Wellspring Gardens Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Half a Million Online Orders

Wellspring Gardens front view and family staff

Wellspring Gardens

Wellspring Gardens, which started in 2004 in the backyard of a home in Lakeland, FL, has fulfilled its 500,000th online order just in time for its 20th anniversary. 

Donovan K. Baltich studied horticulture at Florida Southern College and started the business after being laid off in 2003. While always planning to open a plant store one day, it turned out differently than he had expected. 

“As long as I can remember, I wanted to open a brick-and-mortar plant store,” he says. “But with the rise of e-commerce and changing circumstances, new opportunities presented themselves, so we jumped in with both feet.” 

Baltich and his wife, Dana, have run the company through ups and downs and avoided debt and ownership dilution throughout the years to keep total control of the business while operating from their back porch. In fact, it wasn’t until 2019 that the family acquired a dedicated fulfillment center. 

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However, it was in 2020 that Wellspring Gardens saw a major opportunity. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the specialty plant market boomed, bringing in lots of potential business but also a lot of new competitors aiming to capitalize on the emerging trends. 

“We saw a resurgence of interest in self-sufficiency,” says Baltich. “Customers have shared images of the food forests they’ve grown from our baby plants and it’s really amazing how a family can transform their yard in just a couple of years.” 

Cheyenne Parsons, a loyal Wellspring customer, found great benefit in this trend of self-sufficiency, even beyond the cost-saving measures. 

“I want to ensure my family has healthier and fresher food available, and by growing my own garden I get to choose what goes into my yard and my soil,” she says. “Our garden is full of fruit thanks to Wellspring Gardens. One of our favorite purchases was a Dwarf Everbearing black mulberry tree that produces so much that we’re able to make preserves, pies, sauces, kombucha, frozen berries and so much more.” 

Regarding the catalog of Wellspring Gardens, many of the plants offered are tropical, and many are even edible. Sold in starter pots that the company refers to as “baby plants,” Baltich notes that some consumers seek out more fully grown plants. However, Wellspring has found that most of its customers prefer these “baby plants,” allowing a connection to form as they raise them to maturity. 

Donovan and Dana’s children, Kristen Maghraoui and Donovan C. Baltich, now manage the business. 

“It’s not common to have company founders working in the business 15 years in, but they wanted to stay lean,” Donovan C. Baltich says. “Since 2020, we’ve systemized our fulfillment operations and growing practices to enable fewer people to achieve more.” 

Now that it’s blossomed into a thriving e-commerce business, Wellspring is expected to double its current order total to reach 1 million within the next five years. So, what’s in the cards for the future of this 20-year-old company? 

One plan in motion is what Wellspring Gardens refers to as a “plantscription,’ wherein a customer pays a flat price and in turn receives three new plants per quarter. 

“We follow the philosophy of ABL: Always Be Launching,” says C. Baltich. “There are already plant subscriptions out there, but we’ve seen room to innovate in that space. We would like to redefine the category.” 

Additionally, while the company has remained primarily internet-based over the years, it’s planning to debut a physical presence in the Lakeland area with several pop-up shops, including the Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market, starting later this year in September 2024. 

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