Report: The 2022 Plant Shortage - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Report: The 2022 Plant Shortage

GoMaterials, a landscaper material procurement marketplace, recently released a report on the severity of plant shortages across the country, as well as the price increases of plant material in demand.

Factors driving the plant shortage in 2022 include plastic containers being in short supply, fertilizer costs being up by 100 percent and wholesale nurseries being understaffed.  

“Plant shortages are persisting in 2022 due to the scarce and expensive supply of raw materials and labor,” says Marc Elliott, CEO of GoMaterials. “On the other hand, rising inflation has added an extra cost burden for the industry, further adding to sourcing complexities. Finding the right plants, in the right specs and the right price has never been more challenging.”

As for what types of plants are in short supply, this varies by region. Trees and conifers lead the shortage in the North at 80 percent. Some of the species hardest to source include Green Giant arborvitae, Norway spruce, Eastern hemlock, ginkgo trees and European hornbeam.

In the South, 65 percent of the plants lacking are shrubs, perennials and ornamental grasses. There is a severe shortage of Southern wax myrtle, dwarf Yaupon Holly Schillings, variegated shell ginger and Indian hawthorn in this region.

Lack of tree whips and high demand are driving the North’s lack of trees. Meanwhile, the South’s plant supply is still impacted by the Texas winter storm of 2021.

As for plant sizes, one to three-gallon pot supplies remains the most impacted. These plant sizes have seen the highest rise in their wholesale prices, going up by 40 percent from 2021 to 2022. Yet some plant prices have seen cost decreases as they recover from shortages like pink muhly grass and foxtail ferns.

Conifers 6’ to 9’ tall and trees in the 2” to 4” caliper range have been the hardest to source. Prices of conifers in short supply have either dropped in price or seen a marginal increase this year, indicating prices are leveling off. High-demand tree caliper costs have increased between 11 to 47 percent from 2021 to 2022. GoMaterials expects demand for smaller trees will increase as landscapers opt for these trees to compensate for shortages.

Overall, GoMaterials predicts shrinking profit margins as landscape professionals work with multiple suppliers to fulfill a single order due to higher plant prices, fuel prices and trucking costs.

Landscape professionals can download the full report to learn more about the items and sizes in short supply and substitution guidance. Click here for the free download.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.