#12-mums-1 The beginning of Fall is getting near. I think we will have plants ready by the first week of September. We have some dianthus and snapdragons that have buds now but they need another week to get where we want them to be.

Speaking of dianthus and snapdragons, I recently read an article in Nursery Management where the Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association got a $35,000 USDA grant for market research. One of the things that caught my eye was a sections in the article about fall selling. Here is what it says:

Give consumers plants in the fall

In these focus groups, we wanted to know about expanding the plant-selling season beyond the spring.

We discovered most customers do not know that fall is a good time to plant perennials, trees and shrubs. When they’re told how the longer cool months enable plant root systems to better establish themselves in moist soils, then pop out beautifully in the spring, consumers are amazed.

“You have to get that message out there,” said “Sheri.” “Nobody knows that.”

Instead, here’s what consumers see at garden centers in the fall:

  • They push mums at us.
  • They’re winding down their inventory.
  • There’s nothing to buy but pumpkins, mums and cabbage/kale.
  • Christmas stuff is already out.
  • All I see is ‘bulbs for fall’ under ‘Fall is for Planting’ signs.

One participant summed it up: “When I think of fall, I see pumpkins but not plant displays. I can’t see the focus on plants.”

Consumers admit they also feel a psychological pull-back in the fall months. “The days are shorter, so you have less time to spend out there,” said one Norwalk panelist.

But their minds could be changed into buying more plants in the fall. That’s a big opportunity for our green industry.

Even though this is in Connecticut, I think it is a very enlightening peek into the minds of our fall customers. This tells me that we need to be offering more items including perennials along with other fall annuals for our customers. With that said, keep an eye out on our availability for perennials this fall. We will have some available in a couple of weeks about the time the pansies and other fall plants get ready.

This research points out a fact that I already knew but it still needs emphasizing: we stink at educating and communicating with consumers about what, how and when to plant. We all need to do a better job educating consumers. Facebook has been a great too for us when it comes to communicating with our retail customers, but we are only reaching about 1% of the local population. However, that 1% is very interested in what we post and when they like or share our posts we get up to 2-3% total reach.

Take away points on all this:

  1. Tell your customers about the benefits of fall planting
  2. Carry more than just pumpkins, mums and cabbage/kale and let your customers know that they don’t have to settle for the same old stuff

Now for some pictures. Not a whole lot of size and hardly any color but they are coming along nicely. These pictures were taken on Wednesday and looking at them today, they have filled out quite a bit.

diantus-853 pansy-535

pansy-843 pansy-939

pansy-975 petunia-251

snapdragon-#4-8 snapdragon-#4-38

snapdragon-J6-82 viola-8

viola-490 #12-mums-2

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