Plants I Know My Daughters, Neighbors And Friends Would Like To See At Retail

Whenever I go shopping for plants, admittedly not very often, I wander around aisles and see what is being offered. At the box store, I notice carts piled up with bags of fertilizer, fungicide bottles, weed and feed and ant killer bags. It doesn’t appear that the eco–boom has lasted very long.

At both the boxes and the independent garden centers, plants are also flying out the door. Thirsty hydrangeas, junky junipers, boring boxwoods and crepes are on their way out, as well as the everyday ivies, marigolds, petunias and red salvias. In the boxes, I see bench after bench of random color. In the independent garden centers, I observe far more creativity, far more ideas and in many cases, for better or worse, far more selective customers.

 

 

There are dozens of new plants appearing this year —“new” being quite different to my friends than to us — that should appeal to all customers regardless of their shopping venue. I have looked at dozens of plants and ran many of them past my daughters and friends for their opinions. I could write about dozens the many plants with sales appeal, but here are five plants I hope to see more of in the future:

Rex Begonia Hybrids

Rex begonia hybrids such as the Shadow King series and Jurassic series. There is nothing I have seen recently that compares to the wow appeal of these plants in containers at retail. Nothing. People know what they are and are not intimidated by them, and they are simply quite beautiful. They require good grower skills, creative marketing to show them off and correct information for my daughters to be successful, but these are potential winners.

The Return Of Impatiens

Impatiens need to return to retail, landscape beds and gardeners. No doubt we rang the sirens about downy mildew on bedding impatiens — they are next to impossible to buy this year — and that is not a bad thing at all. However, shade needs to be filled with a low-growing spreader and until we find downy-resistant bedding impatiens, I have great hope for varieties like the Bounce series. I am in the process of trialing these in my own garden, but if they stay low, spread well and are truly shade tolerant (as we have been promised), landscapers and my daughters will eat them up. However, if they are not, homeowners and landscapers will turn off in droves.

Novelty Annuals

I dislike the term novelty, as when you call a plant a novelty item, it is often the kiss of death. However, nowhere can it be stated that geraniums and petunias are not mainstream, even if there are as many as grains of sand. People love them, and the more catching forms are perfect for decks, patios and balconies. I hope to see more people trying out the Glitterati geraniums like the new ‘Ice Queen’ and variegated petunias, like the Glamouflage series. There have been variegated forms of both these plants in the past, but I am particularly taken with these series of plants — they add pizzazz — and boy, do we need pizzazz.

Gerbera Daisies

I have always had a tough time embracing Gerbera daisies, but I seem to be the only one. My wife, my daughters and everyone at the retail store are walking out with pots of these brilliant, colorful flowers. I have seen a dozen series over the last few years, all quite beautiful, but I hope multiflora forms like the Garvinea series appears on more retail benches. The colors are outstanding; the choices are plentiful, and the performance in my trials has been the best of any gerberas I have tried, even returning after Zone 7 winters. When my daughters ask which one, this is what I would like to see them take home.

Veggies

If anything seems to be walking out the doors this season, it is the veggies. Traditional Big Boy tomatoes and bell peppers will forever be popular, but I see more and more emphasis on other forms, as well. There has been a good deal of interest in patio forms, and I am a big believer in veggies on the deck. There is enough room in the market for such innovations, and when I see what is coming down the pipe, like the ‘Rapunzel’ tomato, I shake with joy at the possibilities.

Such innovations are difficult to market in the spring, but I believe there is a potential upside to the grafted tomatoes finally getting some traction. If the yield and vigor of heirloom forms of tomatoes like ‘Brandywine’ can be improved, and if the rootstocks convey additional disease resistance to marginal but tasty cultivars, the concept can take off. These are not new to us, but certainly new to the gardener. I even paid the higher price (which will be an issue), but I am looking forward to more ‘Brandywines’ than ever.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

4 comments on “Plants I Know My Daughters, Neighbors And Friends Would Like To See At Retail

  1. the tomatoes (Rapunzel) look awesome…but where do you get these; in either seeds or plants??? Why would you tease us and not show a source!

    1. Do these little tomatoes taste like the red acid tomatoes! Do you sale the seeds or plants? Are they hardy and easy to raise?

More From Armitage On Plants...
Double Whammy Merchandise Display At CAST2015

May 28, 2015

Grow Inspiration To Grow The Horticulture Industry

We need to work together as the horticulture industry to inspire and instruct consumers with our plant knowledge and marketing expertise.

Read More
Plant-Select_for-web

May 28, 2015

PlantSelect.org And FindPlants.net Assist Consumers With Growing And Finding Plants

The recently launched PlantSelect.org and FindPlants.net websites offer growing and maintenance tips, where-to-buy information and design ideas to help consumers have success with growing and finding plants.

Read More
Cal-Poly fields

May 27, 2015

Cal-Poly Students And Faculty Ask Industry To Help Save Horticulture Facilities

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, has released an update to its Master Plan that indicates that almost all of its orchards, horticulture facilities and field sites could be repurposed for buildings, including residential, and/or recreational space. According to a letter from Scott Steinmaus, the horticulture and crop science department head, the proposed changes directly affect the current orchard plantings and other long term plans for the department. The department is committed to making sure that its facilities remain invaluable teaching environments that enable its students to learn about crop, fruit and horticulture production, food safety and pest protection, in addition to providing sites for externally funded research projects that benefit the industry. Industry members are invited to submit comments to the university. According to Steinmaus, a recent eMail to the Cal-Poly community from the university president indicates that all of the input gathered through the end of May will be studied by the planning […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Allan Armitage At Tradeshow

May 15, 2015

Allan Armitage On Plants: We Are Alive And Well, Thank …

Allan Armitage tells why the horticulture industry is about the people, not the plants, not the marketing and not the social media, and why horticulture is here to stay.

Read More
Lomandra-Platinum-Beauty-Ball

April 22, 2015

Allan Armitage Finds A Lot To Love On His Last Day At T…

On the last day of the 2015 California Spring Trials, Allan Armitage and the Greenhouse Grower team visited three stops that accounted for 12 breeding companies. From annuals and perennials to herbs and strawberries, Armitage found plenty to get excited about.

Read More
Hakonochloa macra Aureola v

April 17, 2015

Ornamental Grasses — A Few Thoughts

Grasses have been embraced by growers, landscape architects and retailers, and are an important component in wholesale and resale sales. Allan Armitage shares some popular grasses, one to avoid and a few to use with caution.

Read More
PW_CAST15

April 17, 2015

Allan Armitage’s Favorite Plants From Proven Winn…

Between visiting California Spring Trial giants like Proven Winners, Syngenta and Danziger, Allan Armitage saw a lot of great plants in one day. Despite the size of the challenge, Dr. Armitage finds a few favorites he thinks you should try.

Read More
Westhoff_Crazytunia_Swiss Dancer

April 16, 2015

Allan Armitage Finds Some Surprising Intros At Floricul…

Allan Armitage visited three breeders at Spring Trials’ newest location, Floricultura. He found several plants that made Floricultura’s debut a must-stop site in 2015. Westhoff At Westhoff, plant breeding is alive and well, with many things to embrace. The petunia program is vibrant and creative, and I am particularly confident that the Crazytunia program will continue to grow. Crazytunias should fly off the shelves because of their unique colors. Westhoff also brings more standard fare to the table. The Epic series of bacopas have large flowers and should be of particular interest. ‘Epic White’ is particularly nice. And the lobelia in the Hot series has been excellent. ‘Snow White’ adds a good white to the mix. The Hot series does tolerate heat better than most lobelias and now it has a reasonable number of colors. The plant that caught my interest the most this year was ‘Lilac Cascade.’ According to Westhoff, this […]

Read More

April 16, 2015

Golden State Bulbs And Sakata: Allan Armitage Highlight…

Dr. Allan Armitage was excited to see both new and improved breeding, as well as have the chance to meet breeders and talk shop at Sakata Seed and Golden State Bulb. Sakata Seed At Sakata, we wandered through traditional crops like zinnias, New Guinea impatiens, calibrachoa and petunias. However, I have always been impressed with the SuperCal program, and this year’s introduction of vibrant colors of Light Yellow and Pink really caught my eye. The flowers of Light Yellow are significantly larger than other colors in the series. I believe the SuperCals are poised for major additional sales. Everybody was talking about ‘Dragon’s Breath’ celosia, and I wanted to see what the hype was all about. It is surely hype-worthy. The plants I observed were large with obvious vigor, and the foliage was coppery with huge, bright, rose-red flowers. Apparently this is a plant that benefits from minimal inputs, such as […]

Read More
Asclepias-Monarch-Promise

April 14, 2015

Allan Armitage Finds Old Fashioned Plants Are New Again…

Day two of California Spring Trials was packed with breeders and all their new introductions and marketing. Allan Armitage found several varieties he felt were worth a second look.

Read More
lobularia_YOLO

April 14, 2015

Dümmen And HGTV: Allan Armitage On What Looks Promising

On his third day of California Spring Trials, Dr. Allan Armitage visited two Dümmen sites and HGTV HOME Plants. (Full disclosure: Dr. Armitage consults for HGTV HOME Plants.) Take a look at the new introductions that caught his eye during these stops.

Read More
Celosia-Intenz-Lipstick-8250-BallIngenuity_620x349

April 13, 2015

Allan Armitage Shares His Favorite Spring Trials Finds …

Dr. Allan Armitage talks about his favorite finds among the many new introductions he saw at Green Fuse Botanicals, Suntory and Ball Horticulture. He saw a couple of not-so-new plants that he loves, too.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

April 10, 2015

Let’s Revisit New Crops

New crops are the lifeblood of our industry, but what is new to us isn't always new to consumers.

Read More

March 23, 2015

Update To Armitage’s Greatest Perennials & Annuals …

A new update to the Greatest Perennials & Annuals app narrows the gap between consumers and grower-retailers, while providing more of Armitage’s top picks and growing advice for success with plants.

Read More
Salvia 'Ember's Wish'

March 11, 2015

Annual Salvias – Not Just Red Bedding Plants Anym…

Salvias are popular — and they need not all be the same. Here are a few you know well, and perhaps a few you do not. All are easy to grow and may be found through a broker or grower.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

March 11, 2015

Memoirs Of A Plantsman: Q & A With Allan Armitage

In light of the upcoming release of Dr. Allan Armitage's memoir, "It’s Not Just About the Hat — The Unlikely Journey of a Plantsman," Greenhouse Grower caught up with him for an in-depth Q & A about his newest work and what he’s planning next.

Read More

January 28, 2015

Ornamental Grasses Bring Low Maintenance To The Landsca…

Read about Allan Armitage's picks for low-maintenance grasses for the landscape.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

January 9, 2015

Carex: Up And Coming Perennial For Spring Sales

Carex has quietly become as important to the landscape trade as popular grasses like panicum and miscanthus.

Read More

November 24, 2014

Impatiens Downy Mildew: Is It Time Yet?

Has enough time passed to add bedding impatiens back into the starting lineup without the fear of downy mildew?

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

November 3, 2014

Plants That Passed Their Trial: Armitage’s Favori…

Allan Armitage outlines his favorite top performing plants of 2014 he'd like to see offered by growers, brokers and retailers in 2015.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

September 26, 2014

Let’s Get Real — We Are Not Going Anywhere

The greenhouse industry has turned a corner. We are incorporating change into everything we do.

Read More