Armitage: Hort Couture, Westhoff Infuse Style, Craze Into Genetics

Florist Holland's Garvinea series gerberas have many smaller flowers and incredibly vibrant colors.

Day 3 and life is still good, at the California Spring Trials. We are in beautiful Santa Barbara, so it is difficult to complain about my lot in life. Our day started out with seven stops in the GroLink facility in Oxnard. We walked in the door and knew we were to be overwhelmed!

Florist Holland

We started out with Florist, and I was stunned by the number and the colors of the gerbera daisies – wonderful colors – and a diversity of flower sizes. I have long enjoyed the Garvinea series, with smaller flowers and incredibly vibrant colors. Although bearing smaller blossoms, plants flower for a long period of time. I have worked with these in Georgia, and many have been excellent in their performance.

But to be truly blown away is to wander through the Patio series of gerberas, with their mammoth flower size, dozens of different colors and handsomely displayed plants. These may look very nice in a protected patio area or in containers that are somewhat shielded from the worst of the weather. Florist is doing a fabulous job with its gerberas. I was most impressed.

PlantHaven

We went across the aisle to see the people at PlantHaven, a wonderfully innovative company that represents breeders. PlantHaven showed off a new black-leafed colocasia called ‘Hawaiian Punch,’ which might be as good or even better than ‘Diamond Head’. It is certainly shorter.

The Penhow Little diascias at PlantHaven were also quite spectacular. They have mounded habits, are full of flowers and have an assortment of salmon, coral and reds – you could not take your eyes off them. Diascias do very well in areas of cool summers, and I think this new group of plants is one growers might want to look at.

PlantHaven always has some interesting plants, but one of the most eye-catching was the black-leafed Mystic Wonder dahlia. These are vigorous plants with deeply cut leaves and handsome red flowers. What really caught the eye, however, was most some of the darkest purple, essentially black, foliage I have seen in some time.

Hort Couture

Moving over to Hort Couture, I knew I was in for a treat when I was immediately assailed by Gerry Raker and Jim Monroe. Both of these men have more energy than 10 other people combined. They are using that energy to build the Hort Couture brand.

I am probably as fashion-challenged as anyone, yet even I was impressed with Hort Couture’s stylish runway and beautiful becapped models. Hort Couture has a story; it is one on how young people are buying plants now and in the future. People are talking about Hort Couture because of the way they approach their merchandising and marketing.

But marketing will only go so far. To be successful, there must be good plants behind the marketing plan. Under The Sea coleus are a good example of well executed marketing, and these are always fun to look at – especially when you take a leaf off and check out the wily crustaceans.

The variegated petunia, ‘Glamoflauge Grape,’ caught my eye and if the variegation holds up in hot summers, I expect to see much of this plant in the future. ‘Blue Zebra’ primrose was fun to look at – an example of what Hort Couture is all about: making the buying and the use of plants fun at every level. Good job, Hort Couture

Westhoff

From Hort Couture, we marched over to Westhoff– we needed no more than a glance to see that these German breeders are quickly figuring out how to be successful in the American market. Their beautiful new calibrachoa, ‘Peach Cobbler,’ was visible across the greenhouse. If the colors hold up in the landscape, Westhoff absolutely has a winner.

I don’t know how many more petunias I can stand, but Westhoff’s Perfectunia series stopped me again, with its very large flowers and handsome colors. But for sheer joy in looking at petunias, I had a blast with Westhoff’s Crazytunia program. These provided colors and hues that you just don’t normally see in petunias. ‘Cherry Cheesecake’ and a few beautiful experimentals absolutely made me chuckle, and I know others would enjoy buying flowers even more. Who said Germans have no sense of humor?

Westhoff has been well known for its lobelia breeding, and it presented a number of good forms and colors. The most potentially outstanding was ‘Hot Night Blue.’

GreenFuse Botanicals

Visiting my friends at GreenFuse is always an adventure. This year was no exception with a couple of additions to their Blanket petunia line, a line of which they should be very proud. .

I really like the Gumdrops double begonias that GreenFuse has stayed with. The market for double begonias has not been terribly strong in the past, but they believe in them and so do I. As a shade-tolerant plant, these should have good market traction this year.

GreenFuse also showed off a number of interesting other annuals, including some new additions to its bacopa line (‘Betty Pink’) and interesting scaevola (‘Scampi White’ and Blue).

It was interesting to see GreenFuse moving more strongly into perennials. I love GreenFuse’s gauras, ‘Bantam Pink’ and ‘Bantam White,’ and I believe some of their salvias hold great potential in the perennial salvia market. Green Fuse has been strong in the agastache breeding, and it has not disappointed this year as well.

Athena Brazil

I’ve always loved what Athena Brazil does with “off-the-trodden-path” plants for the greenhouse industry. They always have something exciting, such as alternanthera ‘Little Ruby’ and different clerodendrums, as well as other plants that are potentially money makers – but they simply are not petunias. This year, I was pleased to see Athena is offering a collection of vines – annual vines for the greenhouse grower that I know the retailer will do well with. This is a step on the wild side to be sure, but I will be supporting them all the way down the line. We need people who will take chances, and Athena does not shy away from such challenges.

GroLink

Then off to GroLink where I was thoroughly educated about hardy mums. They have been doing this for many, many years and have programs in place that even someone like myself could be successful with. Six- and seven-week response groups, small and large flowers, and all plants providing color and mounding habits for containers or the landscape.

One tends to overlook hardy mums when petunias, calibrachoas and pansies fill the air. But mums are a strong, stable group of plants with which GroLink is doing an excellent job.

Skagit Gardens

The visit to Skagit was a great opportunity to see how the breeding of the Gold series of helleborus are being positioned. Skagit showed how some of the new generation of helleborus can be used for Christmas sales and to bring traffic into garden centers much earlier than normal. They showcased many beautiful cultivars in the helleborus program, my favorite being ‘Pink Frost,’ hands down!

It was also enlightening to see how Skagit grouped its perennials for early spring, mid and late summer offerings. For example, Skagit showed off primulas and wallflowers for early spring while scabiosa and coreopsis are positioned for summer sales. I was most impressed with coreopsis ‘Big Bang Mercury Rising,’ whose dark flowers and compact habit caught my eye. Skagit’s new Centaurea looks promising and I still enjoy seeing gaillardias like ‘Moxie’ and ‘Frenzy.’ 

 

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The Gaillardia

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Annual Meeting Date

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
Evolvulus Blue My Mind

February 24, 2015

Blue Ribbon Bloomers For Greenhouse Production

Grow what consumers want! Surveys show that blue is one of the top preferred colors of today’s consumers. Here are twelve top recommended blue-flowering Proven Winners annuals and perennials to suit your spring production cycle.

Read More
Latest Stories
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The G…

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More

February 18, 2015

California Spring Trials Sneak Peek: New Annuals For 20…

If you're like us and you can't wait until the 2015 California Spring Trials to see some of the new genetics that will be hitting the market in 2016, never fear. We contacted the breeders who will be displaying their new varieties in California in April, and they gave us a sneak peek. Check out our slideshow to see some of the new annuals making their debut to the trade this spring.

Read More
Athena Brazil Salvia 'Brazilian Purple'

February 18, 2015

ForemostCo And Athena Brazil Unite To Supply Unrooted P…

ForemostCo, Inc. and Athena Brazil have forged a working relationship to support each other in the unrooted perennial cuttings market for North America. The partnership, geared toward accommodating increasing demand for unrooted perennial cuttings in North America, adds diversity to a recently consolidated market.

Read More

February 17, 2015

Poinsettias Had Their Best Year In Many In 2014

Poinsettia growers report a strong year in 2014, thanks to a few conditions. Growers were encouraged by high plant quality, enthusiastic shoppers and a stronger, less saturated market for poinsettias throughout the selling season. Seasonal cold at just the right time put consumers in a festive mood to buy early and often, and with no big snowstorms to hold up shipments and a reduction of supply available in the market, the season was strong from start to finish.

Read More
Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo'

February 17, 2015

Geranium Hybrid ‘Biokovo’ Dubbed 2015 Peren…

Geranium xcantabrigiense ‘Biokovo,' a naturally occurring hybrid of G. dalmaticum and G. macrorrhizum, is the Perennial Plant Association's top pick for 2015 Perennial of the Year. Learn why this tough, landscape geranium took home the prize.

Read More
Costa Farms' Season Premier 2015

February 4, 2015

Costa Farms’ 2015 Season Premier Reveals Newest V…

The annual Season Premier at Costa Farms in Miami, Fla., is the industry's very first peek at new varieties for debut the following year, even before the California Spring Trials, heralded widely as the jumping off point for new varieties. This year's event revealed breeders' best and brightest new varieties for 2016, shown in field trials, landscape trials and containers at Costa Farms tropical trial gardens. Plant breeders presented their new varieties to buyers and members of Lowe’s grower panel. Growers, brokers and other allied industry members, including Home Depot growers and buyers, were also able to peruse the grounds to see how the new varieties fared in the winter trials. Later this season, the hot and humid conditions at Costa’s summer trials will help identify the true performers.

Read More

January 28, 2015

All-America Selections Introduces Additional 2015 Winne…

All-America Selections has announced more 2015 AAS Winners, bringing the grand total of introductions for the 2015 gardening year to 25. The seven winners join the 12 announced last November and six announced last July. This year, AAS has had the most winners in one year since 1939.

Read More

January 28, 2015

Holiday Plant Trends And New Varieties

Growers had mixed feelings about the 2014 poinsettia season according to Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Poinsettia Survey. Read about their plans for 2015 and stay up to date on 14 of the newest cyclamen and poinsettia varieties on the market.

Read More

January 21, 2015

Pantone Marsala Plants To Grow In 2015 [Slideshow]

Marsala, an earthy wine-red color, is the Pantone Color of the Year for 2015, and it presents a great marketing opportunity to showcase Marsala-colored plants for outdoor and indoor decorating. Enjoy this round-up of plants with Marsala hues.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Liven Up Indoor And Outdoor Living With 24 New Tropical…

Uniquely colored foliage and vivid blooms are just two of the great features new tropicals and foliage plants add to energize indoor and outdoor spaces.

Read More

January 13, 2015

Take Purdue University’s Survey On Vegetatively P…

Do you have problems callusing or rooting vegetatively propagated perennials? The Purdue University Floriculture Lab would like to help you with these problems, but first the research team there needs your help.

Read More
Poinsettia 'Charon Red'

January 6, 2015

Dan Schantz Farm 2014 Poinsettia Trial Recap And 2015 D…

The 2014 Dan Schantz Poinsettia trials featured more than 170 poinsettia varieties. Here's a summary of the event, as well as a 2015 date for your calendar.

Read More

December 31, 2014

Engage Busy Consumers With Modern-Day Tropical And Foli…

Contemporary tropical and foliage plants fit right in with the hustle and bustle of the twenty-first century. Their versatility lends itself to countless uses both inside the house and out on the patio.

Read More

December 30, 2014

2015 California Spring Trials Are Just Around The Corn…

Are the California Spring Trials on your schedule for 2015? Before the busy growing season sidelines your plans, use this handy resource to get a jumpstart on registering for your trip.

Read More

December 29, 2014

Top 5 Slideshows Of 2014

These popular slideshows from 2014 highlight everything from new perennials, to new veggies, to California Spring Trials.

Read More

December 29, 2014

Suntory Makes Spirits Bright With Princettia Displays

Suntory Flowers started to introduce its varieties to sister company Beam Suntory by collaborating on a holiday interiorscape featuring Princettia at Beam Suntory's offices in Deerfield, Ill., near Chicago.

Read More

December 17, 2014

Small-Size Plant Varieties For Small-Scale Gardens [Sli…

Miniature and dwarf-sized varieties are perfect for containers, small-scale outdoor gardens and miniature gardening. See what breeders and growers have to offer in new varieties and past favorites.

Read More

December 17, 2014

Plant Ratings From 2014 Trials Now Available In Plant T…

Now that North American trial grounds have completed their 2014 trialing season, the National Plant Trials Database has more than 15,000 plant ratings for the horticulture industry’s use in planning for 2015.

Read More