In many ways the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., is our industry’s vacation. The tradeshow is full of lush, tropical plants, the weather is beautiful, dress is casual and the atmosphere is really fun.
Hosted by Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association (FNGLA), TPIE is the only event of its kind and the best place to see innovations in interior plants from cutting-edge genetics to home décor presentations. More than 8,000 industry professionals attended this year’s event, held Jan. 18-20 at the Broward County Convention Center.
The theme was a “fresh attitude and fresh ideas.” Attendees also responded favorably to the new layout of the tradeshow with larger exhibits, improved traffic flow and the addition of a second floor for exhibits. New how-to demonstrations drew attendees to the second floor to learn how to create tropical container gardens and use tropicals in floral arrangements and in Northern gardens.
TPIE also has become a nice anchor for Garden Centers of America’s annual meeting. The TPIE Short Course offered educational tracks and tours for retailers and interiorscapers.
While the interiorscapers headed south to Homestead to visit Capri Farms, Vine and Culture, DeLeon’s Bromeliads and Consolidated Foliage, the retailers headed to the Gulf Coast to visit Driftwood Gardens, American Farms, Topiary Creations and Flamingo Road Nursery.
“Tropical foliage is on the rise in popularity with consumers,” says TPIE Chairman Chet Peckett of Peckett’s Inc. in Apopka, Fla. “TPIE was definitely the place to find resources to supply the increased tropical foliage demand. There was a wealth of tropical plants and foliage of all shapes, sizes and colors at TPIE, as well as clever packaging and merchandising ideas.”
A Fashion Statement
Grower Kerry Herndon, owner of Kerry’s Bromeliad Nursery and Twyford International, announced that he is now a dedicated follower of fashion. “We’re not in the home décor business or the gift business,” he said. “My company is in the home fashion business going forward and we’re going to roll out completely new looks every single year.”
During the show, Kerry’s received ECGC Distributors’ 2006 Award of Distinction as a foliage supplier based on product quality and customer service. ECGC is a buying group and network for 12 of the largest independent garden centers in the United States.
Kerry’s also received Best of Show for its booth, which attractively presented an array of plants and packaging concepts in a home fashion setting. “We want to serve all demographics and markets and that includes Wisconsin,” he said, while displaying a more conservative line. Other styles ranged from country cute in bundled grass containers to sunken treasure urns from antiquity, art glass, clear glass, art deco and Asian. Top dressings concealed “the dirt.” Glittery paints dressed dieffenbachia and pothos up for the holidays and hydrating gelatinous gel made monochromatic color statements.
But the biggest hits were the tropical plantings in oversized sea shell containers. “Most people live near the shore and the rest of the people want to,” Kerry said. “What kind of statement does this make at a beach house?”
FNGLA helped visitors see all the new plants and products by hosting a New Plants and Products Room, which featured more than 50 new introductions, most of which were plants.
Attendees voted on their favorites. Twyford International’s aglaonema ‘Ruby Sunset’ won favorite new foliage plant with its striking variegation and red veins. Oglesby Plants International’s anthurium ‘Surprise’ won favorite new flowering plant featuring red flowers with random white streaking.
Excelsa Gardens introduced the most unusual plant specimen, alocasia ‘Stingray’ with leaves that look like a school of stingrays.
Also known for distinctive introductions, Deroose Plants showed at least a dozen new plants, including the curly Codiaeum variegatum ‘Croton Revolutions’ and the glossy oil fern (Microsorum steerei).
Standout introductions from ForemostCo included aglaonema ‘Pride of Sumatra,’ the orchid-like Sorbet spathoglottis series and the tricolored calathea ‘Jester,’ which looked like a splashy painting.
The next TPIE will be Jan. 17-19, 2008. For more information, call 800-375-3642 or visit www.tpie.org.