Let’s Talk About Plant Marketing

On Friday, I talked about some of the awards that are given to plants and Is aid that when you are at the garden center, it is not necessary, always, to seek out plants that have won awards to always get the best plants.

I also threw in an offhand comment about a marketing company that sells a line of plants called Proven Winners.™ And I left it there. So today I thought I would talk a little bit more about plant marketing or plant branding.

This isn’t something that a lot of folks think about but I promise you it drives the nursery growers and the garden centers nuts! Where once you went to the garden center and most plants came in little green pots, now they come in a bewildering array of “branded” pots.  Proven Winners™ is probably the best known and most nationally known brand out there but there are lots of others, some of which even pre-date them.

Remember the Flower Carpet™ rose? It too came in a branded pot–it was distinctly pale pink. It is still around, but it is not nearly so famous or well-known as Knock-Out,™ which, like other Star™ branded roses, comes in a pot that’s branded with its own distinct color. Knock-out’s is sort of an olive green. The Drift™ family of roses is white, with olive green lettering. See the branding going on?

David Austin™ roses come not only in a pot that is a distinct color (black) but that is a distinct shape (taller and square, supposedly to accommodate the tap roots).

Are you beginning to see why the growers and garden centers hate all this branding? And this is just the roses!

What does it mean for you–the buyer? Well, for one thing, it’s probably increased your cost a bit to have all these fancy pots.

Next, if you look at the tags on the plants you’re buying, almost all of these plants are now patented. They say “propagation prohibited.” What does that mean?

Technically, it means that you can’t take cuttings or in any way reproduce and grow more plants from the plant that you are buying. This is something that isn’t on anyone’s radar.

Are there plant police out there? Not that I am aware of. But if a garden club suddenly started selling a lot of a branded plant at a plant sale, without the rights to do so, technically, one of these plant companies that owns the rights to that plant could come in to enforce its rights.

I haven’t heard of it happening–but just be aware.

4 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Plant Marketing

  1. The Frustrated Gardener April 7, 2017 / 2:03 pm

    I can’t see that preventing propagation for one’s own use is even vaguely enforceable, and I am sure plenty of plants are inadvertently propagated and sold without the correct permission. However, I have some sympathy for the hybridisers that have invested huge amounts of time and money in creating new, garden-worthy plants. In any other area of art or design, originality would be fiercely protected from infringement, so why should plants be any different? As for the jazzy pots and naff marketing names, they should be consigned to the compost heap where, I fear, they would fail to decompose!

  2. gardendaze April 7, 2017 / 2:27 pm

    But of course propagation for one’s own use is illegal. It’s the same as downloading songs without paying or pirating a CD. If you don’t own the trademark, it’s not yours to do with as you like.

    And without passing judgment about any of the examples I have just used, remember what Taylor Swift wrote to Apple. “Dear Apple. We don’t ask you to give us your products for free. ”

    Just a thought.

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting.


  3. The Chatsworth Lady April 13, 2017 / 7:31 pm

    I just wish there were still local retail nurseries growing their own perennials, instead of having “branded” ones trucked in from hither and yon. 😦 The last such nursery that I know of went out of business in 2005 if I recall correctly. I saw an ad for another recently that said “growing our own for 40 years” only to find that it only applied to annuals… sigh… LOL

  4. gardendaze April 13, 2017 / 8:45 pm

    Wow, that’s an interesting thought. Up here we have a couple of very small local growers–I think there’s a nursery in Massachusetts that grows its own shrubs but I believe that they are primarily rhododendrons.

    And here in Connecticut we have a nursery famous for its mountain laurel introductions. But perennials? I am not sure that I know of any of those.

    There’s a massive grower out in eastern Connecticut but it’s wholesale only, of course. Still, at least I can get “Connecticut grown” plants. And they do grow perennials. Now, are they just buying little plugs and finishing them here? That’s the real question.

    Thanks as always for your thoughts!


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