Shortages have been affecting every industry and the plant supply for landscaping professionals in the South is no exception. A recently released report from GoMaterials, an online marketplace for sourcing plant materials for landscaping professionals, details the severity of plant shortages this year in the South, with plants and trees currently in short supply selling for an average 19% higher compared to last year.
Additionally, “Over 60% of industry partners we spoke to expect the shortages to persist for at least two years” says Marc Elliott, CEO of GoMaterials. Complicating matters is that no historical data correlates to the current unprecedented situation.
While the pandemic was a major contributing factor, both in reduced labor and increased demand for outdoor projects, other industry specific issues, such as the Texas freeze, also played a part.
According to the report, the diversity of plant varieties and significant variation in prices makes generalizing price increases difficult. For example, Orlando area suppliers reported approximately 15% more increases than their counterparts in Miami. Yet overall, when compared to 2020 prices, most estimates for 2021 are up by 19%.
Where Are The Shortages?
The report notes that this year’s shortages are distinctly different than routine supply-demand challenges. Here are some findings based on proprietary data from GoMaterials:
- Almost 90% of shortages are for shrub, perennial and groundcover container material under seven gallons, with some exceptions.
- The demand for three gallon varieties is on the rise, possibly driven by the need to replace smaller plants and trees damaged during the freeze due to their shallower root systems and susceptibility to cold. Three gallon plants account for 47% of all shortages in 2021.
- One gallon plants account for 27% of the shortage, while seven gallon plants account for 20%.
- Lack of adequate plug supply and greater demand from residential properties have also contributed to the shortage. Many grass and ornamentals currently in short supply are drought resistant and low maintenance varieties, which indicates an increased awareness about native plants.
Return To Normal?
While it’s difficult to predict when the shortages will end, more than 60% of wholesale nurseries surveyed expect it will take at least a couple of years for a full return to normal. Specifically, 35% predict one to two years, while 65% feel it will be over two years. The longest delays are expected in plants sized three to seven gallons.
A free download of the full “The 2021 Plant Shortage Report USA South” by GoMaterials is available here.