December 30, 2010

Costa’s Top Field Trial Performers

New coleus, lantana and pentas were among the best performers by genus in the field trials this past summer at Costa Farms. Below, we present a list of the top-performing varieties by genus, as well as the best standalone performers in the trial. Click the images to the right for a slideshow of a few top performers at Costa. Top Genera Coleus–’Redhead’ and ‘Henna’ (Ball FloraPlant)–’Stained Glassworks Eruption’ and ‘Stained Glassworks Green Autry’ (Ecke Ranch) Begonia–’BIG Bronze Leaf Rose,’ ‘BIG Bronze Leaf Red’ and ‘BIG Green Leaf Red’ (Benary)–’Emperor Pink,’ ‘Emperor Red’ and ‘Inferno Pink’ (Sakata) Lantana–’Landmark White’ and ‘Lucky Pot of Gold’ (Ball FloraPlant)–’Lola,’ ‘Tropic Pineapple’ and ‘Tropic Pink Bird’ (GroLink)–’Dallas Red,’ ‘Pink Bird’ and ‘Starfruit’ (Dömmen)–’Bandana Trailing Gold,’ ‘Bandana Lemon Zest,’ ‘Bandana White,’ ‘Bandito Rose,’ and ‘Bandito Orange Sunrise’ (Syngenta Flowers) Gomphrena–’Las Vegas Purple,’ ‘Las Vegas Rose’ and ‘Las Vegas White’ (Benary) Pentas–’Graffiti Red Lace,’ ‘Kaleidoscope Deep Red’ […]

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December 29, 2010

Kickin’ Around Combos

Sixteen different combinations are available in Four Star Greenhouse’s Streamliner program, but head grower Dennis Crum and his staff didn’t settle on those combos overnight. Instead, Four Star trialed more than 100 combinations before ultimately finding the 16 genera combinations that grow well together and bloom into beautiful finished products. “There are a number of things we have to look at,” Crum says. “One is rooting time. For the third genus, we’ll pick a scaevola or an ipomoea that stays in propagation longer. But it means if the one genus stays in an extra week, another one is going wild. It’s hard to even everything out without a lot of hand labor and plant growth regulators.” Still, despite the work that goes into producing combination baskets and planters, growers are finding there’s a market that’s becoming increasingly receptive to them. Growers have been producing combos for decades, yes, but the […]

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December 29, 2010

Petitti And Eagle Creek Unite

Sometimes, the best career move one can make is to take a step back. Jill Bonner Cain reached that point with the birth of her baby boy in May and decided to sell the retail operation she founded in 2002, Eagle Creek Garden Center in Bainbridge, Ohio. “The biggest thing was starting a family for me,” Cain says. “There are not enough hours in the day and  I want to raise my child, not just put him in daycare. With retail, it’s a 365-days-a-year, 24/7 kind of business.” When Cain and her family began to discuss the idea of selling the upscale, destination garden center, one local garden center chain came to mind as a possible buyer: Petitti Garden Centers. Owned and operated by Angelo Petitti and his family, the Petittis had seven garden centers located throughout Northeast Ohio. “There was really only one person who could take over an […]

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December 29, 2010

Avoiding Rookie Mistakes With PGRs

“Every grower moves the decimal point at some point,” Morris says. “Instead of putting a 1 down you put a 10. I laugh about it, because it happens. I don’t know a grower who hasn’t done it once. You’re in a hurry and you know better, but it still happens.” Fortunately, some PGR mishaps are correctable. In Morris’ case, applying 10 times the amount of Bonzi wasn’t the end of the world. Certain chemicals, she’s found, can help prevent simple mistakes from wiping out a crop. “I have growers who beat themselves up about it,” Morris says. “But did you learn something? As long as you learn from it and don’t do it again, it’s OK.” Even if a mistake isn’t correctable, the key is learning from it. All growers will make mistakes–some may be mistakes to which you can look back and laugh–but taking those experiences and pocketing them […]

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December 29, 2010

Welby’s Top Container Varieties Of 2010

Welby Gardens, a Top 100 Grower based in Denver, Colo., invited the industry to its annual trial garden this summer. Attendees were offered the chance to evaluate their favorite containers, which the business then compiled into a list of 2010 favorites. “At our trial we keep track of votes by breeder-sponsor companies, general industry folks and retailers,” says Al Gerace, CEO at Welby Gardens. “We had approximately 300 people view the trials that day and each received 10 poker chips to pick their favorites.” Here are the favorites as chosen by the attendees in a top-25 fashion: 1. Scabiosa ‘Black’ (Proven Winners/Euro American Propagators) 2. Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ (Proven Winners Euro American) 3. Alternanthera ‘Red Threads’ (GroLink) 4. Salvia ‘Mystic Spires Blue’ (Ball FloraPlant) 5t. Dahlia 06-103 Lavender (Fides) 5t. Petunia ‘Rhythm and Blues’ (Ball FloraPlant) 7. Petunia ‘Pinstripe’ (Ball FloraPlant) 8. Petunia ‘Black Velvet’ (Ball FloraPlant) 9. Justecea ‘Holanda’ […]

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December 29, 2010

State Of The Industry: Survey Says!

Characterizing the state of the commercial greenhouse industry is a daunting task considering how segmented the industry is. Some growers supply box stores while others serve independent retailers. Some specialize in bedding plants while others primarily grow container perennials or flowering potted plants. And some have facilities that warrant their own zip codes while others produce plants in single greenhouses. The list of differences between U.S. greenhouse businesses is certainly a long one. At the end of each year, though, we survey growers to find out how the industry is doing as a whole. We ask growers about the year’s sales and their sales expectations for the coming year, as well as questions about opportunities and challenges their businesses are facing. This year, we also surveyed suppliers of growers (i.e. chemicals, containers, fertilizers, etc.) about their sales, prices and priorities for 2011. Here’s what we learned. Sales Analysis Both growers […]

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December 29, 2010

State Of The Industry: Greenhouse Trends And Predictions

  Is the greenhouse floriculture industry a healthy industry? Your answer likely depends, in part, on the health of your own business. Sales are up for a number of growers–or at least flat compared to 2009–and expectations are high as we enter a new year. Still, whether you’re pleased with your past year’s sales or not, every business is but a drop in the bucket that is the greenhouse floriculture industry. Collectively, growers tend to agree the industry has work to do to achieve everyone’s ultimate goals: reaching more consumers and selling more plants. Growers, of course, are big believers in the value of plants, as are the retailers they serve. So why, industry leaders continually wonder, can’t a grower’s passion carry over to consumers on a bigger scale? It’s a question to which growers have always been searching for answers. And when the answers are found, the possibilities, growers […]

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December 29, 2010

State Of The Industry: Modernizing The IGCs

The frustration in Jason Parks’ voice mounts as he discusses the independent garden center (IGC) market in the southern United States. As Parks describes, once great IGC retailers are approaching retirement age, and there isn’t a generation on their heels to take their place. The next potential retailers watched their parents or bosses work their back sides off to barely make a living. So why, Parks asks, would potential up-and-comers want to make a career as an IGC retailer? “It is different here in the South, with some exceptions, because the people we deal with are mostly small and mid-sized garden centers,” says Parks, the operations manager at Parks Brothers Farm in Van Buren, Ark. “A lot of them are hanging on for dear life.” Most retailers in the South are at least 50 years old, Parks says, and his family’s wholesale greenhouse operation has been doing business with many […]

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December 29, 2010

State Of The Industry: What Keeps You Up At Night?

A grower’s list of concerns these days is a long one. From poor spring weather and disinterested consumers to increasing government regulations and succession plans, growers have more weight on their minds than ever. But as stressful as rainy spring weekends and wondering whether your kids are willing to handle the load of your business, the issue keeping more growers up at night than any other is, perhaps no surprise, the economy. “I sleep well but the economy is my number one concern,” says Steve Free, Grass Creek Greenhouse. “In the past, I felt our industry was relatively recession proof, but growing federal debt and the current administration’s intent to raise taxes troubles me.” In our annual State Of The Industry Survey, we asked growers to rate their level of concern about a list of 10 topics on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being not concerned at […]

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December 29, 2010

Which PGRs Growers Prefer

Imagine you only have the option of using one PGR in production for all time: Which product would you use and why? “Although there are newer products on the market, I have had great success with the paclobutrazol family of products, such as Bonzi and Piccolo. I use them as a spray on some varieties, drench on some plants and a sprench on others. It really keeps my annual bedding plants in check during our colder and cloudier months of January and February when plants in small cell packs and containers get out of control right before spring sales." – Michael Pawelek, Pecan Hill Nursery “We use [Bonzi], especially for Wave petunias – even growing Waves on the dry side or growing cool. We used B-9 on annuals many years ago until we got Bonzi down to an art.” – Robin Waldrop Sr., First Stage Greenhouse “First there was sliced […]

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December 29, 2010

Supplementing The H-2A Program

A Midwestern grower, like many of his colleagues across the country, has a difficult time pinning down reliable, hard-working Americans to work in his greenhouses. He’s turned to H-2A on occasion for labor solutions, but the program is a costly one and litigation prone, so he’s looked for help elsewhere. Two places the grower has turned are the Communications for America Education Program (CAEP) and the Minnesota Agricultural Student Trainee (MAST) program. Both have become great labor sources for him and easier to manage than H-2A. Both are also programs many growers know little about. “What I like about CAEP is they’re nice people to deal with, they are flexible and they try to find you the people who best match your individual situation,” says the Midwestern grower. “Some other programs do that, too.” MAST is a flexible program, as well, and it’s one the Midwestern grower heard about through […]

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December 28, 2010

Raker Latest On MPS-ABC Mission

C. Raker & Sons is another new participant to the MPS-ABC sustainable certification program.  Paul Karlovich, general manager of C. Raker & Sons is looking forward to using the MPS program to better understand how Raker compares to other growers, including European growers. “Although we have done a lot to make our business more sustainable over the years, the MPS-ABC program will validate how we compare and challenge us to continue to improve,” Karlovich says. “A third-party certification gives us an unbiased review of our operations, and I particularly like the fact that MPS began as a program for floriculture growers, specific for our industry.” Karlovich and his team began the MPS program last fall. With the help of an MPS regional coordinator, the business has registered its use of energy, water, fertilizers and crop protection agents. Raker has also been documenting the recycling efforts it has been participating in. […]

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December 28, 2010

Selecta Safari Slideshow

No trip to Africa would be complete without the opportunity to see wild animals. The Lion King came to life during our visit to Oserian’s nature preserve in Kenya and we visited a colony of chimpanzees in Uganda.

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December 28, 2010

Metrolina Greenhouses Expansion Approved

Metrolina Greenhouses, a Top 100 Grower located in Huntersville, N.C., has received the town’s approval on a zoning change that will allow for a 1.5 million-square-foot expansion. The Charlotte Observer reports that on Dec. 20, the Huntersville Board of Commissioners unanimously approved rezoning about 133 acres to make the expansion possible. President Art Van Wingerden told the Observer recently that the company hopes to finish grading on the expansion by the end of 2011 and to start construction in 2011 or 2012, depending on market conditions. The expansion will add 35 jobs to Metrolina’s staff of 500 full-time workers, Van Wingerden told the Observer.

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December 28, 2010

Top Gardening Trends For 2011

Which gardening trends will be in come 2011? Robert Zimmer, owner of The Chocolate Iris: Olde English Gardens, Gifts and Design, shared a list of gardening trends for 2011 in a recent column he wrote for The Post Crescent. Black. “Perhaps the hottest color in demand in the plant world is black. Gardeners love black and realize the uniqueness and beauty of flowers that bloom in black. … Examples of favorite flowers that bloom in black are Black Barlow columbine, Storm of the Century iris, Black Gamecock iris, perennial black violas, ‘black’ daylilies, hollyhocks, Queen of the Night tulips and more.” White. “White is equally in demand, and this year, more plant varieties than ever will be available in pristine white. New delphiniums, iris, daylilies, daisies, lilies, hibiscus and more are set to hit the market. As with black, white is often used generously. In some perennials such as daylilies, […]

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December 22, 2010

The Power Of Service Learning Programs

Central Missouri Subcontracting Enterprise (CMSE) is a sheltered workshop that has provided employment for developmentally disabled adults for 40 years. CMSE subcontracts assembly work for dozens of manufacturers in central Missouri, like 3M, Quaker Oats, Square D, ABC Labs, plus hospitals and publishers. It had flourished until last year, when several clients cut back due to the economy and outsourcing overseas. Executive Director Bruce Young was devastated. He would have to find more sources to keep 130 people employed. He sought help at his local Rotary Club meeting of business friends. Member Bill Regan answered the call: “Build a greenhouse!” So they did. The Project A greenhouse with 5,400 square feet was built adjacent to CMSE’s facility. Regan brought many skills to the new enterprise. He has a master’s degree in horticulture, 35 years of experience propagating geranium cuttings and he has garden center experience as an owner. He is […]

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December 22, 2010

Glowing Plants: The Next Big Opportunity?

The notion of plants glowing in the dark is a captivating one. From the Scarlet Flower based in Slavic folklore to the Pandora forests in the movie “Avatar,” people have been mesmerized by the possibility of plants and flowers illuminating the night. In the past, both scientists and growers have tried to make plants glow, and these attempts have been noticed by the general and science media. However, all of the “glowing plants” generated so far required either chemicals to be sprayed on them to induce glow for a short period of time, or external “black light” illumination to achieve the glow-like effect–or both. Some recent examples are illuminating roses and mums sold under the brand name Glowing Flowers at the FloraHolland auction in Naaldwijk, Netherlands. These plants have been treated with a patented dye and then exposed to daylight or black light to “charge” them to emit light for […]

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December 22, 2010

Daisy May Leucanthemum From Proven Winners

Leucanthemum, which is commonly known as Shasta daisy, is a staple of the perennial portfolio. Most consumers know the plant for its large white or pale yellow flowers that bloom from June to July. The challenge with Shasta daisy, though, has always been bringing it forward for earlier sales without sacrificing the perennial part of a great plant. ‘Daisy May’ leucanthemum succeeds in moving up the sales window in a couple ways. First, it reduces required vernalization of plants from eight weeks to four. Daisy May also has a more free-flowering habit with better branching and reblooming characteristics. Grow With Daisy May Traditional crops of leucanthemum require buying liners in fall the year before sale, establishing the plants in their containers, rooting them and then allowing them to grow and flower in their natural flowering window around June with some cultivars. Daisy May has a shorter vernalization time than older […]

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December 22, 2010

Slideshow: Selecta Kenya

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