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Planning Plant Purchases

With these helpful tips from SiteOne you can ensure your nursery order for trees and shrubs is fulfilled on time.

December 7, 2022

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Planning Plant Purchases


Nearly ten years later, The Great Recession is still impacting the U.S. nursery and plant industry. In late 2008 as home equity values became more uncertain and consumer spending dwindled, many plant growers pulled back on production.

The national economic rebound, coupled with substantial growth in the outdoor living market, has driven demand for certain plant varieties. Growers who cut back production during the recession are still struggling to keep up with the surge. At the same time, growers who supplied the liner stock of young trees also cut back on production, causing a ripple effect that is impacting production cycles.

This is especially true for plants such as large caliper trees, which have a much longer growth cycle. Demand is so high for two-inch caliper Live Oak and Red Maple trees that growers are selling trees that were supposed to be held for development into three and four-inch caliper sizes. This places even more strain on the future supply of large caliper trees.

The supply of these trees is so tight that contractors who want large orders of Live Oaks (a staple for large commercial projects or residential developments) are likely to encounter challenges securing their full order. And contractors who typically buy plants from the yard the day of a project may not find the trees they want in-stock.

Luckily, with some planning and strategy, contractors can still get the plants they need.

Re-wholesalers, such as SiteOne, can leverage their unique market position to increase the likelihood that an order can be filled, but it takes some planning on the part of the contractor. To increase their chances of success, contractors should:

  • Order Early. If contractors can project demand for the upcoming planting season, SiteOne associates can start working to increase the likelihood of filling a full order for short-supply plants.
  • Know What to Ask For. Plants that have a relatively short growing cycle, such as container shrubs, will be in abundant supply when the time comes. However, for larger trees, contractors should communicate their needs as soon as possible to their suppliers.
  • Tell Your Friends (And Enemies). Distributors make projections based on internal sales numbers, but that's sales data, not demand data. To help ensure accurate projections, suppliers need to hear from multiple contractors in every region. If suppliers have more demand data about a region, they can better balance their projections and recommendations to growers. When suppliers can make projections based on demand, it means contractors are less likely to be caught in the supply squeeze.

When it comes down to the bottom line, the benefits of working with a large re-wholesaler are clear:

  • National Reach + Regional Expertise: SiteOne purchases plants from more than 1,000 growers nationwide, but the actual plant buying happens on a regional level. With full-time field buyers working across five regions, SiteOne has deep local knowledge on demand, quality and availability.
  • Smart Forecasting: Because SiteOne possesses unique, detailed nation-wide knowledge on market conditions, our teams can make far more accurate projections for plant needs. This allows SiteOne to confidently enter into growing agreements with growers to secure the right products. Some current grower contracts extend into 2021.
  • Product Shifting: On occasion, unexpected weather conditions can quickly alter regional demand for certain plants. SiteOne's national network allows us to quickly move product to the areas of the most demand or need, providing a more relevant selection to our customers.

As growers and suppliers work to meet the high demand for some plants, SiteOne is uniquely positioned to deliver the benefits of national reach to local markets. Given advance notice from contractors, SiteOne can increase the likelihood that challenging orders can be filled.

For more information on plant availability or anticipated shortages in your area, contact your local SiteOne store where experts can help you plan for upcoming projects. Find your nearest branch location.

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