Market research on garden rose sales.

What roses are currently the big sellers and why?

Where is the market for garden rose sales heading in the next 20 years or so?

Any marketing analysis would be greatly appreciated by me here!

I’m definately not an expert, but here are a few thoughts and things I see emerging:

-Own root everything. Hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, etc. J&P, Conard Pyle, etc are especially headed this way. Some of these places are selling off expensive land where they have done a lot of field production. Budding crews are harder to find and expensive is part of it. CUtting propagation from plugs and then them forced into gallon or two gallon pots reduces production time, shipping costs, etc. and gives them more flexibility. J&P has those black square pots about a gallon in size they are putting out. They have a nice “lid” that snaps around the top of the pot with a hole for the rose to keep the soil in and has slits within it for water to penetrate in the retail environment.

-Health! People want healthy versions of all market classes that don’t fall apart and become a landscape liability from black spot, etc.

-THere is a trend I think towards introgressing durable disease resistance into especially the more traditionally sought after roses (ones with larger blooms and HT shape).

-Smaller plants definately predominate. Proven winners Oso Easy series, Drift series, etc. coming out look full and nice in gallon or two gallon pots in the retail environment. Many have polyantha or miniature backgrounds. I think it is a byproduct of the new trend in production. I think smaller, more compact versions of hybrid teas and such is the trend too. THe larger hybrid teas and shrubs still are desired by consumers, but the mass market kind of environment will not promote them as much. I think specialty nurseries and more general garden catalogs where people order bareroot will primarily be the continued sources for these types of roses.

Just my thoughts,


I agree with David.

Remember too that traditional bare root roses have often been sold at a loss for years. Big box stores use them as loss leaders in hopes of creating sales of amendments fertilizers and pesticides.

This is one reason attempts to clean up viruses has been so slow to come about. Production costs have been kept extremely low out of necessity.

I predict roses will increasingly be thought of as disposable, used as an inexpensive replacement for cut flowers and thrown out as they fade.

Demographic trends project more people moving into cities. It’s pretty obvious if you look at middle America. Small towns are dying off quickly. Fewer people are going to have space and time for gardening.

Knock Out is sold at a huge profit in wholesale. For example, if $4.00 was put into cost to sell the plant then a price point to a box store could be like $12.00, and they could sell it for $20.00. I am not going to name exact amounts, but that was the general pattern for the year. Flower Carpet was not a huge of a margin, but somewhat similar in pattern.

If Knock Out had blooms like David Austins, the shelves would be perpetually empty for a few years, lol.

A friend of mine has a small retail nursery and he is getting more into miniature anything…trees, roses, numerous shrubs, etc. This is interesting since he caters to folks that have large rural yards. He says the trend in this area is toward container gardening. How long this will last is anyone’s guess.


Recent trends in the landscape industry is a subject in the realm of roses that I can speak about. What many medium and large estate gardens want out of their roses (in

their landscapes) is reliable, massive amounts of year’round color, low use of pesticides (some accept any level), and roses that grow with the care of a gardener who may not be a rose specialist-in fact, he might be a “Mow & Blow” specialist, who just happens to take care of the rest of the

yard,including roses. They also might want roses that fit into a particular color scheme, just to complicate things. When someone has between $25,000 to $85,000 (real figures,not pulled out of a hat) to spend on just the plant phase,(and this includes roses) you give them what they want

to the best of it’s availability. The reliable masses of constant color part is easy if sticking with the Icebergs, the Carefrees (Beauty,Sunshine, Wonder and Delight), the Drift series,and a few shrubs like Lady Elsie May, Country Dancer,Preference, Sally Holmes, Sunny Side Up,and Wing Ding(looks good so far). I have only found Lady Elsie May, Pink Drift, and Electric Blanket to be bullet Proof.

Carefree Beauty, Elle, Betty Boop, Moondance and Country Dancer are close-but not perfect—but here is the caveat—these roses have to be available from growers, yr round,and at a competitive price. There are other roses that are great and fit all the above criteria, but who carries them all (or most)of the time, in numbers needed at a somewhat short notice? This is the real world, and many Landscape Architects spec out 20-30 yr old mildew magnets, the local growers may only stock 5-10 per variety, and by the end of May even these are not available. Greenheart carries most of the ones I have mentioned because they are the well known roses that work in the landscape. Knock outs are available, (and I have used then several times) but the flowers are pretty bad, and the colors have a garish

flatness (except Rainbow knockout which looks great en mass) that just does not do anything for the landscape (IMO).

So,speaking just in relation to landscaping, many of the ‘healthy, quick repeating,reliable, showy and colorful, use a hedge clipper for trimming as maintenance, and of course available in the marketplace’ type of roses that are popular today as props in landscaping-but this is mostly in

the impersonal world of roses as an accessory–there are very limited choices. Even Tea roses (for cut flowers) have to a large degree fallen victim to being an accessory in the “massive” landscaped yards. Really good, available, disease free, and

fragrant cutting roses are even more restricted as to choices. I think this is due to the suppliers financial restrictions–if it doesn’t sell, it does not continue to be carried. This is kind of a short sighted loop. Not every rose can become an overnight sensation (for landscape use), although Pope Paul II did pretty well and is catching on for use. Radler’s roses have taken a while to be accepted, and he has had a very persistent marketing/education program, both targeting the homeowner and the landscaper/landscapee. So–from the point of view of homeowners’ requests to the landscaper, “reliable, quick repeating, disease resistant and non fussy roses with a few that have ‘cutting’ quality” is what the client wants, and when you look at that, it is pretty much what we all want. Fragrance is mentioned when it comes to the cut rose selections, but rarely otherwise.

Jackie, how many medium and large estate gardens are out there, do you think?

Don, I’m sure that there are more than we might think, but they probably take up less than 2% of the total gardens–however, they do use a disproportionate amount of the total market. How many of the non rose-fetish public have 100+ or more roses in their yards? Those numbers are usually only used by the fanatics (myself included) who have a special interest in roses. Some of those yards look like public parks, or public rose gardens, and some of them do employ a rose specialist above and beyond their regular gardener. I know that the company I’m employed by does about 15-20 of those yards (construction) a year, and even though I don’t use roses in all of them, I sometimes use 80-120 on a regular basis. I also know that there are 4 or 5 companies in this city that does approximately the same. This in addition to several consultants who specialize in rose gardens. But not all of these yards even have roses. Sometimes the homeowner specifically requests no roses because they have painful memories of their childhood, in which they had to prune their mother’s roses. Maybe this is a call for the “smooth” roses? Jackie

Just by observing local gardens and garden centres, and watching rose specialist outlets disappear locally, I deduce that where I live, rose sales have been suffering a massive decline for some time now, in favour of other plants (eg. Australian natives, other low maintenance plants, and fruit/vegetable gardening).

I can’t see this trend reversing any time soon.

Is it true that the miniatures are the biggest selling roses currently on the northern side of the planet?

Well, I certainly see the Kordana roses every where I shop for food, lol…

Potted flowering roses are probably overselling others. Both at florist and food store or garden centers.

And there is definitively a shift away from miniatures to bigger flowers.

The micro miniatures are no longer sold as it were. Most sold are large miniatures like te “Patio” and there are more and more compact up to small HT sized roses sold.

Breeding for a nice potted display actually is at cost of garden desease resistance…

I am very interested in the comments you just posted Pierre. Your observations seem to ‘fit’ what I have noticed here where I live also!

Whilst at the rose growers a few days ago, I decided to throw at them a few issues that have come up in discussions on this forum.

I asked them what the biggest sellers for my area were, and the answer was Iceberg, Iceberg, Iceberg…(in bush or tree form, but not the climber, and not the burgundy or pink sports…just the white).

I mentioned to them the possibility that grafting roses may become a thing of the past in other countries. They laughed that one off for my area, saying that there was no shortage of grafters to do the job here. They also noted that for most of the plants that they do sell (floribunda, hybrid tea), the plant life is dramatically extended by grafting, compared to own root. They had no concept of developing easy to grow tough roses growing on their own roots (this left them scratching their heads).

When pressed about the issue of why miniatures are grafted as bush plants, they answered that grafting miniatures also had a practical advantage over own root, in that it made weeding their pots a whole lot easier.

It seems to me, even if fabulous new rose varietals are developed here, it will require a quantum shift in the thinking of the rose purchasing public in my region, to make ay money out of it.

Go figure…this is the market reality for where I live, as explained by people in the local industry.

it will require a quantum shift in the thinking of the rose purchasing public

Sounds more like it’s a problem with the growers, not the public. It also sounds like there’s a big opportunity for some upstart to corner the own-root business there.

Hi Don. In what context do you mean there is a problem with the growers?

A HUGE slice of the rose sales cake here goes to tree-grafted floribunda varietals, including especially ‘White Iceberg’ and to a lesser extent the pink and burgundy forms, and then other things like ‘Ebb Tide’ grafted as tree forms, more recently.

Own root plants are a great idea of course for hybridisers, and nurserymen, but market demand is heavily towards grafted tree roses here, that’s where a lot of the money is.

Own root rose production does not need specialized competence and with desease resistance added or a favorable climate most general nurseries can do it. Here Noak’s Flower Carpet roses entered market and took a large share this way.

Grafting is as much a necessity for growing some vars as it is/was a way to lower competition being mostly restricted to specialized nurseries by the way allowing easier breeders rights police.