Allan Armitage On His Favorites At Florist Holland, Hort Couture, PlantHaven, Flamingo Holland and Ball

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Petunia 'Cha-Ching Cherry'

Florist

Having visited Florist in years past, I was looking forward to seeing some gerbera daisies, and I was certainly not disappointed. I am not sure how many of you grow gerberas, but those that do must check out their innovative selections. Some of the biggest flowers in the most outrageous colors can be found in their Patio series, as seen in the Volcano and Everglade. However, my choice for my daughters’ gardens is the Garvinea series, a group of landscape gerberas with an especially long flowering period. I looked at all of them (and there are a lot!), but my eyes always went back to the iridescent ‘Orangina.’

I have a feeling that most women would not make this their first choice, but it was impossible not to admire. I will be trialing these again and I will keep you posted — in the meantime, try a few Garvineas, I doubt you will be disappointed.

Hort Couture

As always, the folks at Hort Couture know how to throw a party. No matter what is going on, they are always having fun — and their plant introductions reflect their attitude. Eye Candy verbenas and a nemesia that looks like Angry Bird (I cannot make this up) keep smiles on everyone’s faces.

I liked all the offerings and I particularly appreciated their City Names combination baskets. They were well designed and regardless which is your favorite city, there was something for everyone. Take a look at this series; I wonder if you’ll agree with my choice — Paris. A wonderful company — full of extraordinary ideas and fine plants.

Plant Haven

Geoff and Maureen Needham have been bringing us unique plants for many years, and visiting with them is like visiting the minds of some of the world’s great breeders. Today was my lucky day, as I was fortunate to talk with one of those great breeders, Dr. John Cho. John was responsible for breeding the Royal Hawaiian series, without doubt some of the finest colocasias ever to be introduced. ‘Diamond Head’ was the best black-leaved taro I have seen but oh no, like a child playing on the beach, John just keeps building better castles.

His latest black form, ‘Black Coral, is shorter and may be even better.  His newest , Morning Dew,’ is another terrific plant. One of Geoff and Maureen’s strengths is they associate themselves with great breeders. Here’s hoping they continue to do so — we are all better off because of them.

Flamingo Holland

Ah, the lily people, another fun place to pick up new ideas in the lily world. I walked by dozens of stunning lilies, including orientals and asiatics. As pot plants and cut flowers, lilies are well established, but Flamingo Holland is exploring the landscape market seriously. Lilies may be a tough sale as a landscape item, but they are working on it.

I was most impressed with the Joy series, including ‘Victory Joy,’ a orange lily and oh my, I love ‘Apricot Joy’, and ‘Jumping Joy.’ Production techniques are straight forward, and their use in combination patio containers needs to be looked at more closely.

Ball Horticulture

There a dozen plants and programs that caressed my senses; there is no end of what I could write about. But rather than putting you to sleep, I’ll mention just a few highlights, talk to your rep for the rest. I believe Ball Flora Plant’s Enduro verbenas will be a big hit; good colors in blush, pink and purple. The fact that much of the vigor in the series comes from ‘Homestead Purple’ means it has to be good. This will be the perfect landscape plant, providing better cold and heat tolerance than many other verbena series, and in crisp and brilliant colors. I can’t imagine this will not walk off the shelves.

The Fuseable program for seed items has been tweaked and should now do all the things promised. That is, provide two or three cultivars in a single coated pellet. This allows growers a less expensive and easy way to produce combo baskets and containers. PanAmerican has done their homework, producing some beautiful combinations that “play” well together. I am excited to see the renewed energy Pan Am has put into this very innovative program. Looking for combos? Give this one a look at.

Lastly, can you stand to hear about another … petunia? I can hardly believe I would write about another petunia, but oh my, Cha-Ching petunia drew raves by everyone walking by. Two colors are available; both are quite fabulous. Will it look as good in the landscape in July as it does in the greenhouse in April? Maybe not, but then again, why would you not put them in a premium offering and let them sell themselves. I can’t wait to see them outdoors; I, and about 1,000 of my closest friends visiting Ball Flora Plant sure loved them indoors.

Allan Armitage was a professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Georgia for 30 years. He recently retired and remains an active consultant, author and lecturer.
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