Agricultural Economics Mimeo Report 58-10
Charles A. Nicholls,
Cecil N. Smith and Donald L. Brooke
Department of Agricultural Economics
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
in cooperation with
Marketing Research Division
Agricultural Marketing Service
United States Department of Agriculture
pjrr ~ ~i;ll~y~9~k 4:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION. . . . . 1
DEVELOPMENT OF THE FLORIDA FOLIAGE PLANT INDUSTRY . 3
INDUSTRY CHARACTERISTICS . . . .. 4
ESTIMATED VALUE OF SALES . . . .... 9
MARKET OUTLETS.... . .. . 11
MARKETDISTRIBUTION .... .. ... .... 13
IMPORTANCE OF SPECIFIC FOLIAGE PLANTS SOLD . . 15
PACKING FOR SHIPMENT . . . . . .17
SOME SPECIAL MARKETING PROBLEMS . . . 19
EMPLOYMENT . ..... .. . ... .21
SUMMARY . . .............. .24
This study was done cooperatively by the Florida Agricultural Experiment
Station and the Market Organization and Costs Branch, Agricultural Marketing
Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, as a phase of the research conducted
by agencies participating in the Southern Regional Project on Marketing Horti-
cultural Specialties (SM-12). The work was supported in part by Bankhead-Jones
Act Funds (A.M.A., Title II).
Appreciation is expressed to foliage plant growers for supplying information
on their acreage, production and marketing practices. Special thanks are made to
Dr. C. F. Sarle, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Consultant to the Statistical
Laboratory, University of Florida, for his advice in designing the statistical sample
utilized in this study. Recognition is also due staff members of the University of
Florida and members of the SM-12 Technical Committee for reviewing this manuscript.
In addition, acknowledgment is made to the many organizations who have contributed
their time and effort to this project.
THE FLORIDA FOLIAGE PLANT INDUSTRY
Charles A. Nicholls,1 Cecil N. Smith2 and Donald L. Brooke2
Importance.-- The foliage plant industry, in company with many other
industries producing horticultural specialty crops in Florida, has grown at a rapid
rate. Sales of foliage plants in 1949 were estimated by the Census of Agriculture
to be approximately $2,000,000 at wholesale. The industry has undergone a large
expansion from that time to the present.
Foliage plants are commonly used for interior decoration in dish gardens,
in planters and as specimens. Although many of these plants have variegation in
their foliage, they are commonly called green plants. Included in this classification
are such plants as philodendron, sansevieria, pothos and nephthytis. These plants
are not utilized for outside landscaping purposes except in tropical and subtropical
Although foliage plants can be produced in other areas of the country,
most of them can be grown more economically in Florida. High temperatures and
humidity are the primary climatic factors favoring the large scale production of
foliage plants in the state. For most foliage plants it is necessary to reduce light
1Research Assistant, Florida Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative
Agent, Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
2Associate Agricultural Economist, Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.
intensity by providing partial shade under lath houses or under saran cloth.3
Although greenhouses are utilized to a large extent in Florida for plant
propagation, higher outside temperatures during most of the year make their operation
much more economical than that of such structures in northern states. Greenhouses
are utilized to shorten propagation time and to force potted stocks of tender and
slow-growing species. The outlets to which plants are moved also influences the
decisions of growers to utilize greenhouses.
Objectives of study.-- Very little information has been published on the
economic aspects of the foliage plant industry in Florida. Estimates by foliage
plant growers and others of the value of wholesale receipts of this industry in 1956
ranged between $5, 000,000 and $20,000,000. The study was undertaken in response
to requests by many foliage plant growers, state agencies and others for information
on this industry.
The primary objectives of this study were as follows: (1) to estimate acreage,
greenhouse area, value of sales and receipts of the foliage plant industry in Florida;
(2) to determine the type and extent of use of various selling practices; and (3) to
determine the scope of market distribution.
Research procedure.-- A list of the 180 commercial growers of foliage
plants in Florida was obtained from the Florida State Plant Board and other sources
and was then classified by areas. The South Florida area consisted of Broward, Palm
Beach and Dade Counties. The Central Florida area included Lake, Orange and
Seminole Counties. Most growers are concentrated in these two areas. A third
3The commercial name for a plastic woven cloth.
area called "Other Florida" was delineated to include growers scattered throughout
the remaining counties of the state. No growers were reported in Florida's western
The list of growers was further classified by size groups into large, medium
and small-sized growers. Large growers were considered as those having 3 or
more acres in production of foliage plants, medium-sized growers from 1.0 to 2.99
acres and small growers from .01 to .99 acres.
During the summer of 1957, personal interviews were made with all large
growers, 53 percent of the medium-sized growers and 22 percent of the small growers.
The number of growers chosen to be interviewed in each size group within each
stratum was sufficiently large to permit estimates to be made of various character-
istics in each sub-group.
Data on the value of sales and most other characteristics of the industry
relate to the calendar year 1956. However, the acreage data shown in several
tables are those reported for 1957.
After the data were collected, they were edited to determine if all pertinent
information had been obtained from growers. Data secured by interviews included
total value of sales, value of plants sold through various market outlets, composition
of plants sold, employment, etc. Estimates were then made for each size group in
each area. Later the data were combined to provide estimates for the entire
DEVELOPMENT OF THE FLORIDA FOLIAGE PLANT INDUSTRY
The production of foliage plants in Florida was begun about 1925 by growers
in the Central and Southern areas who, at that time, were producing Asparagus
plumosus and Boston ferns. Many growers reported that, as the result of a declining
market for ferns, they turned to producing foliage plants. In doing so they were able
to take advantage of their existing production and shipping facilities. Philodendron
cordatum, Sansevieria laurenti and Nephthytis liberica were among the first plants
grown. These plants have maintained their popularity as they still account for a high
proportion of the foliage plants grown and marketed in Florida.
The production of foliage plants is highly specialized. Of the growers
interviewed, almost two-thirds reported having either spent their entire working
lives growing foliage plants in Florida, having taken over the family business or had
previously produced some other horticultural specialty crop before growing foliage
plants. The need for a good background in production methods and business operations,
both of which are important in this highly specialized industry, is illustrated by the
high level of training and experience required for operators and key employees.
The majority of the growers in the foliage plant industry have entered it
since World War II and have contributed substantially to the industry's rapid growth
since that time. Of those interviewed, 54 percent reported that they had entered
the industry within the last 10 years. Twenty-nine percent of the remaining growers
reported having grown foliage plants for 21 years or more and 17 percent stated that
they had been in the business from 11 to 20 years.
The Florida foliage plant industry in 1957 was composed of 180 commercial
growers (Table 1). They utilized 549 acres of land for growing plants in the open
DISTRIBUTION OF FLORIDA FOLIAGE PLANT GROWERS,
ACREAGE AND GREENHOUSE AREA, 1957
Data by Grower Size Groups
Size Groups Growers Acreagea Greenhouse Area
No. Percent No. Percent Sq. Ft. Percent
(3 acres and over) 37 21 467.9 85 841,560 54
(1.0 2.99 acres) 36 20 54.7 10 329,475 21
(.01 to .99 acres) 107 59 26.4 5 393,562 25
All Growers 180 100 549.0 100 1,564,597 100
includes outdoor and shaded acreage.
field, under lath or under saran cloth and nearly 36 acres--1,564, 597 square feet--
of greenhouse area for the propagation and "growing-on" 4 of these plants. Most
greenhouses are constructed of glass; nevertheless, a few have been built of plastics
and fiberglass. Outside acreage plus the greenhouse area totaled nearly 585 acres
which were devoted to producing foliage plants in 1957. Pictured on page 6 are
foliage plants growing under lath and being propagated in a greenhouse.
Most foliage plant growers sell their plants at wholesale to various market
outlets outside the state. Some small producers in the South Florida and "Other
Florida" areas retail the plants which they themselves grow and propagate. Most
A term used within the industry meaning to continue to grow plants on
until they reach a larger size.
of the small growers in Central Florida market their plants to nearby larger growers
who grow the plants to further maturity or who may pack and ship them directly to
other market outlets.
The foliage plant industry has many small growers. Nevertheless, large
growers, while relatively few in number, utilize more greenhouse area and outdoor
acreage and area under lath and under saran than both of the other size groups
combined. Large growers comprised only 21 percent of the total number of growers
within the industry but had 85 percent of the acreage and 54 percent of the total
greenhouse area in 1957. Small growers comprised 59 percent of the total number
of growers but utilized only 5 percent of the acreage and 25 percent of the green-
house area for producing foliage plants. Medium-sized growers made up 20 percent
of the total number of growers and had 10 percent of the acreage and 21 percent of
the greenhouse area.
In comparing production areas, the Central Florida area had 44 percent of
the total number of growers and 70 percent of the greenhouse area but only 38 per-
cent of the outdoor and shaded acreage (Table 2). The growers in the South Florida
area represented 26 percent of the total number of growers in the state, but had 55 -
percent of the acreage and 18 percent of the greenhouse area. Although 30 percent
of the total number of growers were scattered throughout various locations in the
"Other Florida" area, they had only 7 percent of the acreage and 12 percent of
the greenhouse area. The largest growers were located in the South Florida area
and were more specialized while small growers in "Other Florida" locations were
more diversified in their production. The majority of the growers were concentrated
DISTRIBUTION OF FLORIDA FOLIAGE PLANT GROWERS,
ACREAGE AND GREENHOUSE AREA, 1957
Data by Area Groups
Area Groups Growers Acreagea Greenhouse Area
No. Percent No. Percent Sq. Ft. Percent
South Florida 46 26 301.3 55 274,160 18
Central Florida 80 44 206,3 38 1,097,889 70
"Other Florida" 54 30 41.4 7 192,548 12
All Areas 180 100 549.0 100 1,564,597 100
Olncludes outdoor and shaded acreage.
in Dade and Orange Counties. Dade and Orange Counties had 49 and 34 percent,
respectively, of the total area in Florida devoted to the production of these plants
The production of foliage plants utilized 66 percent of the nearly 884 acres
operated by foliage plant growers in producing various horticultural specialty crops
in 1957. The remaining land was utilized for producing cut greens, nursery stock
and miscellaneous cut flower crops.
Growth.-- It is estimated that the acreage5devoted to the production of
foliage plants increased from 271 to 549 acres during the period from 1952 to 1957,
an increase of 103 percent. This increase was larger in the South Florida area than
50pen field and under lath and ynder saran cloth.
in the other two areas. Only a relatively small increase in the "Other Florida" area
The first greenhouse in the state used for propagating foliage plants was con-
structed in 1939. It is estimated that greenhouse area increased from 642,873
square feet in 1952 to 1,564,597 square feet in 1957, an increase of 143 percent.
Greenhouse area is proportionately higher per acre for the small growers than for
either of the other size groups. Glass area represented 83 percent of the total green-
house space devoted to producing foliage plants in Florida during 1957.
ESTIMATED VALUE OF SALES
Net sales of foliage plants in Florida totaled an estimated $10,045,654 during
1956. The net sales figure was derived by subtracting purchases from other foliage
plant growers from total gross sales. Such purchases amounted to 7.9 percent of the
$10,904, 107 total gross sales value. Central Florida growers, located primarily in
Orange County, purchased more plants from other operators than did growers in either
of the other two areas. Buyers either packed and shipped the purchased plants
immediately or continued growing them until they reached larger sizes.
The estimated net value of foliage plants sold during 1956 by growers in each
size group is noted in Table 3. Large growers' sales accounted for 85 percent of the
total sales volume. The medium-sized and small grower groups had 8 and 7 percent,
respectively, of total sales. The average net sales value per acre includingg both
outdoor and greenhouse area) was $20,708 during 1956. Large growers reported the
highest average value per acre with $21,784. They were followed by small growers
with an average net sales value of $20,573 and by medium-sized growers with$13,468.
ESTIMATED NET SALES VALUE OF FOLIAGE PLANTS IN FLORIDA, 1956
Data by Grower Size Groups
Number of Production Net Sales Average Net
Size Group Growers Area" Valueb Sales Value
No. Acres Dollars Dollars
Large Growers 37 394.0 8,582,846 21,784
Medium Growers 36 57.9 779,791 13,468
Small Growers 107 33.2 683,017 20, 573
All Growers 180 485.1 10,045,654 20,708
alncludes greenhouse area.
bNet sales = gross sales minus purchases from other foliage plant growers
within the state.
The range of net sales value per acre reported by growers was from $3,000 to $34,000.
The low value for medium-sized growers is thought to be the result of operators
utilizing much of their stock for propagation in order to expand their businesses.
South Florida growers, with estimated sales of $5,267,747 in 1956, had the
highest total net sales value of foliage plants of the three areas. Growers in the
Central Florida and "Other Florida" areas had net sales of $4,208,485 and $569,422,
respectively (Table 4). Net sales for growers in South Florida averaged $22,953 per
acre; this was a higher average net sales value per acre than in either of the other
area groups. Central Florida and "Oihor Florida" growers averaged $19,974 and
$12,682 not sales per acre, respectively.
ESTIMATED NET SALES VALUE OF FOLIAGE PLANTS IN FLORIDA, 1956
Data by Area Groups
Number of Production Net Sales Average Net
Area Group Growers Areao Valueb Sales Value
No. Acres Dollars Dollars
South Florida 46 229.5 5,267,747 22,953
Central Florida 80 210.7 4,208,485 19,974
"Other Florida" 54 44.9 569,422 12,682
All Areas 180 485.1 10,045,654 20,708
OIncludes greenhouse area.
bNet sales= gross sales minus purchases from other foliage plant growers within
Growers in Florida sold foliage plants to ten primary market outlets. These
outlets consisted of markets both within and outside Florida and are listed in order of
importance in Table 5. Direct sales made to greenhouse operators outside Florida for
"growing-on" purposes accounted for 28 percent of the net sales volume of foliage
plants sold by producers in the state during 1956. Greenhouse operators usually
"grow-on" cuttings or pot plants to larger sizes before they are sold and moved into
trade channels for retailing to final consumers. Net sales to variety stores, both
within and out of state, made up 23 percent of the total.
Net sales to brokers accounted for 14 percent of the value of foliage
MARKET OUTLETS AND NET VALUE OF FOLIAGE PLANTS SOLD, 1956
Market Outlets Value of Net Sales
Dollars Percent of Total
Greenhouse operators for growing-on
(out of state) 2,785,609 28
Variety stores (5 10 cent stores) 2,337,726 23
Brokers 1,415,968 14
Local buyers (wholesale) 972,221 10
Grocery stores 815,333 8
Jobbers 779,016 8
Retail florists 704,624 7
At retail (place of business) 160,260 2
At retail (mail order) 37,557 a
Department stores 37,340 a
Total 10,045,654 100
aLess than 0.5 percent.
plants sold.6 Wholesale sales to local buyers, which included foliage plant growers
and others in Florida, constituted 10 percent of the total net sales of the industry.
These plants were utilized for "growing-on" purposes, for filling immediate orders and
Brokers were defined in this study as market outlets or independent agents
through whom growers negotiated in making indirect sales of plants to various buyers,
Brokers, who did not take title to the goods, acted as intermediaries between producers
and buyers. Brokers often advertised in trade journals and in turn sent specific orders to
growers. Growers then filled these orders, usually shipping them under the address
label of the broker.
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Sales made to grocery stores, jobbers, retail florists, at retail (place of
business), at retail (mail order) and department stores each accounted for less than 9
percent of the total net sales value. Jobbers, as used here, may be synonymous with
wholesale florists. They should not be confused with brokers since jobbers actually
handle the plants and redistribute them to their own market outlets.
Scope of distribution.-- The net value of Florida foliage plants sold to
buyers in various distribution areas is indicated in Figure 1. The Northeastern area
was the largest market for foliage plants from Florida. Growers estimated that 47 per-
cent of their net sales were made to buyers in the Northeast. The Midwestern area
ranked second, accounting for 24 percent of total net sales. The Southeastern area
Figure 1 .--Relative Importance of Foliage Plants Sold (Value Basis) by
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was third with 14 percent of net sales. The Southwestern area accounted for 6 percent
while states included in the Western area were the destinations for 5 percent of net
sales. Exports to other countries were smaller in value than sales to any of the areas
in the United States. Nevertheless, the value of exports amounted to more than
$400,000 and constituted 4 percent of all net sales.
Type of transportation. --Railway express, air freight and truck were the
primary methods of transportation utilized. Some shipments were also made by bus
and parcel post. Although net sales for all growers amounted to $10,045,654, foliage
plants valued at $8,742,350 were transported by the various methods noted in Table 6.
The difference of $1,303,304 was the net value of retail sales made at growers' places
of business and sales made to other growers in Florida and to other market outlets where
these methods of transportation were not required. Sales made on a wholesale basis
to other local growers were generally hauled in pickup trucks.
NET VALUE OF FLORIDA FOLIAGE PLANTS SHIPPED TO DISTANT
MARKETS BY VARIOUS METHODS OF TRANSPORTATION, 1956
Method of Transportation Value of Total Net Delivered Sales
Railway Express 4,285,795 49
Air Freight 2,475,836 28
Truck 1,829,699 21
Parcel Post 135,932 2
Bus 15,088 b
Total 8,742,350a 100
Oalants sold retail at growers' places of business and those sold wholesale to
other growers in the state amounted to $1,303,304. This figure, plus net delivered
sales of $8,742,350, gives a total net sales value of $10,045,654.
Less than 0.5 percent.
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Nearly half of the foliage plants, in terms of sales value, shipped from Florida
during 1956 were moved by railway express. Air freight, the second most important
shipping method, accounted for 28 percent of the total net value of plants shipped.
Many growers indicated that, because of more favorable air freight rates and added
service to new destinations, they were planning to increase the percentage of their
volume shipped by air freight,
Foliage plants shipped by truck accounted for 21 percent of the net value of
delivered sales. Although commercial trucking firms operate to certain areas, many
growers have found it advantageous to utilize their own trucks for shipping foliage
plants. Truck deliveries were reported to various markets in Florida, the Southeast,
the Northeast and certain places in the Midwest where growers had large concentrations
of sales. Shipments made by parcel post and bus were negligible.
IMPORTANCE OF SPECIFIC FOLIAGE PLANTS SOLD
The relative importance of various groups of foliage plants sold in Florida
during 1956 is given in Table 7. While some of these plants are listed by specific
species, others are grouped to include many species of the same genus. Plants were
classified in this fashion since most growers responded more readily in providing sales
value data by groups of plants sold rather than for each specific species of plants.
The purpose of this analysis is to indicate the relative importance of specific plant
groupings; many factors combine to make a rigid interpretation of the data in dollar
Philodendron cordatum ranked first in importance, accounting for 34 percent
of the total net wholesale value of foliage plants sold in Florida during 1956. Over
NET VALUE AND RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF VARIOUS GROUPS OF
FOLIAGE PLANTS SOLD BY FLORIDA GROWERS, 1956
Net Relative Importance
Plant or Plant Group Value of Each Group
Philodendron all others, including
Pothos aureus (excluding Marble Oueen variety)
Nephthytis, all species and varieties
Pothos aureus (Marble Oueen)
Ficus all species
Algeonema Chinese evergreens
Diffenbachia all species and varieties
Neanthe bella (dwarf palm)
Dracaena all species and varieties
Peperomia all species and varieties
Pilea (aluminum plant)
half of the total net sales of Philodendron cordatum were of plants in three inch pots
or less; rooted cuttings accounted for more than a third of the total sales of this species.
All other species and varieties of philodendron, including Monstera deliciosa, were
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classified together and accounted for 16.1 percent of the total not value of foliage
plants sold. Thus all species and varieties of philodendrons, including P. cordatum,
accounted for half of the total net sales of foliage plants sold in Florida during 1956.
Sansevieria laurenti, Pothos aureus (excluding the variety Marble Cueen) and
Sansevieria zeylanica each accounted for 5 to 10 percent of the total net sales. Both
species of sansevieria were largely sold bare-root while Pothos aureus was primarily
sold in pots measuring less than 3 inches in diameter.
Sales of all other plant groupings each accounted for less than 5 percent of
the total net sales value. All foliage plants not classified in the above groups were
listed under miscellaneous. Although individual plant groups included in this last
classification were of relatively minor importance, they contributed 4.2 percent of
total net sales.
PACKING FOR SHIPMENT
Methods used.-- Growers who shipped foliage plants to distant points packed
most of their plants in master containers made of corregated cardboard. Newspapers
were generally used for supporting and insulating plants within ihese boxes. A few
growers used an insulating sheeting known to the trade as "Jiffy pads." In instances
where growers utilized their own trucks in shipping, individual potted plants were
often set in wooden or cardboard trays and these in turn were placed on shelves
within trucks. Deliveries of plants by this method were to such market outlets as
grocery stores, retail florists' shops and variety stores.
Data on the forms in which plants were sold, classified by type of container,
pot or wrap and the net value and relative importance for each of them, are noted
in Table 8. The type container, wrap or pot in which plants were sold depended on
the kind of plant, buyer and grower preferences and the form in which they were sold;
i.e., rooted cuttings, pots and specimen plants. Pictured on page 6 are some typical
packing and shipping methods utilized by foliage plant growers.
More than one-third of the total net sales of plants in value terms were sold
in plastic pots. These plants were ready for immediate resale without the necessity
for any further "growing-on" by buyers. Growers favored plastic pots because (1)
they are light in weight, eliminating excessive transportation costs and (2) they are
available in many bright colors, offering good display possibilities for retail store
merchandisers. In addition, the soil within these pots does not dry out as readily
nor do fungi and bacteria collect on plastic as they do on clay pots.
NET VALUE AND RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF FLORIDA FOLIAGE
PLANTS SOLD, CLASSIFIED BY TYPE OF CONTAINER, WRAPS
OR POTS IN WHICH THEY WERE SHIPPED, 1956
Type Container, Pot or Wrap
Wax Paper and Cellophane
Sold locally, bare root
Cans and Wooden Tubs
Aluminum Pots and Foil Wrap
aLess than 0.5 percent
bTotals less than 100 because of rounding.
Plants sold in wraps of wax paper and cellophane constituted 25 percent of
the total net sales of foliage plants during 1956. Plants packaged in this manner
were usually unrooted or rooted cuttings. Plants sold in paper pots accounted for
13 percent of net sales. These plants could either be shifted to other pots for
immediate sale to consumers or be utilized for growing-on purposes.
Plants wrapped directly in newspaper accounted for 10 percent of net sales
in 1956. Sansevieria zeylanica and Sansevieria laurenti were packaged in newspaper
alone since, because of their hardy characteristics, it is not necessary to take extreme
precautions in shipment. Plants sold in clay pots accounted for 9 percent of net sales.
The weight of clay pots, in most cases, made it economically prohibitive to ship
plants so packaged to distant markets. All other types of containers or wraps in which
plants were shipped accounted for less than 5 percent of the total net sales volume in
SOME SPECIAL MARKETING PROBLEMS
Florida foliage plant growers were in a relatively favorable economic
position during 1956 since a ready market was generally available for most varieties
of foliage plants. Neither governmental agencies nor trade associations to which
many growers in the industry belong provide market information. Because of this,
demand for plants can be estimated by growers only from orders placed in advance
and from the experience of preceding years. Many growers reported that they priced
their plants in accordance with the published prices of those growers who advertised
in trade journals. Whether there was a price leader in the industry was very difficult
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Improving marketing practices.-- Growers set forth various changes in
marketing practices which they believed would result in an improved market for
foliage plants. Most growers answered the question concerning improved marketing
practices on the basis of how they, as individuals, could sell more through the
combined efforts of all members in the industry. Suggestions made by growers are
listed in order of the frequency in which they were mentioned:
1. Sell only high quality plants. Growers seemed about equally
divided on the advisability of requiring everyone in the industry
to follow a given set of grades for foliage plants.
2. Advertising foliage plants by the cooperative efforts of all
growers in the industry.
3. No price cutting.
4. Increase retailers' knowledge on care of plants and proper
display techniques for increased sales.
5. Increase customers' knowledge of names and the cultural
requirements of plants.
6. Develop new packaging techniques for foliage plants.
7. Improve transportation facilities and keep freight and express
rates at a minimum.
Sales promotion.-- Nearly all types of sales promotion used by growers in
the foliage plant industry are directed toward wholesale buyers. Most growers
believed that nothing could be accomplished at the consumer level unless it was
done on a cooperative basis by the entire industry. Various sales promotional
techniques used by growers are price lists, trade journal advertising, telephone
selling, personal traveling and calls by salesmen. Growers reported $276,525 as
having been spent for sales promotion and advertising in 1956. This sum represented
2.7 percent of the net sales of the industry.
Full time employment.-- Some 1,300 persons were employed full time in the
Florida foliage plant industry during 1957 (Table 9). This figure represents owners,
managers and all employees who received salaries or wages for full time work in
connection with foliage plant operations. Full time employment in this industry
increased 9 percent from 1956 to 1957. Much of the increase was occasioned by the
additional acreage and greenhouse area placed into production.
The Central Florida area ranked first in number of employees with 682 full
time persons working in the foliage plant industry during 1957. This number repre-
sented 53 percent of the total employment in the industry throughout the state. South
Florida was second with 3V percent while "Other Florida" growers employed 8 percent
of the total number of full time workers. Although South Florida growers had more
outdoor and shaded acreage devoted to the production of foliage plants than those
in either of the other two area groups, Central Florida growers employed more
workers. The major reason for this relationship is the large amount of labor required
for operating the huge greenhouses of Central Florida growers. Growing foliage
plants in greenhouses requires more labor than growing them under lath or in open
Part time employment.--Part time employment, as defined in this study,
pertains to employees who work the year around but for only a few hours a day or
a few days a week. These employees include housewives who may work half a day,
students who work afternoons and on Saturdays and retired people who work one or
two days a week.
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NUMBER OF PERSONS EMPLOYED IN THE FLORIDA FOLIAGE PLANT
INDUSTRY, BY AREA GROUPS, DURING 1956 AND 1957
Area Group Full Time Part Time Seasonal
1956 1957 1956 1956
No. No. No. No.
South Florida 426 506 35 112
Central Florida 666 682 92 84
Other Florida 103 111 32 7
All Areas 1,195 1,299 159 203
Part time employees numbered 159 during 1956. The Central Florida area
growers utilized 58 percent of the total number in the state. South Florida area
growers hired 22 percent while "Other Florida" growers employed 20 percent of the
total number of part time employees.
Seasonal employment.-- Many growing operations were characterized by
relatively stable full time employment the year around. Others hired additional
employees for short periods of time. A total of 203 seasonal employees were hired
during peak periods when additional work was required in packing and shipping as
well as in various phases of production. The South Florida area growers hired 55
percent of the seasonal employees within the state during 1956. Central Florida
growers hired 41 percent of all seasonal employees while "Other Florida" growers
hired only 4 percent.
Labor utilization.-- Growers interviewed were asked to estimate the
proportion of their employees' time utilized in production and maintenance, in
packing and shipping and in administration and selling (Table 10). This was done
to obtain a measure of the differences existing among grower size groups in relation
to the various operations performed in foliage plant enterprises.
Production and maintenance activities accounted for 81 percent of the time
of the average employee in the entire industry. The packing and shipping and the
administration and selling phases averaged 13 and 6 percent, respectively, of
employees' time. As the size of operations increased, relatively more time was
devoted to the packing and shipping and to the administration and selling phases of
the business while less time was devoted to production and maintenance.
PROPORTION OF EMPLOYEES' TIME IN THE FLORIDA FOLIAGE PLANT INDUSTRY
DEVOTED TO PRODUCTION AND MAINTENANCE, TO PACKING AND
SHIPPING AND TO ADMINISTRATION AND SELLING
Size Group Employees' Time Devoted to:
Production and Packing and Administration
Maintenance Shipping and Selling
Percent Percent Percent
Large growers 75 18 7
Medium growers 81 14 5
Small growers 87 8 5
Average 81 13 6
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The production of foliage plants has increased very rapidly during the past
decade. Although foliage plants are grown successfully in other areas of the country,
the possibility of growing them more economically outdoors has favored their large
scale production in Florida.
Foliage plants have been grown commercially in Florida since 1925. The
first greenhouses were constructed in Central Florida for the propagation of foliage
plants in 1939. In 1957 the industry was composed of 180 growers, most of whom
had small growing operations of less than 1 acre. The South Florida area accounted
for 55 percent, Central Florida for 38 percent and the "Other Florida" area for 7
percent of the nearly 585 acres devoted to the culture of foliage plants in 1957.7
The average acreage per grower was highest in South Florida and lowest in the
"Other Florida" area.
Estimated net sales of foliage plants by growers amounted to $10,045,654
during 1956. Sales made to out-of-state greenhouse operators for"growing-on"
purposes and to variety stores totaled over 50 percent of the entire net sales volume.
Sales made to brokers accounted for slightly over 14 percent while sales made to other
outlets each accounted for less than 10 percent of net sales.
The Northeastern area was the largest market for foliage plants, accounting
for 47 percent of net sales. Net sales to the Midwestern area ranked second while
the Southeastern area was third. Net sales to the Southwest, West and areas outside
the United States (exports) each accounted for less than 6 percent of the total net sales.
7Includes almost 36 acres of greenhouse area in addition to the area in open
fields and that under lath and under saran cloth.
Railway express, air freight and truck were the primary methods used for
shipping foliage plants to distant markets. Shipments made by railway express
accounted for 49 percent while those made by air freight and truck represented
28 percent and 21 percent, respectively, of the total net sales.
Philodendron cordatum accounted for a third of the total net wholesale value
of foliage plants sold. Half of the net sales value of foliage plants sold by growers
in Florida during 1956 was contributed by all species and varieties of philodendrons.
All species of sansevieria accounted for more than 15 percent of all sales.
Growers packed most of their foliage plants in master containers made of
corregated cardboard. Foliage plants comprising more than a third of the total net
sales value of the industry were sold in plastic pots. Rooted and unrooted cuttings
wrapped in wax paper and cellophane accounted for more than a fourth of the total
value. Plants were also sold in paper pots, newspaper, clay pots, cans, aluminum
pots, foil wrap and plant bands.
Glutted markets offered no serious problem for most growers in the foliage
plant industry during 1956. Data pertaining to the market demand for Florida foliage
plants are negligible. Demand can be estimated only from orders placed in advance
and from growers' experience in preceding years. Growers, for the most part, priced
their plants in accordance with advertised prices in trade journals and with price
lists of other growers.
Nearly 1,300 persons were employed full time in the Florida foliage plant
industry during 1957. Growers in Central Florida hired 53 percent of this total.
Growers in the South Florida and "Other Florida" areas employed 39 percent and 8
percent, respectively, of these workers.
Exp. Sta., Ag. Ec. -800