Connecting people with plants

Emerging Leaders - Emerging Leaders

How Seth Reed is making horticulture relevant to consumers in the digital age.

July 22, 2016


Seth Reed grew up in the ’80s, surrounded by houseplants like dracaena, dieffenbachia and pothos. When his dad showed him how to root cuttings of these plants in water, he was hooked.

“I had this huge fascination with propagating houseplants,” he says. “My room was littered with all these little cuttings in spaghetti jars. I didn’t understand the aesthetics; I just thought it was really cool.”

When he turned 15, Reed started working at a local garden center. While earning his horticulture degree, he explored nearly every facet of the industry through internships with a greenhouse, a nursery and a landscaper. He even co-owned a landscaping company for a few years.

“There are literally hundreds of different types of jobs within the world of horticulture,” Reed says. “It’s a blessing, but it’s also a challenge, because the process of selecting the right opportunity can be challenging.”

GrowIt! users can rate and comment on plant varieties, sharing their thoughts and experiences with other plant enthusiasts.

After graduating in 2007, Reed got a job at Ball Horticultural Co., where he worked in customer service, supply and business management before becoming a sales rep for Burpee Home Gardens. He leveraged popular products, combined with consumer trends, to help retailers sell more plants.

But Reed realized that data about consumer horticulture trends was sorely lacking — specifically, the Millennial generation that garden centers struggled to engage was underrepresented. In 2014, he partnered with Ball colleague Mason Day to develop a mobile gardening app called GrowIt!, building a social community for gardeners to find, share and rate plants.

“I feel very lucky that I get to do something I love,” Reed says. “Every day we’re making it easier to foster enthusiasm for horticulture. We’re creating tools that help garden centers engage with consumers.” (Read more about how GrowIt! is engaging gardeners in the feature “Gardening socially” at

Every day, we’re making it easier to foster enthusiasm for horticulture.”

Though plants first attracted Reed to horticulture, he’s more passionate about the people in the industry — particularly when he can create opportunities to connect people with plants.

“I’m an extrovert. I love interacting with people, and this industry has such a wide array of personalities,” Reed says. “I get charged when I interact with people who are passionate about getting young people involved in plants and making the industry excel.”

Ultimately, Reed wants to pursue public speaking so he can inspire change in the industry by helping retailers connect with consumers. He’ll present a session at Cultivate’16 with Day, titled “What Consumers Are Telling Us About Plants.” The conference also marks Reed’s induction onto the board of AmericanHort, which has been a career goal of his since the beginning.