TDL plant procurement officer Marsha Wulf

Plant Supply in 2020 – the Year of the Plant

2020 – The Year of the Plant

In 2019, the United Nations named 2020 the International Year of Plant Health, and as we look back on 2020, it’s turned out to be a downright prescient choice. 2020 was a shockingly huge year in horticulture. Plant sales rose substantially since the start of 2020, and nurseries struggled to keep stock of many popular varieties. It’s fantastic to see such an increased public interest in plants!

A run on plant stock does however present certain challenges to landscaping companies like TDL who require a wide variety of plants in large volumes. We’ve had to adapt our design and plant procurement practices to accommodate the industry, and we would like to offer you some insight into how we’ve managed the year of the plant.

We spoke with our plant procurement expert Marsha Wulf about how she’s kept us in plants, here’s what she told us about her job this year.

“Everything has been harder to get this year, plants, soils, fertiliser. Nurseries will have turned over five to six times more than they do in a usual year. We’ve had to make some compromises as a result, doing our best to communicate with clients and elicit some flexibility on the size and/or varieties we’re planting.

We’ve been doing our best to stock things pre-emptively, if we see something in supply that we know we use commonly we’ll take it in and mature it ourselves. We’re also placing orders as early as possible when we do need to order plants, and making sure to order extras. A big part of this is helping clients to make decisions about planting earlier than we would in a normal year.

It’s been competitive getting green stock. Suppliers have had to, in some cases put restrictions on quantities, and earlier in the year there was actually an incident where a nursery shipment needed police security because demand was so high that people were fighting over it!

Nurseries will have had to begin growing in larger volumes, of course because it takes time for plants to mature, a lot of the stock that’s been flying off the shelves has barely rooted. We expect it will likely take six to twelve months before it gets any easier to secure stock. We’re doing much more in-house in our own facilities as a result, and keeping our seed-bank replenished.

Another side effect of Covid-19 is that the Perth property market has exploded, as a result we’re not expecting the landscaping business to let up any time soon. We’re run off our feet most years around Christmas but we’re expecting to be busy well into the new year.

In many ways this year has been great, it’s fantastic to see people are tripping over themselves to green up their homes. We’re expecting and hoping for this wave to keep on rolling for some time, and that the industry will be able to catch up in the short to medium term. TDL is fortunate enough to have the resources to adapt to these shortages“