Supply update: Ornamental grasses
Photo courtesy of Cavano's Perennials

Supply update: Ornamental grasses

What’s the deal with young plant supply for greenhouse ornamental grass producers? Read on for a quick update on where we stand today.

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As spring transitions to early summer, and greenhouses start to empty as new plant parents receive their new plants for the season, operations are looking to fill those empty greenhouse bays with more young plants for the late summer and early fall market.

Many growers have reported difficulties in the supply chain, however, as the ongoing global pandemic has thrown a wrench into the logistics of basically every major industry on earth, and that includes the green industries. Not to mention, plant demand in general has seemingly exploded over the same time frame.

It’s a situation that is ripe for bottlenecks and frustrating plant material shortages.

“Cavano’s has seen a double-digit organic growth rate in the past 5 years in ornamental grasses, sedges and rushes. We see an increased demand for these plants in the 2021 season as well,” explains Cavano’s president Ferenc Kiss. 

According to Kiss, grasses traditionally have made up about 15% of the wholesale plant supplier’s annual total sales. For 2021, they projected to see 20% of total annual revenues to come from grass and sedge sales.

“To date, we have already matched our grass sales from 2020 and 2019, between already sold or committed, and that projected 5% increase looks like it will grow to be more substantial,” adds Taylor Pilker, vice president.

Ferenc chimes in that the current plant shortage situation, while interesting, is “only part of the story for us.”

“We planned for growth in 2020 in this category,” he says. “We expanded our relationships with suppliers, prebooked many of our top selling grasses, adjusted our offerings in sizing, and began to expand our own in-house production and propagation of grasses, rushes, and sedges to supplement our inventory. “

The result was a nice 4% bump in grass and sedges sales levels thus far for the spring. Still, there are more hoops to jump through.

“The limited supply of young plants means that recovering our inventory levels is delayed or even impossible, in some cases,” says Pilker. “While planning for a grass boom was part of our strategy, the success is limited by the ability to resupply due to shortages, and that is why it is of the utmost importance to continuously communicate with our vendors about the production challenges they face.”