Archives for category: Container Gardening

Following a year and a half of red-hot sales of succulents and cacti, many garden centers are starting to notice an increase in consumer inquiries about bonsai trees and bonsai pots. These traditional shallow planters can also be used for many other sorts of plantings, including fairy gardens, succulents, and some forced bulbs. The following ideabook from houzz.com offers a concise overview of some bonsai basics:

The houzz.com slideshow below has some tremendous ideas for Springtime container plantings. Preparing and selling pre-planted containers such as these can be an especially great way for independent garden centers to separate themselves from the big boxes, as this is a level of service that just can’t be scaled. While most of the pots shown in the slides aren’t ours, we do have very similar items to most of them on hand for quick shipment.

Lee_Eisemann Pantone Color of the Year 2017 GREENERYIt seems as though the folks at Pantone release a new “color of the year” every few months. This time around, the winner is a leafy, earthy tone they’ve named “Greenery”.

On the one hand, this is great news for those of us in the Lawn and Garden industry, as this exact color is found in the foliage of hundreds of different plants.

On the other hand, pottery and accessory items in this particular selection don’t really fly off of garden center shelves precisely because the color matches such a wide variety of natural greenery.

This is a great opportunity to capitalize on this color trend by merchandising with colors that pair well with the Pantone selection. A couple of sample palettes are shown below for inspiration – it is worth noting the presence of mushroom and grey colors in several of the palettes below – these colors are gaining steam right now.

Color of the Year 2017 - Color Pairings and Palettes

pantone color of the year

deep rooted

rustic-pots-header-templateFor almost 1,500 years, the Yixing region of China has been renowned as the source of some of the finest stoneware ceramic products in the world. Perched on the outer reaches of the Yangtze River plains, the area features vast deposits of iron-rich dark clay.

The “Rustic” pottery tradition was among the first to emerge from the shadow of the teapot business, as these coarsely crafted pots were originally intended for local consumption only. The traditional shapes developed as various needs arose, ranging from tall jugs for water storage, to lower shapes for oil, to wider forms used for drying rice. Over time, these containers began to be re-purposed as planters, which eventually led to an entirely new industry in the area. As time passed, production techniques became more specialized, the aesthetic more refined, and a classic tradition of simple, gorgeous, handmade (and often enormous) pottery emerged.WedgingA flower pot always starts with the clay. In this particular workshop, different clays from several local mines are blended together by experienced clay makers to produce a proprietary mix which offers the perfect combination of flexibility, durability and structural integrity necessary for these giant pieces. The mixed clay is then “wedged” or kneaded by apprentices, removing any last air bubbles, before being passed on to the pot craftsmen.Rustic Step 1The wedged clay is combined into long snake-like rolls, which are then slightly flattened by hand.Rustic Step 2These flat rolls are then attached to a previously prepared pot bottom, which includes an inch or two of the pot’s vertical walls. The clay is gradually coiled around the pot, continuously layering upon itself as the walls of the pot rise.Rustic Pottery Construction Step 3As the coil loops around the body of the pot, the craftsmen knead the the sections together by hand, progressing up the pot inch-by-inch.Rustic Pottery Construction Step 4After the pot has reached a certain height, the workers will begin the process of smoothing and shaping the walls of the pots – the smoothing is done with a series of small scrapers, while the shape is gently adjusted with wooden paddles and mallets.

The pots are then allowed to dry a bit to enhance their stability, after which the workers add another long coil to the top of the pot. This process repeats itself over the course of several days until the pot reaches its final height and form.

Eventually, the rim of the pot will be finished by a senior craftsman, and the pot will be allow to slowly, and thoroughly, dry for several days. This slow process is critical for large items, and ensures that structural cracks do not form in in the body of the pot.

Once the pots are “bone dry”, they are glazed in one of a handful of traditional, earthy glaze colors. Typically, these glazes are applied by hand in several layers,  with an uneven application around the pot.Rustic Pottery GlazingOnce the gaze is dried, the pots are loaded into enormous brick ovens, called “kilns”, which bake the pots at temperatures approaching 2,200 degrees. Often generations-old, these multi-chambered kilns are heated with wood fires, which are carefully tended to precisely control the temperatures and flow of air within the firing chambers. This is critically important, as the final colors of each glaze depend on them being fired within specific temperature ranges.Stoking the KilnFollowing a multi-day firing, the kilns are allowed to slowly cool for several more days before the door are opened. At this point, the colors of the glazes are revealed, as are the variations (drips, burn marks, hot spots, etc) that truly make each pot a unique work of art. These variations are thought to be part of the charm and beauty of these magnificent flower pots, and are not considered flaws. Kiln Being OpenedThese giant rustic planters are among the most durable that we sell, and are safe for year-round use in all climates, assuming that basic precautions are taken.

Classic Urn - Snap ShotIn the January, 2015 issue of Green Profit magazine, Jennifer Polanz pointed out that in the current marketplace, “porch pots” have the potential to help boost your off-season sales throughout the winter months if you take the time to properly merchandise the category. A few of the top ideas:

  • Conduct design workshops in which you offer customer a wide range of suitable planters, greenery, and accessories.
  • Have your staff design and build amazing porch pot arrangements – use social media to share them with your customers and drive traffic to your store.
  • Rotate the greenery and accessory offerings as Winter progresses – Jingle bells may be a great addition in December, but they won’t drive sales in February!

Here’s a link to the complete article.

Check out this great article from houzz.com – it’s got some great pointers on incorporating container gardens and pottery into ground-based gardens. Be sure to read the comments too, as there are a bunch of nuggets there too.

Winterized Pot CrosssectionOnce you’ve determined that you have a flower pot that will most likely survive the worst that winter has to offer, it’s important to note that it’s generally not OK to just leave the pots in the same condition that they were in during the growing season. Obviously, the best option is to bring your pots inside, or to cover them with a tarp. If those aren’t options for your containers, or if you really like the way the pots look, and you want to keep looking at them all winter, there are lots of things you can do to ensure that your beautiful pots continue to look great and last through the winter:

  1. Keep the Drainage Holes Open – Hands down, this is the single most important factor in determining if your pots are going to make it through the winter. Do NOT plug up the drainage holes in any way on pots that you intend to leave outside through the winter. Please note that this does NOT mean that the pots need to be totally empty, but if you pour water into the pot, it should start dripping through the drainage holes within minutes. This is best accomplished by placing a layer of small rocks, broken pots, Styrofoam peanuts, or similarly-sized materials on the bottom of the pot, which will prevent the drain from getting blocked with soil clots. Ideally, this layer will be about 10-15% of the interior height of the pot.
  2. Use A Potting Soil Blend that Allows for Drainage – You should be doing this anyway, but if you aren’t, Fall is a great time to change out your potting soil. Again, the goal here is to make sure that water can drain fully to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Malaysian Pots in SnowNo Saucers – Seriously. Saucers do a lot of great things – they help to keep your plants hydrated through the hot seasons, they protect your decks and floors, and they look great with many flower pots. They are also your flower pots’ worst enemy during  a deep freeze. Any residual water left in a saucer when the cold hits will freeze. This will not only cause the saucer to become stuck to the pot, but it can also pressure the foot of the pot, causing breakage or crumbling. The ice-filled saucer will also plug the drainage holes on the bottom of your pot, allowing the pot to retain water, and in turn presenting the opportunity for ice to expand and break the pot from the inside out.
  4. Use Pot Feet – Again, there are a lot of reasons for doing this. First, using pot feet keeps the bottom of the pot elevated, which enhances drainage. This elevation also keeps water from pooling below the pot, eliminating the risk of the pot freezing to the ground.
  5. Don’t Light Fires in Your Pots – Cold ceramic planter + burning log = broken planter. 100% of the time. Get a fire pit.

We were very pleased to see the following article in this month’s edition of “Green Profit”, highlighting some great tips on best practices in retail merchandising of flower pots. We were especially happy to see a few of our customers highlighted in the Article, as well as some thoughts from our Director of Marketing and Product.

Container gardening is huge, but merchandising containers is often an afterthought. Do you have a leaning tower of pots in your display area? What about ceramics that haven’t been dusted for a year? How about a mishmash of broken terra cotta, concrete urns and oddly shaped containers thrown together at the back of your garden center? If that describes the state of the (dis)union of your pottery category, you have nowhere to go but up. Here are two unique perspectives on merchandising containers so they’re moneymakers instead of space takers.

Keep It Simple

Our first perspective is from Alec Junge of pottery distributor Ceramo Co., who declares simple is best. “I think that two of the most frequent failure points for a pottery display are succumbing to the temptation to over-merchandise and neglecting to maintain the displays,” he says.

Crisscross
Stack pottery near the plants. The single most effective way to boost pottery sales is to incorporate the pots into other display areas of the store, and the easiest location from which to grab these additional sales is near the flowers. In the photo above, a simple display has been built from stacked pallets and positioned as an end cap of an aisle of flowers.

Clean & Accessible
Keep it simple with red clay/terra cotta pots. Farrand Farms in Kansas City, Missouri, merchandises these garden staples so they’re neatly sorted, easily accessible and clean. They’ve used a very simple homemade fixturing system, grouped the pots by type and size, and most importantly, have done the ongoing work necessary to keep the display tidy and organized.

Two-For-One
Cross-merchandise to sell more. One of the most effective (and cost-effective) ways to market flower pots is to include them in other display areas of a garden center. Here at Knupper Nursery and Landscape in Palatine, Illinois, a range of Ceramo’s German “Basalt” pots are part of the holiday fixturing. Using the pots this way is a two-for-one proposition: customers get more exposure to the pots while they’re in another area of the store, and the “fixtures” (pots) can be sold at full price after the holiday display is taken down.

Investing In Pottery
Our second perspective is that of merchandiser and owner of Color Results Terri Coldreck, who emphasizes making an investment (not just money, but time) in pottery. Read on for her top 3 tips for successful pottery sales.

Click here for the entire article:

http://ballpublishing.com/greenprofit/ViewArticle.aspx?articleid=19797