Piru Aerial Mountains
Inside | Everde Growers Combines Resources to Elevate the Industry
A new mega-nursery, Everde Growers has been establishing its roots for six years. After a series of acquisitions, TreeTown USA, Village Nurseries and Hines Growers came together and rebranded in 2020 to Everde Growers. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Everde Growers has a coast-to-coast footprint with 15 farms and 2,000 employees in Texas, Florida, California and Oregon. An inventory of 33 million plants includes trees, shrubs, perennials, palms, grasses, succulents, tropicals and fruit.
“With the acquisitions, the goal was to capitalize on the years of knowledge and growing experience that each company built,” says Leigh Schaffer, marketing manager at Everde Growers.
More farms and more people mean additional resources and a stronger resilience to crises like ice storms in Texas, wildfires in California, hurricanes in Florida and a worldwide pandemic.
“One of the best things about our company is that we’re so diversified,” says Leigh. “We’re one of the only growers to sell to landscape contractors, re-wholesalers, independent garden centers and national retailers.”
Bunnell Florida Trees
Everde most recently purchased La Verne Nursery in the summer of 2022. Located in Piru, California, La Verne has been a premier grower of stone fruit, citrus and tropical fruit for 50 years.
“This was a strategic move and a win-win for everyone,” says Nicholas Staddon, Everde spokesman and plantsman. “Now our other farms are learning techniques to propagate and grow citrus and small fruit even better than before. Coming together as a group of companies means we’re better able to serve our customers and ship plants all over
Collaboration and communication have always been important to the company, both internally and externally. Everde recently attended the national convention of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). Out of hundreds of vendors, Nicholas was surprised only a half-dozen were nurseries. “Networking is important,” he says. “It’s crucial that we spend time with other nurserymen and growers, as well as with our customers and landscape architects, to understand the direction they’re going in.”
Everde focuses time and resources on landscape architects, even though they’re not the end customer. “It’s very important that landscape architects across the country are making informed decisions about the plants they’re specifying, especially with climate issues and water restrictions that we’re facing,” says Leigh. “It’s not about making a direct sale but rather being a resource for them.”
Understanding industry trends is imperative, due to the complex nature of the business. Nurseries must anticipate customer demand and forecast trends years into the future.
“Perennials often are a one-year turnaround, woody ornamentals take two to three years, and massive trees can take five to 10 years to grow,” says Nicholas. “We listen carefully to what customers want and base our production on them. It’s a real collaborative effort.”
Everde also partners with national brands both to ensure a unique, quality product and stay top-of-mind among each of its customer channels.
They are involved with numerous national brands, such as Sunset, Southern Living and the Endless Summer Hydrangea program, and are growing several Everde Growers exclusive brands, including Boldscape (a perennial program), Indoor Tropics (houseplants) and Sweet Select (small fruit).
The business of branding plants began in the early 1990s with Australian grower Anthony Tesselaar and his Flower Carpet roses. Since then, other companies have seen the value and followed suit.
“Branded plants are worth the extra expense because they are significantly different—whether more floriferous, more colorful or hardier,” says Nicholas.
Everde employees continuously work to develop and trial plants as well as travel the globe to discover new superior species.
Nicholas says the good news for the industry is that the customer base is growing, with younger people turning to plants for a hobby. “It’s less of a trend and more of a cultural shift,” he says. “Everyone is interested in plants, regardless of age.”
With this larger demographic means more education and a need to teach consumers about the real value of plants, from softening hardscapes and buildings to creating shade, supporting ecosystems and boosting mental health.
“People will spend a lot of money on dinner and a few glasses of wine, but then they’ll go to a garden center and see an amazing plant for $70—that chances are will outlive them—and they’ll think it’s far too expensive,” says Nicholas. “We need to change the mindset.”
Everde is also working with young people to spark a passion for the industry as a career option. Through its Everde Jr. initiative, the company is involved with the organization Seed Your Future to help educate a new generation of gardeners and professionals.
"We need all sorts of skill sets
from people who drive trucks to
those who work in finance, in the fields
or with people. The nursery profession
is a terrific place to be."
EVERDE BY THE NUMBERS
- 33 million plants grown annually
- 5,000 varieties
- 15 farms
- 6,700 acres of production
- 2,000 employees