Shooting Star Nursery, a primarily wholesale operation in Central Point, Ore., places an emphasis on growing material that is regionally appropriate, requires low amounts of water and is drought and deer-resistant, says head grower Erik Petersen.
The grower acclimates and overwinters the plants in approximately seven acres of outside growing space, in which the growers don’t spray and face few pest issues, Petersen says. “We’re one of the few remaining big wholesale nurseries in Southern Oregon that still grows its own material to finish,” he says. “There aren’t a lot of facilities left that are still growing a lot on site, at least in terms of grasses and perennials. There are places that do it, but it might not be as big of a component as what we’re doing.”
With a central customer base of landscapers, landscape architects and landscape designers within a 50 to 100-mile radius, Shooting Star Nursery has also opened itself up to retail and offers educational classes for homeowners and professionals alike, Petersen says.
Shooting Star Nursery first began purchasing perennial and grass plugs from Pensacola, Fla.-based Emerald Coast Growers in 2013 and became more heavily involved with the propagation nursery the following year, Petersen says. Petersen estimates Shooting Star Nursery now grows more than 100 varieties from Emerald Coast Growers. “It changes from year-to-year and season-to-season depending on trends, custom orders, what people are seeing sales-wise,” he says.
Shooting Star Nursery has seen an increase in profits and sales since it started working with Emerald Coast and growing plants onsite, Petersen says. Year-on-year, sales of grasses and perennials have increased.
Recently, Emerald Coast Growers has begun shipping plugs on open racks in refrigerated trucks, which Petersen says has reduced stress on the plants after they spend three or four days in a box. “In the summertime, we always have our fingers crossed, like, ‘Please don’t fry, please don’t fry,’” he says. “That’s been another great aspect that they’ve opened up these refrigerated trucks seasonally on bigger orders.”
Emerald Coast Growers doesn’t have a minimum on its orders, there’s a flat shipping rate (or fee) and its plants are usually in stock — simplifying the purchasing process for Shooting Star Nursery, Petersen says. The grower calls working with Emerald Coast Growers “one-stop shopping,” whereby Shooting Star Nursery can pre-book large seasonal shipments as well as last-minute custom orders. Additionally, Emerald Coast Growers is always quick to respond. “Somebody always picks up the phone,” Petersen says. “Having the support — the sales support and the customer service support — is very beneficial.”