Title: Florida foliage plant industry
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Title: Florida foliage plant industry
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Creator: Nicholls, Charles A.
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(B- (t


Agricultural Economics Mimeo Report 58-10


THE FLORIDA


FOLIAGE PLANT


by
Charles A. Nicholls,
Cecil N. Smith and Donald L. Brooke


I---a __-


Department of Agricultural Economics
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
in cooperation with
Marketing Research Division
Agricultural Marketing Service
United States Department of Agriculture


April 1958


INDUSTRY


pjrr ~ ~i;ll~y~9~k 4:












TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
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


by

Charles A. Nicholls,1 Cecil N. Smith2 and Donald L. Brooke2


INTRODUCTION

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

areas.

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.

-1-






-2-


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.







-3-


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

panhandle.

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

industry.


DEVELOPMENT OF THE FLORIDA FOLIAGE PLANT INDUSTRY

The production of foliage plants in Florida was begun about 1925 by growers







-4-


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.


INDUSTRY CHARACTERISTICS

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






-5-


TABLE 1

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

Large Growers
(3 acres and over) 37 21 467.9 85 841,560 54

Medium Growers
(1.0 2.99 acres) 36 20 54.7 10 329,475 21

Small Growers
(.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.
















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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






-8-


TABLE 2

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

in 1957.

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.





-9-


in the other two areas. Only a relatively small increase in the "Other Florida" area

was noted.

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.





-10 -


TABLE 3

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
Per Acre
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.






-11 -


TABLE 4

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
Per Acre

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
the state.


MARKET OUTLETS

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






-12 -


TABLE 5

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

for stock.

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.






- 13 -


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.


MARKET DISTRIBUTION

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
Distribution Areas






- 14 -


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.

TABLE 6
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
Dollars Percent
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.







- 15 -


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

terms impracticable.

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






-16 -


TABLE 7

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 cordatum
Philodendron all others, including
Monstera deliciosa
Sansevieria laurenti
Pothos aureus (excluding Marble Oueen variety)
Sansevieria zeylanica
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)
Sansevieria hahnii
Schefflera
Maranta
All Others
Total


Dollars
3,411,503

1,621,369
972,420
725,296
517,352
434,977
310,410
232, 053
227,032
213,973
204,932
197,900
184,840
149,680
94,429
84,383
38,174
424,931
10,045,654


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


Percent
34.0

16.1
9.7
7.2
5.2
4.4
3.1
2.3
2.3
2.1
2.0
2.0
1.8
1.5
.9
.8
.4
4.2
100.0







- 17 -


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






-18-


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.


TABLE 8

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


Plastic Pots
Wax Paper and Cellophane
Paper Pots
Newspaper
Clay Pots
Sold locally, bare root
Cans and Wooden Tubs
Aluminum Pots and Foil Wrap
Plant Bands
Total


Dollac
3,736,
2,541,
1,326,
1,044,
914,
361,
70,1
30,1
20,
10,045,


Net Value
rs Percent
983 37
550 25
026 13
748 10
155 9
544 4
320 1
137 a
391 a
654 100b


aLess than 0.5 percent
bTotals less than 100 because of rounding.







-19 -


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

1956.


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

to determine.







- 20 -


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






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2.7 percent of the net sales of the industry.


EMPLOYMENT

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

fields.
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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TABLE 9

NUMBER OF PERSONS EMPLOYED IN THE FLORIDA FOLIAGE PLANT
INDUSTRY, BY AREA GROUPS, DURING 1956 AND 1957

Persons Employed
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






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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.


TABLE 10

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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SUMMARY

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.






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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.

CN:es 4/16/58
Exp. Sta., Ag. Ec. -800




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