My Three Top Money Making Plants

I’m writing this assuming others who have been in the horticulture industry as long as myself already know the economic potential of these varieties. But if you read my last blog, you now know I have been wrong more than once.

With that in mind, here are my three top money making plants.

ZZ plant

The ZZ plant or Zamioculcas zamifolia is a good place to start if you want to impress others with your horticulture knowledge.  Just saying its scientific name will result in most laymen giving you a blank stare and asking you to repeat it again.

The first time I saw one of these, I thought it was the ugliest plant in the world.  I didn’t understand its beauty until I realized that this ZZ was kept in a completely dark interior conference room that was used once a week at most.  Other foliage could easily destroy a 20% replacement rate in dark room situations like that.  However, the ZZ’s ability to tolerate that small amount of light has got to save you in replacement costs.

Besides being low light tolerable, I’ve found it to be very resistant to disease.  I took over a three story atrium complete with thirty foot ficus trees covered in mealybugs.  Scale was rampant throughout the foliage and spider mites devoured the Neathe bella palms and Cordyline.  For over ten years, the owner refused to pay for a professional service and it showed.  One tenant donated her free time to take care of the massive amount of foliage with an additional two hundred feet of planters that hung from the second and third floor.  If I was her, I would have walked away.  In this dire situation, I needed to install rugged plants. Four years later, the ZZs have flourished with only a few ever being infected.

The third reason I love ZZs, is their ability to re-root and save me money.  This week was a great example of just that.  One of my buildings changed ownership recently and several of the lobby plants really needed to be replaced.  The new owners wanted a complete redesign but needed more time to make a decision since other areas had a higher priority which was understandable.  Instead of investing in new foliage that I know will be changing in the near future, I used ZZ cuttings.  In my other accounts, I have a ton of Zamioculcas zamifolia getting too tall. I took those cuttings and planted them directly in the soil of the dying lobby planters.  Labor time…minimal.  Material costs…zero.  You can’t beat that!

Succulents

My next top money making plants behind the ZZ are succulents.  It seems strange to me it’s only recently that I’ve fallen in love with these plants.  Their diversity, pastel colors, and durability make succulents one of my favorites.  I have exterior planters in several locations and, with the intense sun and heat here in Florida, finding any plant that can survive is amazing.  Not only do these succulents survive the heat, to my surprise, they even made it through one of the coldest winters Florida has experienced in several years.  Those are some tough plants.  Besides being tough, they are also easy to transplant.  When I have to trim back the succulents in my accounts, I never throw away the foliage.  Over and over again, I can use the cuttings to start new container arrangements, fill in bare spots or even as part of a bridal bouquet.  So far, the only downside I’ve experienced with these plants is their ease in snapping off when you touch them.  You’ve got to have a steady hand when handling them, otherwise it’s easy to snap off an entire side.

Sweet Potato Vine

Behind the succulent, is the sweet potato vine or Ipomoea.  While I’ve used this plant inside, it does much better as an exterior plant. What I love most about Ipomoea is the polar opposite shades of purple to lime green and in between.  Mixing the unique colors in hanging baskets gives you a beautiful contrast that lasts all year unlike a seasonal bloom.  Using the same concept on the ground, you can create a stunning look that’s easy to maintain.  It does great under shade and trees unlike most foliage that can’t flourish under those same conditions.  While the vine does best in tropical climates, it can easily recover from a frost to thrive again when the warm weather is back.  It’s very resilient, but will wilt quickly under intense heat.  Like the others, it’s extremely easy and fast to root in a glass of water. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken the cuttings from one account, placed them in water and a week later was replanting them in a new client’s landscape.  They grow very fast and can even become like a weed, taking over the lawn.  It’s perfect for the client who has an economic landscape budget but wants year round color over large areas.  Supposedly, the one advantage ornamental sweet potato vine has over the others is that its tubular roots, or potatoes, are edible.  I’ve personally never eaten one, but I’ve heard they are very nutritious. With a lot of butter and sugar, you probably can get past the taste.  Unless I’m in a survival situation, I’m going to take the internet’s word on that.

What are your most profitable plants? Please comment below.

 

Featured image by stephen boisvert

Sherry has been part of the interiorscape industry for over fifteen years, starting at an entry level job at North Florida's largest greenhouse and currently owning two horticulture companies. At UMaine, Sherry majored in English where she worked part-time writing scripts for a local college TV studio.

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  • the Ficus Wrangler

    I found out about the rooting capabilities of ZZ shortly after it was introduced. Someone on an account had broken or cut one of the long stems, and I took it home to add a bit of greenery in a vase in my bathroom. I expected it to last maybe a week or so, but ultimately to rot off. It stayed green 1 month, 2 months, and what a super surprise when I pulled it out of the vase, and found roots all over the bottom!
    But I don’t know about the sweet potato – I can’t keep it in the ground here (also in Florida,) it all gets eaten, by slugs and snails, I suspect.

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