Benary Is Big On Breeding

Benary Is Big On Breeding

The timing couldn’t be better to present German flower breeder Benary with our Medal of Excellence for Industry Achievement. This year and next, Benary is celebrating its 100-year milestone of introducing the very first F1 hybrid, which happened to be in its signature genus, begonias.

Introduced in 1909, the begonia was ‘Prima-Donna,’ the first tetraploid F1 hybrid begonia and a semperflorens type. Breakthrough begonias that followed include:

– ‘Tausendschön,’ the first triploid F1 hybrid and a semperflorens type.

– Nonstop tuberous begonias that revolutionized the bedding plant market in 1972 and remain the industry standard.

– Party and Cocktail series in semperflorens types, with Cocktail remaining the most popular bronze-leafed series asked for by name. These series have been upgraded for earliness with the Olympia Sprints.

– The new BIG series, introduced at the California Pack Trials, is an interspecific cross. Robust plants offer large flowers and glossy leaves that flourish in sun or shade in Red with Green Leaf, Red with Bronze Leaf and Rose with Bronze Leaf.

In other exciting news, Benary has brought a new genus to market with Ptilotus ‘Joey,’ which is nominated for all three of our breeding awards this year. Benary also helped the city of Denver celebrate its 150th anniversary by breeding a new rudbeckia just for the city called ‘Denver Daisy.’

A Fascinating Heritage

Ernst Benary founded his own seed breeding company in 1843 in Erfurt, Germany, after traveling throughout Europe, gathering extensive knowledge about breeding varieties from seed. His guiding principles, which remain to this day, were premium quality genetics and innovation.

From the very beginning, the business grew internationally. Erfurt was a budding industrial giant in the world of vegetable and flower seed production because of its ideal climate. It didn’t take long for Benary to be recognized by leaders in the field. His pea seed was used by Gregor Mendel in his famous genetic experiments. There was even Benary Seed on the Titanic en route to the United States when the ship sank.

By 1912, the business had developed into one of the world’s premier seed companies with more than 200 employees and more than 140 acres under cultivation. Then, during World War I, many of the male employees and family members were drawn into the military and did not return from the war. Almost all exports collapsed and the company was forced to shift from flowers to vegtetables to supply domestic needs.

At that same time, new seed production centers were established in California, Japan and The Netherlands. Ernst’s grandsons, Ernst II and Heinrich Benary worked hard to rebuild the business focusing on innovative breeding. In 1927, Benary introduced the first F1 hybrid tomato, ‘Heterosis.’

During this time of restructuring, the Nazi regime emerged, causing problems for the company. Although the founder, Ernst Benary I, had converted from Jewish to Protestant religion shortly before he married, his Jewish ancestry caused problems for the family. At the beginning of World War II, Friedrich Benary II, the oldest son, and his cousin, Heinz, volunteered for military service to protect their families from anti-Semitic persecution.

Heinz did not return from the war, and shortly after Friedrich returned, the family business was disowned by the East German government and Benary was forced to move to sustain the business. Friedrich fled to Western Germany and rebuilt the business in the middle of Germany in the town of Hannoversch Mönden. Because the majority of the breeding projects were left in Erfurt, Friedrich traveled throughout Europe by bicycle to collect seeds to start new breeding efforts.

He was a gifted and passionate breeder, and due to his talent and enthusiasm, the family business was able to rebuild its international contacts and produce new breeding lines. In the 1960s, Benary returned its focus exclusively to flower seed breeding.

An Independent Spirit Lives On

In 2006, Benary completed its succession into the sixth generation. The company has 250 employees and sells 80 percent of its seed abroad to more than 110 countries. In addition to begonias, key crops include pentas and rudbeckia, all of which Benary holds global market share. The company also is one of the leaders in perennial breeding, focusing on niches. 

Today, Benary has an assortment of more than 2,000 annual and perennial items, including more than 200 F1 hybrids. Among these are nearly 20 All-America Selection winners, such as rudbeckia ‘Prairie Sun,’ gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun,’ celosia ‘Fresh Look’ and Salvia farinacea ‘Evolution.’  A passion for breeding has been the heartbeat of Benary for more than 165 years. It has helped the family business overcome national and corporate crises, while yielding fascinating new introductions. As a family business, Benary is proud of its history of independence and believes the best and most innovative creations can only arise from a free spirit. Its strategy is not to become a large breeding conglomerate but to remain independent and focus on its core strengths of quality, reliability and innovation. 

We are proud to honor Benary for its heritage and global achievements in floriculture. 

Leave a Reply

5 comments on “Benary Is Big On Breeding

Latest Stories
Kelly Norris - feature

June 28, 2016

Kelly Norris: Three Variety Trends That Caught My Eye T…

My reflections on promising new plants, the realities of market penetration, and adding value along the supply chain.

Read More

June 28, 2016

10 Things You Need To Do Before And During Cultivate’16

From pre-planning to on-site networking and education, here are 10 things to consider before you depart for Cultivate’16.

Read More

June 28, 2016

How “Brexit” Will Affect The Horticulture Industry

The news this week of Great Britain’s departure from the European Union has sent shockwaves through many industries, including horticulture. Here’s a look at the potential effects of “Brexit” across the horticulture and floriculture industries.

Read More
iPad In Garden Center

June 27, 2016

Inspiring Summer Customers Without A Word Being Said

Now is the time of year to sell your customers what they like, rather than what they need. According to industry consultant Ian Baldwin, one way to do this is to use silent selling techniques and devices that help validate a purchase.

Read More
Oconomowoc

June 27, 2016

Fire Destroys Greenhouses At Oconomowoc Landscape Suppl…

The fire not only consumed the Wisconsin garden retailer's structures, but also major equipment like dump trucks. In all, the owners estimate $1.2 million in damage occurred.

Read More
Robert Conrad, Ball Seed Technology Research Manager

June 27, 2016

Ball Premier Lab Wins Medal Of Excellence Award For Its…

Over the past 30 years, the Ball Premier Lab has set the standard for high-quality seed in the industry, earning it Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Medal Of Excellence for Industry Achievement, for its dedication to advancing seed and helping growers improve their margins.

Read More
Greenhouse Whitefly

June 26, 2016

Michigan State University Offers Tips On Whitefly Manag…

Whiteflies are making headlines in Florida, but they are found across the U.S. Michigan State experts say it’s important to know how to manage each type of whitefly.

Read More
Schaefer Exhaust Fan

June 26, 2016

What’s New In Greenhouse Cooling

Cooling and ventilation companies, as well as structures suppliers, are working to help growers manage efficiencies. Here are some of their latest innovations.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

June 25, 2016

Three Types Of Plant Consumers To Watch

There are three emerging groups of plant consumers that you should be targeting for plant sales in the future, according to Allan Armitage.

Read More
North Creek Nurseries lower trials

June 24, 2016

North Creek Nurseries Is A Finalist For 2016 Operation …

North Creek Nurseries in Landenberg, PA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Sustainable Production award for 2016.

Read More
Cal Poly Logo

June 24, 2016

Cal Poly Ag College Hosting Alumni Reception At Cultiva…

Alumni and friends of The Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences are invited to a reception that will be held Sunday, July 10.

Read More
Stocking spring plants at Petitti Garden Center FEATURE

June 23, 2016

How Growers Can Help Retailers Sell More In Spring

Fresh from a busy spring season, retailers share their wish list of things growers can do to make spring generate even more sales.

Read More
Houwelings Tomatoes

June 23, 2016

Houweling’s Tomatoes Has A New Corporate Head Grower

Arie van der Giessen, who has led the horticultural operations for many successful regional and national greenhouse operators in North America, will start his new role in September.

Read More
Vic Frey, Kurt Weiss Greenhouses Feature

June 23, 2016

Vic Frey Named A Finalist For 2016 Head Grower Of The Y…

Vic Frey, a finalist for the 2016 Head Grower of the Year and recipient of the 2016 Excellence In Production award, was always willing to trial and experiment with the latest technology. He loved the constant change in this industry, and turned every opportunity into a teaching moment.

Read More

June 21, 2016

Sign Up For The First-Ever Flower Run At Cultivate’16

When you pack your bags for Cultivate’16 in Columbus, OH, July 9-12, don’t forget your running shoes! There are still three weeks left to train for the first annual Luxflora Flower Run, which will kick off the start of Cultivate’16 on Sunday morning, July 10. The Flower Run celebrates Luxflora‘s mission to develop a visionary, influential floriculture network in which women leaders can create, inspire, and flourish. The 5k event is an opportunity for all floriculture professionals to come together to network, build relationships, and to have some healthy fun. Running is not required – this event is walker-friendly, as well. If you opt to be an observer rather than run/walk, then join your friends at the finish line to help shower the participants with flowers. Register yourself or your company’s team today, to join in on the fun. Free Flower Run tshirts will be available to participants, while supplies […]

Read More
BASF Orkestra Intrinsic

June 21, 2016

New Mode Of Action From BASF Offers Deeper Disease Cont…

When it comes to disease control, you need all the help you can get. BASF recently hosted growers, Extension personnel, and trade media to present its newest fungicide with two active ingredients, offering dual modes of action.

Read More

June 20, 2016

7 Garden Retailers Announced Closings This Month

Several established garden stores announced they were closing at the end of the 2016 season. Most of these retailers are decades old, including one that is closing after 133 years in business.

Read More

June 20, 2016

Industry’s First Plant Pricing Survey Is Open

The green industry has almost no research on plant pricing. With an industry that struggles to survive on slim margins, that's a problem. This survey is designed to help address the need, and we invite everyone to participate.

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