December 1, 2009

Promising Progress

There’s no question this year has been a tough one, the toughest I’ve witnessed economically in my 16 years working on Greenhouse Grower. Being down 20 percent in sales seemed to be the new norm as spending cutbacks rippled through the supply chain. There were big winners and losers after box store buyers dramatically reduced the number of growers they will work with. Those who gained more business won big. Those who lost the business are scrambling for customers and can’t diversify and reinvent their businesses fast enough. Independent growers and retailers were especially challenged to preserve their market share as more price-conscious consumers gravitated toward box stores and discounters. Even in the instances where foot traffic was up in the garden centers, the average purchase at the register was down. But in the grand scheme of how our nation, the world and other industries and retail categories are faring, […]

Read More

December 1, 2009

Tips For Producing Mandevillas

Modern breeding has made mandevilla and dipladenia hybrids easier to produce. Ideally suited for summer patios, these vines are consumer favorites in shades of red, pink and white. Hardy to Zones 9-11, plants are tender perennials and need frost protection during winter months. One series that has captured a lot of attention in the market is the Sun Parasol collection from Suntory. Technical experts from Suntory share production advice: General Culture Mandevillas are generally long-day plants. Buds are initiated at 11 hours daylength for the Pretty type and 12 hours for the Classic group type in the Sun Parasol collection. The Giant group will flower from around 12-13 hours daylength, but does vary, as with all varieties in each group depending on the color. The initial potting should take place in a 4- to 5-inch pot. Growing media should have a pH around 5.0-5.5. Ideal growing temperature is a minimum […]

Read More

December 1, 2009

Tips For Producing Vincas

Today’s vincas are better than ever before, offering hybrid vigor and dramatically enhanced disease resistance and performance. Two examples are Goldsmith Seeds’ Cora and Cora Cascade vincas, which have been thriving in landscapes and field trials nationwide with their high tolerance to aerial phytophthora. But even with superior varieties, growers still need to pay attention to growing practices. Best practices can help eliminate greenhouse disease issues like Thielaviopsis and Pythium, which commonly affect vinca and most other bedding plants. Ken Harr, grower account manager for Syngenta Flowers/Goldsmith Seeds presents best practices for success with vincas in a 12-step program: 1. Provide a well-aerated media. Finish plants in areas with protection from seasonal rains and adequate dryback within 18-24 hours to reduce susceptibility to root disease. 2. Maintain an EC range of 1.2-2.0 to finish plants. An EC less than 1.2 stresses plants and may cause susceptibility to disease. EC greater […]

Read More

November 30, 2009

Energy-Efficient Annuals: Vinca And Wax Begonia

Efficient production of bedding plants requires information on how temperature, photoperiod and daily light integral (DLI) influence crop timing and flowering characteristics. At Michigan State University (MSU), we have performed experiments with numerous seed-propagated annuals to quantify how average daily temperature and DLI influence flowering time and plant quality. In the 10th article of this series, we present this cropping information on vinca (Catharanthus roseus) and wax begonia (Begonia semperflorens-cultorum) and then use that information with Virtual Grower to estimate greenhouse heating costs at different locations, growing temperatures and finish dates. Materials & Methods Seeds of vinca ‘Viper Grape’ and wax begonia ‘Sprint Blush’ were sown in 288-cell plug trays by C. Raker & Sons, then grown in controlled environmental growth chambers at MSU at a constant 68°F (20°C). Inside the chambers, the photoperiod was 16 hours and the DLI was 9 to 11 mol∙m¯²âˆ™d¯¹. This DLI is typical of […]

Read More

November 30, 2009

Terra Nova Donates 2,500 Perennials

Terra Nova Nurseries recently donated 2,500 perennials, a retail value of more than $10,000, to the International Rose Test Garden, a public garden in Portland, Ore. The test garden features thousands of roses from around the world, and the newly planted 9,000 square-foot bed is located near the entrance of the garden. Dan Heims, president and co-founder of Terra Nova, was recently featured on GardenTime TV for the company’s donation. The episode focused on the plants selected by Terra Nova for the perennial bed, as well as the overall concept behind the donation. Terra Nova not only wanted to provide the public garden with perennials to beautify the empty space, but also wanted to conduct a true test of how the plants will perform under natural conditions.  “We wanted to showcase perennials, shrubs and roses mixed,” says Harry Landers, the Botanic specialist for the International Rose Test Garden. “The plants […]

Read More

November 30, 2009

Alternatives To Peat

The American Floral Endowment recognizes that alternatives to peat must be developed to meet environmental concerns pertaining to mining of peat bogs. AFE shares research it funded and Virginia Tech University conducted. Robert Wright and Brian Jackson, both of Virginia Tech’s Department of Horticulture, wrote this report. Background It is recognized that alternatives to peat must be developed to meet environmental concerns pertaining to mining of peat bogs. Also, peat supplies can be limited by wet weather conditions that restrict harvest during certain times of the year. These concerns, coupled with increasing fuel costs, have led to increased costs of peat substrates. Therefore, there is an increased interest in less expensive and readily available substitutes. Our research has shown that a pine tree substrate (PTS) manufactured by grinding loblolly pine trees with a hammer mill makes an excellent greenhouse container substrate. The trees can be ground to the correct particle […]

Read More

November 30, 2009

Cutting Transportation Costs To The Bone

As I have written here many times over the years, transportation and distribution are among your greatest costs. Any cost decrease has an immediate effect on your bottom line, so cutting costs is a compelling proposition that translates to more money – right away! I have heard from many growers over the years who have followed the advice in my columns, and they have had great success. What I don’t understand is why more growers don’t implement these cost-cutting measures. If growers would merely simplify the fundamental elements of their businesses, they would not only stop wasting money but could focus their time on growing.  So, here is your chance to cut your transportation costs to the bone. These four things will immediately slice at least 20 percent off your entire distribution costs. Bid Your Freight Today The available truck capacity in the market is greater than ever. Freight volumes […]

Read More

November 30, 2009

Potential With Potted Lilies

Frits Kneppers, vice president of Dutch-based Zabo Plant, visits California on occasion and wonders about the potential potted lilies have in the United States every time he sees those Hollywood-style homes. Kneppers won’t find that unique Hollywood consumer in The Netherlands–and he’d be pressed to find more than a few consumers like the celebrities who own those gargantuan homes elsewhere in the U.S.–but he makes an interesting statement about potted lily potential: There is a market at the U.S. grower’s fingertips, and higher-quality, higher-priced lilies can drive it. “You need to target supermarkets and push them to expand their sales windows for potted lilies,” Kneppers says. “The U.S. needs more programs.” In Europe, potted lilies are sold mostly through supermarkets and sales are at their peak in September and October. In the U.S., of course, the sales window for potted lilies–like most of our industry’s products–is April and May. Spring […]

Read More

November 30, 2009

Producing Asiatic Lilies

Over the last few years, the Longwood Gardens lily program expanded to include an assortment of lily cultivars: Easter lilies, Asiatic, Oriental and hybrid lilies. Next year, Longwood will be growing lilies almost 10 months of the year, and its visitors are always delighted to see such amazing lily displays. This year’s OFA Short Course was a busy event filled with meetings so Longwood could plan its major event next year: Lilytopia. As part of Lilytopia’s planning, I was tasked with growing lilies to be displayed at a New York City promotional event in September. The event commemorated the founding of New Amsterdam 400 years ago.   I had worked with a large number of forcing bulbs over the years, but I had never been tasked with summer lily production. And for the New York event, I had a time frame of just 50 days to finish a crop. The deadline […]

Read More

November 30, 2009

Putting Some Heat Into It

Since Athens Select’s launch in 1998, the collection has added a host of best-selling new varieties and initiated a partnership with the Southern Living Plant Collection that’s helped take the program to new heights.         Hot Property Just two years into Athens Select’s partnership with the Southern Living Plant Collection, the program shines for its unique varieties and its ability to provide sizzling color even in summer heat. With 11 Athens Select varieties now part of the Southern Living Plant Collection, opportunities for growth abound. For Athens Select, the partnership was a no-brainer. After all, Southern Living is a premier lifestyle and entertainment magazine and the sixth largest monthly consumer magazine in the United States. It reaches nearly 16 million readers each month and enjoys a circulation of about 2.8 million. “Having the Southern Living brand behind your product and, for retailers, [having] the pot and tag […]

Read More

November 30, 2009

Understanding Plant Nutrition: Calibrachoa

Calibrachoa are often described as a “high feed” or “high iron” requiring crop. This is not exactly true. Calibrachoa are an iron-inefficient crop and are prone to iron deficiency because they lack the ability to take up iron from the soil solution if the media pH is too high. Once iron deficiency sets in, calibrachoa will often lose vigor and become susceptible to secondary problems like overwatering or root diseases. Therefore, to succeed with calibrachoa, you need to monitor media pH regularly and take the proper corrective actions when the media pH gets too high. Here are some pointers for growing calibrachoa. Points To Consider – With normal fertilization practices, the acceptable pH range for iron-inefficient crops like calibrachoa is 5.5 to 6.2. Once the media pH increases above 6.2, iron deficiency is likely (Figure 1).   – Make sure the iron deficiency symptoms are being caused by high media […]

Read More

November 30, 2009

Special Report: Montgomery’s Spring Recap & Analysis (Part 2)

Retail is where we find the most valuable information relative to industry trends because the trends are dictated by what happens here, not in the greenhouse or the nursery as it was in the past. The era of “grower in charge” has long passed, and we now reside in the era of “retailer in charge,” dramatically changing the market dynamics. At retail you can see grower performance, retailer performance, price trends, size trends, the impact of marketing programs, brand activity, as well as the impact or lack of impact driven by grower performance. To this end, I visited 972 retailers in 2008 and 494 since April 1, 2009, covering 20 markets in most regions of the country, including the West Coast, Northwest, Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast. The only major area we missed in 2009 was the Southwest. The purpose of these visits is to gather information regarding retailer performance, […]

Read More

November 30, 2009

Variety Central: Bright And Shiny Bulbs

International Flower Bulb Centre From the Triumph group, ‘Spryng’ is a tulip with a large flower that is rich clear red in color. It is a short plant with broad leaves and is suitable for mid and late forcing. ‘Spryng’ can be grown in a short cold period for pot plants (14 weeks). Tulip ‘Orange Princess’ comes from the Double Late group and boasts a soft orange-flamed-with-purple flower and dark leaves. ‘Orange Princess’ is good for late forcing and as a pot plant. Abbott-IPCO The ‘Blushing Bride’ caladium is a strap-leaved variety with bright deep pink veins and translucent laminar areas. Useful in 4-inch pots, de-eyed ‘Blushing Bride’ looks great in a hanging basket and appeared sun tolerant in trials. Zabo Plant USA The vivid white ‘Icedancer’ is an easy growing variety with strong floral characteristics, especially in a hotter growing season. An unique pink-white, ‘Candy Club’ has a strong stem […]

Read More

November 30, 2009

Live At Bell Nursery

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 A local television station visited Bell Nursery and featured the operation and its poinsettia production in three separate segments earlier this week. The segments totaled 16 minutes for the station’s morning show and they gave Bell Nursery and its customer, Home Depot, big-time publicity for poinsettias.   You can watch the segments at MyFoxDC.com. Adam Stewart, vice president of sales and marketing for the Maryland-based Bell Nursery, shows off various varieties in Bell’s greenhouses in the first clip you’ll see, and you can watch an additional segment with decorating and gift ideas by clicking the “Click here to watch video” link to the bottom right of the video.   For more information on Bell Nursery, visit BellNursery.com.  

Read More

November 30, 2009

Classic City Awards For Perennials

We recently discussed, argued and finally voted on the top 12 perennials in the Trial Gardens at UGA. These plants exemplified the highest performance for the longest period of time in our challenging environment in Athens, Ga.  We used our own eyeballs but also asked visitors to flag the plants they liked best. On perennials, we collected data on length of flowering (or length of beauty if no flowers), disease and insect problems, and their ability to perform well even in difficult conditions of heat and humidity. The plants that make this list are truly the best of the best.    These are the Oscars, the Emmys, the Tonys and the Obies all tied in one. If a plant wins a Classic City award, take it to the bank. And The Winners Are …  Athyrium nipponica ‘Wildwood Twist.’ This fern performed extraordinarily well during 2009. While it has been a […]

Read More

November 30, 2009

Industry Infection

Whether your political views are conservative, liberal or somewhere in between, we can likely agree Americans are as politically divided today as they’ve been at any point in our lifetimes. To me, the political division is OK. I should be able to think one way while you think another. We all have different backgrounds and needs anyway, and what’s viewed as an economic, foreign policy or health care solution to one person may be a new set of problems to another. The real problem today is how we’re addressing our differences. Civil discourse and spirited debate are gone, and Americans are resorting to name calling, screaming at the top of their lungs and playing the blame game to get their points across. Look no further than a couple of cable news networks that often make news based on how the other network covers a big story. Mud slinging between networks […]

Read More

November 23, 2009

Plant Growth Regulator Primer

For some growers, the acronym PGR can mean one of two things – plant growth regulator or plant growth retardant, both of which tend to get used interchangeably. “This is okay, but can be misleading,” says Jason Fausey, Valent research and development specialist. “I like the term regulator, simply because it can be applied to those that inhibit and speed up growth.”  Todd Bunnell, ornamental research manager at SePRO, adds, “Plant growth retardants are growth regulators that stop plant growth, specifically mitotic development.”    Most products are actually retardants, according to Peter Konjoian, Konjoian Floriculture Education Services, especially if one considers they are used to inhibit (retard) internode elongation.   Regulator or retardant, what follows is a breakdown of popular PGR types by active ingredient (AI) used in the greenhouse industry: Ancymidol Activity Applied as either a foliar spray or substrate drench, this AI acts as a gibberellin inhibitor, which […]

Read More

November 23, 2009

Special Report: Montgomery’s Spring Recap & Analysis (Part 1)

Retail is where we find the most valuable information relative to industry trends because the trends are dictated by what happens here, not in the greenhouse or the nursery as it was in the past. The era of “grower in charge” has long passed, and we now reside in the era of “retailer in charge,” dramatically changing the market dynamics. At retail you can see grower performance, retailer performance, price trends, size trends, the impact of marketing programs, brand activity, as well as the impact or lack of impact driven by grower performance. To this end, I visited 972 retailers in 2008 and 494 since April 1, 2009, covering 20 markets in most regions of the country, including the West Coast, Northwest, Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast. The only major area we missed in 2009 was the Southwest. The purpose of these visits is to gather information regarding retailer performance, […]

Read More

November 20, 2009

The Other ‘R’ Word

Several signs are pointing to the likelihood that we are now in economic recovery. The gross domestic product (GDP) for the last half of 2009 was positive and most indices are reflecting a turnaround scenario. Even the housing market has been showing signs of stabilization. Not exactly a robust recovery, but certainly an end to the precipitous decline we saw in 2007 and 2008. The recovery phase will be marked by ongoing price declines in many locales, albeit more gradual ones. We will also see a gradual stabilization in sales rates, a gradual decline in the level of inventory for sale and a gradual bottoming out of construction activity. Again, though, the word to emphasize is “gradual.” The new home industry has done a good job of reducing supply with inventory for sale now in line with the long-term average. But the existing home market is still oversupplied, and we […]

Read More

November 19, 2009

Lowe’s Experiences Large Drop In Earnings

As of October 30, Lowe’s reported earnings of $344 million. This total is a 30 percent drop from the $488 million reported in earnings this time last year. Despite recent declines, analysts say good things are ahead for the home-improvement retailer. “We are seeing signs of improved performance in some of the hardest-hit housing markets, including California, Florida and areas of the desert Southwest,” says Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock. Analyst Michael Lasser of Barclays Capital, says while Lowe’s sales trends have been negative, the retailer “is seeing a recovery” as gains have been made over second-quarter results. Read on for more on Lowe’s third-quarter fiscal profits and the company’s overall performance.

Read More