“You eat with your eyes first.” Although most commonly applied in a food and beverage setting, this saying has a much wider reach than the sphere of F&B: in a commercial context, you buy with your eyes first.

It’s no secret that presentation has a direct impact on sales and growth in a given industry. In the small business world, consumers often form opinions based strictly on outside appearances, before they ever set foot inside your store. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure you create a positive initial impression that will last, no matter what type of small business you have.

Indeed, some of the most attractive outdoor décor elements – plants and flowers – are not trade or industry-specific. From a clothing boutique or bookshop to a doctor’s office, the first step to selling your product or service is the same: getting potential customers and clients through the front door.

No matter the size of your stoop, sidewalk or front porch, your small business has greenery options for every space. Even if your porch is covered, we’ve got you covered with these choices; here are some great plants and flowers that will thrive with minimal care and limited access to sunlight.

Potted

If you have the floor space to plant a container garden, you can experiment with different heights and varying textures to create displays full of interest and appeal. Consider classic vessels like terra cotta pots, as well as unique and custom planters such as galvanized buckets or glazed ceramic pots. Create height and varying levels by using plant stands.

Ferns
Adding a woody quality to any space, ferns are shade-loving and versatile. For the classic green look, go with the lady fern, which is also one of the easiest to grow. For a more exotic look, the Japanese painted fern comes with purple tints and dark red stems.

Hydrangeas
With some varietals growing up to six feet tall, these shrubs boast blossoms ranging from deep purple/blue to soft pink to vibrant red. They do best in partial shade but love early morning sun.

Overall tips for potted plants and flowers:

Make sure to leave at least a half-inch to an inch of space between the top of the soil and the rim of your pot in order to avoid runoff when you water them. Leaving that bit of space allows the water to seep into the plant (rather than spilling over the edge) and eliminates the need to clean up messy soil and dirt stains from an overflowing pot.

Place your pots on top of saucers to aid in watering and cleanup alike. Pour only enough water so that once it filters through the plant, it barely fills up the saucer. Once the saucer is empty and the top of the soil is dry, you know it’s time to water again.

Hanging

Even if you only have a small space beside your front door to hang a plant or a single window to hang a window box, you still have some gorgeous options at your disposal.

Petunias
Creating cascades of color from bright white to all shades of the rainbow, pretty petunias are perfect for hanging baskets and window boxes alike. One trick for getting the most petals from your petunia is called “deadheading” – simply pinch or snip off the shriveling flower heads from the bottom of the bud to encourage new growth.

Geraniums
Favored for their ease in care, geraniums are classic porch plants that add a touch of professionalism to any storefront. Because they come in a wide variety of colors, geraniums blend well with any décor scheme.

Overall tips for hanging plants and window boxes:

Make sure you allow for drainage in the window box by drilling a couple of small holes in the bottom.

Cut corners on cleanup by removing your hanging plants from their hangers before watering. Water them on the grass or inside in a sink and allow them to drain thoroughly before hanging them back up again.

As with all potted plants and flowers kept outside during the day, whenever possible, bring them inside overnight. This is especially important to extend the life of annuals in colder climates. Investing a bit of time and energy in their proper care ensures they survive and thrive long enough to give you a return on your investment in the form of sales and foot traffic.

What are your favorite types of plants and flower displays you have seen in front of area businesses? What kind of greenery are you planning on planting?