If you are at all familiar with Trader Joe’s, you know that the sometimes-quirky grocer, which first opened in 1967 in California, offers great products for a steal. From its low-price, decent quality wine long known as “Two-Buck Chuck” to the store’s to-die-for dark chocolate peanut butter cups, TJ’s has cultivated a loyal fan base everywhere it has opened up shop. And then there are those plants!
Each store boasts a dizzying array of fresh-cut roses and other grab-and-go florals as well as a surprising assortment of houseplants. The plants not only are of good quality, but they also are amazingly affordable! Such a pairing has inspired many fans to take to social media in order to marvel over their finds and gush about what they might find next.
The No. 4 Plant Retailer
According to August 2021 data from TraQline, a company that tracks market and consumer trends in a variety of product offerings, Trader Joe’s comes in at No. 4 on the list of top plant retailers. And with a comparatively lower number of buyers, the chain has a high rate of closing the sale, just like the “big box” stores. The grocer’s plant and floral power is not something to take lightly!
The store is notoriously tight-lipped about its store operations, but public relations manager Nakia Rohde did share with The Spruce that each Trader Joe’s location has specific crew members, as they call their employees, dedicated to “making sure that the flower and plant selection in their stores reflect their neighborhood.” In fact the crew members love TJ’s plants so much that they even did a podcast episode on them, entitled Trader Joe’s Seeds: the Conversation About Plants & Plant-Based Products.
On a recent trip to my closest store in Texas, I found the aforementioned spread of roses and other cut blooms, as well as an amazing display of succulents in a variety of price points and some unbelievable monsteras with huge leaves for just $12.99. A money tree for not a lot of green—only $10.99. Across the country, New Jersey fans found a variety of types of beautiful Alocasia (elephant ear), including the frydek with its show-stopping variegated leaves, for just $7.99 per plant.
The vegetation itself is a steal, with incredibly low prices and top-notch quality. But Trader Joe’s also sells a rotating cast of adorable, albeit slightly more generic, foliage nestled into quirky planters such as a boat, a sweet ceramic ladybug or pink cat and a colorful sugar skull.
Keeping Choices Fresh
Freshness is a hallmark for Trader Joe’s plants. According to Maggie Meccia-Vogt, the category manager for plants and flowers, who spoke on a TJ's podcast episode in 2019 entitled The Plants & Flowers Edition, limiting the time the grocer’s greenery is in store is key to its success. “Freshest quality, best prices. Get it in and get it out. If something can't sell in our stores within 24 hours, it doesn't belong in our … stores, and I think that that's been the key to our success and why we have so many loyal plant and flower customers.”
Having healthy plants that look fresh and appealing is no different from offering perfectly ripe produce or fresh-from-the-butcher meats. For Trader Joe’s there is another layer being that freshness, something that Meccia-Vogt thinks goes to the way the store’s shoppers think about plants in general.
“We try to keep the section as fresh as we possibly can. I believe that most of our customers buy for home consumption, for individual consumption, which is very different. It's a much more kind of a European approach to floral,” she explained in 2019. “If you go to Europe ... and I was driving from Holland down into Germany, driving through residential streets and every window you drive past, there are flowers and plants in the windows ... In the United States, people kind of question, do I want to spend the money on this for myself?"
Americans tend to think of flowers as being for special occasions or great as gifts. Trader Joe's shoppers don't think like that: “I think I usually count at least one out of five grocery carts have flowers and plants in it. You don't see that in any other retailer. You don't see everyone walking around the store with plants and flowers in their carts,” said Meccia-Vogt.
That observation was born out during my extended visit to a Central Texas location. Monsteras, succulents, and a bevy of roses peaked out from most carts roaming the store, making way for the next round of fresh-from-the-grower varieties to set up shop and wow customers.
But don't worry if you don't get the leafy plant you want on your next visit: According to the podcast, Trader Joe's gets fresh flower and plant deliveries every day of the week.