This has certainly been a year like no other. What started off as another normal spring quickly turned into the strangest season many of us have ever seen. Between increasing sales, social distancing, mask mandates and a whole host of new issues to deal with, the industry is one of the few that’s weathering the storm well.

In fact, more than three-quarters of respondents said quarantine measures and the coronavirus had the biggest positive impact on sales this year. Despite the challenges it brought, COVID has definitely been good for business.

Read on for more insights into the current state of the industry and the changes that came with this year. — Kate Spirgen

Survey methodology

Garden Center magazine surveyed nearly 300 independent garden center owners, operators and managers in the U.S. and Canada about their IGCs, markets and trends in their areas. The following statistics were gathered via an online survey in August.

Editor’s note: Not all percentages will add up to 100% due to rounding and non-responses.

Houseplants are hot!

The houseplant market just keeps getting hotter. Even more IGCs than last year are operating a houseplant or tropicals division, driving the number up by 13 percentage points. And IGCs continue to diversify. Growing operations, landscape design and custom container creation, cafés and patio furniture all grew by about 5 percentage points.

What they’re growing

Responding to the increased customer interest in growing their own food, IGCs are growing more veggie and herb plants. Beating out annuals and bedding color for the No. 2 spot for the first time since we started asking this question two years ago. While edible plants jumped up 6 percentage points, indoor foliage plants also saw significant growth, rising 7 percentage points.