Plant Selection & Consumer Needs


Proper selection is the single most important factor in determining how long a plant will survive following purchase. The selection process not only involves the customers needs but also quality and a knowledge of the specific cultural requirements of the plants you have to offer. Combing these elements is the key to well adapted plants, customer satisfaction, and repeat sales.

Consumer Needs:

Consumer needs play an important role in the selection process. Plants are purchased for a variety of reasons (gifts, holidays, decorative accents, etc.) and each defines the consumers expectations of the product. Helping to identify these needs will make selection of the appropriate plant much easier. In situations where time is not available to work with individual consumers, good signage can be useful. Displaying the best use for a plant takes the guess-work out of the selection process.

Excellent for Low Light Areas!! The Perfect Gift…


Selecting a high quality product is important. Consumers should look for plants that are sturdy, clean, shapely, well-potted, and that have dense, healthy foliage. They should avoid plants which have yellow or chlorotic leaves, burned leaf margins, water soaked or wilted foliage, spots or blotches and rank, spindly growth. They should also avoid plants that have been mechanically damaged in some way, have obviously dropped lower leaves or appear wilted. Flowering plants with only one half to three fourths of their flowers fully open will extend the blooming cycle for maximum enjoyment.

Insects and Disease:

Plants should be free of insects and diseases. Check the undersides of leaves and leaf axils for the presence of insect pests. Also, avoid plants with gray, moldy or water soaked flowers. This is generally a symptom of a disease called Botrytis which causes flowers to drop prematurely.

Cultural Requirements:

Most living and working environments are poorly suited to plant needs. Therefore it is important to select the best adapted plant(s) for these situations. A good understanding of the specific cultural requirements of the plants you have to offer is invaluable. (For more details see the section on Selected Foliage and Flowering Plants). Remember…it is easier to purchase plants suited to an environment than it is to change the environment to suit the plants.

Check Out and Transportation:

Transporting plant products from the store to the final destination creates a special set of problems to deal with. Plants are often mechanically damaged in the store during handling and check out. Take all precautions to avoid this problem by using sleeves, boxes or any other available packing materials. Advise consumers how best to handle their purchase or offer to hold the product until they’re ready to check out.


Summer’s heat and winter’s cold can also damage plants. In summer, consumers should avoid leaving plants in a closed car to prevent high temperature injury. Also, direct sunlight can burn leaves, even if the air conditioner is on and the temperature in the car is comfortable.

During winter months, plants should be thoroughly wrapped with newspaper or paper bags before leaving the store. Even a short run to the car in very low temperatures can severely damage, or even kill some tender plants. Plants should be placed in the front of the car with the heater. Most car trunks are too cold to safely transport plants during the winter months.

Many plants grown in full sun have leaves (sun leaves) which are structurally different from those grown in the shade (shade leaves). Since sun leaves receive more light, they are typically less efficient at photosynthesis than shade leaves. Therefore, when plants with sun leaves are placed in low light areas, they frequently drop their foliage and make a new set of shade leaves which are photosynthetically more efficient.

To reduce the shock which occurs when a plant with sun leaves is placed in the shade, gradually reduce the light levels it is exposed to. This process is known as acclimatization. Consumers should acclimatize plants when placing them outside during summer by gradually increasing light intensities. The process is reversed before plants are brought indoors in fall. Newly purchased plants can be acclimatized by initially locating them in a high-light area of the home (southern exposure) and gradually moving them to their permanent low light location over 3-4 weeks.

Comments are closed.