We Could Be Growing More Green Infrastructure Plants That Work, Says Shannon Currey

Plants put the “green” in green infrastructure. And while most of those who work in this emerging field agree that plants are important, there are major obstacles to overcome before the full potential of plants for green infrastructure and low impact development can be realized. Plant maintenance was at the top of the list of difficulties in these projects, followed by plant survival and weed control.

At Cultivate’15, Shannon Currey, director of marketing at Hoffman Nursery, shared these results from a 2014 survey of low impact development practitioners. She said the horticulture industry is uniquely positioned and has the expertise to help remedy the problems and bridge the gaps in plant knowledge.

Shift The Focus To Functionality

For starters, she said the industry could be offering a wider range of plants for the herbaceous layer in green infrastructure. But it might require a shift in thinking.

“We have previously focused more on the aesthetic appeal of ornamentals,” Currey said. “We need to start looking at functionality. It takes a different mindset to think about plants in terms of their contribution to the plant community or their ability to solve problems.”

Why the shift? Because features used frequently in green infrastructure like bioretention basins, vegetated swales and wetlands rely heavily on plants performing their functions to work effectively. Plants used in these types of landscapes must be able to tolerate difficult conditions, such as fluctuating water levels and the presence of pollutants. Other desirable features include heat tolerance, consistent coverage without being aggressive and efficient use of nutrients, said Currey.

As much a reference as it is a plant catalog, Hoffman Nursery’s catalog is an example of a tool growers can use to educate others on the functionality of plants and help them make smart choices. Hoffman Nursery is located in North Carolina and specializes in grasses, sedges and rushes. Its 2015-2016 catalog begins with an overview of green infrastructure features and a guide to plants that fit those features. A 10-page quick-guide also emphasizes function in the landscape, offering solutions to landscape challenges and plants for common site conditions. Plants are grouped by physical attributes such as hardiness zone, active growing season and height. The catalog also includes an extensive list of North American native grasses and sedges. In addition to these guides, the catalog gives overviews of major genera and in-depth looks at popular grasses like Miscanthus, Panicum, Pennisetum and Schizachyrium.

Select The Right Plant For The Right Condition

During her presentation, Currey gave examples of plants that growers can offer for green infrastructure projects. However, she emphasized the importance of matching the right plant to the site condition. Differences in region and microconditions on site can affect which plants will do well. She noted that true grasses from the Poaceae family often do well because they have a wide distribution, highly fibrous root systems and are adaptable to extreme conditions. Sedges were also at the top of her list.

Specific plants Currey mentioned in her presentation as working well for green infrastructure projects are listed below, and there are many more available if growers do their homework:

Juncus effusus
Carex vulpinoidea – Fox Sedge
Deschampsia cespitosa – Tufted Hair Grass
Carex grayi
Panicum virgatum cultivars – Switchgrass
Schizachyrium scoparium cultivars

For green roofs:
Sesleria autumnalis
Bouteloua gracilis
B. gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’
B. cartipendula
Schizachyrium scoparium cultivars

Cultivate Strong Partnerships Among Growers, Contractors And Project Designers

Currey ended her Cultivate’15 talk with a list of action items for growers, landscapers/contractors and project designers. She suggested growers research and identify plants they are growing that would be a good fit for green infrastructure and expand their offerings if it makes sense. When supplying plants for a project, they’ll get valuable feedback by checking back in to see how the plants performed. Landscapers/contractors can tap into this new market by getting training in green infrastructure installation and maintenance. She also suggested they work closely and often with plant suppliers. For project designers, Currey recommends using plant suppliers as a resource and involving contractors early in the planning process. Green infrastructure is an evolving market and there are gaps in knowledge. Currey said she thinks we need evaluation of a wider range of plants and better information on optimal planting sizes and density.

Quoting Charlie Hall, professor and Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M University and chief economist for AmericanHort, Currey emphasized that green infrastructure could be a game changer for the industry. She believes the key to this market for our industry lies in creating partnerships and better communication between knowledgeable growers, project designers, and the contractors working on green infrastructure.

View the handout from Shannon Currey’s Cultivate’15 “Perennials and Grasses for Green Infrastructure – Part 2” presentation.

 

Topics:

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...

March 21, 2017

How Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Can Prepare for a Product Recall

The United Fresh Produce Association is holding a Recall Ready Workshop in April that is designed to help growers properly manage a recall, from liability to communications.

Read More
Greenhouse Loyal Customer

March 16, 2017

How Brand Enthusiasts Can Be Your Most Loyal Customers

A marketing expert shares three core principles that direct-to-consumer companies can follow to create brand enthusiasts.

Read More

March 14, 2017

Expanded Customer Footprint, E-Commerce, Succession Key Aspects of Delray Plants Purchase by Costa Farms

Costa Farms' acquisition of indoor foliage producer Delray Plants rocked the industry, but the story behind Delray Plants' sale is the same as for many growers struggling with succession planning. For Costa Farms, the strategic purchase expands its customer footprint and also fast tracks its foray into e-commerce.

Read More
Latest Stories

March 21, 2017

How Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Can Prepare for a Prod…

The United Fresh Produce Association is holding a Recall Ready Workshop in April that is designed to help growers properly manage a recall, from liability to communications.

Read More
Greenhouse Loyal Customer

March 16, 2017

How Brand Enthusiasts Can Be Your Most Loyal Customers

A marketing expert shares three core principles that direct-to-consumer companies can follow to create brand enthusiasts.

Read More

March 14, 2017

Expanded Customer Footprint, E-Commerce, Succession Key…

Costa Farms' acquisition of indoor foliage producer Delray Plants rocked the industry, but the story behind Delray Plants' sale is the same as for many growers struggling with succession planning. For Costa Farms, the strategic purchase expands its customer footprint and also fast tracks its foray into e-commerce.

Read More
Steve Black and Bridget Behe

March 14, 2017

AmericanHort’s First-Ever CareerUP Event to Take Place …

CareerUP is a day-long workshop that is designed to provide the skills, information, and inspiration that young professionals need to advance their careers, love their jobs, and help the industry grow.

Read More
Horticultural Research Institute Logo

March 12, 2017

Horticulture Research Institute Rings in New Year With …

More than 150 industry professionals attended a reception at MANTS, which introduced new officers and celebrated the more than $190,000 in donations for HRI research fostering business-building knowledge for the horticultural industry.

Read More

March 10, 2017

Costa Farms Expands With Purchase of Indoor Houseplant …

Costa Farms annnounced March 10 that it has acquired Delray Plants, one of the leaders in the indoor houseplant industry. The two operations are committed to the same values, principles, and goals to grow the industry, and will fit well together to accomplish this, say Randy Gilde, CEO of Delray Plants, and Joche Smith, CEO of Costa Farms.

Read More
Startup Stock Photos

March 10, 2017

Passionate Horticulture Writers Wanted To Join Our Team

GreenhouseGrower.com is looking for people to join our team and submit original content to our website about floriculture and greenhouse production of emerging crops.

Read More

March 7, 2017

Local Florists Celebrate Women’s Day and SAF Prom…

Florists across the U.S. are celebrating International Women's Day, March 8, and raising awareness for non-profit organizations. The Society of American Florists is raising its own awareness of what happens when women receive flowers with a new video for International Women's Day.

Read More
Egon and Laina Molbak

March 7, 2017

American Floral Endowment Receives Major Contribution t…

AFE recently announced that it has received a $100,000 contribution from Egon and Laina Molbak, the founders and long-time owners of Molbak’s Garden + Home outside of Seattle.

Read More
Ken and Deena Altman

March 7, 2017

Altman Plants in Escrow to Purchase EuroAmerican Propag…

Ken Altman, a co-owner of Altman Plants based in Vista, CA, has confirmed that the operation is currently in escrow to purchase EuroAmerican Propagators, the Bonsall, CA-based young plant and finished plant grower that filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy on Jan. 23, 2017. Ken and Deena Altman are co-owners of Altman Plants and The Plug Connection, along with their son Matthew, who has recently bought into the family business. The 55 acres of land and all of the facilities on it, which were previously owned by Jerry Church, a partner in EuroAmerican Propagators, are part of the purchase agreement currently in escrow, Altman says. However, it would not be absorbed by Altman Plants, which in 2016 was number 3 on Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers list with more than 11 million square feet of environmentally controlled greenhouse production, 62 acres of shade production, and 400 acres of outdoor field production. Altman Plants’ property […]

Read More

March 2, 2017

Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Whitepaper Avai…

This year’s survey featured a record 975 respondents and tackled topics such as sales trends, technology, major industry challenges and opportunities, and much more.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Webinar

February 27, 2017

State of the Industry Webinar Available for On-Demand V…

The half-hour presentation includes an analysis of Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State of the Industry survey, along with insights from horticulture industry leaders.

Read More
North Creek Tim McGinty Steve Castorini

February 24, 2017

AmericanHort Names New Board Members and Officers for 2…

The new board members are Steve Castorani of North Creek Nurseries, Tom Hughes of Hughes Nursery and Landscaping, and Cole Mangum of Bell Nursery.

Read More
EAGL Graduates

February 22, 2017

Emerging Industry Leaders Earn Business Management Cert…

Dr. Charlie Hall, Ellison Chair for International Floriculture at Texas A&M University, recently announced the graduation of the fourth cohort of the elite Executive Academy for Growth & Leadership (EAGL) program for nursery and greenhouse growers.

Read More
2016 Top 100 Growers List

February 18, 2017

Top 100 Growers Survey for 2017 Is Now Open!

Operations with more than 400,000 square feet of environmentally controlled production are eligible to take the survey, which only takes a few minutes to complete.

Read More

February 17, 2017

How to Keep Customers Coming Back With Top-Notch Servic…

A recent article on Forbes.com outlines seven ways organizations can take their customer service from good to great and beyond.

Read More
Tom Foley, WaterPulse

February 17, 2017

Industry Veteran Tom Foley Discusses His New Role as Vi…

Foley, a greenhouse industry veteran who was most recently with EuroAmerican Propagators, will be responsible for North American sales of WaterPulse’s patent-pending capillary mats and associated irrigation systems to nurseries and growers.

Read More
EuroAmerican Propagators Greenhouses

February 14, 2017

Suppliers Comment on Plant Genetics’ Fate After EuroAme…

Since the operation’s bankruptcy filing on January 23, 2017, suppliers associated with EuroAmerican Propagators have updated Greenhouse Grower on what the operation’s bankruptcy means for them – and how it will impact grower customers.

Read More