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...
finneran bee on snakeroot

September 28, 2016

Which Annuals And Perennials Are Good For Pollinators?

If you are a grower looking for information on producing plants that are safe for pollinators, or which plant types can be marketed as good food sources for bees, the new publication “Protecting and Enhancing Pollinators in Urban Landscapes” provides a good resource.

Read More
phlox-fashionably-early-flamingo-walters-gardens

September 27, 2016

Walters Gardens Partnering With Darwin Colombia On Unrooted Cuttings

Beginning in spring 2017, Darwin Colombia will offer unrooted cuttings of more than 40 varieties of Walters Gardens’ new genetics, including many popular genera such as Agastache, Monarda, Nepeta, and Phlox.

Read More
Streptocarpus Ladyslippers Grape Ice (Green Fuse Botanicals)

September 27, 2016

9 New Blooming Potted Plants To Jazz Up The Home And Garden

Blooming potted plants are the ideal gift for anyone, from a homesick college student to a spouse in need of some cheering up. Check out nine these new introductions hitting the retail market in 2017.

Read More
Latest Stories
finneran bee on snakeroot

September 28, 2016

Which Annuals And Perennials Are Good For Pollinators?

If you are a grower looking for information on producing plants that are safe for pollinators, or which plant types can be marketed as good food sources for bees, the new publication “Protecting and Enhancing Pollinators in Urban Landscapes” provides a good resource.

Read More
phlox-fashionably-early-flamingo-walters-gardens

September 27, 2016

Walters Gardens Partnering With Darwin Colombia On Unro…

Beginning in spring 2017, Darwin Colombia will offer unrooted cuttings of more than 40 varieties of Walters Gardens’ new genetics, including many popular genera such as Agastache, Monarda, Nepeta, and Phlox.

Read More
Streptocarpus Ladyslippers Grape Ice (Green Fuse Botanicals)

September 27, 2016

9 New Blooming Potted Plants To Jazz Up The Home And Ga…

Blooming potted plants are the ideal gift for anyone, from a homesick college student to a spouse in need of some cheering up. Check out nine these new introductions hitting the retail market in 2017.

Read More
clematis-taiga-feature

September 24, 2016

Plantarium 2016 Honors Winning Novelty Varieties

Novelties at Plantarium 2016 were judged by an expert committee from the Royal Boskoop Horticultural Society.

Read More
mukgenia-nova-flame-terra-nova-nurseries-feature

September 23, 2016

Growers Offer Advice On How To Grow Mukgenia ‘Nova Flam…

‘Nova Flame’ is best brought in as a summer or fall crop and bulked over the winter.

Read More
deutzia-yuki-snowflake

September 22, 2016

Allan Armitage Suggests Plants That “Even My Neig…

When the urge to garden strikes, every homeowner needs a few plants like these for their yard.

Read More
Phlox 'Pink Profusion' (Green Leaf Plants)

September 13, 2016

Aris Horticulture Names Blair Hoey As Managing Director…

Hoey brings more than 20 years of greenhouse production and management experience to Green Leaf Plants, a young plant supplier of perennials serving the U.S. and Canadian markets.

Read More
hibiscus-hollywood-hot-shot

September 12, 2016

New Variety Award Winners Announced At Farwest 2016

A panel of industry experts, as well as show attendees, selected a thornless blackberry and a hydrangea for the top honors.

Read More

September 7, 2016

Check Out The Best Annuals For Attracting Bees And Butt…

Public interest in protecting bees and other pollinators has initiated a new market for flowers that are good food plants for pollinators. Here's a list of annuals Michigan State University Extension recommends that are attractive to bees and other pollinators.

Read More

September 6, 2016

10 Colorful Spring Plants For Sales In 2017

Trends with plants come and go, but color always sells. These spring crops for 2017 offer color choices ranging from bold and vibrant hues to understated, softer tones, and they’re versatile enough to be used in baskets, containers, beds, and borders.

Read More

September 5, 2016

7 New Shrubs And Foliage Plants For Spring Interest

Perennials and annuals aren’t the only plants that supply spring color to the garden. Shrubs and foliage plants also add color and interest and are a great way to round out your spring product mix.

Read More
Janikia Eckert

September 4, 2016

All-America Selections Presents Achievement Awards At I…

Jim Nau of Ball Horticultural received the AAS Medallion of Honor, while Janika Eckert of Johnny’s Selected Seeds took home the Breeders Cup.

Read More
Phlox 'Pink Profusion' (Green Leaf Plants)

August 30, 2016

14 Cool Season Plants To Kick Off The Spring Season

These new cultivar introductions for 2016 are spring bloomers that can take the cold for early-season sales.

Read More
Penn State University Trial Day

August 26, 2016

How Greenhouse Growers Can Broaden Their Horizons

Allan Armitage says you can learn new ideas to help your business when you get out to visit plant trials and other growers.

Read More

August 23, 2016

Kick Spring Sales Up A Notch With 20 New Plant Introduc…

It’s time to look forward to the spring season and what plants will get your business off to the right start. These 18 new cultivars have all the traits of good breeding — uniform habits, bold colors, showy blooms, good vigor, and excellent branching.

Read More

August 23, 2016

Gardens Alive! Parent Company Buys Zelenka Farms

  Zelenka Farms, which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, says LM Farms, which owns Gardens Alive!, has purchased the company and all of its assets. BFN Operations LLC and its affiliated entities, d/b/a Zelenka Farms, operated one of the largest wholesale nurseries in the U.S. Its products include shrubs, trees, perennials, roses, and groundcovers. The owners of Gardens Alive! have successfully purchased several other companies from bankruptcy and are experienced nursery managers. Niles Kinerk, Chairman of LM Farms, stated that “the opportunity to purchase Zelenka Farms assets and to continue the turnaround that is well underway is exactly the kind of opportunity that we look for. We understand the efforts of the management team led by Eric Ek and others have been successful, and we will support the management team in the coming months and years.” Zelenka Farms operates its six facilities across the key growing regions in the […]

Read More
Coreopsis-UpTickCream-19793-DarwinPerennials

August 20, 2016

Growing Tips On Coreopsis UpTick Series From John Wilso…

Editor’s Note: In this new feature, the Greenhouse Grower varieties team will choose one noteworthy variety each month we think is worth bringing to your attention. Then we’ll share growers’ and breeders’ perspectives on the best ways to produce it successfully at your operation. This month we focus on the hardy Coreopsis UpTick series, winner of Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Industry’s Choice Medal of Excellence for Breeding. Growing Tips From John Wilson, Seville Farms When asked about producing Coreopsis UpTick, John Wilson says he doesn’t have much to say because it was so easy to grow. Wilson, a Corporate Grower for Seville Farms, says based on the new series’ strong performance during the trialing he has done so far, the nursery ordered a large quantity of the plants for future growing. “If breeders were looking to come up with something that says ‘wow,’ they have done it with the UpTick Series,” […]

Read More
Eucomis arrangement from Golden State Bulb

August 19, 2016

What’s New With Blooming Potted Plants

From exotic orchids and lilies to flashy red cyclamen and jaunty gerberas, new blooming potted plants come in every shape, size, and color.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]