Expanding Markets and Increasing Manageability and Sales of Native Azaleas
Grant Award: $6,000
Bill has made critical changes at his nursery to sell off his current inventory of field-grown azaleas, which are mostly native to other parts of the Southeast, and start container-grown azaleas native to Western North Carolina. Many of his plants are native to Florida, Pennsylvania and the piedmont of North Carolina and have root balls that weigh up to 100 pounds. He’d rather offer plants that local customers have expressed interest in.
“The sale of existing plants will allow the nursery to change tracks so that locally desirable container grown native azaleas will replace field grown plants that are native elsewhere,” Bill said. “People will be able to purchase the container plants at markets and put them in their cars, thereby broadening the number of potential buyers. The plants will be available for sale for an extended time during the year, and the plants will be more likely to survive when planted in the landscape.”
Bill has about 1,000 azaleas that range in height from three feet to eight feet. They have found homes in Asheville Botanical Gardens, The Ramble in Biltmore Holdings, Crow Fields, Calloway Gardens, Central Park in New York City and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville NC. To move out his current inventory, he is increasing his advertising using direct mail to landscapers and landscape architects, websites, and magazine advertisements, such as The Plant Locator.
Bill has unique varieties such as Rhododendron austrinum (Florida flame azalea), R. pennsylvania, R. serrulatum (swamp azalea), and various cultivars. He also has azaleas native to Western North Carolina, such as flame azaleas, Rhododendron aborescens (smooth or sweet azalea) and Rhododendron vaseyi (pinkshell). He has five acres of azaleas and rhododendrons, which he started in 1987. His goal is to supplement his income during his retirement.