Pricing of potted perennials

thelwig55(Zone 5)March 3, 2008

I started selling potted perennials at local markets this last summer. I sold mostly echinaceas, hostas, black eyed susans, yarrows, lupines,gaillardias, jacob ladder, shasta daisy, fall mums. I need to expand the selection, any input on plants will be appreciated as good sellers. I am thinking of adding potted dahilas, seed grown, delphinines, bee balm, salivias, russian sage, butteryfly bushes. Are they good choices? I am the only vendor at these markets selling potted perennials and I grow them in two quart pots and when I take them to market they are very full plants, some are in bloom, I have been charging $3.50 and they sold well at this price, can other perennial growers give me there view on pricing?

Thank You Tammy

NE Ohio Zone 5

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kydaylilylady(z6 KY)

If they're as nice as you say, with things here at nurseries selling for $7-$8 a pot for a gallon sized pot and it not being very full, I'd sell for $5. Others may have other opinions though.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 12:57PM
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I'm not selling this year due to the local drought (its illegal to water your yard. So people aren't buying plants) but last year was my first year at a nearby towns farmers market. I sold what I would call 4 inch pots (square, actually a little less than 4inches) from $1 to $4 depending on the plant type. I sell most perennials in 5 1/2 inch square pots (6 inches tall) from $4 to $6 each. I sell most gallons at $5 or $6 except for some rarer stuff which I sold for $8 but could have charged $10 easy.

I really don't think price is the most important thing that gets people to buy something. It is if they grasp the value of the plant - if it looks healthy & happier than any other plants they see when they are out plant shopping. Catching them off guard with something they have never seen before works some of the time but plenty of people only want what they know.

My decisions on pot sizes is based more on how I haul stuff to the market. I grow and haul in bulb crates. During the week I shift plants around, but I try to keep as much as I can inside the bulb crates so that I don't have to spend much time loading. I like square pots because they tend to stand up and not fall over better while in the bulb crates. I can only get 6 one gallons in a bulb crate, 12 five and a half inch squares per crate, 18 four inch pots per crate. My 5 1/2 inch pots usually hold plants that are equal in size to what other places sell in gallon pots but I can fit more of them into the crate so I prefer them even though they cost 30 cents each while the gallons are around 5 cents. Most of my customers brought back their plastic pots after they planted their plants so I could recycle them (which is a great savings).

Most of the local garden centers charge about a dollar or two more then I do, so I am perceived as cheaper.

Pricing is a touchy thing. There are all sorts of things to consider but if you are small time (like me) you can get a lot of your supplies very cheap or even free so costs can be kept down. I propagate most of my material from my own garden so plug costs is low. I only grow a few that need warm winters to grow so that saves money. I don't buy plugs en masse since I only sell in low numbers - instead I go to the local grower and cherry pick the best of the best. I pay more but usually end up selling every plant I buy. I go shopping three or four times each year. Besides, my customers expect everything I offer to be from my yard and grown entirely by me (they don't understand that newer version aren't offered as seeds).

Shoppers are influenced by what other places are charging. Big Box retailing has pretty much ruined everything, no matter what anyone says, if Home Depot sells them for $X then that is what the public expects them to be worth. Good luck convincing them otherwise.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 1:59PM
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Just an idea for you: I had good success at my farmer's market selling potted lilies in bloom. Customer preference always seemed to be the common ones...Stargazer, Lollypop, etc. If you buy in bulk, you can get most of the bulbs for under $.90 each (that's buying 25 per variety). They grow and bloom very well in 2-quart containers. Mine easily sold for $3.50 each (and the customers at my market are not always big spenders...or even chincy). Since I'm small, I pot half or more of the bulbs in containers and the other part in the ground where I can use them as cut flowers that year, and then dig and pot those bulbs in early spring of the next year for potted sales. I realize this is a bulb...but a perennial.

Some other ideas would be columbine, foxglove and stokesia.

Sounds like your new choices are pretty good to me. But I've had a heck of a time with trying to grow Delphiniums (Magic Fountain and Pacific Giants), and Lupines in pots. They always seem to die out on me...maybe too much water??
But put in the ground as tiny little sprouts, they do great.

As for pricing, I think that always has to do with the area you are in. I have a lot of competition so I have to keep my prices low to sell the plants. Sometimes you just have to test a price increase. Since you have no competition, you might want to test a price increase. We have sellers who pot common perennials like those you've listed in gallon size containers (that they scrounge for) and sell them at $3 can you compete with that.

Our market opens the first of May, so I do a check at the local box stores for what they are selling and their prices. I often gauge my prices by that.

Best wishes!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 6:24PM
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thelwig55(Zone 5)

I kinda thought I was low, I have checked box stores and they run 1 gallon plants, 4.97- 8.00 depending when you go in. My 2 quart plants are generally bigger than the one they are offering in the gallon pots and I water them and they look so much better. Here if you don't get the plants off the truck at wal-marts, Lowes, Home depot, they are about half dead in a few days, it amazes me, they bring in thousands of dollars of plants and don't take care of them.
I have gotten pretty good at growing plugs, we have an heated room in a barn that I start them in and generally get them outside mid March thue April I will bring in if temps really fall, but the perennial seedling seem to tolerate freezing pretty small, s I don't buy in plugs.
Any good suggestions on plant to grow that I don't have listed above.
We will get into DL seedlings next year, my 17 year old daughter has gotten into hybreeding DL so we will have a lot of the seedling that she decides are not worthy of keeping in her breeding program.
Any suggestions on herbal mixed pots
Thanks you for your responses.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 6:29PM
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I am doing well with Sedums, I keep about 10-12 varieties. lilies are 1 of my best items, about 15 varieties. 1 bulb pots @ $5 and 3 bulp pots @ $10. I buy about 1/2 of my plants from a wholesale nursery. Most pots are #1s except for the larger grasses, which are real good sellers, they are in #2s. I find it best to keep a large variety, use standard pots of the same type and have everything properly identified and tagged. I never try to have the lowest prices around, rather be a bit higher actually. If I offer a good product I expect a good return. price shoppers will not pay your bills and they will always shop for the lower prices. i dont need them, they just arent loyal customers.

You are in NE Ohio, anywhere near Jefferson? Sunny Borders Ohio is in Jefferson, a large wholesale only nursery, 7 acres of potted perennials. I buy from them now and then but its 7o miles from me.

I dont like to sell some things, Monarda and some Plox can get mildewy, some things are a bit invasive. You just have to try a lot and see what moves the best for you, and that will change from season to season.

Most of my #1 pots will be @ $7.50 this year.

I load up the Explorer and set up in 3 different small towns each week. Try and take your ware to the populated areas. Small businesses will let you set up near them, I pay them 50 cents per sold plant.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 11:11PM
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thelwig55(Zone 5)

Lilies seem to be something I must add, I love them personally and they are easy to grow.
Fanicfowl, I am located below Canton, Jefferson would be around 2 hours, do they have a web site of pricing sheet?

Any suggestions on lily suppliers, wholesale? Also Plug suppliers in NE Ohio, I have heard there are Amish that do alot of plug production and sell very reasonable, but no one has dropped names.

I have only grown in plugs 72 count and transfered into 2 quarts, a local landscaping company gave me hundreds of gallon pots that I will start using this year. Do any of you seed beds this year for next year sales, I was thinking of doing many raised seeding beds and then pot these up next spring, seems like it would save a lot of space, as to overwintereing into pot.

Thanks for all the great info

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 8:36PM
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kydaylilylady(z6 KY)

If you're looking for bulbs try

They sell in bulk. Minimum order is I think $250. I bought bulbs there last spring and they were wonderful. I sold potted lilies at market for $7-$8 per pot with two bulbs per pot. I'd have probably sold all of them but we had a hail storm just about the time they started budding out that it just beat the you know what out of them. As it was I sold probably half of them and am wintering the rest of them over potted in an unheated barn.

My daylilies I sell bare root from my website and also from the farm during bloom season. Early in the spring during a local garden fair I'll sell them bare root and then pot them up for sales during the rest of the year. It's either than or replant what you don't sell.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 1:38PM
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google " Sunny Borders Ohuo" and that should get you to their site. you need to get set up with them, they allow me to walk the yards and pick what I want. I reproduce most of my lilies but do get new varieties from van bourgien(sp) and othet suppliers.

i grow miscanthus giganteus, a tall grass with bamboo like seed stalks. i cut these down in the spring and use for staking up the lilies and others. I also bundle them and sell for 5 bucks a bundle of 25.

I do statrt some plants from cuttings but I think it is more eficacious to buy pots wholesale and resell. you can spend a lot of time in the seed/cutting beds which could be spent selling. I try to grow out the plants I like the most, are easiest, and most profitable. I dont want to have to hire labor nor spend much on capital items. I use KISS(keep it simple stupid) as a guide.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 11:50AM
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Every state and every market is different. My state (NC) requires that I raise my plants for one season in order to be considered a grower. Being a grower means I do not have to collect sales tax or have a tax number (but I do since I also sell crafts). The market I sell at now (though I'm taking this year off) does not permit reselling or re-wholesaling. They also require that the person that sells be the person that grows. This keeps the vendors small and simplifies the focus of the market. On one hand I can understand what they are trying to do, but I would rather just buy stuff and keep it for a while and then sell it - rather than spend so much time rooting cuttings and sowing seeds.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 2:21PM
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