How to Use Creative Containers to Sell More Houseplant Liners

July 12, 2019
Category: Marketing Ideas

According to the National Gardening Association, U.S. sales of houseplants have surged 50% in the last three years, thanks to Millennials. And we’re not surprised, because we’ve heard the same story while talking to customers on the phone and at trade shows.


Houseplants are a hot topic, so creatively featuring them will boost your greenhouse summer sales. To help you stay on top of the trend, we are going to show you how to take ordinary houseplants and elevate their aesthetic appeal. (As well as their profitability!) Increasing their appeal to your crafty Millennials customers will help you sell more plants this summer.

Trailing Houseplants Just Need the Right Container

If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ll remember the “good ole days” when you could sell Wandering Jew, Swedish Ivy, and other foliage hanging baskets in the heat of summer.


We’re glad to say that those days seem to be returning, as more and more people are looking for living plants to enjoy inside their house. The challenge is that there are lots and lots of choices in the marketplace. Here are a couple of tips we’ve learned that will help you maximize your summer sales:


  1. Choose small-leaf trailing plants like Pilea, Swedish Ivy, Wandering Jew, and Vinca Vine to put in small pots that can go just about anywhere in the house.
  2. The container is much more important than it used to be. A nice 8-inch hanging basket can still pass the test, but look for crafty ways to let the plant grow- like spilling from a terrarium or a repurposed pail.
  3. Plant three or four liners in one small pot for a really quick finish. The picture of the Baby Tears in this section is four liners that are only about three weeks old.
  4. Thyme and Mint might do really well in these types of containers if the customer is going to have enough sun in the area that they are growing them.

Small Mounding Houseplants Can Go in Just About Anything

Small mounding houseplants can be used to repurpose jars or other small decorative pots. These Ajuga will naturally stay short and look great on a desk or kitchen counter. When looking at which plants will do well, choose plants that have a mounding habit, will grow in shade, and are typically slower. Ajuga, Alternanthera, Pilea, Fittonia, and Succulents all come to mind.

Larger Plants Will Need a Touch More Room

A Spider basket takes a good ten weeks to finish, but a Spider in a small repurposed jar or crafty globe takes only two to four weeks to fill the space. Other larger plants can be potted like this, too. We tried some Pothos, Philodendron, large leaf Wandering Jew, and Swedish Ivy. They all performed really well!

Tillandsia: One of the Most Versatile Plants in Your Arsenal

These hanging globes called out to us in the store, saying they were perfect for displaying air plants. We added a few rocks in the bottom to give some structure to the look and then laid the Tillandsia in. It was instantly ready to sell. If you haven’t tried these little plants, you should. You can glue them to anything (I’ve seen some really crafty stuff with seashells.), and they will grow just about anywhere. Here are a few tips to get you going:


  • Use a plant-safe glue that won’t harm the plants as they grow.
  • Use a spritz bottle to thoroughly wet the foliage two to three times per week.
  • You want enough air circulation so that the plants are dry within four hours of watering.
  • Be creative!

Succulents: They’re All the Rage

Succulent and Cactus sales are off the charts. We’ve doubled production two years in a row, and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight for the demand. The biggest tip I can give you on these little desert plants is to don’t overthink it. Use small pots, ramekins, dishes, or pails. It’s important to keep the container small, or you will be waiting a long time to have a sellable product. Matching the liner to the pot size will ensure that you can sell them within days of receiving a shipment.

General Tips on Building Indoor Terrariums

If you want a slightly larger display area, try a terrarium. Depending on the size, you can sometimes mix a couple of plant types for more variety. Here are some terrarium ideas to get you started.


Ensure Proper Drainage

Most indoor globes, jars, and pails won’t have any drainage. This can cause fungus growth or root rot- which is a huge problem. Make sure to put an adequate amount of rocks at the bottom of the container. This creates an area that allows for the water to settle and evaporate without keeping the soil saturated.


Provide Lighting Tips

Make sure you educate your customer on the amount of light the plant will need. For example, we’ve had a terrible time growing Mint in our kitchen because there isn’t enough light. If your customer has a bad experience, they may just not understand the growing needs of the plant. Post some simple signage or bench cards to help people understand what the plant will need once they get it to its new home.


Use Repurposed Containers

In short, it’s a great idea. There is a sense of accomplishment when we give something a new life in a creative way. The danger to watch out for is using any materials that may cause chemical changes. For example, a rusty pail may change the pH of the soil. To control for that, you may need to add a liner to keep your soil in check.


Shop the Sales

After the spring rush, craft stores put their plant containers on sale. All of the containers in the pictures in this blog were bought at Michaels for 60% off. Find a sale, put the right plant in it, and turn a profit.


Check out Pinterest and Instagram

Ideas abound there. Look for ideas that fit the plants you have that didn’t sell in the spring. Sometimes just a new presentation will help move a plant that has been sitting on the bench all this time. Something that wasn’t originally popular with your customer may become a hit as your new “greenhouse summer sales” item.