What Customers Need to Know before Plant Purchases

Planter with Supertunia Bubblegum, Photo courtesy of Great Gardens

Providing the right information to customers has multiple benefits whether your business is wholesale or retail. While the typical retail customer may need the most guidance in maintaining healthy plants, some staff members of wholesale customers may also have gaps in their understanding of the nuances of plant care. In both cases, taking whatever time is necessary to educate them may not only lead to better customer satisfaction, but it may also avoid customer complaints and problems that need solving later.

Being ready and open for any and all customer questions can be good business and position your staff as experts in the industry. Checking to see that customers have everything they need to complete a project successfully can lead to customer loyalty and more purchases.

For retail customers, this helpful information can also be shared through gardening classes and seasonal events. For wholesale customers, annual trainings can be useful for clearing up misconceptions about topics like how to store and plant container trees.

Here are six topics about which customers need information to make the right purchasing decisions.

  • Thriller Spiller, Photo courtesy of Harriett McMillan

    Plant availability: Let customers know what is in inventory including updates on the available specifications and the best substitutes when necessary. If what you have in stock looks different than what is in your online and print catalogs, you can take and send pictures to customers so they know what to expect.

  • Appropriate plant selection: Let customers know whether plants, based on the variety, size and hardiness, will grow successfully where they plan to place them. Inform customers of the appropriate locations for each plant’s characteristics, considering soil type, sun/shade exposure, wind, snow load, micro-climates, and water availability.
  • Tree transplanting training for wholesale customers, Photo courtesy of Arbor Valley Nursery

    Proper planting procedures: Let customers know the proper way to plant your products to ensure a good foundation for plant health. Inform them of pre-planting storage methods, ideal planting times, and special procedures for different products like b&b and bareroot trees.

  • Adequate watering: Let customers know the best practices so as not to over or under-water plants. Customers often need a better understanding of the risks of overwatering, the need for winter watering, and how to monitor a plant’s water needs.
  • Container growing: Inform customers about how to select and arrange plants not only for a well-designed appearance but also for compatible watering needs. Let them know the proper watering techniques including adequate drainage and water monitoring methods, as well as good potting mixes, regular fertilization, and optimal sun or shade exposure.
  • Container transplanting: Inform customers about the convenience of container trees that can be purchased and transplanted year-round. Let them know not to store the container plants on asphalt or concrete, which can overheat the plants, and not to plant too closely to nearby trees, walls and other objects that will compete for space.


Special thanks to members of the CNGA Board and Communications Committee who provided answers for this article: Mike Bone of Denver Botanic Gardens, Joe Haskett of James Nursery Company, Jeff Jones of Great Gardens, Jessica McCool of Little Valley Wholesale Nursery, Kathleen McGuar, Harriett McMillan of Echter’s Garden Center, Bruce Rabeler of Little Valley Wholesale Nursery, and Mike Schleining of Arbor Valley Nursery.