What’s New With Tropicals and Foliage Plants

What’s New With Tropicals and Foliage Plants

Greenhouse Grower recently reached out to breeders to ask what new trends and market changes they are noticing with tropical and foliage plants and to ask them to share some of their favorite new introductions in this category. As of this posting, four companies responded back with some great insights. See the Q&A below. Additionally, check for an online slideshow with more new varieties in this plant category.

What are the latest trends you are seeing in tropical & foliage plants? How are these trends shaping the market?
Kerry Meyer, Program Director for Proven Winners: We are seeing new colors and a recognition of how easy many foliage varieties are to grow. Consumers are also realizing the health/air quality benefits of having plants in their living space, and an emphasis in social media is causing consumers to focus in on particular types of plants, too.


Tanya Carvalho, Product Representative for Ball FloraPlant: Foliage and tropicals are so hot, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. The hashtag #foliage has more than 2.1 million hits on Instagram. Consumers are moving their large tropicals outside for the summer months (Monstera, Birds of Paradise, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Palms, etc.) and bringing them back in for fall and winter. The trends I see on the tropical side — Sanseviera, Ficus lyrata, Monstera, ‘Pink Princess’ Philodendron, and Calathea — are hot-ticket items. Pink-accented foliage is becoming the envy of plant parents: ‘Pink Princess’ Philodendron, Calathea roseopicta, Aglaonema rotundum, etc.

Amanda Flint, Plant Project Manager for PlantHaven: The use of monotones and neutrals within tropical and foliage plants is very on trend. There is a movement away from color. Bright, vivid tropical colors are out and luscious green jungles and simple sleek neutrals are in high demand. The move away from color has opened up opportunities for leaf silhouettes in different shapes and sizes. Tropicals and foliage plants have now made their way onto social media platforms.

Dan Heims, Owner for Terra Nova Nurseries: We’ve seen increased sales in fiddle-leaf figs, as well as shade plants such as Sansevieria, Hoya, Calathea, Peperomia, foliage Begonia, Dracaena, Philodendrons (both climbing and specimen), and Pothos. Succulents and bromeliads are still selling strong, as well.

How can growers and grower-retailers position tropical and foliage plants for increased sales?
Meyer: Two of our most popular foliage lines (Hippo Hypoestes and ColorBlaze Coleus) grow well in sun or shade. The versatility of these plants is key. First-time gardeners don’t have to worry about how many hours of sun an area gets. They can plant varieties like these anywhere, then sit back and enjoy them.

Carvalho: Promoting ease of care for outdoor foliage is key. Talk about benefits such as no cleaning required and sun or shade options, and market your real estate in the garden center with catch phrases: Boom without the Bloom, Focus on Foliage, Green up Your Space, and Green Inspiration. Take a spin off the trending Instagram hashtag #FoliageFriday. Retailers could have an endcap that every Friday features a different foliage plant. Create a selfie station at that endcap and have your customers do your advertising for you. Foliage areas in the garden center are a must-have for 2019.

Flint: Here’s three suggestions: 1.) We suggest promoting plants with high-quality containers that match multiple aesthetic styles. You are likely to captivate a buyer from the get-go if the entire package is ready to go. 2.) Along the same line, use lifestyle POP (Point of Purchase) displays to help inspire buyers, and 3.) Curate a collection of plants with a variety of shapes and sizes.

Heims: Start with a smaller quantity of plants to test the local market and see what people’s preferences are. Consistently monitor Instagram and other media-sharing platforms to see what foliage plant sites have the most views, likes, shares, and comments. Supplement plant sales with self-watering pots, containers, saucers, watering cans, fertilizers, and instructional sheets on plant care. Sponsor educational programs and related events on plant selection and care and make them fun and entertaining for those in attendance by serving food and beverages.

What are some easy-care tropical or foliage plants you recommend for consumers?
Meyer: We have really expanded our ColorBlaze Coleus line for 2019. My favorite is ‘ColorBlaze Golden Dreams.’

Carvalho: An indoor tropical is definitely a sansevieria (any variety) — no green thumb required here. For outdoor spaces, coleus for sure. They offer sun or shade or sun/shade options in so many gorgeous variegations. Coleus fits the bill for any space — hanging basket, planter, or in the landscape. Ball FloraPlant introduced ‘Pinkplosion’ Coleus in 2019, which taps into that pink foliage trend with a coleus that works in the sun or shade with medium vigor. The Coleus FlameThrower series works well in tabletop bowls and hanging baskets, and adapts to sun or shade. Selecta One is launching its new Helichrysum ‘Silver Threads’ in 2019, which is a gorgeous, soft-silver color that will enhance any combo planter/basket. Silver in the landscape is a wow factor.

Flint: I recommend our Colocasia Royal Hawaiian collection. They are quick growing plants and maintain a long season of interest. Leucadendron ‘Royal Hawaiian Hawaii Magic’ is a great tropical foliage plant with easy care for both growers and homeowners. Musa ‘Little Prince’ is also easy to grow with a maximum height of 24 to 30 inches tall. Phormium ‘Blondie’ is a compact New Zealand Flax that requires minimum care and excels in part sun. I also highly recommend Philodendrons, Tillandsia, Podocarpus, Calathea, and Dieffenbachia.

Heims: I recommend Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Raven’ because it is easy to care for because of its cast-iron toughness and ability to tolerate heavy shade and drought. Also, Philodendron ‘Brandi’ is an easy-care plant because of its waxy texture, shade-tolerance, and resistance to pests. I’m also excited about Begonia ‘Nautilus Lilac.’ It’s a terrific variety for adding some winter color to a garden and is also great for an indoor or outdoor container plant.