Troy Lucht, founder of Plant Source International, is in a unique position to see how varieties perform from cuttings farm to the consumer. In addition to producing cuttings in Mexico, he is a grower-retailer in Minnesota and a rooting station for breeders. This keeps him in tune with what growers want from cuttings and breeding lines, as well as what the consumer will purchase at retail. “There are things I really like and the consumers yawn and others they are crazy about,” he says, adding you just never know until you put it out there.
Serving other growers, Lucht strives for quality, reliability, excellent customer service and depth of product selection. The internal rule is all orders are acknowledged within 24 hours. Growers and brokers get same-day answers. In short, he treats growers the wayhe would like to be treated. “I come from the root-and-sell side,” he explains. “Last-minute changes drive everyone crazy. At each stage, there is a ripple effect of orders to fix, from young plant grower to finished grower to retailer. That’s why we try to be conservative in our production.”
Projecting yields and planning for orders is always a balancing act. It’s hard to justify dramatically increasing availability if orders are not prebooked. Lucht says there has been a shortage of herbs this year that go hand-in-hand with increased interest in vegetables and edible programs. PSI is adding 17 new herbs, bringing its offerings to 50.
PSI also is expanding its relationship and offerings with geranium breeder PAC Elsner to include ivies and zonals in addition to regals, scented and novelties.
More customers are coming to PSI for unpatented material because so many other producers are focused on proprietary genetics. This leaves a void and opportunity to fill. “We’re seeing strong sales in drought-tolerant accents with dark foliage, including setcreasea and strobilanthes, as well as lysimachia.
PSI has plans to expand production 25 percent and is purchasing land next door to its facilities in Mexico, where PSI has owned and operated production facilities for seven years. The company launched by contracting production there and now has 800,000 square feet of greenhouses.