Bonnie Plants is the nation’s largest grower of vegetable and herb plants for home gardens - and they are growing.

As hundreds of thousands of Alabamians begin working in their gardens over the next several weeks, most of them will get a jump on the growing season by planting plants into their gardens rather than starting them from seeds. Whether they buy those plants at the Alabama Farmer’s Coop, Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Wal-Mart, most of those plans were started in greenhouses operated by Opelika-based Bonnie Plants.

Bonnie Plants recently opened a multimillion-dollar expansion and upgrade of the company’s greenhouse facilities in rural Bullock County.

Lynn Jinks is the President of the Bullock County Chamber of Commerce.

“For generations, Bonnie Plants has been a constant source of employment and economic opportunity for members of our community,” said Jinks. “We’re extremely optimistic about the future and excited for the next chapter as this expansion strengthens Bonnie’s roots in Bullock County.”

Bonnie Plants was founded in Bullock County in 1918. The expansion adds approximately 60 new jobs to Bullock County. More than 200 associates, including full- and part-time peak season associates, will support the increased production in Union Springs.

The company said that the new growing and distribution facilities in Union Springs are designed to strengthen e-commerce operations and improve production. The expansion will pave a new foundation of growth for the company while creating new jobs for the Blackbelt county where the company began. Bonnie Plant’s growth project was announced in April 2021.

“We’ve created a state-of-the-art e-commerce operation that will provide a best-in-class experience for the growing number of consumers who buy plants online,” said Sidney Phelps, director of E-commerce of Bonnie Plants. “Advanced technology and systems throughout the facility will assist our associates in their role as the personal shoppers for the customer, hand-selecting high-quality plants that will make the journey from our greenhouse to their front door.”

Economic developer Dr. Nicole Jones said, “Approximately one in four jobs in Alabama are related to agriculture and food production, and Bullock County is known for its important role in the industry. The advanced technology in Bonnie Plants’ upgraded warehouses and greenhouses will allow the company to better assist e-commerce customers, which have increased 860% since 2019. From a design standpoint, the facility will be more efficient. The open-roof, natural ventilation greenhouses bring energy savings and less of a need for irrigation when compared to traditional fan and shutter greenhouses.”

Mike Sutterer is the President and CEO of Bonnie Plants.

“From innovative new products to increased e-commerce demand, this investment is all about creating an experience that will enhance the lives of our consumers better than ever before,” said Sutterer. "Not only have we improved how we produce and distribute vegetable and herb plants, but as Bonnie expands into new segments such as flowers, succulents and houseplants, this modern facility makes it possible to grow and deliver any live good any time of the year."

To streamline operations, each greenhouse is connected to a 7,800-square-foot production complex and a 45,900-square-foot distribution warehouse, creating one central facility that decreases handling time and reduces variations in temperature and climate as the plants move through the facility.

“The announcement has microeconomic and macroeconomic implications as well,” Jones said. “A nation must be able to harvest and maintain its own food supply to maintain status as a superpower, which is why this expansion is critical for the economies of Alabama as well as the United States. Thank you, Bonnie Plants, for your investment.”

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