Hot crops for a new year

Consumers are planning expanded gardens, but they’re looking for fresh ideas. You can boost your business by delivering something new

3 mins

The latest Gardening Insights Survey from Axiom Marketing hit our inbox carrying some good ornamental horticulture industry news. Looking to 2023, “pandemic gardeners” plan to continue gardening and they’re not cutting back.

More than 80% of those surveyed plan to plant—and spend—the same amount or more than they did in 2022 —with Generation Z and Generation Y, aka Millennials, leading the way.

But those aren’t the only interesting stats about what these ambitious gardeners plan to do and why. The No. 1 reason they’re expanding their gardens and landscapes is to “grow more/new varieties.” By branching out with new offerings in hot categories trending with this group, you can boost business for yourself and your customers.

Berries, berries, and more berries

If it has “berry” in the name, you can bet that this group of younger gardeners is interested. And don’t count out older gardening generations. They have a taste for berries, too. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, Goji berries. Take your pick and expect demand to grow.

Growers have plenty of options, from liner production and transplants to mature, consumer-ready container plants. So don’t limit the possibilities. With the changing business of growing, options for customers have opened up, too. Berries are gaining steam with non-gardening consumers. That means commercial berry growers are looking for sources for in-demand varieties, too.

“New” fruiting trees and shrubs

Self-expression, in and out of the garden, is essential for Gen Y and Z. While old standards and heirlooms hold some allure, the main draw is something new and unique. Take a stroll through your local market’s produce section and see the variety of fruits offered there. Then brainstorm how you can connect consumers with grow-your-own options or something completely missing.

Along with edibles, Axiom found that new gardeners also have their sights set on flowering trees and shrubs. So why not go two for two with less common edible fruiting trees and shrubs?

Depending on your region, that could be figs, persimmons, paw-paws, kumquats, guava. You get the idea. It doesn’t necessarily have to be new to market or even new to you. As long as it’s new for the end consumer, it qualifies as something special at your customer’s garden center or your own retail division.

Specialty cut-flowers

As broad as the cut-flower category can go, there’s no excuse not to get in. Fresh “garden-cut” flowers are fast becoming a home décor necessity for younger consumers—and older consumers are jumping in, too. Whether consumers want to buy their bouquets or grow them, you can win either way.

Specialty cut-flower growers need liners to meet their production schedules. From annuals to perennials to shrubs, consumers want transplants and mature pots for cutting gardens—something this generation has claimed as a new idea again.

Your landscaper customers could use the same product, except in larger sizes. And if you’re offering native or nativars that can highlight exuberant, natural bouquets—from liners to 7-gallon pots—that’s a bonus. So is the occasional fruit-bearing berry stem.

Poinsettia alternatives

As an industry, we love poinsettias. But even so, it can pay to break from tradition and consider something new. And there’s no better time to plan for next holiday season than when 2022’s fresh in your mind. Red still dominates the winners at annual poinsettia trials. But you can build on that color with fresh wins of your own.

Uncommon holiday crops that offer red blooms or fruits can boost wholesale and retail sales. Red begonias in shades of your choosing; fruit-covered chili plants as red as they are hot. Wintergreen or even compact winterberries destined for seasonal displays in pots. Even better, think holiday succulents tinged with red.

Again, pick your place in the production process, from liners to finished plants. Then plant the idea. Get creative with social media and marketing to your wholesale customers or take your brand to end-consumers and shake up the holiday offerings. (And, of course, you don’t have to stick with red!)

With innovation as an ICL hallmark, we’re here to support you whether you’re sticking to the standards or launching into something completely new. We can help you ensure you bring the best possible plants to market and grow your business as you do. So, give us call or email or text. We look forward to hearing from you.