Converging In Columbus

Converging In Columbus

The event, held July 8-11, is organized and hosted by OFA â€” an Association of Floriculture Professionals. The organization was founded in 1929 with strong ties to The Ohio State University and has since grown to comprise 3,300 members in all 50 states and 30 countries. More than 77 percent are located outside of Ohio. The majority are growers. Programs are organized by 200 volunteers who actively participate on committees serving growers, garden centers, florists and interiorscapers.

Promoted as U.S. floriculture’s premier educational and trade show event, the OFA Short Course draws nearly 10,000 attendees each year from about 30 countries. While the three-day trade show spotlights more than 1,300 live goods and equipment and supply companies, attendees can choose from 120 educational sessions over four days. Social events after hours make Short Course the ultimate networking opportunity.

All The News

A few big announcements and celebrations happened at OFA Short Course. In order to provide a complete portfolio of branded products to consumers, Syngenta has purchased Conrad Fafard Inc. The news was announced at Short Course in a press conference attended by Syngenta’s Mark Walton, Keelan Pulliam, Alex Prohodsky, Chuck Buffington and Fafard’s Andy Fafard.

The Perfect Ice Breaker

“The committee felt the Unplugged event served its purpose well — to bring those younger people in the industry together to network and meet people their own age,” Laura Kunkle says. “We had people of all ages there, but the majority were under 35, which is what we wanted. Hopefully those who attended will understand the opportunities that OFA and the Short Course provide to network and help in their personal and professional advancement.”

The Generation Next committee also planned educational sessions helping individuals who are just launching their careers. Courses ranged from refining business skills and effective communication techniques to jumpstarting a personal financial future.

“We don’t intend to change the business model,” Fafard said. “The company will continue to operate as it is. We will grow and expand more quickly than we would have. Growers need a company that provides the products, services and knowledge that they need. This acquisition creates such a company.” 

The companies moved quickly through the deal, as Fafard had been looking to sell.


Owners Eddy and Lela Kelly celebrated the 20th anniversary of their company, Dosatron International, at Short Course. Dosatron, headquartered in Clearwater, Fla., provides water-driven fertilizer injectors. For more on the celebration and the company’s products, visit

The Peace Tree Farm family and the Gro ‘n Sell family, located only minutes apart in Bucks County, Penn., have joined forces to unite their market strengths — from propagation to packaging — and create a “From Start To Finish” outlet for the industry.

Short Course was one of the first times that visitors saw Paul Ecke Ranch exhibiting jointly with its newly purchased Oglevee. 

Passport To The World


Ball Horticultural Co. and MasterTag have teamed up on the Plant Passport line, collectible plants from around the world. Plant tags are passport booklets with fun facts about the plants as well as care information. The line’s Web site lets plant geeks search for plants by point of origin.

Colors, Colors, Colors

Novalis showed off some new varieties, including ‘Lemon Daddy’ hydrangea, a sport of ‘Big Daddy’ with yellow-green leaves instead of the traditional dark-green. ‘Color Fantasy’ hydrangea also catches the eye with red mophead inflorescence and red foliage that lasts summer through fall.

P. Diddy Would Be Proud

What do you call your most dressed up, flashy product? Bling, of course, and Ball Seed’s Ball Bling program is an exclusive line of plant enhancements (paint and glitter) to spice up plants. Ball Bling was exhibited at Short Course decorating mums and poinsettias. The color and sparkle doesn’t wash off and won’t fade or burn plants. 

Insulating Energy Costs

Launched at Short Course, Sunarc’s On-Demand Insulation and Shade System for double-layer, air-inflated polyethelyne greenhouses is liquid-foam based and has shown energy savings of more than 50 percent.

In cold weather, the system infuses R-15 liquid foam thermal insulation into the double-poly cavity. At sunrise, the foam dissipates and is rinsed away, enabling a crystal clear poly membrane each day. The same foam-based system is used in hot weather climates as a sun shade. For more information, call 877-448-2960 or visit

A Good Bet


The DiamondPoint program created by Proven Winners highlights the other euphorbia in the family — its new introduction ‘Diamond Frost.’ The program integrates ‘Diamond Frost’ with any beautiful red, burgundy or novelty poinsettia and will look great as an impulse buy at retail. When planted together from the liner stage, ‘Diamond Frost’ will take the path of least resistance, winding itself through the branches of the poinsettia, says PW spokeswoman Jeanine Standard. Find out more at

Disease Control

Bring on the science! Superior Aqua Agricultural Systems have been used for years in the row crop industry to control diseases. In the system, electrically generated copper ions are dispersed into a water system using specially designed copper electrodes. The ions have a natural attraction to algae, molds and fungi, removing them from water systems. Users have reported the system removes algae and molds in less than two weeks. For more, call 800-225-0119 or visit

Using The KISS Method

EZ Combos by Goldsmith are simple container recipes. Each contains two plants, with the same growing requirements, either in compatible or contrasting colors. Goldsmith also displayed its products planted in beds in a front yard setup.

Great Grower Sessions

The grower sessions were especially strong this year, zeroing in on the most pressing industry issues–falling profits, workforce issues and rising energy costs. Greenhouse production, advanced courses and crop diagnostics courses rounded out the program.

This year’s OFA Town Meeting was titled “Raising Prices — The Achilles Heel Of Our Industry.” Bill Swanekamp, Abe Van Wingerden, David Eastburn and Stephen Barlow were the panel, Lloyd Traven was the facilitator and the audience was full of emotion on the issue. Reasons for low prices? Here’s some of the common mentality:
–If there’s no crisis, there’s no reason to raise prices.
–There’s too much supply, so we can’t raise prices.
–Growers are more like farmers than bankers. This isn’t a business, it’s a way of life.
–We can’t walk away from the negotiating table when there are 17 guys waiting in line to get our business.
–I don’t know my costs per pot. Am I really losing money by not growing poinsettias, anyway?

A few ideas for raising prices: How about reinventing your product? Maybe a 4 1/2-inch pot is not the right size anymore. Some growers reported that they increased prices because of increased fuel costs, and few customers complained.

Plants are selling for 30 to 40 percent lower than they were in the 1980s. Growers thought it was all right to do so, because the profits were still there. But that began a race to the bottom. Either way, it’s better to put product in a Dumpster than slash prices. The net effect of lowered prices is a lowered profile for the entire industry. 

Plants’ Secret Language

John Erwin, University of Minnesota, spoke on Applied Greenhouse Crop Technologies. A few tips from Erwin: essential greenhouse equipment includes light meters (inside the greenhouse, not on a weather station outside), infrared thermometers (for reading media temperature) and pH and soluble salt meters, to be read and analyzed on a weekly basis.

Erwin hinted at upcoming research on plant communications. If attacked by pests, plants give off a gas that warns other plants of an impending danger. And they give off different gasses depending on what’s attacking them. One of the chemicals is methyl-jasmonate, a chemical that is used in some perfumes. Also, look out for new gladiolus varieties from South Africa and cacti and succulents used as bedding plants in the Southern United States, as well as new potted plants. 

Profitability Programming

“Even growers who are not currently forcing perennials should learn the principles and mechanics, as they are key to your potential to grow flowering perennials any time of the year,” explains Paul Pilon of Perennial Solutions Consulting. Discovering plants’ juvenility, vernalization, photoperiod and temperature requirements can help grower deliver a season-long supply of color to the market.

Pilon shared findings, in which an hour’s variance in photoperiod can be the difference between a flowering and non-flowering plant. For many varieties, as temperature increases, flower size decreases. In one instance, comparing plants grown at 63ËšF to 83ËšF, flower sizes were 2 inches and 0.6 inches, respectively. A rise in temperature can also reduce the number of flowers per plant. Pilon also introduced his new book, Perennial Solutions, to the Short Course crowd. The book is available at

The Fight Against Energy Costs

Erik Runkle, Michigan State University, gave his top tips for dealing with high energy prices. Plants develop in response to the average daily temperature they’re exposed to, so a positive DIF (warmer days and cooler nights) consumes less energy than a negative DIF (warmer nights than days) with the same average daily temperature. Other tips include starting with a larger plug and avoiding numerous gaps between crops. The added cost of PGR needed with close plant spacing is likely offset by the saved fuel costs. 

Too Many Varieties?

With a plethora of new varieties being introduced at Pack Trials every year, growers, retailers and consumers are faced with the challenge of which plants to grow, sell and buy. Michigan State University’s Bridget Behe and Proven Selections’ John Gaydos talked to a captive audience about the negative effect of having too many choices. Behe referenced a book called “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz, who found that an average grocery store offers 285 varieties of cookies, 21 of them being chocolate chip, 95 potato chip choices and 120 different pasta sauces. The conclusion was that having more choice causes more stress. Behe and Gaydos suggest simplifying choices by offering plantagrams or building displays or mannequins that make it easier for the customer. 

More For Profits

Profits at retail are shrinking. What can growers to about it? Stan Pohmer shared some ideas in a session called “Partnering For Profits.”
–Take up a lean flow manufacturing process.
–Take on contract growers, or grow for a larger producer.
–Optimize logistics. Act as a freight, service or marketing provider for other growers.
–Collaborate with non-competing growers and share data, operating processes and vendor information. Operate as a buying group. 
The panel at this year’s Grower Town Hall discussed the prospect of raising prices.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Converging In Columbus

  1. Do you know the date anf time for the 2010 show. Please let me know. My company name is R.A.L. landscaping & Garden Center Inc. 6616 W. Lincoln Hwy. (Rt.30) Crown Point, Indiana 46307

  2. Do you know the date anf time for the 2010 show. Please let me know. My company name is R.A.L. landscaping & Garden Center Inc. 6616 W. Lincoln Hwy. (Rt.30) Crown Point, Indiana 46307

More From Plant Culture...
Great Lakes Expo

November 30, 2015

6 Reasons You Should Attend The Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo

The Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo, held Dec. 8-10 in conjunction with the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo, will feature an expansive trade show and several educational sessions aimed at greenhouse growers.

Read More
Colorado State University 2015 Container Field Trials

November 29, 2015

2015 Colorado State University (Fort Collins, Colo.) Field Trials Results

See the 2015 field trials results (includes photo gallery) for Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.

Read More
Coleus 'Colorblaze Velveteen' (2015 University of Tennessee Field Trials)

November 28, 2015

2015 University of Tennessee Gardens (Knoxville and Jackson, Tenn.) Field Trials Results

See the 2015 field trials results (includes photo gallery) for University of Tennessee Gardens in Knoxville and Jackson, Tenn.

Read More
Latest Stories

September 20, 2015

Technology Improves Orchid Production At Green Circle G…

Green Circle Growers in Oberlin, Ohio, has a commitment to using production practices that are efficient and sustainable. The operation has been growing Orchids for nine years, and is entering its second full year with its current system, which entails three camera grades. “The camera grading — first at production into a 5-inch pot, then 12 weeks later and a final grade after the stem and buds have developed — is raising our overall quality,” says Wesley Van Wingerden, director of growing for Green Circle Growers. Greenhouse Grower visited the operation to take a tour of its facilities and learn more about its Orchid production. Read on for more details about the process. The first of the camera grades is incorporated into the transplant process, which involves placing the Orchids from a community tray into 5-inch pots. The plants are separated into three sizes with the smallest returning to the […]

Read More

September 15, 2015

Young Plant Growers Weigh In On Crop Gains, Sales Trend…

Almost 100 young plant producers participated in Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Young Plant Grower Survey, which asked growers questions abot crop categories, sales, order fulfillment and more.

Read More
Top20YPGrowers feature image

September 15, 2015

The State Of The 2015 Young Plant Market

Young plant growers in North America are changing their strategies to stay competitive in today’s market. Here is how 2015 shapes up in trends and statistics.

Read More
Vivero International_Endisch

September 8, 2015

Vivero Internacional Continues To Expand Unrooted Cutti…

The tenth largest cuttings farm in the world, Vivero Internacional was founded in 1991 and began exporting unrooted cuttings in 1993. Based in Tepoztlan, Morelos, just outside of Mexico City, Mexico, the operation opened with 2 hectares or 5 acres. With time and new customers, the farm has experienced rapid growth, now spanning 40 hectares or 99 acres, says Vivero’s Dennis Hitzigrath. “The first 10 years, production was doubling every season,” Hitzigrath says. “In the last three years, it’s been about 20 percent.”     The independent operation grows 100 million cuttings annually for several breeders, serving the North American market. Hitzigrath says consolidation among breeders has brought more of a focus on Vivero Internacional from third-party breeders in recent years. This growing interest is spurring even more growth. “We are planning for a minimum growth of 20 percent,” Hitzigrath says. “We are adding more production space and hope to be […]

Read More

August 19, 2015

Greenhouse Growing Recommendations For Lobularia

Modern-day Lobularias are garden classics with good vigor and long bloom times. These growing recommendations will help keep your crop in prime condition.

Read More
Mike McGroarty, owner of Mike’s Backyard Nursery

July 29, 2015

Backyard Success: Mike McGroarty Educates Aspiring Grow…

Mike’s Backyard Nursery sits on a long, narrow, 5-acre property located in Perry, Ohio. There, customers can find a variety of flowering shrubs available, all in 2-quart pots, and all for sale for $5.97 each. Owner Mike McGroarty, a lifelong resident of Perry, says the town has a lot of plant nurseries, including 100 wholesale growers within a 10-mile radius of his house. That doesn’t discourage McGroarty, because he knows that while there are a lot of nurseries in his area, no one else is doing what he is doing. McGroarty has learned about plants — and marketing them to his audience — through decades of experience. He has never hesitated to pass along his knowledge to other growers looking to start their own backyard operations, and has created an entire program to educate aspiring growers. McGroarty Likes To Practice What He Preaches McGroarty’s operation serves as the laboratory for […]

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

June 27, 2015

Concern Grows Over Unregulated Pesticide Use On Cannabi…

As most growers know well, the federal government regulates all insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and other commercial chemicals used on agricultural crops. Therein lies the problem with use of chemicals on cannabis crops – so far, the feds want nothing to do with legalized marijuana. According to “Concern Grows Over Unregulated Pesticide Use On Cannabis,” a June 17 article on the National Public Radio (NPR) network by Agribusiness Reporter Luke Runyon, the lack of regulated chemicals for cannabis has left growers to experiment on their own. “In the absence of any direction the subject of pesticide use on the crop has just devolved to whatever people think is working or they think is appropriate,” said Colorado State University Entomologist Whitney Cranshaw in the NPR report. “Sometimes they’ve used some things that are appropriate, sometimes unsafe.” Denver officials held tens of thousands of marijuana plants earlier this year due to safety concerns, but […]

Read More

June 16, 2015

The Butterfly Effect: Insect’s Wings Key To Azalea Poll…

A researcher from North Carolina State University (NC State) has found that in the case of the flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum), all pollinators are not created equal. In fact, due to the flower’s unique reproductive structure, butterflies — and specifically, their wings — are the key to pollination. The flame azalea is commonly found in the Appalachian Mountains, ranging from as far north as New York to Georgia in the south. Like most azaleas, the flowers are large, and have an unusual structure: both the anther (male) and stigma (female) parts are very elongated and separated from one another. NC State biologist Mary Jane Epps was interested in how the azalea’s flower structure affected its pollination. “In order for a plant to reproduce, a pollinator — usually an insect — has to spread the pollen from the anther to the stigma,” Epps says. “In the case of the flame azalea, […]

Read More
Bee on a Sedum

March 17, 2015

4 Key Pollinator Research Projects To Be Funded By Hort…

The Horticultural Research Institute will grant $125,000 in financial support for four key projects as part of the Horticultural Industry Bee & Pollinator Stewardship Initiative. The Initiative has three primary goals. First, to convene a task force to develop a bee and pollinator stewardship program, including creation of best management practices for plant production. Second, to identify and fund research that will help answer key science questions and fill gaps needed to design and refine the stewardship program. Third, to seek to positively position the horticultural community and its customers by collaborating with other compatible groups interested in augmenting pollinator habitat and protection.

Read More

March 11, 2015

Pollinator Initiative Promotes Bee-Friendly Talking Poi…

AmericanHort and the Society of American Florists are working tirelessly with the ornamental industry's Pollinator Stewardship Initiative on a number of new projects.

Read More

February 11, 2015

Infusion Technology Boosts Seed Performance, Study Sugg…

Seven-year-old wheat seed germination can increase by as much as 83 percent, according to a Vital Force Technology Study that looks at the effects of energy infusion technology on plant vitality.

Read More

February 3, 2015

American Floral Endowment Accepting Research Pre-Propos…

If you are pursuing a floriculture research project, now is the time to apply for funding through the American Floral Endowment. Research pre-proposal applications for 2015-2016 funding are due to AFE by June 1, 2015.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Marijuana’s Trajectory And Ascent To Horticultural Cr…

Marijuana growing is poised for change as growers and researchers focus on improving production practices.

Read More

December 9, 2014

Greenhouse Production: Two Years Of Basics & Beyond…

Greenhouse Grower's Basics & Beyond articles cover some of the latest news and research going on in greenhouse production. Here are article links for the last two years.

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

November 24, 2014

GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile &…

The social garden app GrowIt! takes the Gold Winner award at the design100 2014 Mobile & App Design Awards.

Read More

November 10, 2014

The Perennial Farm Joins HGTV HOME Plant Collection

The Perennial Farm joins the HGTV HOME Plant Collection growers' network for 2015.

Read More

November 4, 2014

AmericanHort Publishes Revised American Standard For Nu…

AmericanHort announces the revised American Standard for Nursery Stock (ANSI Z60.1) is now available for industry use. The Standard reflects the consensus of the industry regarding how nursery stock — living plants other than annuals — should be specified and sold within the trade.

Read More

September 26, 2014

Master The Art Of Watering

Watering is elemental to healthy plants, but one of the hardest concepts for new employees to master in the greenhouse. Recommend these tips to start them off right.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]