Summer Encore: Bamboo, Plant Obsessions, and Creating Ninth Ward Nursery | Mark Sanders

Kicking off the second episode of the Summer Encore Series is a chat with Mark Sanders of Ninth Ward Nursery. We talk about the organic start to his nursery and how he works to fill niches that are needed in the New Orleans area, including interior-scaping and plant maintenance.

Below is an update from Mark with insight into changes from when we chatted in December 2017:

Since December 2017:

+ I ended up selling the ol’ trailer. At first I thought about making it a plant shop on wheels (too logistically troublesome), then I thought about turning it into a greenhouse (too mildewy), and I thought about turning into an office (too… unnecessary). Then it dawned on me: the space that the trailer is taking up is space that isn’t making money for the nursery. By selling it and putting bamboo in its place, I effectively had more room for plants that would turn a profit. Plus, the trailer was pretty trashy to begin with.

+ I’ve moved more into tropical plants. Succulents have been hot for a while, as have air plants. I’ve expanded my selection to include not only bamboo, but also interesting and rare aroids — the group of plants that includes exotic large-leaved species like philodendrons and monsteras.

+ I’ve gotten out of the pop-up game. For a couple years, I would set up a table in front of friends’ coffee shops or galleries, and sell a few dozen plants while talking up customers. It was more of a PR initiative than anything else — a way to make a few small sales, but more importantly, to pass out business cards and generate buzz for my monthly plant sales at the nursery. As of this spring, I backed off entirely on pop-ups due to how busy the nursery has become. Word-of-mouth has been phenomenal for business, as has the fact that Ninth Ward Nursery is now the top hit in Google searches for “bamboo” and “New Orleans.”

+ I’ve been traveling to other farms in order to learn more about the bamboo business. It’s a weird world, and it’s important to be around men and women who share a passion for this plant and who have faced the same challenges I do as a nurseryman who specializes in bamboo. I toured bamboo farms in Vietnam, south Florida and Oregon, and have plans to visit even more in the coming months.

You can see more press coverage about Mark and the nursery here

Music: “New Day” by Lee Rosevere


Download Ninth Ward Nursery

Listen to the original episode:Episode 3-12

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