Grocers Flex Green Thumb

Retailers welcome planting season with greenhouses, garden centers and plant assortments
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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Meijer garden
Meijer added a new flowerpot and garden tray recycling service for its customers last year.

A sure sign of spring is the opening of retail garden centers, including greenhouses and outdoor plant displays at grocery store locations. As the gardening season gets underway across more parts of the United States – and as April 14 marks National Gardening Day – retailers are getting into that business for the season.

In Norwalk, Conn., Stew Leonard's recently unveiled its updated garden shop. Annual and perennial plants, flowers, trees and shrubs other garden supplies are now being sold in a permanent structure, following a months-long renovation of the space that used to be devoted to a temporary tent. An onsite farmer’s market area is part of the department, too. According to the grocer’s Facebook page, the garden shop will carry a wide range of locally-grown plants throughout the season.

[Read more: "Target’s Exclusive Spring Collection Celebrates Diverse Cultures"]

Stew Leonard’s has gone big on its garden offerings. Stew Leonard, Jr. is featured in a series of videos on the company’s YouTube page visiting local farmers and growers and sharing gardening tips like how to best grow bedding plants and create hanging baskets. The retailer also provides lawn care advice and shares recipes with garden-fresh ingredients.

In addition to carrying traditional varieties like geraniums, marigolds and pansies, retailers are adding more options to their onsite garden centers. Meijer stores, for example, are carrying fruit-bearing shrubs for blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. ALDI recently touted a special deal on a two-pack of citrus trees, selling pots of lemon and lime plants for $17.99, and discounting a cubic foot of garden soil to $3.49.

To that point, as consumers look for value with inflation elevated over traditional norms, retailers are staying competitive through garden-related pricing. Grocery Outlet stores, for instance, have promoted items at their garden centers that are often 50% less than “conventional” stores.

Walmart also prices its plants competitively and sells live plants, including popular annuals and perennials, on its digital site. To help online shoppers figure out what will work in their outdoor spaces, the retailer added a USDA Hardiness Zone feature on its website.

According to a report from Axiom, nearly two-thirds (62%) of people planted more in their gardens in 2022. The research also shows that Gen X and Millennial consumers are driving growth in gardening, and the most popular garden products are flowers, vegetables and houseplants.

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