This is a huge opportunity as far as I’m concerned.
Seriously, I truly believe that this could be really big.
Okay, so maybe it’s not really a conspiracy, but it’s close to that.
I’ve been working in the green industry for a long time. Since 1972 I believe. Back then it was really, really common for nurseries to have a pretty large selection of plants available in one gallon containers. Then along came big box stores and they seemed to specialize in one gallon plants. Selling them pretty cheap at times.
For whatever reason, the rest of the industry started moving away from selling plants in one gallons, pretty much letting the big box stores have that market. Good idea? Bad idea? I have no idea but over time this has evolved and a lot of things changed.
Big box stores still sell a great deal of plants in one gallon containers, but they also have lots and lots of three gallons and larger sized plants and to be perfectly honest, I am completely dumbfounded by how much they charge for some of these larger plants. I’ve seen some pretty generic varieties of plants selling for $25.00 or more in three gallon containers. In other words, they are not selling plants as cheap as some think.
Landscape contractors are usually looking for larger size plants so most of what they buy is three gallon container or larger, but they still buy and prefer a great deal of smaller plants, lots of perennials in one gallon containers.
So who wants one gallon plants?
The market for one gallon plants can be far and wide.
For one, homeowners love one gallon plants. They cost less, the are easy to carry and handle and digging a hole for a one gallon container is much easier than digging a hole for a three or five gallon container. Don’t think for a second this doesn’t cross somebody’s mind when they are buying plants. They know when they get home they have holes to dig. They know when they get home they have to unload those plants and lug them across the yard.
Baby boomers are still a big, big piece of the plant buying public. But . . . we are tired, sore, out of shade and most of us have some worn out body parts. We love to garden, but the easier the better!
There’s another great big market for one gallon plants that nobody thinks about, most people are unaware of.
Right now the nursery stock market is booming along pretty well. Back in 2008 and 2009 the weak economy had a huge effect on the nursery market just like it did just every other industry. A slow down like that is really a “correction” in the market. The weak economy forced some nurseries that were struggling financially out of business and those that survived scaled back a bit because they had surpluses of plants on hand.
Those surpluses are now gone and many items are in short supply and are likely to remain in short supply for some time.
It takes years to produce a three gallon sized plant.
That’s a problem for the wholesale grower who is trying to “catch up” on his inventory. So what a lot of wholesale growers do is they go looking for nice full one gallon plants that they can “bump” into a three gallon containers. They really only have to grow them out for one, or even part of one growing season and they can sell them as finished three gallon plants.
As long at the market for plants remains strong the demand for these one gallon plants will remain strong. And the market will remain strong until the economy falters again. But the good news is that when that happens people still buy plants, but they watch their pennies a lot closer and are delighted to be able to buy one gallon plants instead of expensive three gallon plants.
So what kinds of plants are wholesale growers looking for that they can shift into three gallon containers? Of course that’s the million dollar question but the key words here are . . .
“High quality and high value”.
In other words, it’s highly unlikely that they would be looking for Golden Curls Willow, Dappled Willow, Pussy Willow, Forsythia or other fast growing woody shrubs.
The things that I see them buying in one gallon containers are;
Dwarf Alberta Spruce
All kinds of Rhododendron varieties
Evergreen and deciduous azaleas
Highly desirable Junipers
Highly desirable arborvitae
English Holly varieties
Japanese Holly varieties
Some of the more rare and highly desirable viburnum.
Barberry, red, yellow and variegated.
Boxwoods, Green Mountain, Dark Green, Wintergreen and more.
Gold Thread Cypress
Hydrangeas, all kinds of Hyrdrangeas
Blue False Cypress
and the list goes on and on. If it’s popular among landscape contractors and garden centers then it has great potential in a one gallon.
Kinda vague huh? Yes and no. Because you never really know for sure what somebody might be looking for. In Our Members Area we have discussions like this on a fairly regular basis and of course you can bring it up on any given day and get incredible feedback from the other members. We have some pretty experienced growers in our members area.
But the truth is, and I want you to really let this sink in . . .
On a daily basis growers buy things they are not searching for.
So lets say that you just happen to have 400 All Summer Beauty Hydrangea in one gallon containers and those plants are nice and full and in bloom. Chances are some grower would be happy to get their hands on some of them if they knew that you had them for sale. See the photo of the All Summer Beauty Hydrangea at the top of the page.
Who would not want to sell that plant if they currently not growing it?
There are so, so many plants that I think would work well in a one gallon container because nobody is doing them in that size anymore. Everything is in a three gallon! Even smaller, independtly owned garden centers should be delight to buy and sell really, really nice plants in one gallon containers.
One gallon plants are great items to sell because the retail customer has to “think about” buying them a lot less. Mentally there is less “buying resistance”. They truly are impulse items.
Think about things like fragrant viburnums. If you can crack the code on propagating fragrant viburnums, and it’s not impossible, we just Discussed it in detail in the Members Area, you could be hitting it out of the park with fragrant viburnums.
Here’s the deal. You have to pick one, two or a few items that have really strong appeal. Both on the retail market and in the landscape market. If you grow these plants out of beautiful plants in one gallon containers I’m pretty sure they will sell. Worst case scenario if they don’t sell? Move them up to three gallons and sell them to landscapers or re-wholesalers.
What is a re-wholesaler?
A re-wholesaler is somebody that sells lots and lots of plants, often doing more than a million dollars a year in plant sales, but they don’t grow. They don’t grow anything. Because they sell so much stuff they have tremendous buying power. They buy from wholesale growers, mark the plants up and they re-sell to landscape contractors.
Landscape contractors are happy to buy from them because they tend to stock everything that a landscaper needs and the contractor doesn’t have to tie up a truck and an employee, or worse, their own time, chasing around from nursery to nursery to put together an order for their next job. The re-wholesaler does that for them.
It pays to do things differently.
Successful business people in all industries are often successful because they took the path that was less crowded, the path that nobody else is on.
When Tom Monaghan started Domino’s Pizza he offered free delivery with a 30 minute guarantee. Never heard of in the pizza world. He Guaranteed Fresh Hot Pizza in 30 Minutes!
When Sam Walton started out he started by building department stores in rural areas when other retailers would never build a store. People thought he was crazy. He just did the opposite of what everybody else was doing.
Everybody is growing in three gallons. That screams that there has to be a market for one gallons. It really costs very little to make a one gallon plant. A cutting that you root yourself, a 25 or 30 cent container, maybe 25 cents worth of potting soil.
Currently one gallon plants are selling wholesale from $3.85 to $5.50 depending on what they are, how many are readily available and overall depend.
Here’s the really awesome thing about one gallons.
When a wholesale buyer buys plants in one gallon containers, they don’t buy five or 10. Most buy at least 100, maybe 300 or 400. Often times even more than that.
Questions? If you really, really want to grasp this topic the best place to discuss it is in Our Members Area. In there discussions go deep with input from many experienced growers. Often a topic like this we will kick around for a number of days and or up to two weeks before all of the questions are thoroughly answered.
But, you are welcome to post questions here and I will do my best to answer them for you.