It doesn’t seem fair. You are just catching your breath as this year’s spring bedding plant season winds down – and it’s already time to start thinking about next spring.

Your business model may be a combination of spring bedding plants and vegetable crops or a stand-alone greenhouse operation that is either open year-round or only open for the spring growing season. Whatever the case, successful planning for next year’s season starts now.

Start with Broad Stokes

Looking back on this spring, how was the timing of your crop overall? Were there segments that sold through too early? Did your customers ask for varieties you might consider adding next year? Were there any facility issues that would require updating equipment for the next season? If you track daily customer count and average daily sale, how did they compare to last season?

Bluemel’s Garden Center & Landscape

We asked John Lewandowski, general manager of Wisconsin’s Bluemel’s Garden Center & Landscape, how their greenhouse approaches planning for the next spring growing season.

“Ordering begins late fall,” he began, “but the process begins immediately after the spring rush ends as ideas are still fresh in our minds.”

Their greenhouse team reviews sales numbers and analyzes buying trends so they can make purchase decisions for the upcoming year.

When asked if they would be making any container adjustments for the following year, he indicated they were looking at packs. “No adjusting of sizes, but possible elimination or reduction of some size containers like four-packs,” he said. “They are more difficult to maintain and keep watered and are easily price-compared to the box stores.”

The Commercial Growers of Wisconsin just hosted their June meeting and had their annual roundtable discussion about the spring season. Photo courtesy of Bluemel’s Garden Center & Landscape

Bluemel’s decides what plant varieties to carry in a number of different ways. “We visit trial gardens, talk with other growers, analyze sales and, of course, listen to our customers,” he said.

Lewandowski has served on the Commercial Growers of Wisconsin (CGW) Board of Directors for the past eight years. The group meets monthly at different greenhouses across the state. This June, members participated in a season analysis survey regarding spring sales.

“About everyone noticed that people were tighter with their money this year,” he said. One member indicated that larger nursery stock wasn’t selling and those that sold nursery stock agreed that nursery sales were down overall.

When it came to flower hues, purple was the color most sought after, followed by red, then yellow. “The survey is just a snapshot of what is happening in the green industry in Wisconsin,” he noted.

The June CGW meeting traditionally holds a grower roundtable discussion. Many members at the meeting agreed that the weather was “with them” this year. There were few weekends, for example, with rainy weather. Overall, sales began early and were strong, but growers were surprised at how suddenly sales dropped off in early June.

Whatever size your greenhouse business may be, planning for spring 2025 starts now. Take advantage of summer trial gardens in your area and take some time to attend trade shows for new product information. If they haven’t already showed up, seed catalogs and new variety information will arrive soon.

You may be just finishing up this season’s bedding plants, but early discount order deadlines are just around the corner.

by Gail March Yerke