Legendary Varieties

Legendary Varieties

What does it take for a new plant or variety to become legendary? To revolutionize the industry? While this objective in itself may be the ultimate quest for breeders, the entire industry benefits when new markets are created and consumers receive greater satisfaction from superior products.

In our January issue, we rated the significance of technological innovations in greenhouse production as part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary celebration. Last month, we asked readers at large and varieties experts to identify varieties they would consider legendary in five key crop categories: seed annuals, vegetative annuals, perennials, foliage plants, blooming potted plants and fresh cut flowers. We asked them to nominate varieties that:

– Became the industry standard
–Created new markets
–Revolutionized a genus
–Revolutionized commercial production
–Became a household name with consumers

We received the most input on seed annuals and a wide range of perennials and plan to pursue even more information on this topic. We definitely need more input on the potted plant side, both blooming and foliage.

Just in poinsettias, Ecke Ranch has introduced three legendary series of poinsettias:

Freedom–This series combined the lasting benefits from Hegg genetics and the bract color display of a V-14 to create a new look in poinsettias. Dark foliage and early flowering are additional traits. Freedom also is able to be grown in all geographic areas, which didn’t used to be the case with poinsettia varieties.

Prestige–This series improves Freedom to fit modern distribution systems. This cultivar reduced shrink by eliminating branch breakage, a key to profitability for growers and retailers. It also requires less growth regulators.

Winter Rose–The result of a 30-year vision by its breeder, Winter Rose defined the market potential for a novelty poinsettia with its curly, rose-shaped flowers. 

Fresh Cut Flowers

We asked floral industry leaders Charles Kremp of Kremp Florist near Philadelphia and Red Kennicott of Kennicott Brothers Co., a floral wholesaler in Chicago, what varieties they would consider legendary.

“One variety that comes to mind is the ‘Mamie Eisenhower’ carnation,” Kremp says. “This was the first one I remember that was a bicolor. It was referred to by simply ‘Mamies.’ In roses, it was ‘American Beauty.’ Baccara roses came along as ones that would last for weeks with high tight petal count, but were not a name requested by the consumer as the other two.”

Kennicott adds that just as ‘Stargazer’ lily revolutionized the use of oriental lilies, ‘Enchantment’ did the same for Asiatic lilies.

“Picardy gladiolas were once a variety that was well recognized by consumers,” Kennicott says. “‘Bristol Fairy’ was the first of the hybrid gypsophila that are still used today. Other rose varieties include ‘Talisman’ and ‘Better Times,’ but ‘American Beauty’ is the most recognized rose variety, even though most people who are alive today have never seen it.”

More recently, ‘Million Stars’ gypsophila was a star introduction by Danziger for its branching habit. 

Annuals

We received the most consensus on seed annuals. Breakthrough varieties identified by Nona Wolfram-Koivula, executive director of All-America Selections (AAS) include:

Petunia ‘Wave Purple’ from Kirin/PanAmerican Seed–This 1995 AAS winner was the first groundcover petunia with consistent flowering. Wave became an industry standard, revolutionized the genus petunia and became a household name with consumers.

Cleome ‘Sparkler Blush’ from Goldsmith Seeds–This 2002 AAS winner is the first dwarf cleome and first hybrid. Only 3 feet tall, it fits in smaller gardens or containers. It became the industry standard for hybrids and dwarf plants and created new markets for this old-fashioned flower.

Profusion zinnias from Sakata Seed–Available in Cherry, Orange and White, the Profusions took home AAS Gold Medals in 1999 and 2001. These plants are early to bloom, offer excellent garden performance and became the industry standard for disease tolerance. Normally a summer crop, these zinnias can be produced for spring flowering.

Lou Newman, the director of container sales at Florikan, nominated a pair of old standbys that have stood the test of time. “Cocktail begonias are decades old and still the standard,” he says. “Consumers ask for them by name and know the colors. Majestic Giant pansies made pansies the fall crop in the South.”

Another nomination was Super Elfin impatiens from PanAmerican Seed. The original Elfin series was bred by Claude Hope in the 1960s, and it was the first commercially available bedding-type impatiens on the market. The Super Elfins continue that legacy with modern genetics.

In the category of vegetative annuals, PanAmerican’s Drew Effron highlighted P.A.C. Elsner’s variety, ‘Kim,’ as one of the most signficant zonal geraniums.

“While working at Oglevee, I came to the conclusion that P.A.C. Kim has been the best selling zonal geranium in history,” Effron says. “Right from introduction, because it was red, ‘Kim’ became the No. 1 variety sold by Oglevee every year. I recall the number being more than two million annually. It was also available to Oglevee’s secondary propagator network, which included at least 200 growers. ‘Kim’ was also the No. 1 variety propagated by the secondary network. This was the case for about the 20-year duration of the patent.”

While geraniums were the dominant queens of the potted plant bedding business, in the 1990s we saw revolutionary new genuses in vegetative annuals.

Japanese breeder Suntory created new markets with the vigorous growing Surfinia petunias, Temari and Tapien verbenas and Million Bells calibrachoas. Ball FloraPlant created industry-leading series with AngelMist angelonias and Fiesta double impatiens. Phenomenally successful varieties from Proven Winners include Symphony osteospermums and euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost.’

Sweet potato vine ‘Margarita’ blazed the trail for more aggressive vegetative annuals with its striking, chartreuse foliage. The more compact Sweet Caroline sweet potato vines from Bodger Botanicals have been ideal for containers and come in a variety of designer colors.

Ecke Ranch also brought a wide range of Australian plants to market through a partnership with Outback Plants. The argyranthemums have been the most popular, with ‘Comet Pink’ redefining the look and the standard of the genus while expanding the market. 

Perennials

We continue to see a great deal of breeding interest in many genuses and the breeders do tend to be specialists in specific genuses.

In the shrub rose category, the most revolutionary introduction has been the Knock Out roses from Conard-Pyle Co. and Novalis. The roses thrive in humid climates without spraying and offer continuous blooms without deadheading. They are a landscaper’s dream. The latest addition is ‘Pink Double Knock Out,’ which offers the layers of petals consumers love in roses.

We’re seeing a lot of interest in gaillardias, with ‘Fanfare’ from PlantHaven being the market leader with its showy tubular florets. A newer introduction is ‘Oranges and Lemons,’ which is similar but without the red coloring. Novalis is excited about its new Commotion gaillardias with a higher petal count per bloom and red and burgundy tones.

In seed varieties, Wolfram-Koivula says coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’ was a significant introduction in 1989 as the first grown from seed without any nonflowering plants the first year. This variety set the standard for growers to produce perennials as annuals.

Heuchera has been another strong genus for innovation. Charles Oliver of The Primrose Path in Pennsylvania says ‘Montrose Ruby’ was the first hybrid between the purple-leaved and silver-patterned wild species and the starting point for all the modern hybrids. Terra Nova then took heucheras to the next level with designer colors like ‘Amber Waves’ with ruffled amber and gold foliage.

In the genus tiarella, Oliver mentions ‘Elizabeth Oliver,’ the first hybrid between the eastern wild forms with maroon foliage and the western wild forms with fancily cut leaves. “All the new hybrids that combine cut leaves with colorful patterning are derived from this cross made in the early 1990s,” he says. Terra Nova’s tiarella ‘Stoplight’ features bright yellow leaves with large red blotches.

Frances Hopkins, founder of Stepables has also created a market for creeping perennials. The best seller is isotoma ‘Blue Star Creeper,’ a consumer favorite with its hundreds of light blue flowers that can be walked on. Other top-selling Stepables are ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’ and sagina ‘Scotch Moss.’

Did we miss your favorite legendary variety? Drop me a line at donofrey@meistermedia.com.

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Medal of Excellence Award

July 6, 2015

Get To Know The 9 Variety Finalists For Editor’s Choice And Industry’s Choice Awards

Greenhouse Grower‘s Evening Of Excellence reception is rapidly approaching. Here, you can learn more about the varieties that are finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice and Industry’s Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ (Kieft Seed) Vinca Valiant Series (PanAmerican Seed)     Join us Monday, July 13 in Ballroom 2 at the Columbus Convention Center to find out which varieties will receive the coveted awards. The reception begins at 5:15 p.m. and the ceremony […]

Read More
crider-rd2-internal_Rough-Brothers_featured

July 1, 2015

Rough Brothers Is Acquired By Gibraltar Industries

RBI Solar Inc., Rough Brothers Manufacturing Inc. and affiliates have been acquired by Gibraltar Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of products for residential and industrial markets, for $130 million. Capitalizing on its 80 years of design-build experience and leadership as the largest greenhouse manufacturer in North America, Ohio-based RBI has established itself during the past five years as North America’s fastest-growing provider of photovoltaic (PV) solar racking solutions. The transaction will enable Gibraltar to leverage its expertise in structural metals manufacturing and materials sourcing to meet global demand for solar racking solutions. The company also announced that it anticipates its second-quarter 2015 financial results will be in line with its previous expectations. “Acquiring RBI is an important step in the transformation of Gibraltar into a company with a higher rate of growth and best-in-class financial metrics,” says Gibraltar CEO Frank Heard. “This acquisition directly aligns with key end markets and product platforms […]

Read More

June 30, 2015

Opportunities Abound For Women In Horticulture, Says Dosatron International’s Lela Kelly

My love for horticulture goes back to my grandparents who were farmers in upstate New York. My family’s involvement in agriculture left a lasting impression that has spanned decades, and still drives my passion for our industry today. I started my career in horticulture when I owned a greenhouse, nursery and garden center in Sayville, Long Island, N.Y. We specialized in ground cover production, later branching out to producing perennials and bedding plants.     I then went onto wholesale hard goods distribution. In the 1980s, I was the first woman salesperson on Long Island. What an eye opener that was! New York is a very special place, different from anywhere else in the country. You cannot imagine how difficult it was walking into greenhouses and nurseries as a woman, in a man’s world. Luckily, I grew up in New York City in an Italian family, who taught me great […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Medal of Excellence Award

July 6, 2015

Get To Know The 9 Variety Finalists For Editor’s …

Greenhouse Grower‘s Evening Of Excellence reception is rapidly approaching. Here, you can learn more about the varieties that are finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice and Industry’s Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ (Kieft Seed) Vinca Valiant Series (PanAmerican Seed)     Join us Monday, July 13 in Ballroom 2 at the Columbus Convention Center to find out which varieties will receive the coveted awards. The reception begins at 5:15 p.m. and the ceremony […]

Read More

June 24, 2015

Perennial Container Combos And New Intros Shine At 2015…

Despite a rainy start to the day, more than 300 perennial enthusiasts showed up at 2015 Darwin Perennials Day to see the latest perennial introductions first-hand and connect with some of the best suppliers in the business.

Read More
2015 Readers' Choice

June 24, 2015

The 2015 Readers’ Choice Finalists Up Close And P…

You’ve narrowed the Readers’ Choice Finalists down to top picks in the Annuals, Perennials and Best of the Rest categories. Now it’s time to pick the overall winner. Here’s a closer look at the three finalists to help you make your choice. Then join us during Cultivate'15 at Greenhouse Grower's prestigious Medal of Excellence reception on Monday, July 13, where we will reveal the winner.

Read More
WavePetunias-GrowIt_contest_featured

June 18, 2015

Wave Petunias Sponsors Photo Contest Through GrowIt! Ga…

The gardening season is heating up and the Wave Petunias Team wants to see the #WildestWave. The popular plant brand has joined forces with the GrowIt! Garden Socially app to host a two week contest in June that encourages Wave Fans to share and rate photos of their favorite Wave Petunias. The grand prize is a $100 gift card to the garden center of the winner’s choosing. “We are excited to work with GrowIt! and see our Wave Petunias tagged in cities from coast to coast,” says Claire Watson, brand manager for Wave. “Seeing gardeners’ creative photography, awarding a winner, and learning what each region likes about Wave Petunias will be extremely useful as we further promote our ‘Wow ’em With Wave’ ad campaign this season.” Gardeners can place an entry into the contest by downloading GrowIt!, filling out a profile, and uploading photos of Wave Petunias. Placing the tag #WildestWave in the photo’s comments section […]

Read More
Kaleidoscope Abelia (Plant Haven International)

June 17, 2015

PlantHaven International Launches National Campaign To …

PlantHaven International has partnered with BlueSkye Creative to initiate a national consumer ad campaign that carries across radio, video, print and social media to increase sales of Abelia Kaleidoscope.

Read More

June 17, 2015

Green Leaf Plants Plans Two Open House Events June 25-2…

Green Leaf Plants will hold two open house events this summer to give the public a chance to view trial gardens, take guided tours and learn about new varieties and programs. Both events will be held at Green Leaf Plant's facility in Lancaster, Pa. The event in July will coincide with Penn State University Extension Trials in nearby Manheim.

Read More
Suntory_EuroAmerican Propagators_CAST2015

June 17, 2015

ePlantSource Welcomes EuroAmerican to list of Partners

ePlantSource recently announced a new partnership with EuroAmerican. A complete assortment from EuroAmerican is now available on ePlantSource.com and varieties are available for sale now to customers for the 2015-2016 season. In addition to the innovative varieties included in EuroAmerican’s “Growing Opportunities — 365 Days a Year” program, Savvy Succulents, the Sunny Collection, the Senetti Collection and offerings from breeders such as Suntory and Ball Ornamentals, ePlantSource customers will also gain access to the well known Proven Winners assortment and combination containers. “During the recent California Spring Trials, I had the opportunity to sit down with John Rader at the impressive display in Ventura from EuroAmerican and I couldn’t be happier to now offer the complete EuroAmerican assortment to our customers,” says Gary Falkenstein, president/CEO of ePlantSource. “EuroAmerican is a visionary company and we are proud that they have chosen to work with ePlantSource for the coming seasons.” Catalog listings, […]

Read More
Pleasant View Gardens Open House

June 14, 2015

Pleasant View Gardens And D.S. Cole Growers Open House …

D.S. Cole Growers and Pleasant View Gardens, both a short distance away from each other in Loudon, N.H., have set July 30 as the date for their open house events. Attendance is free, but registration is required.

Read More

June 13, 2015

Bailey Nurseries’ Minnesota Expo 2015 Takes Place…

Bailey Nurseries will hold its Minnesota Expo 2015, a jam-packed event showcasing its farm and plants, on July 30 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in St. Paul, Minn. In addition to farm tours, participants can enjoy new varieties, hot picks and merchandising displays, as well as attend various seminars through the day. Registration is required.

Read More
2015 Readers' Choice

June 12, 2015

Vote For Your Favorite Finalist For Greenhouse Grower&#…

It's time for you, our readers, to decide which variety is picked as the best new introduction in 2015. Voting is now open for Readers' Choice Finalists.

Read More
gapanthus DuchessofDazzle_featured

June 10, 2015

24 Plants That Can Handle Drought

These drought and heat tolerant varieties are both eco-friendly and worry-free garden performers.

Read More
hort couture_Asclepias Monarch's Promise_featured

June 9, 2015

ePlantSource And Hort Couture Partner On Variety Availa…

ePlantSource, a Colorado-based online broker of live goods to professional greenhouse growers, recently announced that the complete collection from Hort Couture is now available to be purchased through ePlantSource.com for the 2015-2016 season. The collection from Hort Couture, which offers exclusive varieties to be retailed through independent garden centers only, includes a full line of annuals, tropical, succulents, herbs, vegetables and ornamental grasses. “We are very excited to add the Hort Couture collections to what ePlantSource offers to professional greenhouse growers,” says Gary Falkenstein, president/CEO at ePlantSource. “We feel they have an exciting concept and they do a fantastic job at selecting products that bring a great draw to independent garden centers.” In making the announcement, ePlantSource touted Hort Couture’s pride in selecting varieties that will help independent garden centers stand apart from their big box counterparts, as well as its rigorous genetic evaluation program to ensure success for growers, […]

Read More
Allan Armitage At Tradeshow

May 15, 2015

Allan Armitage On Plants: We Are Alive And Well, Thank …

Allan Armitage tells why the horticulture industry is about the people, not the plants, not the marketing and not the social media, and why horticulture is here to stay.

Read More
Coleus-Campfire-BallFloraPlant

May 6, 2015

Costa Farms Releases 2015 Midseason Top Performers

Costa Farms has announced the mid-season top performers in its 2015 Season Premier Trial Garden. Its research and development team has been working to grow and evaluate hundreds of varieties and their findings have been published online.The plants presented in the report have thrived in Miami’s mid-spring conditions. Every spring, the company’s research and development team trials more than 500 varieties of annuals, perennials and tropical plants from plant breeders around the world. All of the varieties have been tested in Costa Farms’ 2-acre Season Premier Trial Garden in Miami, Fla. The team assesses the plants for abundance of bloom, crop uniformity and overall performance. Within the report, the varieties are organized by their color. “There’s one thing pretty much everyone who shops has in mind when they step into a garden center: color,” the report states. Because of that, the report is divided by hue, so everyone can zero in on their favorite. Click here to […]

Read More

May 1, 2015

18 New Grasses To Grow

Ornamental grasses fit in with the needs of today’s landscapers and consumers better than ever. Whether your customers are looking for creative solutions for patio containers or a mass planting in a landscape, some of the 18 new varieties included here are sure to meet the need.

Read More
PP&L CAST 2015 intros

April 22, 2015

6 Breeding Companies Serve Up New Varieties At Pacific …

Pacific Plug & Liner’s theme this year, Labyrinth, a conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants, was perfectly topped off (pun intended) with fascinators for the women and newsboy caps for the men. The PP&L team dressed their part to act out the gothic “conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants.” Truly, the displays looked like they practically popped out of a catalog, and the costumes were a nice touch. Retailers take heed, the fully merchandised displays at Pacific Plug & Liner are worthy of emulating. We’ll let the pictures tell the story of all the fabulous variety introductions presented at  Pacific Plug & Liner’s 2015 California Spring Trials, where Cultivaris, Cohen Nurseries, Histil Nurseries, Jaldety Nurseries, Southern Living/Sunset Collection and Pacific Plug & Liner all highlighted their 2016 introductions.  

Read More
Speedling 2015 CAST intros

April 22, 2015

Speedling Inc. Presents New Varieties From ABZ Seeds, H…

You name it, we saw it at Speedling's California Spring Trials location in San Juan Bautista, where five companies showed off their new introductions for 2016.

Read More
Danziger_Coreopsis_Solanna Glow1

April 22, 2015

Industry Perspective: McHutchison’s Vaughn Fletch…

Vaughn Fletcher with McHutchison Horticultural Distributors is part of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence For Industry’s Choice Panel. Fletcher recounts some of the standout varieties he saw while visiting Danziger "Dan" Flower Farms and Beekenkamp during California Spring Trials.

Read More