1. Independent Brands Showing Up In Boxes
The most hated trend in the independent garden center industry is watching once-exclusive brands show up on the shelves at Home Depot, Lowe’s and other mass merchants. The trend has accelerated since the beginning of the Great Recession, when suppliers’ bankers began putting pressure on them to improve their finances. And it looks like it will continue for the foreseeable future.
2. Mass Merchants Getting Stronger
Home Depot and Lowe’s are here to stay and getting better at selling plants every year. You might think this item should be No. 1 on the list, however, the fact that big boxes are flourishing doesn’t seem to raise garden retailers’ ire quite as much as seeing them get access to formerly independent-exclusive products.
3. Fairy Gardening
Many plant lovers shudder when they hear the term “fairy gardening.” Some are quick to correct the speaker, saying it’s actually miniature gardening. Others just despise associating fairies with something they are so passionate about, feeling the term cheapens it. But bone-deep retailers love the category and the strong margins that come with it.
4. Painted Poinsettias
White poinsettias festooned with glitter and dyes were all the rage a couple years ago. Some painted poinsettias were attractive, others a muddy blend of colors almost hidden by a crust of glitter. Consumers loved them, though, giving a struggling plant a multi-year boost in sales. European countries saw similar success with painted heather and other bedding plants. So this trend may not be gone, just waiting for another plant to help it take off again.
5. Dyed-Blue Orchids
This is another trend that consumers adored but left many industry insiders cold. How many times did you hear horticulturalists complain that blue orchids would not rebloom blue? But the reality is that the consumers who love them contiue to buy each new color that’s introduced.
When sustainability first became a trend, everyone wanted a piece of the movement’s popularity. Even cigarettes corporations would use green buzzwords like “low carbon footprint” to give their product a wash of green.
7. Gen Y Getting Too Much Attention
You’ll hear a lot of retailers complain at industry events when yet another keynote speaker talks about how different Gen X and Gen Y are from Baby Boomers. The reality, however, is that the younger generations will make or break garden centers in the coming years.
8. Breeding For Color Only
Breeders have a history of chasing certain colored plants, like yellow echinaceas. Consumers sometimes go crazy for a must-have shade for all plants, be it black or chartreuse. A lot of poorly performing plants resulted.
9. Overusing PGRs
It seems like growers fell in love with growth regulators over the past decade. Plants arrive in the garden center looking perfect, but once away from the controlled greenhouse environment, they began to revert to their genetic norms. And retailers got the blame.
10. Colored Mulch
Bright red or blue beds were a hot trend that has faded away. Some garden centers got innovative and offered mulch in local school colors. The problem was that the color effect was difficult to maintain in the landscape. Retailers who grudgingly gave shelf space to the product were relieved once consumer demand faded.