My best friend hates everything Nike. I’ve never quite understood why the sight of Nike’s swoosh rubs him the wrong way, but he says it’s because when he was growing up Nike represented something he didn’t have that the snobby rich kids in his neighborhood did. And those kids made a point of the fact that because he couldn’t afford Nike apparel, he wasn’t one of them.
I can’t relate to my best friend’s experience but I can respect it. Just like he respects my preference for Nike apparel. Different minds have different tastes.
The same logic applies to plants. There are plenty of love-them or hate-them plants out there. Take Ball FloraPlant’s ‘Black Velvet’ petunia. There’s a consumer base that loves ‘Black Velvet’ because it’s nothing like they’ve seen before. They love being able to combine black with contrasting colors in combination planters and having something their friends and neighbors don’t have on their decks.
But ‘Black Velvet’ isn’t for everyone. Yes, it has its critics–some of whom reside within our industry–who say the petunia isn’t truly black. Or that ‘Black Velvet’ doesn’t perform the way other petunias do.
The other obvious polarizing new variety is Silver Vase’s Blue Mystique orchid. If you haven’t been on GreenhouseGrower.com lately to read about Blue Mystique, you’re missing the war of words between the blue orchid’s supporters and its haters. Some of the comments make me chuckle, including one that simply reads: “Repulsive.” Other haters point out how Blue Mystique doesn’t rebloom blue and Silver Vase is potentially setting up consumers for disappointment when their orchids rebloom white.
Growers, Consumers Think Differently
Let consumers say what they will about the black petunia, the blue orchid or other polarizing plants. At least consumers are talking about them. At least they’re showing an interest in what we do.
Who are we as an industry to criticize consumers who say they want such plants, even if growers consider them sacrilege? So what if the petunia is totally black, mostly black or somewhat black. Same goes for the controversial dyed orchid that now has its first sibling in Indigo Mystique. If there are markets for those plants, then I say let those plants be.
Consumers don’t necessarily want what you want as a grower. The overwhelming majority of consumers could care less about pot sizes, what the Latin names of their plants are and how their plants fit into your greenhouse systems. Many of them simply want the cool new thing, not the next bench-run plant you’re planning to incorporate into production.
If anything, the industry should be applauding the Ball FloraPlants, the Silver Vases and others who bring truly innovative plants to market. Odds are the people criticizing such breeding are the ones whose focus is making yet another pink calibrachoa or purple petunia available year after year.
Those calibrachoas and petunias probably fit nicely into your product offerings, but are consumers asking for improved calibrachoas and updated petunias? Some may indeed want those, but I would argue they’re looking for the never-before-seen plants like Selecta’s 3D double osteospermums, Floranova’s ‘Field Of Dreams’ corn or perennials they have little experience with like the Candy Drops phygelius Skagit Gardens produces.