Incorporating edibles into gardens, displays and landscapes helps to create a striking and eye-catching setting. Landscapers will love the beauty and contrast of edibles, as well as their hardy plant habits. Consumers will look at edible displays and landscapes with new eyes, visualizing their own garden space as an opportunity to plant their own food, making this idea great for retailers, as well. Here are some ways retailers can utilize edible plants in their marketing strategies and garden center displays, and ideas for landscapers to incorporate edibles in their next big project.
Window boxes are a very traditional way to grow herbs and small vegetables close to home. Vegetable plants that do best in window boxes are very compact and don’t mind being close together. Red Robin dwarf tomato is a perfect example. Red Robin produces loads of tasty little cherry tomatoes on a cute 6-inch tall plant. Basil makes a nice companion plant for Red Robin. At harvest time, home gardeners can skewer mini fresh mozzarella, a Red Robin tomato and a basil leaf on a toothpick. Drizzled with olive oil and salted to taste… they are irresistible!
Larger containers work well on patios, driveways, side yards and sturdy balconies. Half wine barrels are a great size. If they aren’t available, offer your customers containers that are at least 12-18 inches tall and 18-24 inches across with holes in the bottom for drainage. Peppers and compact tomatoes will grow well in containers this size — Jalafuego jalapeno is ideal for limited space. Plants are sturdy and productive, and the fruit are very hot; a few peppers go a long way.
Flower beds can be another great place to fit in edibles. Many cooks like to have herbs close at hand and plant a few plants right outside the kitchen door. Basil, dill, and cilantro are all best eaten fresh — why not encourage customers to plant them a few steps from the kitchen? Varieties like Bulldog collard, Peppermint Swiss chard and Stonehead cabbage all have very large ornamental leaves that look nice planted under tall flowering bushes or used as a backdrop for smaller bedding flowers.
GROW UP! Trellises come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and allow plants to grow vertically so they require a very small footprint. Slice More cucumber, for example, is happy and productive when grown vertically. Fruit can be harvested small for pickles or larger for slicing. Nasturtiums, pansies, and dill all have edible flowers that complement the leaf shape of cucumber plants. With six to eight hours of sunlight, indeterminate tomatoes also perform well on a trellis. Cherry tomatoes such as Sweet Hearts are early and productive.
Edibles can have very dramatic leaf and flower forms. Many don’t realize that okra is in the same family as ornamental hibiscus. The leaves are large, deep glossy green and have an interesting shape. Okra flowers are usually a creamy yellow with a maroon interior. Jambalaya has a nice compact plant that is very productive and can fit nicely in an existing planting. Enjoy the flowers and then pick the pods often to maximize bloom.
Leafy crops are very ornamental and do well in smaller containers, especially when harvested at the baby stage — as early as 21 days from germination. Bowl-shaped and shallow bulb pots look pretty when planted with an assortment of greens. Lettuce is a nice start, but for additional shapes and textures, add mustard, spinach, dill, arugula, beet greens and Swiss chard and harvest at the baby leaf stage. Try varieties like Vulcan lettuce, Peppermint Swiss chard and Deep Purple mustard for color that’s extra dramatic and delicious. Keep a little pair of kitchen shears and some dressing handy, and you’ll have fresh salad ready to go.
“Sakata [vegetable] varieties are known for their bountiful harvest and great taste — something that would delight all gardeners from their garden to their table. A return to the vegetable garden is a welcomed trend that is good for the well-being of ourselves, families, and communities. It may not be possible to grow an entire garden, but growing just a few things makes a difference.” — P. Allen Smith
Strong and stunning
The Proud Mari marigold series comes in three bright, sunny colors and stays strong with its thick, durable stems.
Proud Mari marigold series really stands out in a crowd! These fully double flowers have a uniform bloom time and height across all three vibrant colors: orange, gold and yellow. Plus, their thick, sturdy stems provide the extra support needed to withstand shipping stress and hold beautifully at retail and in the garden and landscape. Proud Mari is a dwarf, compact series with little to no PGR applications required.
Paint your garden with ColorWorks™
This hybrid petunia series delights all audiences with its full, trailing form and exquisite color palette. Well suited for both basket and pot production due to its strong mounding/semi-trailing habit, ColorWorks is a dream for greenhouse growers and home gardeners alike. Its early-blooming nature and astounding flower power make for a commanding display on retail shelves for a strong sell through, and a beautiful and bountiful addition to any landscape design.