Garden Center News

FELCO Launches Initiative to Combat Rise of Counterfeit Pruners Sold on Amazon

FELCO, a family-owned 75-year-old Swiss company known for its pruning shears and other tools, recently announced that it has launched a new initiative targeted at an estimated 3,000 customers who unknowingly purchased counterfeit pruners on Amazon. Its new website,, guides customers to mail in their counterfeit tool and receive a genuine FELCO tool in return, free of charge. “In 2018, we started receiving...Read More

“I Can’t Remember What it’s Called, But it Has Green Leaves”

Back in April, I saw a Facebook post that gave me giggles. It was a reader board in front of a garden center that was lightly poking fun at customers. It really made me take notice because it was just SO DARN CLEVER! On one level, it was just plain old funny; on a second, they’re advertising their acceptance of even the, ahem, simplest of questions. The sign said: “I can’t remember what it’s called...Read More

Should Your IGC be Podcasting?

My interest in podcasting developed in the middle of the night. If I have insomnia, my mind becomes a dangerous neighborhood. When I wake in the wee hours, my brain spins tales of my inadequacies, old opinions and work that I should be doing. A few years ago, I discovered, however, that donning headphones and listening to podcasts took me away from this circular mind chatter. Once I’ve pressed “play” I will either go back to sleep...Read More

Creating a Mail-Order Service at Your Garden Center

As independent garden centers continue to look for ways to boost their bottom line in an age of online shopping, mail-order services continue to become increasingly popular. The convenience of ordering items off sites like Amazon, Target and others have made it easy for consumers to get the goods they want without leaving their homes or waiting in line. So how can IGCs capitalize...Read More

Urban Achievers

The word “urban” evokes jumbled imagery — from high-end apartment projects and trend-setting restaurants to food deserts and neighborhoods struggling with hardship and crime. For urban IGCs, success can mean a balancing act of leading community transformation and not being left behind. We spoke with three independent urban garden centers...Read More

To CBD or not to CBD?

CBD is all over today, but does it belong in your garden center? Two hemp pioneering IGCs share their tips for introducing CBD products to set your retail store apart. When a client noticed Mark A. Davidson wincing while working on his landscaping project, he ran outside to offer a solution. Davidson, the owner of Davidson Greenhouse and Nursery Inc., had tried everything for his chronic back pain — from acupuncture to prescription...Read More

7 Tips To Create Compelling Signage For Your Retail Store

You’ve probably seen me rail about poor signage choices on TV, or you’ve read my Facebook posts with pictures of bad signage, or you read my post Retail Signage: Examples of How Not To Talk To Your Customers and you may have felt, well then what should we do to create compelling signs in our store…Glad you asked because some of the greatest sins in retailing....Read More

Onward and Upward

As the market changes and technology advances, IGC owners everywhere are trying new things, launching new initiatives and finding innovative ways to bring in new customers. Read on to see how garden centers are embracing change, growing their businesses and handling new challenges...Read More

Should I Answer Frequently Asked Questions Through Signs Around my Store?

“We get a lot of frequently asked questions regarding landscaping or gardening. Would it be a good idea to make signs to answer these questions and put these signs casually throughout the garden center?” I think what you're saying is “is it a good idea to I answer frequently asked questions throughout my store?” I think it always is, but remember they've got to be short, right? It's got to be like a tweet. “Plant yellowing, probable number...Read More

Mulhall's Manifesto

After entering the leadership realm of his third-generation family business, it became clear to the president of Mulhall’s that the organization is an interconnected ecosystem. The key components of the ecosystem he identified and named are Purpose, People, Strategy, Process, Data and Dialogue. And once clearly articulating these six parts, Mick Mulhall created a company manifesto. This word, carefully chosen (and defined above), is much...Read More

Singing Their Praises

What's the surest way to sell these sparkly new varieties to the average IGC shopper? Describing their benefits in the garden, that’s how. What makes these varieties special? Maybe it’s the boost from genetics. Maybe it’s how pollinators go ga-ga from them. Maybe it’s a perennial being in flower at the right time to promote sales. Whatever the variety’s story, we’re unveiling it to you here so you can help sing its praises...Read More

“Scout"ing for the Next-Generation Gardener

The ever-elusive new customer is something retailers are always looking for. Where do we find those folks who are just trying their first potted tomato plant or have a newfound interest in hummingbird watching or have just moved to the area? We know that buying habits can be hard to change once established, so if you don’t become someone’s go-to shop early on in their relationship with your industry...Read More

5 Tips to Train New Employees How to Water

Training new employees how to water is very difficult — greenhouse staff and owners concur. Many growers have told me that watering is their No. 1 training need. Why is it so difficult to learn or teach how to water properly? Many argue that there is art in this practice, and that art is unteachable. Teaching someone how to paint like Leonardo da Vinci is impossible. Yet, anyone can learn the basic skills of drawing and painting. Read More

Development Days

One of the best things about being involved with plants and gardens is that there’s always something new to learn. Yet, one of the most challenging things about the garden center business is that there’s always something new to learn. Newer staff members need to be taught the basics, and seasoned employees kept informed about new pests, plants, or products. Read More

A Sustainable Growth Plan

Ikl Brawner founded Harlequin’s Garden with his wife, Eve, and for 27 years he’s worked to hone their Colorado business into an IGC that uses sustainable plants, materials and methods. Brawner’s operation uses potting mixes formulated in-house to produce strong, well-adapted plants that aren’t reliant on fertilizers. They also aren’t sprayed with pesticides. Read More

Be an Accessible Expert

The state of the garden center industry this year has made a big shift when it comes to who is buying, why and where. While IGCs have become accustomed to worrying about competition from brick-and-mortar mass merchants, several high-profile online innovators have also stepped in to capture your online plant sales. Small, houseplant-focused, urban plant shops...Read More

Signage, Sales and Service

The latest eye-tracking research shows what your customers see (and ignore) while shopping your independent garden center. Dr. Bridget Behe, professor of Horticultural Marketing at Michigan State University, delved into her research in her keynote Aug. 13 at IGC Show in Chicago. Behe shared some scientific study results that show customers make purchase choices based on three different factors...Read More

Onward and Upward

Garden centers are optimistic about the future of the market and embracing change to move their businesses forward. As the market changes and technology advances, IGC owners everywhere are trying new things, launching new initiatives and finding innovative ways to bring in new customers. Read on to see how garden centers are embracing change, growing their businesses and handling new challenges...Read More

Right-Sized Retail

Madison Williams fondly recalls her school-aged years when the bus dropped her off at her grandma’s house, where the original Boulevard Flowers in Colonial Heights, Virginia, stood. It started as a hobby for Maybelle and George Landa, then grew into a business as they added more greenhouses. “I’d watch movies in the basement and color...Read More

Changing an Icon and Growing Careers

Part of the community since 1969, Himmel’s Farm and Garden Center in Pasadena, Maryland, was something of an icon. It was where Elizabeth Elliott fell in love with the industry. Some 20 years later, she found herself buying and transforming the location while also giving young people opportunities similar to her own. “This August 1 it will be one year,” she says of the purchase and establishment...Read More

National Garden Bureau Announces 2020 "Year of the" Crops

The “Year of the” program has added four new plant classes for bulbs, annuals, edibles, perennials and flowering shrubs. The National Garden Bureau has announced the four plant classes that will be featured in the 2020 “Year of the” program. Read More

Urban Achievers

The word “urban” evokes jumbled imagery — from high-end apartment projects and trend-setting restaurants to food deserts and neighborhoods struggling with hardship and crime. For urban IGCs, success can mean a balancing act of leading community transformation and not being left behind. We spoke with three independent urban garden centers securing their spots in their changing communities’ hearts and minds. Read More

Bailey Nurseries 2019 Summer Expo Highlights New Varieties and Technology

In late July, Bailey Nurseries – currently No. 45 on the 2019 Greenhouse Grower Top 100 rankings – hosted its annual Summer Expo at the operation’s Nord Farm in Woodbury, MN. The group uses the annual event to preview its new variety offerings for the upcoming season as well as to educate its customer base on what Bailey has been working on for the previous 12 months. Read More

Is Cannabis the New Tomato?

At my garden center we’ve been answering questions about cannabis cultivation for years, although often the customers were reticent to admit what they were growing. It was always amusing to hear how many 20-somethings who came in for rockwool cubes were “Helping my mom with her petunias.” But in 2018 it became legal for individuals in Massachusetts to grow a limited number...Read More

Sunflowers in October? Breeders are Racing to Develop Plants That Flower Again and Again

Robert “Buddy” Lee has been a grower of wholesale plants and a registered nurse over the years, but his one abiding preoccupation has been his need to find a spring-flowering azalea that blooms through summer and fall. More than 40 years ago, from his fields in southern Louisiana, this was a lonely quest, but not a quixotic one. As the inventor of the Encore Azalea brand, he has given gardeners more than...Read More

New Report Offers Glimpse at Ornamentals Market in 2030

The International Vision Project (IVP), a new initiative from the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH), was the first of its kind in ornamental horticulture to set out a forecast for the future of the global industry until 2030. Now, the second report from this project (“Production and Markets: The Future of Ornamentals”) has been published. After establishing that a variety of macro socio and economic...Read More

Crash Course

The zeitgeist of thoughtful collecting, nurturing ownership and creative display is in full bloom in the plant world, according to Leslie Halleck, Garden Center magazine columnist and founder of Halleck Horticultural. But the popularity of houseplants isn’t a new trend. Halleck said she sees a lot of jaded negativity because people have seen the popularity of houseplants come and go. But Halleck said you have to give...Read More

Flowers Every Day, Every Way

Flower expert, TV personality, garden center owner and fourth-generation florist J Schwanke is bringing flowers back into everyday life. Sharing research from Rutgers, Harvard, Texas A&M and the University of Florida, Schwanke explained how adding flowers help improve the lives of those who surround themselves with them. Here are some of the benefits he shared...Read More

Sell More Houseplants

Houseplant specialist and indoor plant sales consultant Ra Gadd knows that while houseplants are hot right now, the right displays can help you sell even more of the popular plant options. From placement in the garden center to upselling hard goods, Gadd shared her best tips for displays at the IGC Show in Chicago. Keep like families together to help your customers find what they need, and to make plant care easier for your employees. Read More

Create Community to Connect With the Next Generation

Grabbing the interest of younger customers and new plant enthusiasts has proven a tricky endeavor for many traditional garden centers. You may have found yourself frustrated with the younger generation’s seeming lack of interest in your idea of gardening, while your existing customer base may be aging out. If you aren’t seeing an influx of new younger customers the way your business needs...Read More

The Pros of Potting

Offering a potting service can help your garden center reach new customers — and turn them into annual clients. Whether it’s the convenience factor or a desire for a professional touch, some shoppers simply prefer to outsource planting of their container gardens.“I think [offering potting services] really helps us to be well-rounded as a garden center,” says Robert LaHoff, co-owner of Hall’s Garden Center & Florist...Read More

You Are the Plenipotentiary of Plants

I’ve worked in retail for over 450 years now and I’ve tried on a lot of hats. I’ve sold ladies clothing, cards, gifts, those throw blankets everyone liked in the ’90s, aloe vera products, ceramics, dream catchers, coffee, rain sticks, fabric by the yard, and thousands and thousands of plants. I feel like this is a pretty rounded out portfolio, and at this point, I’m entitled to have opinions about retail (this is where you can start...Read More

Leverage your Smartphones for Fantastic Photography

Can we talk about photography for a second? Because I think we need to. When it comes to leveraging your strengths for effective marketing, great photographs are fundamental. Yet, taking and cataloging good photographs of plants, facilities, merchandising, installations and people gets pushed to the back burner by many garden centers. All this beauty at your fingertips, yet many of you aren’t putting it to work. Read More

Aralia 'Sun King' Named 2020 Perennial Plant of the Year

The Perennial Plant Association revealed their pick Aug. 1 during the PPA National Symposium in Chicago. 'Sun King' has a tropical look, but it's a fast-growing perennial that's hardy to USDA Zone 3 and grows to about 3 feet high and wide or larger in some cases. The large compound leaves measure up to 3 feet long, as well. According to Walters Gardens, 'Sun King' emerges...Read More

Better Perennial Plants Are on the Horizon

Perennial plants are in a period of rapid growth, as consumer demand continually expands and breeders work through the huge pool of genetic diversity that has yet to be explored. Perennial varieties were traditionally derived from plant sports and variations found within nurseries. These require cold treatments to flower and are not as easily programmable for production. Current breeding methods...Read More

What Is Your Gardening Persona?

When trying to sell plants, it’s important to know the consumers you’re trying to market to, and why they are motivated to garden. During New England Grows, Jonathan Pedersen, Monrovia’s vice president of business development, discussed four “gardening personas” that garden centers often find in their customers: Zen, Dedicated, Practical and Apprehensive. Read More

Sensational New Shrubs

What can be a better summer horticultural reprieve than looking into some of the newest woody plant introductions for fall 2019-2020? Well, there’s always a trip to the Galapagos, but I’m betting you’re as financially deprived as I am, so you’re not picking that option. Since we’re likely in the same boat, I reached out to many of the branding companies and a few public (university) breeding programs...Read More

The Forces that Brought Down Color Spot

Color Spot changed the horticulture world. The innovations they created and services they introduced will live forever. They taught the industry how to be a true partner with its retailer customers. They perfected in-store merchandising and began the practice of making deliveries on rolling racks. They made strategic acquisitions in concert with their valued customers. For a time, they almost made their competitors...Read More

Find and Educate the New Generation of Plant-Lovers

As Millennials begin to show interest in the horticulture industry, they’re also starting to show an increased passion for houseplants. With the desire to bring the outdoors inside, more Millennials are learning, researching and investing in plants that not only make their home look good, but make them feel good. Will Heeman, chief daymaker at Heeman’s Garden Centre in Thorndale, Ontario...Read More

The Future of Garden Trends

For 20 years, Garden Media Group, a PR firm specializing in home, gardening and outdoor living, has created a trend report that highlights the most popular practices in outdoor spaces. Some of the past trends include succulents as the favored plant in 2011, more Millennial growers in 2015 and more focus on self-care and mental wellness in 2018.  While Garden Media Group’s...Read More

Ramorum Blight Confirmed on Samples Taken from Illinois Garden Centers

The Illinois Department of Agriculture published a press release July 2 announcing that Phytophthora ramorum, causal agent of Ramorum blight and Sudden Oak Death, had been confirmed on samples taken from garden centers in the state. Phytophthora ramorum is a federally regulated plant pathogen which has devastated native plants and forests in California and Oregon over the past several decades.  Read More

Peddling a Profit

Mike Gooder says growers need to improve upon themselves as they look to the future, take risks and be okay with making mistakes along the way. The president of liner producer Plantpeddler in Cresco, Iowa, gave a presentation on the Saturday of Cultivate’19 titled “Turning Plants, People, and Predicaments into Profits.” “All kinds of maladies can happen in the plant world,” he said, pointing to past...Read More

Pet-Friendly Plant Partners

As houseplants enjoy another wave of intense popularity, horticulturists are getting a lot more questions about pet-safe plants. Just a couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine messaged me asking how to ID cat-safe houseplants after her furry baby chewed on a plant and spent a few days at the emergency vet. While pets and plants can happily co-exist, there are risks associated with many plants...Read More

Proven Winners ColorChoice Launches New Planter Program

Proven Winners ColorChoice has introduced its new Decked Out deco planter program, which gives grower-retailers a new way to offer consumers the company’s extensive line of flowering shrubs. Decked Out combines award-winning shrubs with decorative containers for instant-purchase appeal. It’s an easy option for every market, from big city balconies to rural retreats. Read More

What's In a Nativar?

Common buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is a medium-sized shrub that is appealing in sunny areas of the landscape because of its glossy green leaves; unusual fragrant, round, spiky flowers; and rust-red fall color. It’s especially useful in wet areas and rain gardens where it absorbs excess water and even tolerates standing water. Hummingbirds and butterflies favor the plant for its nectar...Read More

Behnke Nurseries Closure is a Reminder of the Tightrope That Many Garden Centers Walk

Even before the Behnke Nurseries closed up shop in Beltsville after 89 years, the impending end of this cherished Washington-area institution was apparent to anyone who visited in recent weeks. Lots, where dozens of container trees and shrubs would normally stand, were thinning to reveal fields of asphalt, and the benches that were until recently jammed with one-gallon containers of perennials...Read More

Nonprofit Opens Rainbow Garden Center to Build Community

Rainbow Omega, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide a sheltered community for adults with developmental disabilities, opened its new Rainbow Garden Center on its grounds located in Eastaboga, Ala. The garden center complements the already existing greenhouse and nursery on the property. “The garden center was something that was first on the agenda...Read More

Succulents in the Spotlight

When Mother’s Day was still weeks away, the team at Cactus & Tropicals was focusing on creating a succulent garden backlog. As leading sellers in store and via web orders for the Salt Lake City, Utah, independent garden center, the planters seemed ideal for holiday sales. Made in advance, they’d look even better when the Mother’s Day crunch hit. But General Manager Kathy Harbin had one problem: the “extras"...Read More

Putting Horticulture Back Into Popular Culture

Two years ago, my friend Ellen Zachos and I started a podcast called Plantrama. Like all podcasters, we wanted our program on Apple Podcasts and other apps that deliver “radio on demand’’ programs, so I went through the process for Plantrama to be listed on iTunes. Part of the procedure is choosing a category that your podcast fits into. There were several sports, business, technology...Read More

Strike up the Band, the Millenials are Here

I’m Mother Nature’s baby. I’ve spent my life outside noticing things. I take note of patterns, anomalies, failures, excesses and unnecessary flourishes. My brand and landscaping style deals in urban folksiness, composting, edible landscaping, natives, fixing problems with plants and thrifty problem-solving. When I was working in high-end landscaping at big fancy firms, there was no room for any of that. It was all about landscaping to portray wealth. Nowadays, I run a VERY small landscaping consulting business on my own...Read More

Pollinator Preservation Takes Center Stage

Pollinators are responsible for assisting more than 80% of the world’s flowering plants to reproduce, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Without them, humans and wildlife alike wouldn’t have much to see or eat. Because of this, there has been a resurgence in efforts to preserve and save our pollinators from extinction by creating pollinator habitats and continuing to educate the public on what can be done...Read More

Creating a Mail-Order Service at Your Garden Center

As independent garden centers continue to look for ways to boost their bottom line in an age of online shopping, mail-order services continue to become increasingly popular. The convenience of ordering items off sites like Amazon, Target and others have made it easy for consumers to get the goods they want without leaving their homes or waiting in line. So how can IGCs capitalize on this sector...Read More

Flower and Gift Delivery Company FTD Seeks Bankruptcy Protection

Flower and gift delivery service FTD filed for bankruptcy protection Monday with an agreement to sell some businesses while paying down debt and pursuing sales of its other brands. The nearly 110-year old company, based in Downers Grove, began restructuring and reviewing strategic alternatives last year. FTD warned in March that it could go out of business or shrink its operations this summer if it didn’t find a buyer...Read More

Get Involved in Horticultural Therapy

People seek out different forms of therapy for many reasons in their lives. Whether it be recovering from an injury or suffering from a mental illness, the benefits of therapy can help assist in the healing process or getting back to normal. Horticultural therapy has been around since the 19th century and today, it’s used within a broad range of rehabilitative, vocational and community settings. Read More

Making More Green with Ornamental Grasses

If your ideas about ornamental grasses start and end with Purple Fountain Grass, a whole other world is out there just waiting for you to explore it! And it’s not too late: There’s still time to produce and use ornamental grasses for your late summer and fall programs. Consider first how you plan to incorporate ornamental grasses into your production plans, then work to create your orders. At this point...Read More

Creating Awe in the Outdoor Room

Balconies are more complete with baskets, patios more welcoming with planters and outdoor kitchens more entertaining with combos—and more functional if they’re filled with herbs. Plantings around a house are decorative. Plants displayed in an outdoor room make it a home. June is the ideal month to get your creative outdoor room juices flowing—both for your own garden center displays...Read More


Pricing: Think Beyond the Loaded Truck

Recent changes in the management and buying structure at some of America’s big box stores provide an opportunity to re-visit how these retailers have impacted pricing strategies in our industry. But even if you’re not selling to box stores or selling in a pay-by-scan environment, it pays to think beyond the truck being loaded to how retail pricing and merchandising affects your profitability. Read More

Industry’s Choice Best New Plant Variety Finalists Announced for 2019

Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence has become one of the premier recognition programs of plant breeding excellence. The Industry’s Choice for Best New Variety award is selected by a panel of industry members who attend California Spring Trials and see the new plant introductions in person. Read More

Navigating the Green Minefield

“You can’t identify me because—I admit it—I’m afraid of Amazon. I’ve heard enough about how vindictive they can be. I’ve seen stories of Amazon resellers who’ve been thrown off the site or sometimes had their payments withheld for unspecified reasons. I’ve built a niche selling garden accessories online during slower seasons. I need that volume to continue. Read More

How to Manage Succession Planning When There is No Succession

According to the Price-waterhouseCoopers Family Business Survey, 48% of business owners don’t know how to or haven’t even thought of preparing for the sale of their company. Things get more complicated when there are no family members ready and willing to take over the business. What is clear is that the best business transitions...Read More

How Proposed Building and Energy Code Changes Might Affect You

One of the primary roles of the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association (NGMA) is to monitor building and energy codes as they apply to the horticulture and greenhouse crop production industries. Through its Codes and Standards Committee, NGMA proposes appropriate changes and clarifications, opposes proposals that have a negative impact on the industry, and provides resources...Read More

How to Answer your Customers' Toughest Questions

“Why are your prices so high?” “Why do you charge more than the florist down the street?” “You guys did it for me last time I was here. Why not this time?” Let’s face it, in a retail floral business, you are bombarded with tough questions every day. When put on the spot, it can be difficult to answer gracefully and confidently without becoming defensive; but never fear, there are strategies. Read More

Fast Growing Trees - Are They Out of Bounds?

Word on the street is that customers no longer have the patience for trees to grow in their urban landscapes. Many are hesitant to spend the money on large B&B tree specimens, but they also want privacy now. To feed their need for instant gratification, retail garden center shoppers are increasingly asking for fast-growing container grown trees. Where do these specimens fit into your selection — or should they? Read More

Picture This

You’ve got two events to promote, an upcoming sale on six-pack annuals and a company blog or website that needs updating. The employee who does your Facebook posts wants to highlight the nursery stock and a request has come in from a regional magazine for photos that feature roses. Suddenly, you find yourself wondering if you work at a garden center or a stock photo service. Read More

A Farewell to Lawns

About four years ago, Jay Keck started letting a portion of his lawn go back to nature. Habitat education manager for the South Carolina Wildlife Federation—a National Wildlife Federation affiliate—Keck began by planting bushy bluestem, green-headed coneflowers and other native flowering plants. “Asters, goldenrods, boneset and other wildflowers started coming up on their own...Read More

Look Beyond the Mirror: A Diverse Workforce

This month, we’re diving deeper, beyond policies (though we will discuss some of those) and getting to the root of our businesses: the people. Specifically, about building workforces that aren’t homogenous (everyone looks and acts the same), bringing together staff with different backgrounds, racial heritage, genders, and life views, in a functional—rather than a dysfunctional—way. Read More

Big Box Pay-By-Scan Pricing

In this segment, Dr. Charlie Hall is specifically targeting growers who sell to box stores and particularly those selling in a pay-by-scan scenario, cautioning them to not make the same mistakes that growers made a decade ago when Home Depot initiated pay-by-scan in their lawn and garden department. By making sure all costs associated with shrink and merchandising costs are considered...Watch Video 

The Point of Raising Prices

“The laws of economics are coming into play in our industry because it’s down to the survival of the fittest,” said Kube Pak’s Bill Swanekamp. “People who are making the best choices and decisions are surviving.” What Bill is referring to is the state of churn that North America’s culture and economy has experienced during the last 10 years, and our industry is now feeling the effects...Read More 

What is Your Nursery's Brand?

If you own a nursery, garden center or landscape business, you are in the branding business. The real question is “Are you creating a valuable brand and are your leveraging its value?” Brands have been in existence for a long as people have put up store signs. The word “brand” was derived from “brandr,” an ancient Norse word meaning “to burn” or more specifically it referred to a burning...Read More

The One Thing Millennials Haven’t Killed Is Houseplants

Aisha Richardson, a 34-year-old designer living in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, started buying plants a few years ago to relieve job stress. Before she knew it, Richardson was hooked. She now has about 30 plants—minus one that her cat ate—and follows dozens of plant-focused Instagram feeds. How much does she spend? “I don’t want to think about it,” she says. Read More

Growers Address Increase in Illegal Plant Propogation

Growers, garden centers and consumers pay a price when patented and trademarked plants are counterfeited and sold illegally. This is why a group of plant patent and trademark owners and stakeholders gathered at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS) on January 10 to discuss reports of unlicensed propagation of patent-protected plants in the United States. Read More

Why Garden Tourism is Good for Garden Centers

For many years if you mentioned Buffalo, New York, in a conversation, people would immediately think about snow. But lately, many find that this city on Lake Erie is associated with gardens. The festival of open gardens known as Garden Walk Buffalo has become a major tourist attraction that is good for area businesses, has transformed whole neighborhoods...Read More

Ornamental Pear Fallout

I’ve attached pictures of the only tree we have on our property. Because it is our only tree, I am deeply concerned with the possibilities of irreparable damage to it. As you can see, one of the branches broke off during a November windstorm. Unfortunately, that left a bare gap on the trunk. Please let me know how to treat this damaged area so no further damage is done to it and tell me what can be...Read More

Star Power

Which Hollywood Hibiscus are you? A stylish and confident Bombshell, perhaps? Or maybe you’re a Jolly Polly — cheerful, enthusiastic and ready to brighten someone’s day with your infectious charm. These questions are part of the Hollywood Hibiscus Quiz, brainchild of J. Berry Nursery and horticulture marketing firm Upshoot. Launched in early January following its promotion...Read More

The Value of the Green Label

We've all heard it. People are worried about pollinators and want to do what they can to help. Some are planting pollinator gardens, taking up beekeeping, or choosing organic foods to try to help save the bees. At the same time, many plant growers are recognizing that using pesticides can be risky for pollinators as well as beneficial insects. Many growers are increasingly using...Read More

Why Garden Centers Should Be Ruling Facebook

My dad always told me that you fight battles from your strengths. Facebook for business is intimidating for both beginners and experts, but our industry has strengths built into it that we can use to rule Facebook. Let’s start there. If you think you have a tough time making interesting Facebook posts, try being a mortgage...Read More

Inspiration for Food, Flowers, Company

Transforming outdoor spaces is one of the hottest home trends today. Landscaping expands living space square footage, makes a property more usable, and keeps homeowners healthier whether they grow vegetables or swim laps. It also makes a neighborhood more aesthetically attractive and community-minded. Read More

A Pocket Full of Rewards

In an age when consumers can get anything they want delivered to their front door with a pocket-sized device, it can be difficult for physical retailers to compete with that kind of convenience. Garden centers in particular have relied on their ability to forge personal connections and offer in-depth solutions for their customers, but the competition with online shopping remains fierce in the retail world at large. Read More

Pollinator Gardens Do Best With a Variety of Plants

Pollinator gardens are most beneficial to pollinators when they contain a greater variety of plants, according to new research from the University of Georgia. Researchers in UGA’s Odum School of Ecology conducted a review and meta-analysis of advice for creating pollinator gardens, sifting through a multitude of studies to formulate a more focused approach to establishing healthy...Read More

Quality Over Cost

I’m a third-generation garden center owner. We’ve built our brand, and the backbone of our revenue, on the 4 acres of annuals we grow for spring sales. Promote the fact you are a grower-retailer with consistent, strong branding. Whether you’re in retail (as I am) or a wholesaler, being a grower-retailer is exhausting. You freeze your cash into a million plants before selling one...Read More

Lavenders for the North

Lavenders have long been cultivated for their broad herbal and medicinal uses and are enduringly popular as ornamentals in gardens and landscapes around the world. Famously, bountiful fields of lavender grown for its fragrant oil are the essence of France’s Provence region. Lavender derives from lavare, Latin for “to bathe or wash”, because...Read More

How To Remove Half-Assed Responses To Requests For Customer Service

A friend of mine was at a restaurant the other day. She was told they would have the next ocean-view table. The hostess seated someone else at the table they were waiting for; the server apologized and said they’d have the next one yet let it slip away. One of my clients left a list of calls with her staff that were to be made to customers about an upcoming event while she enjoyed a day off. The crew...Read More

Fayetteville Offers a Free Tree to Anyone Who Cuts Down a Bradford Pear

Fayetteville is offering a bounty on Bradford pear trees this spring. Bradford pears are considered an invasive species that can spread quickly and choke out the area’s native trees, shrubs and flowers. In an effort to spread awareness and discourage the spread of invasive trees...Read More

Train Your Employees on Proper Lifting Techniques

Lifting or moving heavy objects such as shrubs, cement blocks or bags of fertilizer can result in injuries to your back, shoulders, knees and other body parts. The resulting injuries can be painful, long-lasting and costly. Proper lifting techniques are important. With the help of OSHA and the National Association of Landscape Professionals...Read More

Retail with Love

In South City St. Louis, the Dutchtown neighborhood is dotted with eccentric architecture. Rich history, classic buildings and autumn leaves are what most will find when visiting in mid-November. Amidst eerily similar buildings is an odd green building that appears to have no business in such a scene. That green building is home to Urban Buds—City Grown Flowers...Read More

Houseplant Comeback

On a plant collecting trip in the 1980s, Joy Logee acquired an unusual plant with pancake-shaped leaves that she brought back to Logee’s Greenhouses in Danielson, Connecticut. It took years to identify the untagged specimen as Pilea peperomioides, a funky tropical variety commonly known as the Chinese money plant. It eventually faded out of Logee’s collection — until recently, when Pilea suddenly surged back into popularity, taking every plant nerd’s social media feed by storm. Pictures began popping up on Pinterest...Read More

8 Garden Design Tips for Customers, Staff

At your store, you’ve likely assisted customers who want to improve their gardens but don’t have any idea about how to start. They know when their yard needs work or appears less than exciting, but they can’t articulate why they are unhappy. You’ve also assisted customers who have a new landscape and don’t know...Read More

Organic Plants Require Organic Food

As organic choices become more prevalent on grocery store shelves and restaurant menus, consumers also expect more options for growing organic food at home. To fuel this rising interest in chemical-free edibles, gardeners are looking for natural fertilizers that provide a healthy boost of plant nutrients without the additives they’re trying to keep out of their diets and their gardens. Read More

What's Up with Amazon?

With three retail garden centers, Pennsylvania-based Esbenshade’s Garden Centers began selling on their own website in 2005. “We were looking at opening new stores or creating a new revenue stream, and we decided to start offering the products we sell in our stores to customers online,” says second-generation owner Terry Esbenshade. Read More

The Overlooked Management Tool

I sit right next to them. We don’t need to have a staff meeting. I used to have staff meetings, but we stopped having them. Nobody had anything to talk about. We have enough meetings. We certainly don’t need another. For myriad of reasons, many managers don’t hold regular staff meetings. And those who do, don’t get the most they could from them, and that’s too bad. Good staff meetings can focus a team...Read More

Protect Your Profits

For as long as J.R. Pandy can remember, he’s been involved with the day-to-day operations of Pandy’s Garden Center in Elyria, Ohio, a business his parents founded around 1961. “I think I was born here,” Pandy says of the grower/retailer he’s worked at since he was 12 years old. Unfortunately, Pandy can also scarcely remember a time his family business wasn’t victimized by burglars, thieves, arsonists...Read More

How Stories Can Help You Sell

Let me tell you a story. I was on a design consultation a few years ago, and there was a perfect spot for three dwarf Hinoki false cypress. Because my consultation customers can go anywhere to buy the plants I have recommended, I decided to use a story to illustrate the importance of buying just the right variety. I didn’t want them to end up at the box store where someone would put just any random evergreen...Read More

Tell the Truth and Tell it First

From local newspaper and television stories to social media reviews, coverage of your independent garden center sways the opinions of consumers interested in your store. When press is positive, everyone basks in the warmth. But when negative media hits, what you say and do are crucial to weathering the storm. The following principles can help your IGC navigate negative media coverage...Read More

Marketing the Benefits of Native Grasses

Native grasses have become increasing popular, however, many garden centers have a difficult time selling them in the spring without showy flowers. The University of Minnesota, thanks to grants from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the USDA's Specialty Crop program, has developed marketing materials to help retailers sell more grasses. Read More

Don’t Read Them the Recipe, Feed Them the Cake

As local gardening experts, garden centers help customers create beautiful landscapes. We are asked for advice about everything from assembling combinations to preparing gardens. Yes, we help people through the process of planting and maintenance, but we also need to remember that people buy with their hearts, not their heads. Although some grow to love the act of gardening...Read More

Profit is Determined at the Sale

Start with the end in mind! While efficient production makes you money, your ability to make a good profit doesn't start there. It starts at the sale. There are two main ways to control profit through your sales: Setting a realistic sales goal (billable hours goal) so you can safely cover your overhead. And by selling each job including enhancements/change orders for a profitable amount. This is why...Read More


Securing Sales with Good Questions

Making a sale can seem like second nature to account managers, but Jason Miller of Procare in Grand Rapids, Michigan says asking the right questions can increase those sales even more. At the Bach Business Partners Sales and Manager Boot Camp at Seven Springs Resort, Miller and attendees held a roundtable discussion on asking questions during a sale. First and foremost, steer clear...Read More

Tailored Appreciation

While I am confident you regularly express appreciation for your employees, unless you’re expressing it in multiple ways, chances are some of them aren’t getting the message. That’s because not all employees respond to the same type of recognition and praise. Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White, coauthors of “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” offer suggestions to ensure that each...Read More

Solving the Millennial Riddle

Meet Ashley. You know who she is. She’s young, she’s independent, and her eyes sparkle when she arranges her succulents. She’s the Millennial woman we all want in our stores. Compared to our Baby Boomer female base (who make up about half our sales right now), she takes a radically different approach. She’s also the future of our industry. In 20 years...Read More

Help Customers Make Good Choices

Imagine for a moment that you’re led into a well-stocked kitchen and asked to create a delicious meal. There’s just one problem — you don’t recognize any of the available ingredients. There is seafood you’ve never seen and don’t know how to prepare. It’s not clear if the fruits need to be peeled or not, or if the vegetables should be served raw or cooked. You have no idea...Read More

The Plastic Crisis

A growing outcry against single-use plastic and the burgeoning amounts of plastic found in Canadian environments is spurring an ever-broading, grassroots sustainability movement. Our greenhouse, nursery, garden centre, and landscaping industries have largely flown under the public radar, but it won’t be long before customers and clients start sounding an alarm...Read More

Does Your Customer's Experience Match Your Marketing?

Imagine this scenario: you see Apple’s commercials. They’re full of young people having fun, living their best lives (we’ve all seen them). You see Apple’s advertising — slick, smooth, promising technology that changes your life and leads you into the future. You hear about Apple’s products and how innovative and game-changing they are for the tech...Read More

Achieve the Ultimate Customer Experience

We all seem to get it by now — more engaged employees perform at a higher level. The organizations that get their strategy right in this area provide a superior customer experience, have lower levels of employee turnover, higher morale, and ultimately much higher financial performance. Their customers love them more. What are some things you can easily implement...Read More

The Growing Problem of Inventory Shrinkage

As we’ve seen in this issue of Garden Center, retail store security is a pressing concern for many businesses; especially those that suffer continual break-ins. But thefts can happen during business hours just as easily as after dark, and a store’s employees can be just as willing and able to steal as outside parties. Information from...Read More

Do What Online-Only Retailers Can't

There should be no doubt in the garden center industry that online sales heavily compete with brick-and-mortar businesses these days. Amazon is the retail site of the masses; hydroponics retailers have also been aggressive about their digital presence and online sales capabilities. Garden centers, in general, never got in front of the online sales movement...Read More

Worth the Wait

The Green was everywhere. Green cupcakes with green icing, Granny Smith apples, Mountain Dew – and it wasn’t even St. Patrick’s Day. Instead, it was a “Green Fiesta” organized by Molly John, co-owner and CEO of M.J. Design Associates, and her husband, Joel. The duo owns M.J. Design Associates office in Columbus, Ohio, and they threw the party when the first of their crews’ green...Read More

Managing Reputation in the Age of Infinity

More junk every day. And they know this. They sell junk that would never, ever be sold at a Wal-Mart store. That’s because in order to get into a store, a buyer, a human being with a reputation, has to allocate shelf space. The easiest way to lose your job as a buyer is to put brand-destroying lousy products on a valuable shelf. Amazon, on the other hand...Read More