Emerald Coast Expands Perennial Propagation Space

Emerald Coast Expands Perennial Propagation Space[imageviewer]

Emerald Coast Growers sees growth and the potential for more in the perennial young plant market. To meet that growth and potential, the operation is adding three new greenhouse blocks at two of its Florida locations.

At headquarters in Pensacola, two new houses totaling about 15,000 square feet are dedicated to propagating some of the company’s hundreds of perennial varieties. The gas-heated, double-poly structures are equipped with mist irrigation and grow lights. As of early November, they were finished and being covered.

The company’s largest facility is a 50-acre farm near Milton, Fla., where most grasses are field-grown and divided in greenhouses. Here, the third greenhouse will bring 20,000 square feet online with January as the target completion month. The greenhouses are XS Smith’s Criteria series.

"[It’s] the perfect house for the Southeast, and the price is right,” says Paul Babikow, Emerald Coast co-owner. “For what we needed, these were a great fit.”

Best known for liners of ornamental grasses, Emerald Coast also propagates a wide range of perennials, "Grass sales remain strong, but we’re seeing more growth in perennial starters," says John Friel, marketing manager. "It’s encouraging, especially in this tough economy."

Friel speculates that the recession may even be a driving force. "We see a shift to a different type of gardening and landscaping," he says. "It’s an overused word, but many in the industry believe consumers and professionals want more sustainability."

At the same time, Cheri Markowitz, sales manager and co-owner, says Emerald Coast is seeing interest in Athens Select and the Southern Living Plant Collection. Markowitz says demand for the ornamental grasses pennisetum ‘Rubrum,’ ‘Fireworks’ and ‘Skyrocket’ is particularly strong.

Learn more about Emerald Coast Growers at www.ecgrowers.com.

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