LOUISIANA NURSERY PROPELS SOUTHERN LANDSCAPING INDUSTRY
Randy and Regina Bracy founded Bracy’s Nursery in 1986.
They have since grown the company from a modest U-Pick fruit farm into a multi-million dollar operation.
It sits on 240 acres about 70 miles north of New Orleans.
Its team of 130 employees grows and provides plants to around 600 independent retail garden centers and 500 professional landscapers in 11 southeastern states.
Dr. Allen Owings, who has a doctorate in horticulture from Mississippi State, is Bracy’s senior horticulturist.
He joined the company in 2017 after retiring from a 26-year career at LSU AgCenter.
“Bracy’s wants to be the one-stop shop for retail garden centers and landscape contractors,” says Allen. “We know our customers on a first-name basis and try to make it easy for them to do business with us, and in turn easy to sell to their customers.”
Bracy’s provides anything from 1 gallon flowers to 3-7 gallon shrubs and 15-30 gallon trees.
They sell many branded items from Proven Winners and the Southern Living Plant Collection.
They also feature Drift and Knockout roses, Encore azaleas, and Endless Summer hydrangeas.
Other popular plants include gardenias, loropetalums, distyliums, boxwoods and camellias. They even have the south’s number-one seller, the ShiShi Gashira camellia.
Bracy’s sells natives and non-natives but no invasive plants.
“We also have our programs like Rhapsody in Color, which is our flowering stock; Beneficial Blooms to attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies; Tropical Paradise plants and foliage; and Backyard Oasis drought-tolerant shrubs,” says Allen. “These special programs are not something you see at every wholesale nursery.”
Bracy’s works with university cooperatives and plant developers during plant trials. Right now the team is working on a native dogwood study with the University of Tennessee.
“Land grant universities are great about recommending certain plants to the average home gardener and landscape industry, plants that perform and are easier to care for, and are less susceptible to disease and insects,” says Allen.
“The most well-known programs in the South are LSU’s SuperPlants, Texas A&M’s SuperStars and Mississippi Medallions through Mississippi State.”
Allen encourages landscapers to purchase plant materials from local independent garden centers rather than big-box stores.
“Usually at independent garden centers you have a more knowledgeable sales staff, more locally grown plants, and the right plant sold at the right season,” says Allen.
“They’re more likely to work with the university’s department of agriculture or the state’s landscaping and nursery associations. And, you’re supporting small local businesses, which are really the backbone of our economy.”
Allen predicted the plant shortage after last winter’s freeze. It left plant damage at nurseries across the south.
“We took a lot of precautions, moving plants inside and using frost protection blankets,” says Allen.
“But the temperature for us ended up being four degrees warmer than projected, so we fared okay.”
This wasn’t the first time severe weather threatened Bracy’s.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the nursery hard. Wholesale nurseries in other parts of the state helped though.
Then Bracy’s returned the help last year, working with nurseries hit by two Category 4 hurricanes in southwest Louisiana.
“Louisiana’s area of Forest Hill near Alexandria is home to about 200 wholesale nurseries and many reported damage and lost power,” says Allen. “We sent as many generators as we could during their recovery. In times of need, we aren’t competitors. That’s just how our industry is. We’re going to help everyone the best we can, in Louisiana and across state lines.”
Allen believes state nursery and landscaping associations foster relationships like this.
Bracy’s is a member of the Southern Nursery Association, Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association, Texas Nursery and Landscape Association, Arkansas Green Industry Association, Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association, Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association, and Georgia Green Industry Association.
Bracy’s Planting Tips
- When designing, consider the long-term maintenance
- Prepare your beds before planting
- Use the right plant in the right place
- Ensure you have plenty of room when planting trees
- Avoid planting ornamental shrubs too close together
- Buy from independent garden centers
Bracy’s Nursery | 800-899-4716 | bracys.com | Amite, Louisiana