game/competition.  Josh C. suggested, “Some suggestions that i have for increasing plant activities within the population is to play games while gardening like the first one to water it gets another plant seed or if they grow a plant correctly then they will get 5 dollars.” Reducing the cost was also mentioned six times. Other suggestions included the use of Pinterest, clean air, better for the environment, use of window boxes, rewards (2), and viral videos.

How would you like to have retailers contact you?

Flyers (15), email (10), better price (4), mail (5), website (4)