Archives for category: Flower Pot University

ENGC-S5-MT - HEROBased on the volume of questions that we field from our customers, deciding how to price out a set of flower pots is one of the more difficult tasks facing garden center management today.

There are a lot of approaches to accomplishing this task, and different solutions will often work for different garden centers, or even for different products within the same garden center. In many ways, pricing planters is more of an art than a science, but there are some basic concepts that will help to get you started, and at least one rule that you should never break:

  • The biggest key to successfully pricing your pots is to make sure that the prices for each piece are proportionally and logically  related to the actual size and scale of each pot included in the set. The easiest way to do this is to use a simple formula to establish ballpark prices. We use the following to power the Unit Price Calculator on our website – Please note that the steps below will work either before or after your margin calculations:
    • Each pot in the set is assigned a numerical value, with 1 being the smallest pot, 2 being the 2nd smallest, 3 being the 3rd smallest, and so forth.
    • These numerical unit values are then added together – a three-pot set would have a total unit count of 6, for example (1+2+3=6). Similarly, a four-pot set would total 10 units (1+2+3+4=10).
    • You then divide the cost of the set by the set’s total unit count – A three-pot set with a cost of $60.00 would be divided by 6 per the example above, resulting in a unit cost of $10.00.
    • This unit cost is then multiplied by the total number of units assigned to an individual pot, so our $60.00 set with an individual unit cost of $10.00 results in per-pot benchmark prices of $10.00 (1 x $10.00), $20.00 (2 x $10.00), & $30.00 (3 x $10.00).
    • If you don’t feel like doing the math by hand, we have an easy-to-use downloadable Excel calculator on our website.
  • Don’t be afraid to second-guess the results from the formula, as many times it will make sense to adjust the weighting of the prices – most often reducing the price of the smallest pot while adding to the cost of the largest pot(s), which tend to be less price-sensitive at retail.
  • One of the great things about the pottery category is that it offers a lot of opportunity for enhancing your margin dollars. It’s perfectly fine to raise your prices beyond what the formula dictates if you feel that a particular pot can support a higher price –  If a pot looks like a $79.00 item to you, but the formula says that it should be a $59.00 pot, charge the higher price – you can always discount away from it if needed.
  • Finally, the only hard and fast rule in this process is that you should never, ever, simply divide the cost of a set by the number of pots in the set. This  overly-simple solution always leads to retail prices that don’t make sense, as you wind up with large and small pots sitting on your shelves at the same price.

Following a year and a half of red-hot sales of succulents and cacti, many garden centers are starting to notice an increase in consumer inquiries about bonsai trees and bonsai pots. These traditional shallow planters can also be used for many other sorts of plantings, including fairy gardens, succulents, and some forced bulbs. The following ideabook from offers a concise overview of some bonsai basics:

rustic-pots-header-templateFor almost 1,500 years, the Yixing region of China has been renowned as the source of some of the finest stoneware ceramic products in the world. Perched on the outer reaches of the Yangtze River plains, the area features vast deposits of iron-rich dark clay.

The “Rustic” pottery tradition was among the first to emerge from the shadow of the teapot business, as these coarsely crafted pots were originally intended for local consumption only. The traditional shapes developed as various needs arose, ranging from tall jugs for water storage, to lower shapes for oil, to wider forms used for drying rice. Over time, these containers began to be re-purposed as planters, which eventually led to an entirely new industry in the area. As time passed, production techniques became more specialized, the aesthetic more refined, and a classic tradition of simple, gorgeous, handmade (and often enormous) pottery emerged.WedgingA flower pot always starts with the clay. In this particular workshop, different clays from several local mines are blended together by experienced clay makers to produce a proprietary mix which offers the perfect combination of flexibility, durability and structural integrity necessary for these giant pieces. The mixed clay is then “wedged” or kneaded by apprentices, removing any last air bubbles, before being passed on to the pot craftsmen.Rustic Step 1The wedged clay is combined into long snake-like rolls, which are then slightly flattened by hand.Rustic Step 2These flat rolls are then attached to a previously prepared pot bottom, which includes an inch or two of the pot’s vertical walls. The clay is gradually coiled around the pot, continuously layering upon itself as the walls of the pot rise.Rustic Pottery Construction Step 3As the coil loops around the body of the pot, the craftsmen knead the the sections together by hand, progressing up the pot inch-by-inch.Rustic Pottery Construction Step 4After the pot has reached a certain height, the workers will begin the process of smoothing and shaping the walls of the pots – the smoothing is done with a series of small scrapers, while the shape is gently adjusted with wooden paddles and mallets.

The pots are then allowed to dry a bit to enhance their stability, after which the workers add another long coil to the top of the pot. This process repeats itself over the course of several days until the pot reaches its final height and form.

Eventually, the rim of the pot will be finished by a senior craftsman, and the pot will be allow to slowly, and thoroughly, dry for several days. This slow process is critical for large items, and ensures that structural cracks do not form in in the body of the pot.

Once the pots are “bone dry”, they are glazed in one of a handful of traditional, earthy glaze colors. Typically, these glazes are applied by hand in several layers,  with an uneven application around the pot.Rustic Pottery GlazingOnce the gaze is dried, the pots are loaded into enormous brick ovens, called “kilns”, which bake the pots at temperatures approaching 2,200 degrees. Often generations-old, these multi-chambered kilns are heated with wood fires, which are carefully tended to precisely control the temperatures and flow of air within the firing chambers. This is critically important, as the final colors of each glaze depend on them being fired within specific temperature ranges.Stoking the KilnFollowing a multi-day firing, the kilns are allowed to slowly cool for several more days before the door are opened. At this point, the colors of the glazes are revealed, as are the variations (drips, burn marks, hot spots, etc) that truly make each pot a unique work of art. These variations are thought to be part of the charm and beauty of these magnificent flower pots, and are not considered flaws. Kiln Being OpenedThese giant rustic planters are among the most durable that we sell, and are safe for year-round use in all climates, assuming that basic precautions are taken.