To say that a garden center can feel a little overwhelmed in the spring time would be a HUGE understatement. Just saying the words Ficus Lyrata or Aglaonema Silver Bay right now would bring out feelings of frustration and discontent in both buyers and foliage growers. I can only offer insight from the wholesale grower's standpoint. We are constantly re-evaluating demand history, product availability, and speculative sales. For our nursery 'Heart of Florida Greenhouses Inc.' the cogs of this wheel turn verrrry slow. We do not currently broker other nurseries' material. For that reason when our availability says were out, we're really out. No amount of magical fertilizer can speed up the specs on our availability sheet. A plant replicator has been ordered but it's going to be on back order for some time.
This is when the morality of a wholesale nursery start to show. What are Florida nurseries willing to sell into the market with their name attached? There is no true quality standards set for the interior plant market. "What a plant is worth is what someone will pay." To realize a true plant market's price elasticity, we have to see the bottom of the availability barrel. That is a LONG way down when nurseries constantly put on the market unfinished material. Specs on plants go down, but there is never a shortage. I believe this is a key factor that keeps the prices of our industry suppressed and unable rise with inflation. However, that's not what this blog article is concentrating on so I'll regress. The sight of unrooted plants speeding their way to market with intentions of sneaking into the consumers home will only have disastrous consequences. "Our market is driven by consumer confidence. Consumers should have confidence we're selling them a plant they can be successful with." This means a healthy, rooted, pest and disease free, plant that has been sold with the correct information for the homeowner to follow. When the homeowner is successful with their plant, they will be back. No special price point needed.
How do we overcome the springtime spec and shortage woes? Our nursery has been able to continue selling on target specs through the spring to those customers who pre-booked material. Florida nursery growers are farmers growing in a pot instead of the ground. We 'LOVE' what we do, and through trial and error we have become extremely good at it. What we have not been able to master is guessing what is needed on the speculative market where there is no set industry standards or centralized market for sales. Growers can offer better consistent weekly specs with pre-booked material. Look at pre-booking a portion of the realized sales for 2018. Not all, but a portion you would feel comfortable knowing this will sell. The speculative market is for speculation. The grower can offer better pricing for those who are willing to commit to purchasing a set amount.
The proverbial fat lady has sung for the spring 2017 Florida foliage availability. Buyer beware. Ask for current photos before shipping to ensure your getting what your paying for. We will be increasing production for 2018 for the speculative market. However, the real winners for spring 2018 will be those companies who take advantage of the pre-book market.