6 Things Every Gardener Wants In Plant Varieties (opinion)

Promote deer-resistant plants so consumers don't end up with plants looking like these hostas.

Spring has sprung in most areas of the country, and hopefully, landscapers, gardeners and retailers have a little more spring in their step. But even though the season is bringing in much-appreciated orders and cash, it’s important to remember to provide customers with plants suited to their needs.

The Cultivar Is King, But Not To  Everyone

We live in a cultivar world. Every plant that is bred, named and patented is sold and talked about by the cultivar name. Every botanist, horticulturist, grower and retailer embraces the importance of cultivars. However, our customers at ground zero do not. My daughters are pretty typical consumers and don’t have time to worry about the name of a geranium or verbena. Unfortunately, that is true of many landscapers, who simply ask, “What’s in color?”   

I think we have all pretty much come to the same conclusion — let’s keep the decorators (like my daughters) happy, let’s keep trialing, breeding and building the best cultivars known to man and woman, and then not worry about what she calls it.

Not All Animals Are Created Equal

Ask someone who has contracted Lyme disease what he or she thinks of deer, or ask someone who has spent hundreds of dollars decorating with those special cultivars we talked about what they think about deer. It is no longer an isolated problem that we can dismiss or laugh about — deer are having a significant effect on plant sales. People ask me why I am so fired up about the new hybrid hellebores. This is a no-brainer — they are better than ever, they are colorful, they are early and deer don’t eat them. Every state has a list of deer-resistant plants. Call the Extension office and get it. Let’s market the concept of deer-proof plants.

My Daughters’ Gardens Revolve Around Their Decks

The garden of tomorrow, if not already today, is on and around the deck. While large gardens will always be found around some houses, your kids and grandkids will be spending a good percentage of their gardening dollars on enhancing the beauty of the deck and the space around the deck.

Baskets and Containers Aren’t Going Anywhere

Because they enhance the deck and the area around it, mixed baskets, which have been introduced for the last three years will only get stronger. Growers and retailers are recognizing that young people have far less time and interest in putting together a mixed basket than they have money to pay for one.

However, and a big however it is, these crappy green 12-inch plastic imposters we call baskets must go. They are too small for any maintenance but in a greenhouse — good grief, the retailers can’t even keep them alive. For these specialty combinations, use a premium basket, at least 14-inch, lined with absorbent moss or something like it. If not, we are just messing up a great concept — again.

Bring Veggies On Board

Everyone loves veggies, and we know that men want more vegetables, so let’s give them some for on and around the deck. They can be in baskets, containers and tucked away in sunny corners by the barbeque pit. Perhaps most men would rather die than give up their ‘Beefsteak’ tomatoes, but the new breeding in patio tomatoes (and peppers, strawberries, eggplants, etc.) is outstanding, and will only get better. Grafted tomatoes (who would have thought?) are neat as can be. Let’s bring to the veggie crowd the same excitement we try to foster with flowers. The breeding is here, the distribution is here and the market wants them.

Give Them The Right Plant For The Right Place
Gardeners and landscapers love shrubs.They only need to be planted once, and many require very little maintenance. Shrubs work well on decks, too, but only if they are tailored to stay short, compact and colorful. I see wonderful breeding in buddleias, hydrangeas, spireas, crepe myrtles and other easy-to-grow shrubs. Once again, let’s do this right. Let’s not sell a 6-foot tall buddleia to my daughter when we can sell her one that at maturity is only 3-feet tall.   GG

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Four Star 2018 Catalog

August 18, 2017

Four Star Greenhouses’ 2018 Catalog Includes New Varieties and Cultural Tips

The new catalog is available in both print and digital formats, and features information on new trays that allow for more plugs per square foot.

Read More
Francis Kwong, PanAmerican Seed

August 15, 2017

Ornamental Seed Scientist Francis Kwong Dies at Age 65

Kwong was most recently the Director of Seed Technology for PanAmerican Seed, and his research was instrumental in the development of calibrachoa, angelonia, and other plants.

Read More
Candy Tops Snapdragons Series (Sakata Ornamentals)

August 3, 2017

Five Characteristics Breeders Want in Top-Performing Spring Annuals

New spring annuals have to provide something for everyone — longevity, durability, performance, and more — if they want to meet breeders’ high standards for market-worthy plants.

Read More
Latest Stories
Four Star 2018 Catalog

August 18, 2017

Four Star Greenhouses’ 2018 Catalog Includes New Variet…

The new catalog is available in both print and digital formats, and features information on new trays that allow for more plugs per square foot.

Read More
Francis Kwong, PanAmerican Seed

August 15, 2017

Ornamental Seed Scientist Francis Kwong Dies at Age 65

Kwong was most recently the Director of Seed Technology for PanAmerican Seed, and his research was instrumental in the development of calibrachoa, angelonia, and other plants.

Read More
Candy Tops Snapdragons Series (Sakata Ornamentals)

August 3, 2017

Five Characteristics Breeders Want in Top-Performing Sp…

New spring annuals have to provide something for everyone — longevity, durability, performance, and more — if they want to meet breeders’ high standards for market-worthy plants.

Read More
Petunia 'Headliner Pink Sky" (Selecta)

August 3, 2017

Why Eccentricity is the New Black in Spring Annuals

Consumers judge plants by appearance, color impact, and ease of maintenance, which is why retailers want new spring annuals that are novel standouts.    

Read More

August 1, 2017

39 New Vegetables and Herbs for 2018

New vegetable and herb introductions for 2017 offer unique shaped fruits, distinctive foliage, intense flavors, improved disease resistance, high yields, and more. Here are 39 new vegetable and herb varieties to consider for your product mix in 2018.

Read More
2018 Griffin Catalog

July 31, 2017

Griffin Releases Print and Digital Versions of Its 2018…

The 250-page print catalog features more than 350 new varieties from leading breeders, while the enhanced digital version has extra features on crop culture, grower tools, and more.

Read More
Emerald-Coast-Growers-Guide-Feature-Image

July 27, 2017

Emerald Coast Growers Offers Updated Guide on its Newes…

This year’s guide features new varieties while maintaining Emerald Coast’s ornamental grass program and expanding its perennial plants line.

Read More
Terra Nova Shipping Box

July 20, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries, Dümmen Orange to Partner on Unroo…

Terra Nova Nurseries has contracted with Dümmen Orange to produce unrooted cuttings (URCs) from Terra Nova private stock located at Dümmen Orange’s Central America facilities. The URCs will fulfill orders in North America and Europe.

Read More

July 20, 2017

New Perennials, Trial Gardens, and Merchandising Were H…

Darwin Perennials Day has steadily become one of the must-attend perennial events of the summer. This year, even the weather cooperated.

Read More
2018 Ball Seed Catalog

July 17, 2017

Ball Seed’s 2018 New Varieties Catalog Now Available

The expanded guide includes breakthrough breeding from Ball in annuals, perennials, vegetables, potted plants, and more.

Read More
Pleasant View Open House

July 16, 2017

Pleasant View Gardens, D.S. Cole Growers Hosting Open H…

The event gives horticulture industry professionals the chance to check out nearly 80 new introductions from Proven Winners, as well as Pleasant View’s new Savor Edibles & Fragrants line.

Read More
All American Selections

July 12, 2017

All-America Selections Celebrates Milestone Anniversary…

Coinciding with its 85th anniversary celebration, AAS is hosting an open house at its new offices, and has also released its annual report.

Read More

July 8, 2017

Plant Patent Law: Protecting the Variety Pipeline

Breeders call for better cooperation in protecting intellectual property while considering how stricter laws and expensive patents could impact the future of innovation.

Read More
Calibrachoa ‘Superbells Holy Moly!’ (Proven Winners)

July 8, 2017

Are Utility Patents Tying Up Innovation With Litigation…

The opportunities for innovation in plant breeding could be greatly advanced by creating an industry-led patent licensing platform.

Read More

July 8, 2017

Fleuroselect and CIOPORA Offer Organizational Leadershi…

Learn why breeders feel these organizations should be emulated in an industry-led initiative to protect plant breeding efforts.

Read More
Thalictrum Nimbus White (Terra Nova Nurseries)

June 30, 2017

Kelly Norris Dishes on New Plants, Going to Seed, and B…

From woody perennials to genetically modified petunias, Kelly Norris gives his take on what turned out to be a busy spring.

Read More
Jim Devereux, Green Fuse Botanicals

June 24, 2017

Green Fuse Botanicals New Vice President is Focused on …

Jim Devereux, who will oversee production, sales, and marketing for Green Fuse, says he hopes to bring genetics to the market that break from traditional production methods for finished growers.

Read More
Ushio Sakazaki feature

June 22, 2017

Japanese Breeder Ushio Sakazaki Wins Medal of Excellenc…

From Supertunias to Superbells, this innovative Japanese breeder has used wild genetics to create game-changing plants that help consumers reconnect with the beauty of nature.

Read More