Cultivate'22: What's new with consumer plant trends?
One of many displays at this year's Cultivate convention.
Photo by Chris Markham

Cultivate'22: What's new with consumer plant trends?

At Cultivate'22, Maria Zampini covered the trends that consumers are looking for when shopping for new plants.

July 21, 2022

The first day of Cultivate’22 education sessions featured a presentation titled “Turning top plant trends into profits” with Maria Zampini of Upshoot, a hort marketing firm based in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, that specializes in new plant marketing. Zampini’s family has been in horticulture for several generations, with her telling those attendance, “The green flows through my blood through my father and my grandfather.”

The session covered the new trends that customers look for in their plants. Consulting with a variety of people across the horticulture industry, Zampini got lots of input on what these customers’ demands are. After all, as Zampini said, customers ask for what’s new, not for what’s old.

Zampini defined “new” in this context as either an original invention (something that’s brand new in the world/market), a new listing (something that’s new for a grower, if maybe they’re offering it for the first time), or a limited availability item that could be underused and overlooked by others.

So what are the new trends that consumers are looking for in their plants? These trends include:

  • Small size. Dwarf, compact, slender or columnar varieties that don’t take up much space, or at least take up less space than other plants that are similar.
  • Natives and nativars
  • Attention-getting color. "Color sells," Zampini said.
  • Improved breeding. 
  • Cause marketing.
  • Increased breeder focus.
  • Resistance/tolerance.
  • Food for pollinators.
  • Tropicals.
  • Houseplants.

Those are the trends that consumers want in their new plants. But where can growers find new varieties to grow and sell? Zampini shared a few places she looks to for information:

  • Trade shows.
  • Trial gardens. Zampini shared that, as a resident of Northeast Ohio, the Cleveland Botanical Garden is a close trial garden for her.
  • Universities.
  • All-America Selections. Look at the regional and national AAS winners on their website. Their website also has the locations of different trial gardens.