Popular Perennials At Retail

The perennials that retail customers love are often older cultivars.

When discussing perennials, the topic that always comes up is, “What’s new?” There is no doubt that the newest of the new is a talking point and, certainly, having the newest variety provides distance between companies vying for the same dollar. I don’t think anyone would dispute that new is necessary. After all, nobody asks, “What’s old?” But what they should be asking is, “What would you recommend?”

One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor, and what is new to one person may not be new to others. New to the consumer is approximately three years old, and new to the grower is two years old — compared to people who track the new plants.

In fact, for all the hollering and touting of new plants (and I am as guilty as anyone), you may be surprised by which perennials are popular at the retail level. At the OFA Perennial Symposium in Grand Rapids, Mich., last September, I surveyed approximately 30 retailers before my presentation and then those present in the room. I asked, “What five cultivars of perennial X do you sell the most of?” I did not expect the newest plants to be on the list, because of production time and availability, but I thought that a lot of “newish” plants would be there. Not always the case! I also did not expect to see so many plants at least 10 years old on the list.

I asked about 14 different genera. The lists below show the results.
* These are informal data only, based on a very small sample size.

Achillea

Seduction Series

‘Moonshine’

‘Pomegranate’

‘Coronation Gold’

‘Paprika’

Anemone

‘Honorine Jobert’

‘Pamina’

‘Robustissima’

‘September Charm’

‘Pretty Lady’

Campanula

Clips Series

‘Samantha’

‘Birch Hybrid’

‘Joan Elliot’

‘Blue Waterfall’

Coreopsis

‘Moonbeam’

‘Zagreb’

‘Rt. 66’

‘Early Sunshine’

Big Bang Series

Dianthus

‘Firewitch’

‘Sweet Williams’

Bouquet Series

Star Series

‘Frosty Fire’

Echinacea

‘Pow Wow Wild Berry’

‘Magnus’

‘Ruby Star’

‘Hot Papaya’

‘Tomato Soup’

Gaura

‘Siskiyou Pink’

Ballerina Series

Geyser Series

Geranium

‘Rozanne’

‘Ballerina’

‘Max Frei’

G. maculatum

‘Johnson’s Blue’

Heuchera

‘Caramel’

‘Palace Purple’

‘Citronelle’

‘Midnight Rose’

‘Plum Pudding’

Phlox (tall)

Volcano Series

‘David’

‘Grape Lollipop’

‘Laura’

Phlox (short)

‘Drummond’s Pink’

‘Candy Stripes’

‘Scarlet Flame’

Woodland Phlox

Rudbeckia

‘Goldstrum’

‘Viette’s Little Suzy’

‘Henry Eilers’

‘Herbstonne’

‘Little Goldstar’

Salvia

‘May Night’

‘East Friesland’

‘Caradonna’

‘Blue Hill’

‘Marcus’

Veronica

‘Royal Candles’

‘Purpleicious’

‘Fairytale’

‘Giles van Hees’

‘Red Fox’

Many more cultivars were listed, but these are the ones that came up most often.

These are all fine cultivars, but I must say I was struck with the continued popularity of cultivars like ‘Moonshine,’ ‘September Charm,’ the Clip series, ‘Early Sunrise,’ ‘Siskiyou Pink,’ and ‘Palace Purple.’

This attests to the longevity of good cultivars, as well as the fact that many of the older ones are well into production, cost is less and growers know what they are dealing with. Someone once said, “New cultivars are the lifeblood of the industry,” and I don’t doubt that one bit, but I might amend it to, “Good cultivars are the lifeblood of the industry.”

Leave a Reply

5 comments on “Popular Perennials At Retail

  1. if people me asked what is new is my answer mostly the question how many different perennials do you know or grow as Allan mention there are so many good old items that you need to have we do more then 2500 different perennials and still our list is never complete if we print them new one but we are always looking what is good and what will bring something to de marked Allan great promotion for perennials and let continue the discussion what do retailers need ???

  2. I was indeed surprised to see astilbe and hosta absent from the list. 14 genera were mentioned but neither of these were included in the list.

  3. Allen, We are in our 17th year of growing and retailing of flowers,baskets, veg plants etc. and with the new changes never ending in the industry we feel we almost know nothing . I appreciate your article. Thanks Ed Henry Indiana

  4. The list of popular perennials contains many we usually stock. I am surprised to not see any Hosta or Daylilies though. One more point with all the new varieties coming out year after year is people are sometimes hesitant to try them because they are not familiar with them. Customers still buy the old ones like May Night Salvia. Palace Purple Coralbells, and Stella de Oro Daylilies because they see them in everyone else's flower beds. It is frustrating for the retailer to choose from all the new exciting cultivars and wonder if customers will buy them. Plus the amount of customer's that are very knowledgeable about different plants seems to be dwindling and choose the more familiar plants because that is what they might have seen elsewhere.

Latest Stories
Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer BloomStruck’ (Bailey Nurseries)

January 19, 2017

Bailey Nurseries Hosting Spring Previews in February

The previews, which provide education, new variety information, and retail support programs, will take place in Illinois, Minnesota, and Boston.

Read More
Bouldin and Lawson Precision Needle Seeder feature

January 19, 2017

How You Can Get More Precise With Your Seeder

Bouldin & Lawson’s Precision Needle Seeder is designed to improve accuracy when sowing small, difficult seeds.

Read More
Selecta Sponsor bed at Raker trial gardens

January 18, 2017

2016 C. Raker & Sons Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield, MI.

Read More
EFTE Film

January 18, 2017

Looking at Glass or Polyethylene for Your New Structure…

Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene, also known as EFTE, is a fluorine-based material that looks like a standard polyethylene greenhouse film but offers high light transmittance.

Read More
Nadia Sabeh, CEAC

January 18, 2017

Upcoming Seminars to Focus on Managing the Greenhouse E…

The seminars, which will also be accessible online, are presented by the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center.

Read More
Spring Meadow Nursery Fire

January 17, 2017

Two Major Growers Recovering and Rebuilding After Fires

The blazes occurred at Dan Schantz Farm and Greenhouses in Zionsville, PA, and Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, MI. Both companies say no employees were injured, and they plan to pull together and stay on schedule for the remainder of the year.

Read More
Dallas Johnson

January 17, 2017

Dallas Johnson Greenhouses Owner Passes Away at 78

Dallas G. Johnson, who started the company in 1985, is survived by his wife, Kay, and two children.

Read More
Joe Cimino, Sakata Seed America

January 17, 2017

Sakata Seed Names New Senior Sales Manager for Ornament…

Joe Cimino comes to Sakata with past experience at Sun Gro and Florexpo.

Read More
JinPin Flower Seedling Company partners

January 17, 2017

Ernst Benary Partners With Chinese Young Plant Grower o…

The partnership creates a new company called Jinpin Flower Seedling Company, which will focus on providing young plants to the rapidly growing Chinese bedding plant market.

Read More
PC-31 Transplanter (Visser)

January 17, 2017

Visser NA Rebrands as Bellpark Horticulture

The new name will equally represent not only Visser, but all of the brands Bellpark represents, including Mayer, Logitec Plus, and Drygair in North America.

Read More
Stephanie Whitehouse

January 17, 2017

Stephanie Whitehouse Takes Her Passion for Plants to Di…

Stephanie Whitehouse, who has spent the last seven years as the Sales and Marketing Director for Peace Tree Farm in Kintnersville, PA, recently joined Dickman Farms Greenhouse and Garden Center in Auburn, NY, as the company’s new Retail General Manager.

Read More

January 13, 2017

We Must Help Heal Our Nation, with Plants and Flowers […

No matter how you may feel — personally or professionally — about the outcome of the election, it’s likely that you realize our nation has some healing to do.

Read More
Effective pest control

January 12, 2017

Prevention and Early Intervention: The Keys to Biocont…

Advance preparation and starting out right helps you implement an effective biocontrol program that reduces pest pressure.

Read More
Dipladenia Sundenia

January 11, 2017

New Tropical and Foliage Plants That Offer Hidden Benef…

Tropical and foliage plants can offer extra paybacks to your customers in terms of health-promoting benefits such as filtering the air, reducing stress, and absorbing noise. Consider these new varieties, hitting the retail market in 2017, for your product mix.

Read More

January 10, 2017

5 Can’t-Miss Events and Activities at TPIE

The Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association’s Tropical Plant Industry Exposition (TPIE) is fast approaching. As you plan your trip, here are five can’t-miss highlights from this year’s show.

Read More

January 10, 2017

Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship Endowment Fund Accepting …

The deadline for applications is May 26, and 12 scholarships of $1,500 each will be awarded at the SEGreen Conference in August.

Read More
Two-spotted spider mites, adults and eggs

January 10, 2017

Pest Management Workshop to Take Place in Virginia on J…

Battlefield Farms will host the workshop, which is being coordinated by Virginia Cooperative Extension and will focus on new techniques in disease and insect control.

Read More
phantom-copter

January 10, 2017

Greenhouse Grower Quadcopter Sweepstakes Winner Announc…

Anne Bolser of Van Wingerden International was the Grand Prize Winner in Greenhouse Grower magazine’s recent Quadcopter Sweepstakes.

Read More