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...
Combo-at-Youngs-Plant-Farm

December 12, 2017

How to Produce Stunning Combination Containers

It’s easy to produce your own attention-grabbing combos, if you follow this advice from a master combination designer.

Read More
SunStanding-New-Guinea-Impatiens-Dummen-Orange-feature

December 7, 2017

Growing Tips From a Pro for SunStanding New Guinea Impatiens

SunStanding New Guinea impatiens hybrids spruce up the landscape with vibrant blooms that explode with color in both sun and shade areas, and they hold up well in heat and humidity.

Read More
Japan-Airlines-princettia

December 7, 2017

Suntory Pairs Princettia with Several Breast Cancer Awareness Promotions

Suntory Flowers is partnering with several major brands to support breast cancer awareness and fundraising, using its bright-pink Princettia euphorbias as the ideal plant for Pink Ribbon promotions.

Read More
Latest Stories
Combo-at-Youngs-Plant-Farm

December 12, 2017

How to Produce Stunning Combination Containers

It’s easy to produce your own attention-grabbing combos, if you follow this advice from a master combination designer.

Read More
SunStanding-New-Guinea-Impatiens-Dummen-Orange-feature

December 7, 2017

Growing Tips From a Pro for SunStanding New Guinea Impa…

SunStanding New Guinea impatiens hybrids spruce up the landscape with vibrant blooms that explode with color in both sun and shade areas, and they hold up well in heat and humidity.

Read More
Japan-Airlines-princettia

December 7, 2017

Suntory Pairs Princettia with Several Breast Cancer Awa…

Suntory Flowers is partnering with several major brands to support breast cancer awareness and fundraising, using its bright-pink Princettia euphorbias as the ideal plant for Pink Ribbon promotions.

Read More
Brandon-Coker-and-John-Ruter-University-of-Georgia

December 3, 2017

Great Plants for 2018 That Stand Up to Heat and Humidit…

In his latest column, Allan Armitage credits trial managers at the University of Georgia, who have come up with an extensive list of plants that continually outperform others throughout the season.

Read More
Veronicastrum

December 1, 2017

Kelly Norris On How You Can Sell a New Landscape, With …

In his latest column, Kelly Norris says programs like Plant Select deliberately set out to change the market demand for a different palette of plants. Their success should serve as an example for how to authentically connect the gardening experience of a particular region with the supply chain.

Read More
MSU-Annual-Trial-Garden

November 29, 2017

2017 Michigan State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trial results for Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI.

Read More
MOBOT-Trial-Gardens

November 27, 2017

2017 Missouri Botanical Garden Field Trial Results

Check out the 2017 field trial results for the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO.

Read More
ISU-Trial-Beds

November 26, 2017

2017 Iowa State University/Reiman Gardens Field Trials …

Check out the 2017 field trials results for Iowa State University/Reiman Gardens in Ames, IA.

Read More
Lucas Greenhouses 2017 Container Trials

November 25, 2017

2017 Lucas Greenhouses Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trial results from Lucas Greenhouses in Monroeville, NJ.

Read More
Upper-garden_Mast-Young

November 24, 2017

2017 Mast Young Plants Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trial results from Mast Young Plants in Grand Rapids, MI.

Read More
Pentas-Graffitti-Lipstick

November 23, 2017

2017 Dallas Arboretum Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trials results for Dallas Arboretum in Dallas, TX.

Read More
Pentas-Lucky-Star-Red

November 22, 2017

2017 Louisiana State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trials results Louisiana State University in Hammond, LA.

Read More
Echeveria-First-Lady

November 21, 2017

2017 D.S. Cole Growers Field Trial Results

Check out the 2017 field trial results for D.S. Cole Growers in Loudon, NH.

Read More
Millet-Copper-Prince

November 20, 2017

2017 Colorado State University Field Trial Results

Check out the 2017 field trial results for Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO.

Read More
Achillea-Ritzy-Ruby

November 19, 2017

2017 Green Leaf Plants Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trials results for Green Leaf Plants in Lancaster, PA.

Read More
Ball-Bed-with-Midnight-Snack-tomato_Cornell

November 18, 2017

2017 Cornell University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trials results for Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Read More
Pepper Cayenne ‘Red Ember’ (Johnny’s Selected Seeds)

November 17, 2017

Presenting All-America Selections’ Latest Round of Awar…

All-America Selections has announced the latest round of its award-winning varieties, each of which was trialed throughout North America by professional, independent, volunteer judges.

Read More
Eason-New-Calibrachoa-Hi-Graft

November 14, 2017

Eason Horticultural Resources Introduces New Decorative…

Created by Hishtil Nursery in Israel, the new decorative forms of calibrachoa feature an 8- to 12-inch stem and come in four colors of calibrachoa blooms on top.

Read More