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Outlook 2014: Notable rebound to continue

As the calendar turned a year ago, Florida’s flower and plant growers were nervous, yet hopeful, for a sales rebound. Trepidation evaporated as Florida’s $15.3 billion nursery and landscape industry enjoyed a significant sales jump across all categories.

As 2014 arrives, the Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association is anticipating the notable rebound will persist.

In 2013, consumers seemed to be seeking comfort and ways to relax, so they were drawn to the familiar, tried-and-true plant varieties.

We expect this trend to continue, as the economy gets even healthier. Patios, decks, and porches will be transformed into outdoor rooms full of pots and planters overflowing with low-maintenance, native plants and multicolored, conventional mixed containers.

The millennial generation insists on quality, ready-made products, so it’s easy to see why containers full of colorful Florida tropicals would be attractive to them in 2014. Edible vegetables and fruit plants will continue their hot selling streak as consumers enjoy the satisfaction of growing some of their very own produce.

Tropical foliage is one of the plant categories currently experiencing huge and dramatic increases in retail sales. Bold colors and different textures, mixed with traditional flowers and plants, will add a visual punch and fill many containers in the coming year.

Florida’s tropical foliage, such as bromeliads, are also now being used widely in several city center street plantings, providing even more visibility to urban consumers. Florida is the nation’s largest producer of tropical plants and houseplants; it provides more than 75 percent of all such plants sold in the United States.

Planters full of succulents, with their many unusual shapes and colors, will also attract lots of consumer interest in 2014. Succulents used in green walls, and plants transforming roofs into green urban oases, will continue to expand in many cities and communities. People want that soft, green look and feel to their otherwise concrete urban jungles.

FNGLA is partnering with the wildly successful Fresh From Florida marketing campaign run by the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. They do a phenomenal job of promoting Florida’s fresh fruits and vegetables. Expanding Fresh From Florida to tropical foliage and other indoor plants is an exciting and new extension of that proven program.

We are racing toward 2014’s premier trade show, FNGLA’s Tropical Plant Industry Exposition, in Fort Lauderdale,, FL, Jan. 22-24. With such a big kick-off, we expect a strong 2014 market nationwide for Florida’s unique plants and flowers. Fresh From Florida is already well-positioned and will prove to be a positive 2014 mantra.

Ben Bolusky is chief executive officer of the Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association. He can be contacted at bbolusky@fngla.org.