May 2, 2008
Americans Can’t Contain Fondness for Container GardensSource: Texas A&M AgriLife Media Relations

Apparently, Americans can’t contain themselves when it comes to container gardening. U.S. consumers spend more than $1.3 billion a year on this gardening method, according to Container Gardening Associated, a website devoted to the technique.

Container gardens – the use of a variety of plants in any type of container – are often associated with yardless apartments or condominiums. But they also are popular with older adults and people with disabilities, as well as for areas where soil quality is a problem or where pots define an area or direct traffic, according to a Texas A&M University press release.

A new study by Dr. Terri Starman, Texas AgriLife Research horticulturist, revealed that retailers can cash in on container gardening by offering more extensive plant care information, making plant container selection easy and pricing the pre-planted or do-it-yourself containers properly.

“We found that there is a potential to increase the value of a container garden through providing educational material with the purchase,” Starman said in the press release.

The study, included in the current issue of the journal HortScience, also found that most people prefer a container garden with a complementary color harmony in the price range of $25. Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. Previous studies have shown that in difficult economic times, people continue to garden. Container gardens require less water and other inputs, and can help reduce our carbon footprint.

While container gardening has been “trendy” for about a decade now, the next major push in this area appears to be a move toward increased education and care information. More than 75 percent of the respondents who took Starman’s online survey said they would be more likely to purchase a container garden if extensive information were provided. Eighty-five percent said they would be willing to visit a website to obtain that information.

“Developing websites for the information would save growers the expense of printing tags for all the plants, especially if there are multiple plants in one container,” Starman added.

Additional research is needed, particularly on the pricing side of container gardening, she said. There are two types of consumers for this product: do-it-yourselfers and the do-it-for-me type. “Some are willing to spend a lot more money for a beautiful container garden,” she said. “And there is also a market for servicing container gardens, especially for independent nursery operators who can sell it, deliver it, maintain it and change it out seasonally.”

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