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Limited Plant Inventory Will Expose Growers To New Varieties

Limited Plant Inventory Will Expose Growers To New Varieties

The month of May, especially around Mother’s Day, often signals the start of the planting season for many experienced and novice gardeners alike. But for homeowners venturing out to garden centers and big-box stores in the spring of 2021 with a list of plants for their growing containers and flower beds, many were surprised by the limited plant inventory.

Challenges stemming from the pandemic of 2020 are wide-spread and the horticultural industry is not immune to the impacts. The top three challenges facing the industry include:

  1. Shipping challenges due to increased demands from all business sectors,
  2. Limited plant inventory after last year’s southern freeze irreparably damaged crops,
  3. And of course, soaring pandemic sales as gardening becomes the at-home hobby of choice.

While demand remains high with the popularity of gardening showing no signs of slowing down, growers can do little in the immediate future as they’re still struggling with labor shortages, increased costs, and most importantly, the inability to produce more plants in excess for what amounts to a very short growing season.

But there are some opportunities still be had.

Adrian Muehlstein, chief operating officer at Southwest Wholesale Nursery in Carrollton, Texas says, “This is an opportunity to educate our customers about a different plant or a different variety that they might take a look at if we do end up running into some walls on certain species of plants this spring.” 

While more experienced gardeners have already conducted extensive research on plant varieties before ever stepping out of their car, many novice gardeners are often inexperienced and undecided on what kinds of plants they’re looking for (with the expectation of color).

“Just be creative, that’s what’s going to get us through this pivot. To me, that’s the beauty of our industry. There are just so many plants and varieties that are out there that are untapped, that people should be trying out,” says Muehlstein.

Lauren James, a mid-level gardener from Cleveland, Ohio says, “My husband and I spent a lot of time searching online for the right plants to help create a border in our front yard. But when we got to our local garden center, both our first and second choices weren’t in inventory. An associate steered us to another plant we had not even considered, and it turned out to be an even better choice than the two we had our hearts set on.”

Limited plant inventory will be a reality for homeowners throughout 2021. Not only must they be open to new plant species to use in their landscapes, but associates must also learn the art of suggesting suitable alternatives to fulfill customer demands.

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