Floral Findings

Originally printed in the February 2019 issue of Produce Business.

Whether attending industry trade shows around the country or conducting local store checks, products, announcements and displays capture our attention.

In Fort Lauderdale, January means TPIE. The Tropical Plant International Expo held at the Broward County Convention Center, boasted more than 6,000 attendees. The three-day industry trade show — which featured speakers, educational sessions and nearly 400 companies exhibiting in more than 800 booth spaces — was the ideal place for buyers scouting new products and all things tropical.

Hosted by Florida Nursery, Growers, and Landscape Association of Orlando, TPIE is a favorite show of mine where I see business friends I have known for about 36 years. And now I’m seeing adult grandchildren stepping in, answering questions in the booths and taking on the businesses with their own flair. Similar to agriculture and typical farming, growers in this industry have endured a lot of challenges in the past 36 years. The list is long especially when all of the damaging hurricanes are recollected. Along with those fierce winds is a fierce grower resiliency that genuinely is necessary and respected.

Longtime buyers scouting for new and different items have seen it all, such as hanging rope or macramé planters and foliage-filled terrariums popular in the 1970s. Technology has played its role with production upgrades, and trends come back around with a healthy level of sophistication. Today’s consumers, many whom are not particularly known as plant-savvy, are leading the way to a houseplant resurgence. They are claiming their own trends, creating tiny-space gardens and buying plants instead of pets.

This plant popularity explosion is validation for retailers to do a double-take on the value of floral departments as related to the company’s philosophy for offering healthy products for a healthy life. Houseplants are again adored and sought after by everyday consumers and those influencers actively posting plant and garden photos on social media. Maybe floral retailers should think like chefs and offer products that tell a story. Support your floral teams so they can buy fabulous products, merchandise them to the max and market your store’s floral department as Instagram-worthy.

Always a well-attended show segment, the presentation of the Cool Product Awards was a collaboration between TPIE 19, FNGLA and The Garden Center Group of Acworth, GA. Exhibitors enhanced their efforts this year, and buyers at TPIE were treated to new plants, sustainable containers, fun planters and many other products for interiorscapes, garden centers, landscapes and supermarket floral departments. Here, we are sharing a few finds.

Light It Up

When does an under-glass plant garden become magical? When lights are added, of course. This Light Up Terrarium from Flori-Design Inc. of Eustis, FL, was a hit at TPIE. Gail Cash is owner and operator of the Central Florida nursery specializing in dish gardens, fairy gardens, carnivorous plants, terrariums and miniature gardens. She says the illuminated terrariums, which are packed nine per case, gained a lot of attention in her booth. “The wooden base has a small string of battery-operated lights fitted into the wood in the right position for the lights to appear magical when the glass cloche is covering the little fairy garden. The on/off switch is on the underside of the base,” explains Cash. No stranger to winning Cool Product awards at TPIE, Cash indicates her nursery has a great team that consistently creates combinations of small plants and containers to be retail winners.

TAKE-AWAYS: Similar to this nursery striving to grow and create “retail winners,” retailers can endeavor to seek products that are winners with consumers. Adding magic — the illuminated factor – enhances this fairy garden and makes it the ideal gift for a broad range of plant-enthralled consumers. Retailers can promote it for princess parties, birthday celebrations or table décor for Quinceaneras. These will be popular in dorms and can easily be promoted in back-to-school displays in regions with colleges and universities. For retailers with in-house catering departments, include photos of the Light Up Terrarium so customers know they can custom-order the gardens for their special occasions including weddings.

It’s In The Bag

If Millennials were wild about decorating fresh pineapples in place of Christmas trees for their small dwellings, they are going to flip for the Lemon Cypress Easter Kit from Coastal Nursery of Watsonville, CA. The grab-and-go Easter Kits in clear, handled bags, feature bright green, 6.5-inch Lemon Cypress trees complete with springtime ornaments for decorating. Carmen Garcia is vice president of sales for the 73-year-old nursery specializing in growing Rosemary, European Cypress, Lemon Cypress and multiple colors of Heathers in various offerings. She is thrilled with the feedback from TPIE buyers and show attendees. “Our Christmas tree kit was recognized and awarded, and we also experienced enthusiasm for our Easter Kits,” explains Garcia. Direct Store Delivery is an option with this product as the nursery has established distribution programs with Federal Express and other packaging companies. Garcia notes the Lemon Cypress Easter kits are also fine for being shipped with produce to distribution centers.

TAKE-AWAYS: Savvy retailers know many families celebrate Easter and often look for convenience items and shortcuts from stores’ perishable departments. Pre-cooked ham and pre-dyed eggs come to mind without mentioning bakery items. This fluffy Lemon Cypress is an engager, and the ready-to-go bag featuring adorable ornaments and an optional tiny string of lights for additional cost, makes it convenient for parents to buy for home decorating and gift giving. Great for grandparents living in elder communities or small dwellings, the kits also could be promoted as prizes for egg hunts sponsored by churches and local organizations. Busy families want to celebrate special holidays, and they want retailers to make it easier for them to do so.

Tropical And Trendy

Merchandising at varying heights is a clever way to gain attention in the floral department. The Sun Bulb Company Inc. of Arcadia, FL, knows how to help retailers capture floral customers with the Kokodama Collection and displays. In its colorful, plant-filled booth, the nursery garnered grand attention with its Better-Gro brand of coconut planters featuring a variety of plants including ferns, bromeliads, cacti and succulents. Emma Marshall, marketing coordinator, says “We carry four different sizes — 7cm, 12cm, 15cm and 17cm. The 7cm Kokodama planters come with a mixture of cactus and succulents. These pair perfectly with the small Kokodama display tree that is sold separately.” The 12cm Kokodama with a foliage plant can be cross-merchandised with the 15cm Kokodama on the large display tree. When going all out to merchandise the tropical look for indoors or patio living, retailers can offer the 17cm planters that hold both showy bromeliads and Phalaenopsis orchids. Show attendees asked a lot of questions about the tropically fashionable planters. Marshall adds, “The 7cm Kokodama comes in a case pack of 12, while the 12, 15 and 17cm all come in case packs of six. We ship one case per box.”

TAKE-AWAYS: Coconut products are very familiar to today’s health-minded consumers. This Southwest Florida grower is wisely handing a significant story to retailers looking to attract traditional floral customers and new plant lovers. Marshall says, “Our Kokodama was borne out of the primal power hidden in this so-called Tree of Life. Nature is filled with botanical treasures, and the coconut palm is one of them. It’s 99 percent natural and 100 percent biodegradable.” Retailers can promote these coconut planters, made in Sri Lanka, as a natural alternative to standard plastic pots. The Kokodama Collection is fun, fab and well-tagged. Each has a custom tag, giving easy-to-follow care information consumers will use and appreciate.

Editor’s Note: If you wish to comment on these items or have photos or information to submit, please send an e-mail to salderman@phoenixmedianet.com, or call Shaunn Alderman at (561) 703-4010.