Incorporating hanging baskets in with bedding plant production enables growers to generate income from otherwise unused space above benches and in walkways. Hanging baskets can fetch a higher price (on a per plant basis) than small pots and can, therefore, enhance the profitability of greenhouse bedding plant operations. In some cases, growers may devote whole greenhouses or sections of greenhouses to hanging basket production.
Potential retail markets include farmers markets and direct sales from the greenhouse or farm. Wholesale markets include local garden centers, landscape contractors, discount stores, grocery stores, farm stores, and roadside stands. Hanging baskets are also frequently offered at Kentucky’s produce auctions. Hanging baskets accounted for more than 7% of floriculture sales from the 15 largest floriculture states in 2009; nationally, hanging basket sales have accounted for 10% to 15% of total retail garden center sales. Hanging baskets are often categorized in the consumer’s discretionary spending category. The decline in hanging basket sales slowed by 2010, and average prices for hanging baskets increased slightly across most categories during the 2010s. From 2013 forward, larger hanging baskets incorporating diverse plants in unique containers are expected as a consumer trend. Hanging baskets continue to be a discretionary consumer expense, with more potential likely for increasing category sales to consumers in upper income demographics.
The number of seedlings or cuttings transplanted to a hanging basket depends on the container size, the plant species growth rate, as well as plant quality and cost. The amount of production time available can also be a factor. Plant vigor and height need to be coordinated so that plants grow together well. Each container can be planted to one species (monoculture) or multiple species (mixed). It is important that all plant material in a single container have similar cultural requirements for light and watering. Flower colors in mixed baskets should not clash with each other. For growers beginning mixed species hanging basket production there are many online resources available offering basket ‘recipes’ that have been tested and shown to work well. An artfully arranged mixed hanging basket is highly marketable and can bring a premium price, especially at independent retailers.