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  • Author or Editor: Melinda Knuth x
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Maintaining and caring for residential landscapes is a crucial aspect of homeownership in the United States. For homeowners in the United States, residential lawns represent a significant economic investment, signal their social commitments, and reflect their personal characters. To investigate the differences in Florida homeowners’ priorities regarding residential landscape features, an online survey of 1220 homeowners was conducted. Four different groups of homeowners were identified based on their perceived importance of the four landscape features, namely, environmental, financial, aesthetic, and psychological benefits. Factors such as environmental and financial attitudes and social norms influencing homeowners’ decision-making were examined. The findings revealed that homeowners’ knowledge of landscaping practices and environmental attitudes impact their prioritization regarding landscape features.

Open Access

Pumpkins (Cucurbita sp.) are currently sold in retail commercial bins categorized based on fruit size. There are no standards for these fruit sizes, thus creating discrepancies across the industry. Furthermore, there is not a published partial budget analysis for pumpkin fruit yield based on plant area. An observational study was conducted to quantify and standardize the fruit sizes of pumpkins packed into commercial bins. These proposed standardized fruit sizes were then correlated to the expected fruit size and quantity of different plant areas to estimate the total commercial bin yield. Additionally, a partial budget analysis was conducted to calculate the greatest profit per hectare with the varying plant areas. Pumpkins from bins labeled medium, large, extra-large, and jumbo were hand-measured to determine the diameter, length, and weight. Based on a discriminate analysis, 20% of pumpkins were incorrectly sorted based on current practices. The proposed standard fruit diameters for each bin size are as follows: medium, 23.5 to 26.8 cm; large, 26.9 to 29.9 cm; extra-large, 30.0 to 33.6 cm; and jumbo, 33.7 to 35.5 cm. The results of a partial budget analysis showed that the most profitable plant spacing area is 0.9 m2 with a 1.5-m row width, which will earn $37,163/ha. Profit for pumpkin production is contingent on both fruit quantity and fruit size because these factors dictate the quantity and category of commercial bins. Growers should consider both metrics to optimize their operation.

Open Access

Florists use design theory to create arrangements that they assume will be pleasing to consumers, thus increasing purchase rates and spending. However, certain elements of design theory and their relationship with consumer acceptance and spending have not been empirically tested. Using mixed logit models and eye-tracking technology, we investigated whether consumer preferences support three key elements of existing floral design theory: line, color, and form. We also examined consumer preferences for floral species, which, although not a traditional element of design theory, may influence consumer purchasing decisions. Our findings challenge existing design theory because consumers did not uniformly favor it. Instead, they valued symmetrical form, arrangements with similar (but not identical) colors, and, surprisingly, the presence of roses in an arrangement was the most crucial factor in capturing consumer attention and increasing the willingness to pay.

Open Access

Pumpkins (Cucurbita sp.) grown in North Carolina are a nascent specialty crop that has only risen to a national production level in the past 10 years. There are only general cultural management guidelines for this region, resulting in variation in plant density and inefficient production. Production field studies of the cultivar Kratos were conducted to investigate the impact of plant density and row width on marketable yield and individual fruit size for large carving pumpkins. Plant densities of 2691, 3588, 5382, and 10,764 plants per hectare with row widths of 1.5 and 3.0 m were grown in 2020 and 2021 in North Carolina. Data regarding fruit size, fruit size variance, and yield per area were collected. Fruit size in terms of weight, length, and diameter increased as plant density decreased. There was no difference in fruit size variation between plant densities and row widths. The fruit number per hectare and fruit weight per hectare increased as plant density increased, with the highest production at 10,764 plants per hectare. For years combined, reducing the row width from 3.0 to 1.5 m increased the fruit weight and diameter, but not the length. Additionally, the 1.5-m row width produced more fruit weight per hectare than the 3.0-m row width for both years. Growers can optimize fruit weight per area and fruit number per area by using a density of 10,764 plants per hectare. Overall, using a row width distance that is more equidistant to the in-row spacing promotes higher fruit yield and larger fruit size.

Open Access

The strain on potable water supplies heightens the competition for water resources and potentially reduces the demand for outdoor plantings and landscaping. We conducted an online survey with 1543 respondents in 2016 to ascertain their water conservation and plant expertise, their involvement in water conservation and plant issues, and the importance of plants and landscaping. We also collected demographic characteristics. Cluster analysis results identified two key market segments comprising ≈50% of the sample each: those who are Actively Interested in Water Conservation and those who are Disinterested in Water Conservation. The Actively Interested segment was younger, had more adults and children in the household, and had a higher household income. In addition to having a higher mean score for water conservation involvement and expertise, the Actively Interested segment had a higher mean score for water conservation importance and impact, as well as plant expertise and involvement. The Actively Interested segment scored higher on select components relating to horticultural importance, including aesthetically beautiful landscapes, active landscape enjoyment, desire for a low maintenance landscape, and response in drought, compared with the Disinterested segment. The Disinterested segment scored higher on the Non-Landscape Use with no enjoyment. Findings suggest that pro–water-conserving attitudes are found among consumers who value outdoor landscapes and those individuals who spend more on plants. Results suggest that producers and retailers should focus marketing and communication efforts on low water use cultivar selection and operationalizing water-conserving behaviors more than convincing consumers that plant purchases and landscaping are important.

Free access

Activity level, or the amount of action/interaction with a product, can be an indication of interest in a product category and influences purchases. Our goal was to assess the overall market for landscape plants using consumers’ activity level from the active/passive continuum proposed by . An online survey instrument was administered to invitees from a national online panel from 7 to 13 Sept. 2016 yielding 1543 useful responses. Factor analysis of 23 items adapted from a previous study revealed five factors, including one active factor and a separate passive factor. These two factors were used in the present study as a basis for a k-means cluster analysis. Two clusters emerged and were labeled “Active Engagement” and “Obligatory Passive Engagement” in landscape activities. We compared cluster means for all five factors and found the Active cluster purchased more plants of all types as well as had greater landscape pride and desire for a low (water) input landscape. Members of the Active cluster were from higher income and education households which were slightly larger and more likely to have Caucasian residents compared with the Passive cluster. In practice, retail employees and landscape professionals might initially ask about consumers’ activity level desired in the landscape as a screening question. Subsequent assistance in design and/or plant selection/purchase could then be tailored toward the desired activity level.

Free access

In the coming decades, no natural resource may prove to be more critical to human health and well-being than water. There is abundant evidence that the condition of water resources in many parts of the United States is deteriorating. In some regions of the country, the availability of sufficient water to meet growing domestic uses, and the future sufficiency of water to support the use of landscape plants where we live, work, and play is in doubt. Conservation through water efficiency measures and water management practices may be the best way to help resolve water problems. Yet, consumer perceptions and attitudes and behavior toward water conservation may differ widely, particularly in the presence of drought. This study sought to add to the current horticulture and water conservation literature by exploring consumer attitudes and behavior during real and perceived drought situations, especially in terms of their landscape purchases and gardening/landscaping activities. Study findings could better inform educational programs and marketing strategies, helping to ensure the future demand of Green Industry products and services. With a national sample of 1543 subjects, an online survey tool was used to classify respondents into categories based on whether they accurately perceived if the region in which they lived was experiencing drought. We hypothesized that consumers were heterogeneous in their attitudes and behavior regarding plants and water conservation, depending on their real and perceived drought situations, and that their attitudes affected their behavior regarding plant purchases. Results confirmed this hypothesis. Attitudes and behaviors for those who correctly perceived they were in drought were different from those who correctly perceived they were not in drought, as well as those who incorrectly did not perceive they were in an actual drought.

Free access

Water is becoming scarcer as world population increases and will be allocated among competing uses. Some of that water will go toward sustaining human life, but some will be needed to install and support landscape plants. Thus, future water resource availability may literally change the American landscape. Recent research suggests that consumers’ attitudes and behavior toward potable water supplies have changed in other countries because of greater social awareness and increasingly widespread exposure to drought conditions. We conducted an online survey of 1543 U.S. consumers to assess their perceptions about landscape plants, the water source used to produce them, and plant water needs to become established in the landscape. Using two separate conjoint designs, we assessed their perceptions of both herbaceous and woody perennials. Consumers placed greater relative importance on water source in production over water use in the landscape for both herbaceous and woody perennials included in this study. They preferred (had a higher utility score for) fresh water over recycled water and least preferred a blend of fresh with recycled water for perennials and recycled water used for woody perennial production. In addition, the group that did not perceive a drought but experienced one placed a higher value (higher utility score) on nursery plants grown with fresh water compared with those which were actually not in drought and did not perceive one. Educational and promotional efforts may improve the perception of recycled water to increase the utility of that resource. Promoting the benefits of low water use plants in the landscape may also facilitate plant sales in times of adequate and low water periods.

Full access

Flower species is one of the key determinants of the aesthetic and economic value of floral products. This research study sought to evaluate whether consumer perceptions of the aesthetic appeal and monetary valuations of floral arrangements change by substituting high-cost species with low-cost species of similar appearance. In addition, the researchers explored consumer preferences for flower symmetry, which provides information to assist floral designers in choosing and using species to increase profit margins and improve the economic efficiency of the floral industry. Two experiments were administered through an online survey. For the first experiment, no difference was shown in both willingness to pay and attractiveness ratings for flowers in the high-dollar value vs. low-dollar value comparison groups. For the second experiment, roses (Rosa hybrida) were rated the highest on attractiveness, followed by dahlia (Dahlia hybrida), ranunculus (Ranunculus asiaticus), and anthurium (Anthurium sp.). Radial flowers were considered most appealing, followed by asymmetrical flowers, and last, bilaterally symmetrical flowers. The results of this study lend insight into how the general floral consumer does not differentiate between flower species that are similar in design features such as color, size, or symmetry. This information can be used by floral business operators to sell their bouquets at a higher margin by strategically using lower-cost flower inputs.

Open Access

An online survey of plant purchasers was conducted to ascertain the influence of plant benefits messaging on consumer behavior. Three plant attributes, including type of plant, price, and plant availability, were used to distinguish purchasing preferences. To assess plant purchasing behavior, participants viewed a list of 12 different plant types and selected those they had purchased in the past year. The 12 plant types included annuals, vegetables, herbs, perennials, flowering shrubs, evergreen shrubs, fruit trees, evergreen trees, shade trees, flowering plants, foliage plants, and succulents. The most common retail locations patronized for plant purchases were home improvement stores, closely followed by independent garden centers. Consumers were grouped according to eight different plant benefit messages that they were exposed to, including physical, emotional, cognitive, social, educational, environmental, financial, and aesthetic benefits. Although some of the groups (clusters) exhibited similar purchasing behaviors in terms of plant types purchased, price levels preferred, and their preference for rare, common, or moderately available plants, there were just enough differences among groups to be able to distinguish them from other groups. The plant benefits were obviously affecting purchasing behavior, but further study is needed to understand the underlying reasons more fully.

Open Access