Weed Control Strategies for Container Nurseries
The 2020 plant buying boom drove customers to IGCs across North America, but what was the motivation behind the gardening craze? Professor Bridget Behe, Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, dug the trends, interviewing both those who bought and those who didn’t buy plants from July 15 to August 21, 2020. Funded by the Horticultural Research Institute, the research project compared the results of 1,211 Generation Z, Millennials and Baby Boomers, to see what motivated their purchases.
What drove consumers to garden was not so much the end product as higher motivations such as connecting with others, avoiding boredom and improving health, according to the study.
“Plants have become a haven for people seeking to improve their health in different ways,” Behe said.
By exploring the motivators of boredom, food security, home renovations, and social bonds, Behe explored how each motivation affected the three different generations among those who had or had not purchased plants.
Develop your own
Prior to the advent of COVID, there was a growing trend to grow your own food now for “food independence as well as an increased interest in plant-based diets.” This movement took off during the pandemic. “We have to think about helping people have control by growing fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs,” Behe said. “It’s about the perception of control. It’s probably not enough tomatoes to feed your family, but it does give people a sense of control.
The local movement is even more powerful than the plant-based diet trend and food independence, Behe said – even more powerful than the organic movement. So, backyard farming can not only help gardeners have more control over their feeding, but also give them the satisfaction of feeding their own families right from their own backyards with great flavor and excellent nutrition.
And this is where IGCs can really differentiate themselves from big box stores. While consumers can purchase vegetable and herb plants from big box stores, only garden centers will help gardeners succeed until harvest. For example, a big box store is not going to help customers with their blossom end rot.
“You can’t stop selling plants; you have to put them on the plate, ”Behe said. And to help customers put their produce on the plate, start the conversation to help gardeners figure out what to do with their bumper crop of zucchini or ask them what they’re doing with their garden produce.
And during marketing, she suggested that IGCs stop using so many images of plants and instead use images of people who represent their demographics. “Show people who love the same plants as you,” Behe said.
Among those who have spent part of the pandemic in home improvement projects, there were high scores for the purchase of edible and ornamental plants. These were typically Gen Z and Millennial customers looking for home improvements, as well as online shoppers.
Here are some great opportunities and messages for these renovators:
- Container Combinations can be a living art. It’s more than a container of plants.
- Offer the opportunity to cross the botanical lines. Place a flowering shrub in a pot, or incorporate herbs, flowers, and edibles all together.
- Renovate and help the environment by growing food for pollinators as well as food for your family.
- Change things up with portable mixed containers that can be rotated for different options
The social benefits of plants
While health has been at the forefront of concerns during COVID, gardening has done the same. Plants can be a part of the way you take care of yourself, whether it’s on a physical, emotional, mental or social level. Millennials have responded positively in particular to the social aspect of plants but also to the psychological, educational, emotional and physiological aspects of the interaction with plants. This social connection was not done in person at the time, but online.
“It’s not about our customers. It’s about our community, ”Behe said. “I don’t see this online connection diminishing. We have to keep them engaged and keep the train moving on track. “