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plants are good for you!

Here are simple strategies for selling customers on the benefits of indoor plants.

Jane Van Cleave

    While many of us are well-versed on the health and well-being benefits of ornamental plants, your customers generally are not. Imagine the massive impression and potential sales impact when all green-goods retailers say the same simple message every day: Plants are good for you! We have the products, we have the technology, we have the venues. Just keep saying it to your customers: Plants are good for you!

    The improvement in indoor air quality that plants cause allows people to have a happier, healthier lifestyle. Plants thrive on carbon dioxide. Once the carbon dioxide is consumed, it naturally converts to oxygen. Do your fellow floral and garden department associates know this? If not, help spread the word. With a little training, floral staffs will be able to talk with their customers about the benefits of having plants in their homes and offices. Use your store associates, signage and Web site to tell the world this simple but effective message: Plants are good for you!

know how to talk to customers
    One of my favorite things to do is shop. Now nearly a year into retirement from the tropical-plant industry and clocking mega laps around the world of retail, I’ve been to numerous floral and garden departments—from big box to small format and from upscale to discount. In my travels, I’ve discovered a need for more education in floral departments about the basics of plants and their care.

    For example, while shopping recently in a high-end store, I overheard a conversation between the green-goods department associate and a customer who was about to purchase a lovely, lush, greenhouse-grown 14” Spathiphyllum that had tons of lily-white blooms. The customer asked where she should place her plant. He told her, “You can put this plant right out in the sun.” I couldn’t help myself and spoke up: “NO, don’t do that. This is a plant for your indoor space.”

    If you don’t know the answer, tell your customer, “I’ll find out for you.” There are plenty of resources for plant-care information. Check the guidelines that likely came with your products; call your vendors; or go to the Chain of Life Network®, And always tell your customers that your company has the best, healthiest plants available, along with today’s mantra: Plants are good for you!

use signage effectively
   Too often, I go into floral and garden departments and find unattractive signs with just the plant names (often misspelled) and price. What a missed opportunity! Use your signage to give customers additional information that will tell them how buying your products will enhance their lives. Merchandise plants with bullet-point, positive messages such as “Awesome Air-Cleaning Anthuriums!”, “Bold Bromeliads = Better IQ” or “Healthier Hawaiian Pothos.” Spell out the message: Plants are good for you!

spotlight your products
    Keep it simple when you display your plants. Color, texture and structure are paramount when grabbing the eye and getting customers to purchase. Your beautiful plants should be the center of attention. Today’s plant selections are exciting and better than ever in quality and standards. The awesome bromeliads and tropical hybrids being developed in Holland and Belgium are fascinating. Domestic labs are really getting “out there” with cool new varieties of Aglaoenema, Dieffenbachia and ferns—tried and true, good plants. With new technology in place, tissue-culture reproduction methods have sped up in recent times, and we should see volume production of both new varieties and even better vintage plants going forward.

    If you didn’t get to January’s Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE), the only national tropical-plant event, go to to check out the new plants and products. Get in line and vie for position with the producers for these new and amazing performance plants. And remember: Plants are good for you!

Jane Van Cleave recently retired from J Van Cleave Marketing, the company she founded in the fall of 2007 after nearly three decades of management experience in the Florida tropical foliage industry. The company’s mission was to raise consumer visibility and subsequent retail consumption of live natural houseplants. Ms. Van Cleave is past president of the Florida Nursery Growers & Landscape Association (FNGLA) and served as chairman of the 2009 Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE), the only national tropical-plant event.


Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2009
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.