Kickin’ Around Combos

Kickin' Around Combos

Sixteen different combinations are available in Four Star Greenhouse’s Streamliner program, but head grower Dennis Crum and his staff didn’t settle on those combos overnight. Instead, Four Star trialed more than 100 combinations before ultimately finding the 16 genera combinations that grow well together and bloom into beautiful finished products.

“There are a number of things we have to look at,” Crum says. “One is rooting time. For the third genus, we’ll pick a scaevola or an ipomoea that stays in propagation longer. But it means if the one genus stays in an extra week, another one is going wild. It’s hard to even everything out without a lot of hand labor and plant growth regulators.”

Still, despite the work that goes into producing combination baskets and planters, growers are finding there’s a market that’s becoming increasingly receptive to them. Growers have been producing combos for decades, yes, but the three-varieties-in-one-liner trend has picked up arguably more than any other industry movement.

The combo liner trend has reenergized a number of growers on a simpler level, as well. Some growers are trialing their own combinations in house to have their own, original combinations.

“We have seen more demand for premium hanging baskets,” says Roger Esbenshade, head grower at Esbenshade’s Greenhouse. “We can’t meet our current demands on them. We’ve had so many baskets in that we can hardly grow anything underneath them.”

Opportunity Abounds

Esbenshade’s Greenhouse, located in Lititz, Pa., is one of those operations that’s mixed and matched varieties in house to find out which ones works best together. Esbenshade’s sister, Linda Bomberger, conducts her own combo trials over the summer to give the business a few new options the following spring.

“Linda makes all the designs and color coordinates items so it doesn’t just end up being random,” Esbenshade says. “She really has an eye for what looks good together. Sometimes, I don’t think things will work out, but in the end she can prove certain genera work well together.”

Unlike many combo liner programs, which Esbenshade says are designed in part so varieties react similarly to plant growth regulators, his operation will try combining certain genera from which other growers might stray.

“We’ll put a geranium and a calibrachoa together, but it’s not an easy thing to grow,” Esbenshade says. “One should have a high pH, the other should have a low pH. The growth regulator is a little challenging because you have something that can be very challenging and something that can tolerate a lot more.”

But if growers are willing to trial those harder-to-grow-together varieties, they just might find a golden nugget of a combo.

Combo Liner Concerns

If three different genera are too difficult to produce, growers may find equal success with three varieties of the same genus.

“One thing we’ve had great success with is three calibrachoa,” says Jim Monroe, CEO of Hort Couture. “It can be challenging when you’re doing multiple genera in those plugs, like a verbena, petunia and a bacopa. You have three different rooting times, three different cutting sizes.”

To Monroe, the combo liner concept is a great one. Still, he wonders if growers know everything they need to know about them–and if the industry rushed into the idea too fast.

“The concept is great for the big box grower and their mass production,” Monroe says. “But I’m still not totally sold on the mixed liner thing. I see shortcomings with it. One thing we’ve toyed with is maybe combos ought to be grown in 4-inch pots that go to the grower to finish. That way, there’s more space between the plants and the arrangement is more sophisticated.

“Still, I think this mixed liner thing will stick around.”

More Perspective

The bottom line with combos, Crum says, is growers should produce them in a manner that makes them feel most comfortable.
“I really think it comes down to whatever works best for that individual,” Crum says. “There are a lot of people who want to create their own combos, or they just have a lot more confidence doing these from 84s or 100s–or whatever cell sizes.”

Since Crum began working at Four Star in 1992, Proven Winners combinations have always been a part of production. Lately, Four Star has seen growth in its monocrop containers, of which 85 to 90 percent are combos.

“Some combos were up this year,” Crum says. “It really varied on the container size and look. Probably one-third of our combos are totally new or adjusted to take into account new varieties.”

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Ball-Bed-with-Midnight-Snack-tomato_Cornell

November 18, 2017

2017 Cornell University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trials results for Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Read More
Pepper Cayenne ‘Red Ember’ (Johnny’s Selected Seeds)

November 17, 2017

Presenting All-America Selections’ Latest Round of Award-Winners

All-America Selections has announced the latest round of its award-winning varieties, each of which was trialed throughout North America by professional, independent, volunteer judges.

Read More
Eason-New-Calibrachoa-Hi-Graft

November 14, 2017

Eason Horticultural Resources Introduces New Decorative Calibrachoa

Created by Hishtil Nursery in Israel, the new decorative forms of calibrachoa feature an 8- to 12-inch stem and come in four colors of calibrachoa blooms on top.

Read More
Latest Stories
Ball-Bed-with-Midnight-Snack-tomato_Cornell

November 18, 2017

2017 Cornell University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2017 field trials results for Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Read More
Pepper Cayenne ‘Red Ember’ (Johnny’s Selected Seeds)

November 17, 2017

Presenting All-America Selections’ Latest Round of Awar…

All-America Selections has announced the latest round of its award-winning varieties, each of which was trialed throughout North America by professional, independent, volunteer judges.

Read More
Eason-New-Calibrachoa-Hi-Graft

November 14, 2017

Eason Horticultural Resources Introduces New Decorative…

Created by Hishtil Nursery in Israel, the new decorative forms of calibrachoa feature an 8- to 12-inch stem and come in four colors of calibrachoa blooms on top.

Read More
Pennisetum glaucum 'Copper Prince'

November 13, 2017

Top Performing Plant Varieties from 2017 Field Trials

See some of plant varieties that made top performer lists in 2017 field trials across the country.

Read More
Sakata-Trial-at-Clemson-1

November 10, 2017

A Quick Look at Sakata’s Clemson Landscape Trial

For the first time, Sakata Ornamentals hosted a 2017 Southern Garden Tour trial stop at Clemson University.

Read More

November 8, 2017

2017 Metrolina Greenhouses Field Trial Results

Check out the 2017 field trial results for Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, NC.

Read More
Youngs-Plant-Farm-Themed-Plant-Beds

November 8, 2017

How Young’s Plant Farm Uses Its Trial Gardens to …

The purpose of the trial gardens is to ensure that Young’s is consistently bringing the right product to the marketplace, so consumers will continue to be successful.

Read More

November 7, 2017

Update: Dümmen Orange Acquires McHutchison and Vaughan’…

The move further expands Dümmen’s Orange’s grower reach in North America. McHutchison and Vaughan’s Horticulture will continue to provide full-service offerings to grower customers.

Read More
Metrolina-Home-Garden-Panel-feature

November 6, 2017

Metrolina Shows Off Its Summer Best During Southern Gar…

This summer’s Southern grower trials experienced unseasonably cool weather, but the plants still thrived. Consumer panels topped off the week, providing valuable insight for suppliers, growers, and their retail customers.

Read More
Ball Ingenuity Catalog

November 3, 2017

Ball Seed Releases New Mums, Ball Ingenuity Catalogs

The mum catalog features a new format that organizes mums by color, while the Ball Ingenuity Catalog focuses on marketing opportunities.

Read More

October 29, 2017

Green Leaf Plants New Catalog is Now Available

The new catalog for 2017 and 2018 includes 800 varieties in eight cell sizes, including vernalized.

Read More
Allan Armitage San Marzano tomato plant feature

October 26, 2017

Allan Armitage: Why Simplicity Rules for Younger Homeow…

Most starter gardeners are not looking to buy the ingredients to make a combination planter or basket. They want it made for them — no muss, no fuss.

Read More
Suntory Blue Rose Applause

October 21, 2017

Suntory’s Blue Rose ‘Applause’ Now Available to U.S. Fl…

‘Applause’ was originally introduced to the U.S. in 2011, and since then it was been successfully tested and selected to meet new market conditions.

Read More

October 17, 2017

14 New Shrubs With Fringe Benefits

What’s popular with shrubs? Consumers want varieties that will give them more return on their investment, in terms of long-lasting blooms and multi-season appeal that lasts from spring until fall and at times stretches into the winter months. Here are 14 new varieties of shrubs and sub-shrubs to consider for your product mix in 2018.

Read More

October 14, 2017

PlantPeddler Hosting Poinsettia Variety Day in December

The event will feature side-by-side comparisons of more than 100 commercial and pre-released varieties from seven breeders.

Read More

October 10, 2017

Coastal Callas Is a Dream Fulfilled for Founder Adrian …

Adrian Espinoza and his family founded Rancho Espinoza Inc. and Coastal Callas in California seven years ago with a mission and purpose to provide consistent quality and reliable supply of calla lilies to the marketplace.

Read More
Azalea Encore Autumn Bonfire

October 4, 2017

Big Changes on the Horizon for Woody Ornamentals

The future looks bright for the woody ornamentals market, with exciting new varieties in the pipeline that will offer greater disease resistance, cold hardiness, bloom capacity, and more.

Read More

October 3, 2017

25 New Blooming Potted Plants for Luxury Sales

Consider these new blooming potted plant varieties that offer full blooms, unique foliage, and a touch of extravagance and easy maintenance for time-strapped customers who want to pamper themselves.

Read More