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...

January 16, 2018

Ball Horticultural Company, KeyGene Announce Successful Genome Sequencing of Impatiens

The companies’ breakthrough high-quality genome sequence and assembly of I. walleriana should lead to more efficient breeding and identification of disease resistance markers for important industry solutions.

Read More
Golden-State-Bulb-Begonia-Feature

January 16, 2018

PanAmerican Seed Buys Begonia Product Line From Golden State Bulb Growers

The acquisition of the popular AmeriHybrid and On Top begonia genetics expands PanAmerican Seed’s assortment in this important class.

Read More

January 16, 2018

20 Colorful Foliage and Tropical Plants for Garden Interest

Add a bit of the tropics to your product mix with new foliage and tropical plant varieties that offer bold colors and distinct patterns.

Read More
Latest Stories

January 16, 2018

Ball Horticultural Company, KeyGene Announce Successful…

The companies’ breakthrough high-quality genome sequence and assembly of I. walleriana should lead to more efficient breeding and identification of disease resistance markers for important industry solutions.

Read More
Golden-State-Bulb-Begonia-Feature

January 16, 2018

PanAmerican Seed Buys Begonia Product Line From Golden …

The acquisition of the popular AmeriHybrid and On Top begonia genetics expands PanAmerican Seed’s assortment in this important class.

Read More

January 16, 2018

20 Colorful Foliage and Tropical Plants for Garden Inte…

Add a bit of the tropics to your product mix with new foliage and tropical plant varieties that offer bold colors and distinct patterns.

Read More
Overview-UGA-Trial-Gardens-2017

January 15, 2018

2017 University of Georgia Field Trial Results

Check out the 2017 field trial results for the University of Georgia in Athens, GA.

Read More
Ipomea-FM-Limon

January 14, 2018

2017 Texas A&M University Field Trial Results

Check out the 2017 field trial results for the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton, TX.

Read More
Metrolina-Southern-Garden-Tour-Feature

January 13, 2018

2018 Southern Garden Tour Includes Visits to Young’s Pl…

The tour is scheduled for June 5-7, 2018, and offers floriculture industry members the opportunity to view trials of thousands of new and proven plant varieties.

Read More
Bidens-Golden-Empire-Danziger

January 10, 2018

Growing Tips for Bidens From a Plant Expert

Even with the ramp up in breeding, producing bidens still takes attention to detail and a focus on quality.

Read More
California Coast

January 9, 2018

2018 California Spring Trials Dates, Times, Locations

It’s time to start planning for a great road trip in April to see all the latest plants on display. This quick reference guide will help you map out your trip.

Read More
Take-2-Veggie-Combo-Burpee-Seed

January 6, 2018

Why Growers Should Not Market Their Plants, But the Sol…

In his latest column, Allan Armitage says landscapers, designers, and gardeners want solutions to problems, not simply a recommendation for one more handsome plant.

Read More

January 4, 2018

Stand-Out New Varieties That Keep D.S. Cole Growers Co…

See what new varieties stood out to Doug Cole, owner of D.S. Cole Growers in Loudon, NH, this year.

Read More
New-Plant-Display-at-Retail

January 3, 2018

Kelly Norris: Why We Need to Reevaluate the New Plant T…

The value of a new plant seems scaled on how quickly producers add it to their lines as opposed to the value it might actually have at the point of consumption.

Read More
Houseplants-for-Millennials

December 29, 2017

Why Millennials Can’t Get Their Fill of Foliage Plants …

The latest Millennial obsession with houseplants goes beyond a desire to grow something. It’s a lifestyle choice they’re making for the mind, body, and soul.

Read More
WebTrackToGo

December 24, 2017

Ball Seed Updates WebTrack To Go App With Enhanced Feat…

The latest update lets users scan seed packets for germination percentage, allowing for efficient production planning and inventory management.

Read More
Costa Farms’ Trial Gardens mimic spring garden conditions across the U.S. to test the metal of new varieties

December 22, 2017

Costa Farms Hosting Winter Open House in January

Costa Farms is planning to open its 2-acre trial garden on Jan. 15, 2018, for its annual Winter Trial Garden Open House, where visitors will have the opportunity to see more than 500 plant varieties of annuals and perennials.

Read More
Begonias-I’Conia-Series-Dümmen-Orange-Miss-Montreal

December 19, 2017

34 New Flowering Annuals to Brighten Up Your Product Mi…

Consumers will soon have the opportunity to experiment with colorful, big-impact blooms in their containers and landscapes. Here are 31 new introductions to consider that will color-up your product mix.

Read More
Combo-at-Youngs-Plant-Farm

December 12, 2017

How to Produce Stunning Combination Containers

It’s easy to produce your own attention-grabbing combos, if you follow this advice from a master combination designer.

Read More
SunStanding-New-Guinea-Impatiens-Dummen-Orange-feature

December 7, 2017

Growing Tips From a Pro for SunStanding New Guinea Impa…

SunStanding New Guinea impatiens hybrids spruce up the landscape with vibrant blooms that explode with color in both sun and shade areas, and they hold up well in heat and humidity.

Read More
Japan-Airlines-princettia

December 7, 2017

Suntory Pairs Princettia with Several Breast Cancer Awa…

Suntory Flowers is partnering with several major brands to support breast cancer awareness and fundraising, using its bright-pink Princettia euphorbias as the ideal plant for Pink Ribbon promotions.

Read More