More Legendary Varieties

More Legendary Varieties

In the April issue of Greenhouse Growers, we presented revolutionary varieties in several crop categories as part of our 25th anniversary celebration. This is a dialog we would like to keep going all year, sharing the varieties you think have made a difference in creating and energizing markets.

We’ve asked you, our readers, to nominate varieties that:
–Became the industry standard
–Created new markets
–Revolutionized a genus
–Revolutionized commercial production
–Became a household name with consumers


Two seed geraniums were mentioned by readers as being legendary and paving the way for modern production. “I would nominate the ‘Nittany Lion Red’ geranium bred by Dr. Darrell Walker back in the 1960s as a breakthrough because it was the first seed-propagated geranium to come true to type from seed,” says Richard Criley of the University of Hawaii. “It led the way for many releases of seed geraniums that followed.”

Kent Carrell of Syngenta Flowers nominated Pinto geraniums bred by S&G Flowers. “We do still sell a lot of Pinto and have the worldwide market share position,” he says. “I would say we set the standard for uniformity, landscape performance and consistency with Pinto.”

Also in seed annuals, Criley considers Glenn Goldsmith’s Butterfly snapdragons a breakthrough in the 1960s with their open-throated form.

Blooming Potted Plants

Gus De Hertogh, who devoted his career to bulb research at North Carolina State University and Michigan State University, provided input on significant bulb developments.

“For the Easter lily, it was ‘Ace’ and now ‘Nellie White,’” De Hertogh says. “The potted spring bulb gardens that are now popular were a new market. Paperwhite narcissus from Israel are used in commercial greenhouses and for home forcing. Amaryllis is also forced commercially and at home.

“The dwarf narcissus, ‘Tete-a-Tete’ is used worldwide as a mini-potted flowering plant. Holland produced 591 hectares of it out of a total 1,661 hectares in 2006-07.”

Also noteworthy are the breeding of colored calla lilies for flowering potted plants, like the Rehmanii types, and breeding of Darwin hybrid tulips, especially ‘Apeldoorn,’ which in its day was one third of the total tulip production in Holland, De Hertogh says.

In pot mums, we asked Chris Kelleher at Yoder Brothers about the most significant varieties. One is ‘Yellow Mandalay,’ which Yoder introduced in the 1960s along with additional varieties in the Mandalay family in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The Mandalays were a big improvement over the Princess Anne varieties because they got five to six breaks per plant. Although the flowers were smaller than the Annes, they made up for it in size and fullness of plant habit. According to Yoder’s Bill Aulenbach, this was a huge transition–comparable to the difference between old garden mums and the Prophets series.

Another breakthrough pot mum was ‘Pelee’ in 1992 as the first bicolor pot mum. It became so popular with supermarket retailers, it was the first variety to have its own UPC code. Fourteen years later, a new and improved version was introduced as ‘Point Pelee.’ It, too, was an instant success and sold more units in its first year of introduction than any other new pot mum to date.

Yoder’s breeding emphasis continues to be on shorter crop times, better habits, improved keeping quality and durability for growers and garden performance for consumers. Breeders also focus on high flower count, uniform flowering, no pinching, wide color selection and range of natural-season flowering times from very early September though Halloween.


Brent Horvath of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens in Hebron, Ill., wrote to us to mention key perennials that were not in the first article. “‘Stella de Oro’ has made more perennial growers money than most plants,” he says. “People started associating daylilies as Stellas.” He also highlighted perennials that have received the Plant of the Year designation from the Perennial Plant Association:

- Shasta daisy ‘Becky’ with its exceptional vigor and substantial size.
Dianthus ‘Firewitch’ with its eyecatching color in perfect combination with the silvered foliage
Echinacea ‘Magnus’ from Jelitto with its uniform color and flatter flower compared to the species. Forget about drooping petals.
Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’ with its red new growth and deep green foliage compared to the species.

Horvath adds that brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ from Walters Gardens has surpassed the species in demand. “Sedum ‘Angelina’ from PlantHaven seems to be grown by most perennial growers and has only been on the market for a few years,” he says. “Think of a giant hosta and what comes to mind? ‘Sum and Substance.’ Another one that is steadily increasing for us is the red-leaved cimicifugas, like ‘Brunette.’ Retailers can’t keep them on the shelf.”

This year’s PPA Plant of the Year is geranium ‘Rozanne,’ which was introduced by Blooms of Bressingham in 2000. Yoder Brothers manages Blooms of Bressingham North America.

“It has proven to be the most garden-worthy hardy geranium on the market,” Kelleher says. “Most hardy geraniums don’t take summer heat or flower as profusely or as long (from late spring through November or hard frost).”

Adrian Bloom says it’s the geranium of the millennium and our own Allan Armitage gives it high marks as a plant that makes a difference, performing admirably in the University of Georgia’s trial garden. Although ‘Rozanne’ got a slow start to market, it quickly picked up speed and became the first patented variety to win PPA’s Plant of the Year.

Stay tuned for more coverage of legendary varieties in the tropical foliage and cut flower categories. Did we miss your favorite legendary varieties? Drop me a line at

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...

March 4, 2015

Nexus Corporation’s Cheryl Longtin Encourages Women To Seek Volunteer Leadership Opportunities

When Cheryl Longtin came to the horticulture business in 1994, she applied her experience in the automotive industry to promote the adoption of more technology in greenhouse production. Longtin says horticulture, with its rich family tradition, has long promoted women in the industry compared to other industries, but women in horticulture must continue to seek out opportunities to provide volunteer leadership in organizations that shape the future of the business.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Second Annual GreenhouseConnect Will Bring Growers and Suppliers Together in San Diego This October

Following a successful inaugural event in Tampa last fall, Greenhouse Grower has announced the dates of its second annual GreenhouseConnect: October 26-29, 2015. Representatives of an expected two dozen leading greenhouse operations from across the U.S. will join senior-level suppliers at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego for several days of one-on-one strategic meetings, a growers-only roundtable, informational sessions and a variety of networking events.

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s New

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More
Latest Stories

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

January 28, 2015

Holiday Plant Trends And New Varieties

Growers had mixed feelings about the 2014 poinsettia season according to Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Poinsettia Survey. Read about their plans for 2015 and stay up to date on 14 of the newest cyclamen and poinsettia varieties on the market.

Read More

January 21, 2015

Pantone Marsala Plants To Grow In 2015 [Slideshow]

Marsala, an earthy wine-red color, is the Pantone Color of the Year for 2015, and it presents a great marketing opportunity to showcase Marsala-colored plants for outdoor and indoor decorating. Enjoy this round-up of plants with Marsala hues.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Liven Up Indoor And Outdoor Living With 24 New Tropical…

Uniquely colored foliage and vivid blooms are just two of the great features new tropicals and foliage plants add to energize indoor and outdoor spaces.

Read More

January 13, 2015

Take Purdue University’s Survey On Vegetatively P…

Do you have problems callusing or rooting vegetatively propagated perennials? The Purdue University Floriculture Lab would like to help you with these problems, but first the research team there needs your help.

Read More
Poinsettia 'Charon Red'

January 6, 2015

Dan Schantz Farm 2014 Poinsettia Trial Recap And 2015 D…

The 2014 Dan Schantz Poinsettia trials featured more than 170 poinsettia varieties. Here's a summary of the event, as well as a 2015 date for your calendar.

Read More

December 31, 2014

Engage Busy Consumers With Modern-Day Tropical And Foli…

Contemporary tropical and foliage plants fit right in with the hustle and bustle of the twenty-first century. Their versatility lends itself to countless uses both inside the house and out on the patio.

Read More

December 30, 2014

2015 California Spring Trials Are Just Around The Corn…

Are the California Spring Trials on your schedule for 2015? Before the busy growing season sidelines your plans, use this handy resource to get a jumpstart on registering for your trip.

Read More

December 29, 2014

Top 5 Slideshows Of 2014

These popular slideshows from 2014 highlight everything from new perennials, to new veggies, to California Spring Trials.

Read More