Natural food stores are seeing organic bedding plant sales flower, sources told SN.
It's been just in the last two years that sales of organic potting plants and starters have increased significantly, said Marc Mulcahy, Organic Options, Glen Ellen, Calif.
"In the natural foods industry, organic potting plants are getting to be a big category. They're becoming a big part of spring business for natural food stores."
Indeed, the second-largest natural foods co-op in the United States, Sacramento Natural Foods, posted a 30% gain in sales of organic starter plants in each of the last two years, said the co-op's produce manager Andru Moshe.
She added that the focus has been on heirloom plants, and the co-op continues to augment the variety it carries, increasing the selection by probably 20% in the last two years.
Mustard Seed Market & Cafe in Akron, Ohio, does a particularly good business with organic heirloom tomato plants and potted herbs, said Bruce Grimm, the company's produce buyer.
Another California natural foods retailer, Lazy Acres Market in Santa Barbara, is looking to add organic starter plants or at least organic seedlings in the near future.
"We're in the process of enlarging our floral department. We'll definitely go with organic fertilizers and soils, and lettuce and tomato plants are a possibility," said John Odahara, produce director at the single-unit Lazy Acres.