September 11, 2012

James Greenhouses: New Perspectives In A Traditional Industry

Looking at most of the greenhouse operations in the industry, it may seem like having a long line of growers in the family is a requirement. If so, Greenhouse Grower’s Operation of the Year winners Ken and Leah James of James Greenhouses are breaking the tradition. With hard work, an eye for opportunity and insights from industry professionals, this young couple has grown a first-generation business from two workers (themselves) in 1998 to 36 dedicated employees today. The Jameses see both the pros and cons of being newcomers. “It’s a challenge. It really is. We just don’t have that depth of experience to draw on. Even though our customers and our suppliers are certainly the best in the world, in my opinion, we just don’t have that innate knowledge of the industry and how things work. We have made some really expensive mistakes along the way,” Ken says. “But on […]

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August 2, 2012

Recycling Rainwater

Water recycling is not a new idea for greenhouse growers; many have done it for ages. But some growers are taking water recycling to a new level with 5-micron filter technology, ozonation and rainwater harvesting. These methods ensure that the water these growers use is the cleanest, most pure water available, allowing them to reduce pesticide and fungicide use, improve plant health and realize cost savings. And they’re also showing that thanks to rainwater catchment systems, it’s possible to be completely independent of city and ground water. Metrolina Greenhouses’ Quest To Improve Water Quality “Clean water is our number one chemical,” says Abe Van Wingerden of Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C. “Many growers miss that. They test their water quality and use chemicals to mitigate those problems. We do the opposite to reduce chemical usage.” Indeed, the Van Wingerdens have been on a quest to improve their water quality over […]

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July 20, 2012

Are Vegetables Good For Your Bottom Line?

When you listen to ornamental growers talk these days, some of them are talking about vegetables. Not plugs or transplants that other people can grow, but actual produce. It turns out that vegetables may not only be good for your waistline — they may be good for your bottom line. As fixed costs continue to rise and competition and the economy limit margins, growers are getting increasingly creative to find new markets and develop new products. Getting Started In The Edibles Market For some growers, using empty greenhouse space to raise produce in the off-season is that new market and new product. If done right, raising and selling produce can help to offset overhead costs without requiring additional investment in new structures or equipment. It’s not a slam-dunk; careful planning is required to find markets for your produce and to determine which vegetable varieties to grow, as well as to […]

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February 28, 2012

Spring Trials 2012 Sneak Preview

Every year breeders big and small take their show-stopping, conversation-starting, must-see varieties to California for the Spring Trials. In this highly anticipated event, plants are the models in this greenhouse fashion show. Check out the following pages for a color-coordinated sneak preview of the varieties that are sure to be some of 2013’s best. ‘Sombrero Lemon Yellow’ Echinacea – Darwin PerennialsThe Sombrero series of echinacea expands with new Lemon Yellow, a rich, deep color that fits well into this uniform series. Perfect for use in spring-planted programs and easy to produce, Sombrero has proven hardiness, is very floriferous, and extends gardener enjoyment through the season. It is drought and deer tolerant, as well. ‘Summer Sun’ Calla Lily – Flamingo HollandA very beautiful, sunny yellow potted calla lily. ‘Summer Sun’ has medium flowers on a strong stem, nice lanceolate leaves with lots of white spots and a very high flower production. […]

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February 8, 2012

What Growers and Retailers Can Learn From Fashion Trends

Let’s face it: A new outfit can lift your spirits. Likewise, a rough half-hour in the dressing room can ruin your day. Men may not want to admit this, but it’s something most women – a garden retailer’s target audience–know and understand about fashion. At its heart, fashion is all about evoking emotion. “Most of us that are involved in horticulture today have grown up in a society that taught us to care about our looks. Fashion does that, whether it’s a new pair of jeans or a new T-shirt,” says Layci Gragnani, ornamental sales and marketing director for Greenheart Farms. “You always feel good when you buy something new, and you think it’s fashionable.” For better or for worse, fashion – now a $1 trillion global industry–is revered as the place where trends start and fads go to die. And what starts in fashion permeates through a wide variety […]

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January 26, 2012

Dye-Infused Plants: The Point The Industry Is Missing

Fake. Repulsive. Garbage. They’re among the many harsh words critics have used to describe ‘Blue Mystique,’ the dye-infused orchid Silver Vase unveiled at the 2011 Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE). ‘Blue Mystique’ has undoubtedly been subjected to more criticism in the last year from within the industry than any other variety. The criticisms are mainly focused on how the blue orchid is produced and how it was, at one time, marketed. The dye-infusion technique, critics argue, is an insult to the breeders who develop more natural varietal differences in orchids and other plants. The main criticism of Silver Vase’s marketing was that consumers initially weren’t aware the blue orchid they were purchasing reblooms white. Silver Vase has since developed a message for tags, signage and its website that ‘Blue Mystique’ does indeed rebloom white. But, the technique Silver Vase uses to make orchids blue continues to rock a number of […]

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January 6, 2012

What Floriculture Can Learn From The Alcoholic Beverage Industry

Never underestimate the power of marketing, or the potential of a product with a great story behind it. These are the two primary elements that launched Grey Goose from an unknown contender in the vodka category in 1996 to a premium brand and a $2 billion (that’s right, billion) pricetag in its sale to Bacardi a mere eight years later. How is that possible, you ask? It’s all in the story, a killer marketing and advertising strategy and a little bit of serendipity. You see, founder Sidney Frank identified a hole in the vodka market, where a $17 bottle of Absolut was the top of the line. He topped that with an ultra-premium brand at an eye-popping $30 a bottle with his French-imported vodka, and concocted a marketing scheme that engrained its talking points of quality and luxury with bartenders, distributors and influencers – the consumers who mattered. “Bacardi purchased […]

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December 6, 2011

Your 2012 Sales Expectations

Setting a lofty goal to boost sales by more than 10 percent next year? You’d be in the minority judging from results of a recent Greenhouse Grower survey, in which 29 percent of growers indicate they expect sales to be up 10 percent or more. The largest percentage of growers surveyed (34 percent) expects sales increases to range between 5 and 10 percent next year; about 16 percent expect sales to be up less than 5 percent while 12 percent expect flat sales. Only a handful of growers are forecasting sales declines in 2012. Greenhouse Grower also recently asked growers about the factor that’s most critical to their 2012 success. In recent years this question has been a point of contention for growers. Some argue the weather is the most critical factor – and always is – while others say the economy has had a huge impact on the greenhouse […]

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