Sunday, August 30, 2020

State of the Business

Sinningia 'Gabriel's Horn' grown by Gary's Specialty Plants




The State of the business.

 

            Presidents give State of the Union addresses, trade magazines collect State of the Industry facts.  I should give a State of this Business report.

 

            This recession is not affecting me this time as houseplants are in high demand, contrary to the 2009 recession, which crushed sales of Annuals.

 

            If you don’t have a job, you really don’t have to buy a Petunia.

 

            Houseplants may be different.  They don’t cost much, and they could make you feel better.

 

            Some of those who are employed, which is over 80% of the work force, are interested in houseplants.  And on the collector side of things, don’t really care what rare plants cost.

 

            I have unusual plants and strive for the rare.  It’s where the money is.

 

            If there is a trend, it’s that price barriers are breaking, and we don’t’ have to get squeezed by high input costs.  We can charge more if necessary and garden centers are able to profit from higher prices.

 

            Price is a signal.  If indoor gardeners will pay higher prices, we should produce more uncommon plants.

 

            The State of this Business is very good.




 

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Doomsday Update

We're going to be alright 


Doomsday update.

            On March 15, when the United States shut down, I didn’t think that we would ever sell another plant.
           
            The Horticulture industry was panicked.  With Spring plant sales in jeopardy, it was easy to predict bankruptcy ahead.

            But retail sales started to open up and doomsday was averted.

            The pent-up demand overwhelmed garden centers and most recorded extra high sales.

            What happened to us?

            We had several eCommerce customers who suddenly found themselves with double the orders.  Indoor gardeners were trapped at home.  Hey, “Let’s order a plant.  UPS will bring it to my house.”

            We have had difficulty growing enough plants to catch up.

            No one could have predicted this year’s events.  No one knows how to predict what’s next??

            If I continue the baseball metaphor, now I’m winning 46-23.  Impossible, unlikely game?

            Yes.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Is there innovation in a small hanging basket?

Plastic Hanging Baskets



Innovation is intriguing.  How does it happen?

The history of innovations is well told by Matt Ridley in "How Innovation Works".  He has fascinating stories of how new inventions came into being and increased our standard of living.

            He argues that even the light bulb was not a lightning bolt of inspiration.  Edison built on all previous knowledge and then trialed and error-ed through 6,000 types of filaments until one worked.

            Ridley builds the case that innovative ideas are most likely a rearrangement of previous good ideas.  Sometimes ideas were ahead of the technology of machines or materials. 

            Hanging baskets was such a simple idea.  Why didn’t we think to do this before?

            Take a pot of flowers and put a hanger on it so it could be hung on your porch.

            That word from the movie ‘The Graduate’ was right ---- “Plastics”.  The development of plastic pots with flexible hangers saved Spring flower growers by giving them a new income stream. 

            Ubiquitous plastic containers replaced all those terra-cotta clay pots and associated broken backs lugging them around.

            So, with all these hanging baskets, how can a new size be considered an innovation?

            When I saw the little basket at Strange’s Garden Center in Richmond, I knew that this is what I’ve been looking for.

            Existing hanging baskets for houseplants are too big and too heavy.

            Through some detective work, I found that I could import this 10 cm basket from Holland by way of Canada.

            This 4” basket will replace our 4.5” and give indoor gardeners that ‘wittle’ hanging houseplant that they didn’t know they wanted.

            That’s how innovation works.




Sunday, July 5, 2020

'Nanouk' Tradescantea - Now you can see.

'Nanouk' Tradescantea



          Now we have a picture.  My son solved the upload a picture problem.

              'Nanouk' Tradescantea

          Everyone will want one.

Imagine if...

Not this plant

Imagine if this plant has pink and white variegated leaves, grows fast and is branched.

The ‘Hot’ new plant I want to show you is ‘Nanouk’ Tradescantea.  But right now, Google Blogger is broken, and I can’t upload any new pictures.  The only pictures I can access are ones already in use on the blog.

Since I could not imagine a new plant either, unless actually seen, you can search for ‘Nanouk’ Tradescantea.

When we had this plant 8-9 years ago, it was ahead of its time.  Due to the big leaves, it looks good in spring 10”-12” hanging baskets.

Now we need to squeeze it down into small pots for indoor gardeners.  It can certainly grow in small pots and baskets.  When it grows too big, just cut it back and give away your cuttings.

True to supply and high demand, there was no supply for unrooted cuttings.  But I was able to secure stock plants indirectly from Canadian growers.


It will be easy to produce and I’m looking forward to distributing it to all our garden center customers.  Since there can be no picture, you will have to see the real thing.




Thursday, June 18, 2020

What's going on with String of Hearts?

String of Hearts 'Pretty Pink'



What’s going on with String of Hearts?

String of Hearts is number 6 of our top selling plants for 2019.  It would have been much higher on the list if we could have had more to sell.  Our offshore propagators are only beginning to have stable numbers.

            This last week we put 900 2.5” pots on the availability list.  They’re gone.  Why?

            String of Hearts (Ceropegia woodii) has a lot going for it.  It is an easy houseplant to keep alive and therefore, sought after.

            It grows quickly with warm, long days of summer.  It can be dry without harm and thrives on neglect.  If rooted in small pots, it takes up little space and will trail down with heart shaped leaves.

            There are three clones to pick from.  Traditional silver and green, heart shaped leaves, is the most common.  A solid silver leaf, ‘Silver Glory’, is very attractive but still carries a high price due to limited supply.  Since it is just as vigorous as the green/silver clone, it will show up at your plant store soon.

            The pink version is in a class by itself.  I don’t think the supply will ever catch up with the demand.  String of Hearts ’Pretty Pink’ has stable pink variegation but grows slowly.

            My previous blog stories about String of Hearts have attracted above average page views.  A lot of people want to know about String of Hearts.  Again.  Why?




Sunday, June 14, 2020

So Easy and So Hard




           If every human who has the virus did not transmit it to any other human, in 15 days the virus would be dead.