4 TPIE Takeaways

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'Blue Diamond' orchid

Looking for the next unusual tropical plants? Northland Floral’s Medinilla magnifica, which blooms multiple times with exotic flowers and was voted Best New Flowering Plant at January’s Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE), is a good starting point in flowering plants. On the foliage side, Calathea lancifolia from Stewart’s Greenhouse in Mt. Dora, Fla., is worth a look, as it was voted Best New Foliage Plant at the tradeshow.

What else do you need to know coming out of TPIE? Here are Greenhouse Grower’s top four takeaways after spending three days in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

1. There’s Another ‘Blue Orchid Grower’

Silver Vase is to the Mystique orchids as Plainview Growers is to Colorfuze.
That’s right: The New Jersey grower is also producing three orchids with the dye-infusion technique. Plainview’s dye-infused orchids, known as

Colorfuze, are ‘Blue Diamond,’ ‘Purple Fusion’ and ‘Lavender Mist.’
Silver Vase made the big splash when it launched the Mystiques – Blue, Indigo and Lila – at the 2011 TPIE. But Plainview also launched its line in 2011 and is licensed to use the dye technique by the same company as Silver Vase.

“There will be times we run into [Silver Vase] but there’s plenty of opportunity,” says Arie Van Vugt, Plainview’s president. “This is a big country. Keeping the dye-infused orchids at a minimum of two producers in the U.S. allows us to be able to maintain a price. It’s really a $29.99 product. If you go over $29.99, you may start losing sales.”

Although Colorfuze is still relatively new to Plainview, orchids have been part of Plainview’s assortment for about four years. Pure Beauty Orchids is Plainview’s established line, and Colorfuze is grouped into the Pure Beauty brand.

“We’re used to your standard baskets, flats, mums and poinsettias,” says Tom Van Vugt, Plainview’s vice president of sales. “We’re producing plugs and liners, as well, but compared to those (items), the orchids put us into a totally different industry.”

2. Silver Vase Is Finding New Ways To Present Existing Varieties

While Plainview showcased its dye-infused orchids for the first time at TPIE, Silver Vase continues to innovate with the introduction of Phalaenopsis in a variety of new shapes.

The new Silver line forms Phalaenopsis into hearts, circles, cascades and other shapes. The possibilities with new shapes really are endless. Silver Vase is simply taking an existing product and presenting it in ways in which most consumers have never before seen orchids.

“The key for us is we have to train the product to be that shape,” says Marcella Lucio, Silver Vase’s marketing director.

Silver Vase actually got the idea for the new shapes late last year at a Dutch trade show. Growing orchids into hearts and circles certainly is more challenging, but Lucio says there are price rewards to it.

“We’re taking a Phalaenopsis that’s between $15.99 and $19.99 and elevating the price to $24.99 to $29.99 with these shapes,” Lucio says.

“The value the customer is getting is way more than the $5 difference.”

3. Green Circle Shares Consumer Data On Just Add Ice

Top 100 Grower Green Circle Growers produced a consumer report this year based on data it collected from surveying Just Add Ice orchid consumers. Among the highlights:

• Eighty-six percent of Just Add Ice orchid consumers are female. Forty-two percent are between the ages of 50 and 65, and another 26 percent are 66 and older. A very small percentage (4 percent) is between the ages of 18 and 25, although Green Circle reports it has seen a 21 percent increase in orchid buyers between the ages of 18 and 49 in the last year.

• Nearly half (42 percent) of all Just Add Ice consumers do not have a color preference for their next purchase. Thirteen percent say they would purchase a bicolored variety next; 11 percent would go with purple; 9 percent would choose salmon; and 8 percent would choose yellow.

• About one in three (34 percent) say they prefer traditional pot designs for their orchids; 21 percent want modern/contemporary pots while 18 percent prefer earthy/organic styles. Other pot styles consumers are interested in are country (10 percent), antiques (8 percent), Victorian (5 percent), funky (2 percent) and Bohemian (2 percent).

• Another topic of Green Circle’s research was gifting. The Top 100 Grower learned there’s no clear cut occasion for purchasing orchids. Birthdays (27 percent) are a big reason consumers purchase them.

4. Oglesby Finding New Opportunities In Adenium, Spathoglottis

Adeniums certainly are not new to the market, but few growers and consumers realize the plant commonly known as Desert Rose is capable of being treated like a tropical. Oglesby Plants’ Gary Hennen, who exhibited at TPIE, wants to clear up the confusion.

“We want to treat it more like a tropical,” he says. “We give [adenium] lots of water, fertilizer and light – and it will flower forever. That [misconception] is the biggest problem we find with the professionals.”

Among the new plant highlights at Oglesby this year is the expansion of the Safari alocasias. Oglesby introduced the series last year with two varieties. Now the series features five.

Alocasia ‘Serengetti’ is another new variety that’s bred for drought tolerance. Oglesby introduced five new spathiphyllum, as well, specifically for dark glossy foliage and an improved flower count.

Sphathoglottis is another plant in which Oglesby is introducing new developments. Hennen would like to develop varieties that are suitable for the patio. So far, Oglesby has come out with ‘Groovy Grape,’ ‘Cabaret’ and ‘Snow Angel.’

Kevin Yanik is the former managing editor of Greenhouse Grower.

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