Innovation Critics Not Welcome

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.

Leave a Reply

3 comments on “Innovation Critics Not Welcome

  1. I agree that we need to sell items that the consumer is clamoring for. But, we should be honest with them too. They want a blue orchid. They bought blue. They expect it to be blue when it reblooms. It’s like buying a Lambourgini but when you wash it, it you end up owning a Yugo. This leads to customer dissatisfaction and you may lose a customer. It might be trendy but it should also be truthful. We should not promote ‘putting one over’ on the customer to make a buck.
    Now, if there is an additive the customer could buy to make it blue again as with hydrangeas, then….. Sell,Sell Sell!!

  2. I bought the blue mystique orchid on impulse, of course, because it was just so different. I wanted to see how it was done! Knowing that kind of blue is not natural I just had to see what made it tick and Meijers would certainly not let me do that in their store! I got to see the plant continue to bloom, confirm my suspicions and make friends wish they had such a blue-white orchid, too. It was possibly worth the money, but I enjoyed the oddity while it lasted!

  3. The great thing about the market is that bad ideas don’t tend to last. If you’re not trying new things you’ll be a dinosaur soon enough. And if you pay attention to your customers you’ll find the good ideas that help you grow.

    I absolutely hate black petunias. But they look great at my mom’s house.

    Pay attention to your customers. They will tell you how to succeed.

More From Varieties...

May 23, 2017

USDA-APHIS Bulletin on Unauthorized Distribution of Genetically Engineered Petunias

On May 2, 2017, USDA-APHIS was informed that an orange petunia variety was potentially genetically engineered and had been imported and moved interstate without required authorization by APHIS. This led to testing of numerous petunia varieties, which confirmed this particular variety and several others are genetically engineered, and meet the regulatory definition of a regulated article under APHIS regulations. APHIS continues to work with the industry to ensure unauthorized GE petunias are not distributed in the United States.

Read More
Petunia F1 African Sunset from American Takii

May 22, 2017

Genetically Modified Petunia Update: Question and Answer with AmericanHort’s Craig Regelbrugge

AmericanHort’s key role interfacing with the USDA on the recall of genetically modified petunias has helped the horticulture industry rapidly address the problem. Senior Vice President Craig Regelbrugge talks about recent updates, the impact on the industry, and where it goes from here.

Read More
Eason 2017 spring trials report

May 16, 2017

New California Spring Trials Report Now Available From Eason Horticultural Resources

The report features genetics from 21 different breeding companies and information gathered from the 15 different stops on this year’s tour.

Read More
Latest Stories

May 23, 2017

USDA-APHIS Bulletin on Unauthorized Distribution of Gen…

On May 2, 2017, USDA-APHIS was informed that an orange petunia variety was potentially genetically engineered and had been imported and moved interstate without required authorization by APHIS. This led to testing of numerous petunia varieties, which confirmed this particular variety and several others are genetically engineered, and meet the regulatory definition of a regulated article under APHIS regulations. APHIS continues to work with the industry to ensure unauthorized GE petunias are not distributed in the United States.

Read More
Petunia F1 African Sunset from American Takii

May 22, 2017

Genetically Modified Petunia Update: Question and Answe…

AmericanHort’s key role interfacing with the USDA on the recall of genetically modified petunias has helped the horticulture industry rapidly address the problem. Senior Vice President Craig Regelbrugge talks about recent updates, the impact on the industry, and where it goes from here.

Read More
Eason 2017 spring trials report

May 16, 2017

New California Spring Trials Report Now Available From …

The report features genetics from 21 different breeding companies and information gathered from the 15 different stops on this year’s tour.

Read More
Schizachyrium scoparium The Blues

May 13, 2017

How Ornamental Grasses and Sedges Can Play a Role in Po…

Grasses and sedges provide food, shelter, and support for pollinators and the birds and mammals that keep insect populations in balance.

Read More
Asclepias with a bumblebee

May 8, 2017

How to Choose the Best Native Plants for Pollinator Gar…

The popularity of native plants is rising as gardeners become conscious of the need to plant more pollinator gardens. The challenge is to select the right plants to put in them.

Read More
Allan Armitage Of Naked Ladies and Forget Me Nots

May 2, 2017

Allan Armitage: How Growers Can Be Creative to Take Gar…

Our industry does a good job of making things convenient for our customers. It’s time to take it a step further.

Read More
Asclepias tuberosa

April 29, 2017

Greenhouse Growing Tips for Asclepias tuberosa

Madeline Maynor, Growing Operations Manager for Landenberg, PA-based North Creek Nurseries, shares greenhouse growing tips for Asclepias tuberosa, the 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year.

Read More
Andropogon gerardii Blackhawks (Intrinsic Perennial Gardens)

April 25, 2017

Kelly Norris: Diversity is the Key to Growing the Ornam…

Offering a selection of ornamental grasses that cater to customer needs will keep sales from stagnating.

Read More

April 25, 2017

41 New Vegetative Petunias From California Spring Trial…

With the abundance of new introductions for the 2018 retail season, we’ve made it easier for you to sift through them by separating out the vegetative petunias from the Northern sites, which includes selections from Westhoff Flowers, Sakata Ornamentals, Danziger, Proven Winners, and Syngenta flowers.

Read More
Begonia Spectre Silver Terra Nova Nurseries

April 20, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries Releases Two New, Attractive Begon…

Stardust is the latest addition to Terra Nova Nurseries’ existing T Rex Begonia series, and Silver is the first introduction to the company’s new Spectre Begonia series.

Read More

April 18, 2017

Cool Combos From CAST 2017 – Editor’s Choic…

With container gardening becoming more of a lifestyle among consumers than a trend, and breeders continuing to put more effort in container mixes and components, I feel I would be remiss if I didn't share some of the special combinations that not only caught my eye at California Spring Trials, but absolutely took my breath away and made me want to immediately get started gardening.

Read More
Danziger New Hires

April 16, 2017

Danziger Invests in Continued North American Business G…

As part of a new business structure for its North American market, Mike Fernandez has been appointed Market Manager North America for Bedding Plants and Perennials, and Kate Zvara was named as Key Account Manager and Retail Specialist.

Read More
Florida Flower Trials

April 12, 2017

Looking for Info on New Varieties for Hot Climates? Che…

The Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association’s Florida Flower Trials, which are focused on new and improved varieties able to thrive in the extremes of Florida’s climate, are a great opportunity to connect with national breeders.

Read More
Lupinus Staircase Series (Green Fuse Botanicals)

April 11, 2017

Begonias, Celosias Among Dr. Allan Armitage’s Favorites…

Check out some of Allan’s top picks from his final day at CAST 2017, which included visits to Green Fuse Botanicals and Floranova.

Read More
Rex Begonia container mix at Green Fuse Botanicals

April 11, 2017

Green Fuse Botanicals’ Rex Begonias and First Looks; Fl…

Here are the highlights from Green Fuse Botanicals and Floranova on the last day of CAST 2017.

Read More

April 7, 2017

Hort Couture Wows With Farm to Table; Florist Holland R…

On the last day for GroLink and the second to last for the Greenhouse Grower team, the wealth of genetics, marketing programs, and announcements were pleasing to our eyes, ears, and hearts.

Read More

April 7, 2017

California Spring Trials Day Five: Notable New Plant Va…

See some of the new varieties for 2018 displayed at Ball Horticultural and GroLink Plant Company on day five of California Spring Trials 2017.

Read More

April 7, 2017

PanAmerican Promotes Pentas, Plug-and-Play, and Veggies…

On Day 5 of the California Spring Trials, the Greenhouse Grower team hit the Southern California Trials and saw a multitude of new introductions and exciting programs.

Read More