Cultivate’22: Behind the curtain at Cuthbert Greenhouse
Photo by Chris Markham

Cultivate’22: Behind the curtain at Cuthbert Greenhouse

From expanding product offerings to upgrading their growing media and heating, this third-gen greenhouse operation is still trying new tricks.

July 17, 2022

Founded in 1951 by Robert Cuthbert, third-generation family-owned Cuthbert Greenhouse is located in Groveport, Ohio — just a 20-minute drive from the convention center where Cultivate'22 is happening in Columbus. What began as a starter plant supplier has now become a 26-acre operation run by his grandsons David, Brett and Greg. 

With 12 acres under cover and 14 acres outdoors, Cuthbert grows a diverse selection of crops that includes mums, annuals and poinsettias, among others. Their customer base is as diverse as their offerings and includes produce stores in the Columbus area, Kroger, Costco, florists and landscapers. David said maintaining such a diverse customer base is important, as they don’t want any single customer to make up more than 35% of their business.

Cuthbert still uses many of the original structures from the 1950s. While leading one of the two tour groups through the operation, David remarked how he works in the same buildings today as he did when he was a teenager. Of course, there’s always a need for upkeep, and David said the team is planning to replace a couple of old houses. David pointed out one of those houses on the tour, which had collapsed in February after a lot of rain turned into ice and became too heavy for the house.

Though many of the buildings remain the same, David explained that Cuthbert recently made a big change when, after trialing it for a year, they decided to incorporate HydraFiber into their mixes. Most of their mixes consist of about 30% HydraFiber, though they often vary the composition based on what they’re growing.

Another upgrade they’re planning to make soon is in heating, with the goal of being more energy efficient. David said the operation currently uses several different heating systems, including steam heat, wood, a boiler and gas. Since heating is one of their biggest expenses, it’s crucial to become more efficient and save where they can.

One aspect that's been a challenge for Cuthbert is materials. Most of their big pots come from China, so port closures and shipping issues have delayed expected shipments. David, however, pointed out that domestically produced materials have also become hard to acquire, with some suppliers telling the operation to order at least a year in advance. David said they’re currently ordering their spring materials plus an extra 10% just to be safe.

Editor's note: Cuthbert Greenhouse was part of the greenhouse production tour at Cutlivate'22.