Friday, February 25, 2011

Ball Study: Gardening Trends

I receive a magazine written for people in the plant trade business, specifically directed at the growers and retailers. This month they published the results of a study that Ball Seed commissioned. This was an involved, two-step study that included several focus groups along with an online survey.
What did they learn?
  • more than half of all veggie gardens are grown in containers or pots. 
  • 73% of consumer gardeners purchased plants over seeds. 
  • consumers like purchasing perennials because they can be divided. Experienced gardeners purchased and divided perennials to share, younger gardeners divide to fill space in their own gardens. 
  • Consumers considered blooming shrubs and bushes to be perennials. 
  • 50% of those surveyed said they would purchase more perennials if they had more information about them. 
The most surprising item to me was the fact that buyers got their information about their plants off the plant tag. I don't know that I have ever purchased a perennial by impulse!!!
Perennials are a hard sell, in the garden center. Most of the time, they look like pots of weeds. Because their flowering time can be so short, it's important to make the most of it. In my garden centers, I make sure the perennials are grouped alphabetically. This makes it easier for customers to find what they are looking for. I always take the perennials that are in flower and move them into highly visible areas, rotating them constantly. I sold hundreds of quarts of nepeta 'Walkers Low' that were mistakenly sent to one garden center this way. (the blue flower is hard to find, so that helped, too!)
Perhaps I am not in the norm, but I identify perennials that I really want, I look them up and I go after them. See my wish list post? I will go to my local garden center with my list, knowing the zone I live in, the water requirements of the perennial and the water in the situation where I will plant them.
The Ball study shows me that many of my customers have little information about their perennial. In my garden centers, the sun perennials are plainly labeled and situated away from the shade perennials. I have both areas clearly signed, indicating what the sun requirements are for the perennials you're looking at.
That doesn't always guarantee success. I cannot keep a columbine alive. Too much sun. But that doesn't stop me from trying!!
I also have a plant I purchase every year, in hopes that one year, it will decide to come back! The Iris pallida ‘Variegata’, or Zebra Iris. I would love to have him come live in my yard!

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