MANCHESTER, Conn. — Highland Park Markets’ floral department has made its signature hanging baskets a destination, a major factor in growing spring sales, officials said.

This year, floral sales on Mother’s Day weekend were up 10% from last year’s. That beat the stores’ total weekend sales, which also were up 8% over last year, Brian Gibbons, the five-unit independent’s director of produce and floral, told SN.

Gibbons attributes much of the floral sales boost to Highland Park’s stand-out hanging baskets, because their popularity has continued to blossom.

“Some of it [Mother’s Day sales hike] obviously can be attributed to price increases, but also to our continued growth of floral displays, featuring our super petunia hanging baskets and our moss coco hanging baskets,” Gibbons said.

“We also have a different variety of flowers that not every other store can find, like mandevilla, thunbergia.” Gibbons promotes the fact, too, that all plants displayed outside the stores, “from pansies to petunias,” are sourced locally. Large signs with the displays say, “Connecticut-grown.”

The popular hanging baskets, retailing for $29.99, are cultivated exclusively for Highland Park Markets by a grower just outside of Manchester.

“He starts them in his green house, and he cares for them himself. He treats them like they’re his children,” Gibbons said.

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