Photo: United Nursery

With an emphasis on tropical plants in nine categories including ferns and hibiscus, United Nursery in Homestead, Fla., has an assortment of desirable offerings for customers all over the country.

The nursery ships across most of the United States and has customers from big box stores to large supermarkets to some larger independent garden centers, says partner Jose Rodriguez.

The grower works with technology such as virtual resource partitioning (VRP), customer relationship management (CRM) and analytics engines to help it determine what works for customers in different areas of the United States, Rodriguez says. “I think what differentiates us from our peers and others is that we have adopted a large technology base of items that we use to make us a little better and differentiate ourselves amongst our competitors,” he says.

Photo: J. Berry Nursery

Items that United Nursery has found do well with customers come from the Hollywood Hibiscus collection, offerings from J. Berry Nursery, Rodriguez says. “These varieties of hibiscus seem to have a very vibrant color, lush foliage, and a very good habit,” he says. “They are very colorful plants.” Rodriguez and his colleagues often use the word “butterball” to describe the plants, because in peak season, they look like tight balls with around 50 buds.

Hollywood Hibiscus are specialty items rather than commodity items, and they perform well, Rodriguez says. United Nursery has about 40,000 Hollywood Hibiscus in the ground for the 2018 season.

Rodriguez has known Jim Berry, who founded J. Berry Nursery with his son Jonathan Berry, for about four years. Rodriguez visited Jim in Texas, where J. Berry Nursery is based, and did some trialing for him in Homestead. “We had good results with him — we had a lot of feedback back and forth,” Rodriguez says. “Over the years, we got more comfortable with J. Berry and with the product line, and now we’re on board with him and helping him move his product into our markets.”

In springtime, hibiscus is a popular plant for United Nursery, and Hollywood Hibiscus are especially robust and pleasant to grow, Rodriguez says. “I think we’re all in the business of looking for something pretty, and better, to move into the retail space for the customers,” he says. “And every once in a while, we find something. This is one of those things that we’ve found.”