Are You Selling the Hottest Plant Trend Properly This Year?
What used to be items that garden centers kept on hand to sell as accessory items to decorative pots have now become shining stars of several social media platforms. We’re talking about houseplants! Most people hesitate to buy those beautiful green things and commonly give the catty remark, “I’d kill that thing in a week!” Instead of pictures of half-dead dieffenbachia on Reddit posts, there are entire groups devoted to gardeners taking cuttings, selling, and collecting these often overlooked items in your garden center. Are you in a position to be competitive over local gardeners selling cuttings for ridiculous prices?
With so many plants in your garden center, there are buyers for almost all of them. In the spring, you stock your annual tables with the plants loaded with blooms that will practically sell themselves, but houseplants don’t necessarily follow the “what’s in bloom sells” sales plan. The casual shopper easily overlooks even festive kalanchoes with flowers as a throw-away plant, useful only for a few days of color. It’s the same thing with African violets. A customer has to be on a mission to buy a specific violet; otherwise, they’re ignored and left to turn to a fuzzy-leafed plant that is nothing but clutter on an indoor shelf. Think about it: How exciting is the bloom of a peace lily? Snore City, right?
The hook with houseplants originates from not just blooms but overall unique aesthetics. A regular peace lily may sit stagnant on your shelf until someone needs one to give as a mourning gift, but a new variegated variety will practically scream at people as they pass by! The new “not boring” is where it’s suddenly at, and in winter months especially, they’ll bring in some serious bucks when marketed correctly and to the right crowd. Selling houseplants isn’t hard when you select those that sell themselves through a promise of easy care and snazzy foliage!
Monopolize on the Curbside Pickup Craze
If you’re getting serious about selling houseplants or have been dabbling with it for a while, it’s crucial to know your supplier (since you are essentially fighting a war against plants purchased at the grocery stores or big-box retailers). They’re able to load up their tables with plants that are pay-by-scan, and they’ll never have to pay for them unless they don’t sell. Of course, you don’t have this luxury and can’t rely on your supplier to back you up if your violets don’t sell.
There is good news! Impulse, pay-by-scan purchases are slowly becoming a thing of the past, with many shoppers opting for curbside pickup. In a recent study by Adobe Analytics, in April of 2020, curbside pickup rose an astounding 208%! This increase means that those customers are never stepping foot into those stores that may tempt them with cheap houseplants. People still want houseplants, but when they are not dangled in front of a customer’s nose, a purchase may never happen.
Your job is to create a buzz around your plants and dangle them in front of potential shopper’s noses without making it overtly apparent that you’re trying to tempt them. Do this and your houseplants will practically sell themselves.
What Houseplants Should You Stock Up On?
Whether you’ve been selling houseplants forever or just thinking of getting into it, the key to moving product is to have something nobody else has. Imagine being in a large city and there’s only one Italian restaurant, diners are driven there because it’s the only game in town. If you’re the only garden center in your town that carries phalaenopsis orchids, for example, people will be shopping with you by default. Selling houseplants that are both unique and semi-rare will make your shoppers feel they’re getting something even more impressive than what they can snag on their way to the produce aisle.
It’s also essential to build a relationship with your houseplant supplier. By communicating what you’re trying to accomplish, they may be able to broaden their sourcing horizons and offer you cultivars that mega-suppliers like Costa or Metrolina can’t. Take every single availability sheet as limitless possibilities to sell houseplants and familiarize yourself with the quirks of each different variety. People will snore at a dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ but go crazy over a ‘Lemon Lime’ cane plant.
Please don’t be shy to ask your supplier how their plants are looking, too! Even boring plants can be quite remarkable when they’re full and bursting with foliage. When you build a relationship with your supplier, it’s a winning combination for you both. You’ll have an open and transparent relationship but also both make money selling houseplants!
Proper Placement of Plants
When considering getting serious about selling houseplants, a great place to start is on your local Facebook marketplace or craigslist listings. You will most likely see, depending on your area, quite a few listings for houseplants that have either gotten too big, don’t fit the decor, or just generally aren’t wanted any more by their original grower. Your plants are exponentially better looking than most that you’ll find listed, but nobody knows you have them because they’re not out on the internet!
When marketing your houseplants on the internet, you always want to place them in a situation that mimics a home-like environment. A boring photo of a Chinese evergreen on a plant shelf, crowded by other plants, isn’t going to sell that houseplant! A well-taken photo of that same Chinese evergreen sitting on a bedside table with a decorative lamp and alarm clock might. A bromeliad will become dull when lost in a photograph with twenty other plants but place it in the middle of a dining room table with some fake fruit, and you’re in business!
It’s essential to make each houseplant as attractive to your customers as possible and making them appear as if they’re already in someone’s home is a great start. When you post your bromeliad, for example, you can give a few tips on care and recommend pots and food to go with them. This strategy is an excellent chance to tack on additional sales. Push those pots, moisture meters, and sphagnum moss to “complete the look,” as the fashion industry calls it. Brand your photographs with your logo. Let your potential online shopper know that you’re a professional and you have more to offer than just houseplants.
Know Your Competition and Trends!
Since the pandemic, many freelance gardeners have found themselves ordering cuttings online and turning around to sell cuttings of those cuttings. Selling cuttings of propagated and trademarked plants is illegal, but many plant traders don’t care or are ignorant of the rules. You can use this to your advantage by adding this information to all of your listings. The last thing you’d want to happen is to sell someone an exotic plant and have them turn around and take cuttings and sell them for twice as much. You can easily sell your product right beside theirs and offer so much more than they can, including the promise of sterile soil and rootstock!
The one thing that these freelance gardeners might have over you is a finger on the pulse of the latest trends. Who would have ever thought that a monstera albo borsigiana cutting with only two leaves could ever sell for $375 (sold through Facebook Marketplace)? That’s without a pot and soil, too! They’re all the rage now, and people can’t get enough of them. Keeping your eye on plant trends isn’t the easiest thing, though. You can start by devoting just a little bit of time reading over Reddit posts (r/houseplants and r/IndoorGarden) and local listings. You’ll find that there is still some interest in the staples, like the ZZ plant, but renewed excitement for plants like the fiddle-leaf fig! Hunker has a wonderful write-up on some of the cooler plants of the year and often updates their pages with new trends as well.
Once you get an idea of what plants are en vogue and get them, the next step is to slather them all over the internet. Your website should have a dedicated page strictly for indoor plants and those that cater to small spaces and apartment living. Take it a step further and have a “click to buy” option on all of your plants and offer curbside pickup! If it’s working for big retail chains, why shouldn’t it work for you?
In addition to your website selling houseplants, you will also want to devote some page space on all of your social media platforms. If you’re not on Pinterest yet, now is a perfect time to do so. Not only can you build your brand, but you can also glean merchandising ideas as well! With your Facebook marketing, you can run ads that target local people interested in houseplants for minimal cost. Again, dangle that plant in front of your target audience, and eventually, they’ll bite. This technique will make selling houseplants easy and lucrative!
Is Your Digital Presence Ready for the Houseplant Rage?
Are you ready to jump on the hot houseplant bandwagon but aren’t sure that you have the proper amount of digital strategy to back it up? No worries, Bloom Digital Marketing for Garden Centers would love to chat with you about helping your houseplant business blossom! Contact us today!
Nikki Weed has been in and around garden centers for more than half of her life. Starting at an incredibly young age, she realized she was drawn to horticulture and even more towards the business aspect of it. Her accolades include writing for Garden Center Magazine, being a keynote speaker for countless garden shows, and 20 years of footwork in garden centers. She spends her time growing tomatoes in the desert, unsuccessfully, and hiking the mountains of Arizona.