November 8, 2012

How To Decide What Varieties To Grow

Every fall, growers throughout our industry devote a great deal of time and effort to creating their production plans for the upcoming spring. This is after sifting through the new varieties shown at the California Spring Trials, the OFA Short Course and various other grower meetings, as well as from the stack of catalogs collected from various suppliers. When developing a production plan, what should a grower consider when selecting new varieties? Three key points to consider are: can I grow a quality plant, can I sell the finished product and can I make money on the finished product? Questioning your ability to grow a quality plant is not a criticism of your growing talents. But it is important to know the amount of knowledge you have about the growing requirements for the given plant. Over the course of many years there are often new genera or “resurrected” genera from […]

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October 30, 2012

New Programs Require Staff Support

When we started the annuals program this year, we had 180,000 square feet and started growing bedding plants. We just decided to do it. An important part of getting started on a new program is to have the customer base. You have to have someone that is going to buy your bedding plants. And, of course, you have to have the buildings to grow the plants. Manpower is also very important in terms of having someone who knows how to do it. In this case, the staff here knows how to do woody ornamentals, perennials and so on, but they did not know much about bedding plants. That’s where I came in. As head grower, I like to teach people. Explain The Why When Training When I started with the annuals program, I was already here for a year. This gave me enough time to start learning who at this […]

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April 2, 2012

Lantana Finished Production Tips

Grow Time (From Rooted Cutting) Lantanas in a quart container with one plant per pot take seven to eight weeks, in a gallon container with two plants per pot and also in a 12-inch baskets with four to five plants per pot, 11 to 12 weeks of grow time. Pinching Only one pinch is needed for compact lantanas like Bandana, either late in propagation or after transplant. Try to leave two or more sets of nodes when pinching. For more vigorous varieties like ‘Bandana Trailing Gold,’ two pinches are best. Growing Media High quality media with good porosity is critical for best growth. Peat-based mixes, like Fafard 2 Mix or 1P Mix, or bark-based mixes, like Fafard 4P Mix or 3B Mix work well. Fertilizer Rate Apply 200 to 250 parts per million (ppm) nitrogen, using Cal-Mag fertilizers (i.e. 13-2-13,15-5-15,14-4-14, etc.) for more compact growth and neutral pH. Use high […]

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April 2, 2012

Lantana Propagation Tips

Upon arrival Lantanas should be stuck immediately. Do not store cuttings at a temperature below 48°F. Rooting Time Unrooted cuttings typically take four and a half to five weeks to root in a 105-sized plug. Dipping the base of the stem into 1,000 parts per million (ppm) IBA (indole-3-butyric-acid) can be beneficial, especially during early stick weeks. Growing Media High-porosity media like Fafard 1P Mix is ideal. Fertiss and Ellepot are also common choices. Keep pH at 5.6 – 6.2, test media E.C. and pH about three weeks after sticking and adjust as needed. Pinching Pinching is optional for compact varieties like Bandana but recommended for more vigorous varieties, like Bandana Trailing Gold. Make sure cuttings are well-rooted before pinching. Temperature Media temperatures of 72–74°F are ideal. Misting Spray CapSil one day after sticking to reduce wilting. Apply at a rate of 2 to 4 ounces per 100 gallons. Lantanas […]

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March 7, 2012

Lobelia: Finished Production Tips

Grow Time (From Rooted Cutting) A lobelia in a quart container with one pinch per plant (ppp) takes six to seven weeks of grow time. In a gallon container with two ppp, grow time is estimated at eight to nine weeks. Lobelias in 12-inch baskets with four to five ppp take 10 to 11 weeks of grow time. PinchOne pinch, ideally done in propagation, is enough for small and midsize pots. Trailing types will benefit from a second pinch a few weeks after transplant.  The second pinch is not as crucial for Techno Heat Upright types. When pinching, use excellent sanitation, including viricides like Virkon-S, RelyOn or Trisodium phosphate (TSP). Growing Media High quality media with good porosity is critical for best growth. Peat-based mixes, like Fafard 2 Mix or 1P Mix, or bark-based mixes, like Fafard 4P Mix or 3B Mix work well. Fertilizer Rate Apply200 parts per million […]

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March 6, 2012

7 Steps To Create Great Combos

The numbers and range of combination baskets and containers grown for spring sales have increased tremendously in in the past 10 to 15 years. An explosion of new genera and improved genetics from breeders and suppliers over the same timeframe contributed to this trend, and consumers have reacted positively. Although single variety baskets and containers are still produced in large numbers, combinations are now the primary focus at retail. With the continuing realignment of production into combination plantings, a number of factors need to be considered when planning, planting and growing these crops. Such factors include color combinations, plant vigor, plant habit, planting design, container size, cultural requirements and flowering time. Follow these seven tips to ensure success with each factor. 1. Get Color Combinations Right Color combination refers to the designing and blending of a certain mix of colors in the finished container. This combination can be as simple […]

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March 5, 2012

Lobelia: Propagation Tips

Upon Arrival Stick relatively quickly and get cuttings hydrated as soon as possible. Only store unrooted cuttings overnight in a cooler if necessary. Cuttings can easily dehydrate. Rooting Time Unrooted cuttings typically take about three and a half to four weeks to root in a 105-sized plug. The “heat” type lobelias (i.e. Techno Heat varieties) root faster than most traditional “non-heat” types (i.e. Techno Blue). Growing Media High-porosity media like Fafard 1P Mix is ideal. Fertiss and EllePot are also common choices. Keep pH at 5.6 – 6.2, test media E.C. and pH about three weeks after sticking and adjust as needed. Pinching Lobelias do need to be pinched. Be sure to use good sanitation. Cuttings should be well-rooted before pinching. Temperature Media temperatures of 72–74°F are ideal. Once the cuttings are fully rooted, the temperatures can be lowered to control growth. Misting Spray CapSil one day after sticking to […]

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October 12, 2011

Late-Season Combination Containers

Nearly 15 years ago as a retail grower I was troubled by the fierce competition among retailers for the standard fall offerings. Garden mums, flowering cabbage and kales, and pansies were the only crops we grew. As a perennial grower we offered quarts for early spring sales, gallons for spring and a small number of 2-gallons for late spring and summer sales. We were almost always finished with perennials by July 4. Yes, we may have had some sedums and ornamental grasses, or perhaps a crop of late-planted rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm,’ but that was it. That scenario worked great for production and the space the mums needed to be planted. Starting around Memorial Day my first rooted cuttings for poinsettias had to be planted, but was there opportunity to have other offerings in the fall? How about a nice-looking container with fantastic-looking foliage and blooms that would last through late fall […]

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October 11, 2011

How To Overcome Downy Mildew Spread On Impatiens

The town of Saratoga, N.Y., has observed downy mildew on Impatiens walleriana in public and private gardens for about three years. So it was only a matter of time, Margery Daughtrey thought, before downy mildew arrived about 250 miles southeast in Riverhead, N.Y. Downy mildew on impatiens officially arrived late this summer, around mid-September, when leaf yellowing and leaf drop on impatiens occurred, as well as the appearance of white spores on the undersides of leaves. Three weeks after those symptoms, stems collapsed onto the ground while nearby flower beds were still flowering and looking healthy. “They look very strange in this ‘stems-only’ stage,” says Daughtrey, senior extension associate at Cornell University. “We haven’t had any frost so this is purely a matter of downy mildew and conducive weather conditions.” Daughtrey describes the Northeast’s weather late summer as cooler than usual and constantly rainy. Those conditions helped spread the disease. […]

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August 3, 2011

Using ABA To Reduce Water Loss In Chrysanthemum & Aster

Greenhouse crop production often employs the use of plant hormones and growth-regulating chemicals to control growth such as plant height, rooting and flowering. Abscisic acid (ABA) is a natural plant hormone produced in roots in response to drought conditions. ABA is moved to the leaves, where it stimulates the closure of stomata, reduces water loss and halts photosynthesis. Until recently, ABA has not been used in greenhouse crop production because there have been no products registered for commercial use. However, Valent BioSciences Corporation is planning to release ConTego Pro, a new plant growth regulator utilizing S-abscisic acid (S-ABA), the biologically active form of ABA. ConTego Pro has already received EPA registration. To delay wilting, S-ABA is best applied as a foliar spray. An application causes the stomata to close, and therefore, reduces water loss from the leaves. Treated plants exposed to water-limiting conditions can therefore tolerate a longer period of […]

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July 25, 2011

Making Water Work For Growing

Many articles have been written over the past few years on water quality and the need for growers to adapt to their individual water supply. Most of these articles have been written by university or industry experts, and they have done a tremendous job explaining the scientific aspects of various water types and how the chemistry of these water types affect the pH of the soil, nutrient availability and overall plant quality. My favorite reference source on this subject is a book titled “Understanding pH Management,” by Bill Argo and Paul Fisher published by Greenhouse Grower. Many frequently asked questions by our grower customers have focused on soil pH and plant nutrition. Countless callers have a question like this: “I grow in soil brand X, my salesman says the pH is 5.8 to 6.2 straight from the bag, I feed with 20-10-20, and my water pH is 6.0. So why […]

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