Medal Of Excellence: Saluting Suntory

Medal Of Excellence: Saluting Suntory

The timing couldn’t be better to present Japanese flower breeder Suntory with our Medal of Excellence for Industry Achievement. This year marks the 20-year anniversary of its very first flower introduction in the Suntory collection–Surfinia, a vigorous vegetative petunia that swept the world like a tsunami by creating a whole new class of petunias, commanding a premium unheard of in seed counterparts.

Up until then, Suntory, a $14 billion global company based in Osaka, Japan, was primarily focused on food, beverage and lifestyle industries. The Suntory family’s roots trace back to 1899. In addition to having its own products, Suntory represents leading brands in Japan, including Häagen Dazs ice cream, Subway and Pepsi. Today, Suntory’s flower varieties are licensed in 24 countries. Bear Creek Gardens/Jackson & Perkins has been the master licensee for North America.

“Suntory was the original pioneer in the vegetative annuals breeding revolution,” says Brian Gold of Pineae Greenhouses, one of the first American licensees.

“Without Suntory’s leadership, it would be doubtful this entire class of plants would exist as it does today. The breeders at Suntory have truly had great vision and forward thinking.”

Suntory also has been praised for taking the high road, elevating product categories and creating value. “Flowers are not a commodity,” says Shigeru

Sarada, who directs Suntory’s flower division. “We are selling enjoyment and happiness. It doesn’t make sense to discount happiness.” 

Revolutionary Breeding

After petunias, the next class of annuals to be revolutionized was verbena, with vegetatively produced Tapien and Temari series, making stunning groundcovers and baskets. Then came a whole new genus with Million Bells calibrachoa. This line was a huge success. Today, calibrachoa are generically referred to as Million Bells.

“What made their varieties successful was they were truly newer versions of existing things,” says John Rader of EuroAmerican Propagators. “They took a petunia and created an amazing petunia on steroids! They broke the mold. That kind of vision was critical. They recognized the potential of calibrachoa, so not only were they working in existing classes but finding new stuff, too.”

The Suntory lines helped Proven Winners get started in the 1990s. “Early on, they were part of the explosion of our business,” Rader says. “They helped us do really well. Million Bells, Tapien, Temari and Surfinia got us off the ground initially. They helped the whole thing gain momentum.”

Today, Rader is most excited about the Senetti cinerarias bred by Dr. Kiyoshi Miyazaki. They have been a big hit in the United Kingdom. “Growers, retailers and consumers here have yet to discover what they can do,” Rader says. “They are a far advanced cineraria, just like with Surfinia. In addition to being a pot plant, Senettis are more versatile as outdoor bedding. They will rebloom and are longer living.”

Going For Garden Performance

Suntory isn’t a company that rushes to introduce new varieties each year. It conducts extensive trials all over the world. Conditions in Japan include hot, wet summers and cold, dry winters. Suntory also has a breeding partnership with Oasis Horticulture in Australia called Bonza, which led to the drought-tolerant Surdiva scaevolas.

Gold says Suntory’s focus on quality and longevity made their introductions succeed. “The Suntory variety selection model has always been putting the consumer first to provide products that will provide maximum quality and landscape performance,” he says.

Danny Takao of Takao Nursery, who produces the Sun Parasol mandevillas, says Suntory realizes it is consumer who are the ultimate judge of their breeding. “They understand all their breeding must have good garden performance to have value to the consumer, something some of the breeding programs forget,” Takao says. “In the central part of California, our temperatures swing from the low 30s in the winter to low 100s in the summer. Trialing and seeing for myself how well the plants performed throughout the year made me understand the garden performance Suntory breeds into plants.”

James Russell of Armstrong Growers, the largest independent garden center chain in the United States, has really gotten behind the Suntory lines and even has trucks with large pictures of Million Bells driving up and down the California coast.

“Suntory’s willingness to work with retailers to promote and build brand awareness has been the greatest asset in retail,” Russell says. “The people at Suntory are some of the most professional, likeable and innovative people in the horticultural business. Personal friendships are part of the package at Suntory.”

Leave a Reply

3 comments on “Medal Of Excellence: Saluting Suntory

  1. Can someone tell me why a breeder like Suntory who has medal of excellence for their products, chooses craps propagators and why there is no way to contacting the breeder?

  2. Can someone tell me why a breeder like Suntory who has medal of excellence for their products, chooses craps propagators and why there is no way to contacting the breeder?

More From Varieties...
Hendriks-Half-Open-Roof_GGS

March 26, 2015

10 Greenhouse Products For First-Rate Growing Environments

From coverings to fork-lifts, greenhouse suppliers offer a variety of products to make growing easier. Check out the slideshow to learn more about these, plus several other products that can offer you value, versatility and durability.

Read More
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Horticulture Priorities

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More
AFE scholarship_Ryan Dickson

March 25, 2015

AFE Educational Grant And Scholarship Application Deadlines Approaching

Apply now for American Floral Endowment (AFE) scholarships or educational grants. Applications can be found online. For educational grants for 2015-2016, applications must be submitted no later than June 1. Scholarship applications are due May 1. AFE will award $40,000 in scholarships for 2015.

Read More
Latest Stories

March 25, 2015

13 New Shrubs You’ll Find At The 2015 California …

Woody ornamentals serve as the foundation of many great landscapes, but beyond their traditional uses, shrubs also add color, structure, texture and interest to small gardens and even containers. Check out this slideshow to see some of the newest introductions you’ll get to see at this year’s California Spring Trials.

Read More

March 23, 2015

Update To Armitage’s Greatest Perennials & Annuals …

A new update to the Greatest Perennials & Annuals app narrows the gap between consumers and grower-retailers, while providing more of Armitage’s top picks and growing advice for success with plants.

Read More
2014 Poinsettia Season Report

March 18, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2014 Poinsettia Seas…

Poinsettia growers report a strong year in 2014, thanks to a few conditions. Seasonal cold at just the right time put consumers in a festive mood to buy early and often, and with no big snowstorms to hold up shipments and a reduction of supply available in the market, the season was strong from start to finish. Greenhouse Grower’s 2014 Poinsettia Survey received 143 responses from growers around the country. Here, you can download the complete results of the survey, by filling out the form.

Read More
Hydrangea 'Endless Summer BloomStruck' from Bailey Nurseries

March 17, 2015

Michael Dirr Slated To Address Attendees At Hydrangeas …

Dr. Michael Dirr to deliver the keynote address at Hydrangeas 2015 conference, hosted by the Cape Cod Hydrangea Society in partnership with Endless Summer Hydrangeas. The conference will take place at the historic Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich, Mass.

Read More

March 17, 2015

16 New Blooming Potted Plants You’ll See At The 2…

Blooming potted plants are perfect gift items, and they put the finishing touch on any style of home decor. So when new varieties come on the market, growers and retailers alike take note of plants they know are going to make consumers happy. Check out the slideshow to see some of the new blooming potted plants making their debut to the trade this spring.

Read More
Salvia 'Ember's Wish'

March 11, 2015

Annual Salvias – Not Just Red Bedding Plants Anym…

Salvias are popular — and they need not all be the same. Here are a few you know well, and perhaps a few you do not. All are easy to grow and may be found through a broker or grower.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

March 11, 2015

Memoirs Of A Plantsman: Q & A With Allan Armitage

In light of the upcoming release of Dr. Allan Armitage's memoir, "It’s Not Just About the Hat — The Unlikely Journey of a Plantsman," Greenhouse Grower caught up with him for an in-depth Q & A about his newest work and what he’s planning next.

Read More
Lavandula-Superblue

March 10, 2015

How To Determine When To Buy Herbaceous Perennials In V…

Exposing herbaceous perennials to cold temperatures, also known as vernalization, can yield a range of effects, especially on flowering. Beth Engle of SHS Griffin covers whether vernalized liners or unvernalized plants make the best sense for your sales windows.

Read More

March 4, 2015

California Spring Trials Preview: 32 New Perennials For…

Perennials are hot and if this preview of the 2015 California Spring Trials is any indication, there are going to be some great new perennial introductions for 2016. We contacted the breeders who will be displaying their new varieties in California in April, and they gave us a sneak peek. Check out the slideshow to see some of the new perennials making their debut to the trade this spring.

Read More
Lavandula 'Meerlo' (Sunset Western Garden Collection)

March 3, 2015

Why You Will Still Grow Today’s Big Perennial 10 Years …

What will be the next big perennial? Breeders say it takes more than a splashy plant to distinguish itself in the market. Therefore, the question is not what will be the next big perennial, but rather what perennial performs well enough in the garden to have staying power in the market for years to come.

Read More
Heuch Pink Fizz_featured

March 2, 2015

Intergeneric Crosses Are A New Perennial Trend

Intergeneric crosses, oddities some botanists say are an impossibility, have made serious inroads in the perennial world.

Read More
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The G…

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More

February 18, 2015

California Spring Trials Sneak Peek: New Annuals For 20…

If you're like us and you can't wait until the 2015 California Spring Trials to see some of the new genetics that will be hitting the market in 2016, never fear. We contacted the breeders who will be displaying their new varieties in California in April, and they gave us a sneak peek. Check out our slideshow to see some of the new annuals making their debut to the trade this spring.

Read More
Athena Brazil Salvia 'Brazilian Purple'

February 18, 2015

ForemostCo And Athena Brazil Unite To Supply Unrooted P…

ForemostCo, Inc. and Athena Brazil have forged a working relationship to support each other in the unrooted perennial cuttings market for North America. The partnership, geared toward accommodating increasing demand for unrooted perennial cuttings in North America, adds diversity to a recently consolidated market.

Read More

February 17, 2015

Poinsettias Had Their Best Year In Many In 2014

Poinsettia growers report a strong year in 2014, thanks to a few conditions. Growers were encouraged by high plant quality, enthusiastic shoppers and a stronger, less saturated market for poinsettias throughout the selling season. Seasonal cold at just the right time put consumers in a festive mood to buy early and often, and with no big snowstorms to hold up shipments and a reduction of supply available in the market, the season was strong from start to finish.

Read More
Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo'

February 17, 2015

Geranium Hybrid ‘Biokovo’ Dubbed 2015 Peren…

Geranium xcantabrigiense ‘Biokovo,' a naturally occurring hybrid of G. dalmaticum and G. macrorrhizum, is the Perennial Plant Association's top pick for 2015 Perennial of the Year. Learn why this tough, landscape geranium took home the prize.

Read More
Costa Farms' Season Premier 2015

February 4, 2015

Costa Farms’ 2015 Season Premier Reveals Newest V…

The annual Season Premier at Costa Farms in Miami, Fla., is the industry's very first peek at new varieties for debut the following year, even before the California Spring Trials, heralded widely as the jumping off point for new varieties. This year's event revealed breeders' best and brightest new varieties for 2016, shown in field trials, landscape trials and containers at Costa Farms tropical trial gardens. Plant breeders presented their new varieties to buyers and members of Lowe’s grower panel. Growers, brokers and other allied industry members, including Home Depot growers and buyers, were also able to peruse the grounds to see how the new varieties fared in the winter trials. Later this season, the hot and humid conditions at Costa’s summer trials will help identify the true performers.

Read More

January 28, 2015

All-America Selections Introduces Additional 2015 Winne…

All-America Selections has announced more 2015 AAS Winners, bringing the grand total of introductions for the 2015 gardening year to 25. The seven winners join the 12 announced last November and six announced last July. This year, AAS has had the most winners in one year since 1939.

Read More