July 30, 2008

Making Room For Herbs And Veggies

Are herbs and vegetables the way to go? If so, are growers selling themselves short on prices? One grower wrote us about her decision to move full speed ahead with herbs and veggies, and another wrote to share a success story on increasing prices with the two. Both growers, ironically, are located in Minnesota. Sandie Shores of Herb’s Herbs & Such in Zumbro Falls, Minn., wrote in response to a July 2008 column written by Sara Tambascio, managing editor of Greenhouse Grower. Here is an excerpt from Sandie’s letter: I am quite amazed that growers are just beginning to see how the downturn in the economy is changing their customers. Of course, I saw this coming! Last fall, I sent out an informal survey to the 700-plus local upscale “Foodies” who subscribe to my e-mail Herb Newsletter asking if they planned on growing more of their own vegetables and herbs […]

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July 24, 2008

More Shrubs That Can Be Greenhouse Forced

In the last installment, I sorted many common shrubs into “ease of forcing” groups, based on characteristics such as their visual impact in a container and disease problems. Group 1: Would not fit into a mixed container program for the spring, including those with no outstanding features to their foliage or susceptible to disease. Since flowers were only formed on next year’s growth, forcing for flowers was out of the question. Group 2: Will work for a spring program, but with numerous problems such as poor form, inconsistency of growth or flowering or unstable variegation. Group 3: These plants work in the greenhouse, but require a bit more time, more marketing, etc. Group 4: Plants that are easily forced and catch the eye. This group proved to be the most uniform, most colorful and most appealing to the eye of the consumer. We determined the need, if any, for cold […]

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July 24, 2008

Color Your Corner

Abbott-IPCO ‘Cranberry Star’ is a 2008 University of Florida introduction. This caladium variety has white fancy leaves with cranberry red spots and an excellent pot habit in 4- to 10-inch sizes, whether de-eyed or not. Abbott-IPCO ‘Pink Sensation’ is a 2008 introduction from the Classic Caladiums breeding program. A rose-colored, strap-leaf variety with mottled cream and green margins, it is excellent in 4- to 10-inch pots with de-eyeing. American Takii Takii introduces the new Fizz series of dwarf salvia in five colors: Cream, Grape, Peach, Raspberry and Strawberry. Growing 12 to 14 inches tall, they are bred to have more florets packed onto each flower spike and to branch readily. American Takii Three new colors have been added to the dwarf Snapdragon F1 Palette series, Orange & White, Purple & White, and Red & White. Palettes have outstanding cold tolerance, making them an excellent addition to season extender programs. The […]

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July 24, 2008

The Plants That Got Us Here

I have recently been listening to some interesting comments from growers, marketers and retailers. Everyone agrees that breeding, selecting, evaluating and finally introducing a cultivar take extraordinary time, talent and money. However, we all seem to have accepted the concept, whether true or not, that people don’t know anything about–nor care to know anything about–cultivars.  We have accepted the word of marketers that gardening has become less popular because it is perceived as work, whereas landscaping is popular because someone else can do it for us. We have learned that we not are selling plants but selling a lifestyle, but we can’t define what lifestyle means. No wonder we are confused. Although those maxims may be true, I still can’t get away from the fact that new and great plants will always be necessary, even if no one cares but us.  My daughters are definitely cultivar-impaired, but lifestyle rich and […]

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July 23, 2008

STEPABLES Puts A Foot Forward

Interactive Web site design, YouTube videos and informative blogs are all part of the plan to build brand recognition for STEPABLES among growers, garden centers and consumers. “I wanted to create a marketing campaign that reflected my enthusiasm for gardening and hopefully inspire those visiting the STEPABLES site to try something new,” says Fran Hopkins, founder and president of Under A Foot Plant Company. “I look forward to interacting more personally with anyone who visits www.stepables.com.” The STEPABLES Web site now includes user-friendly sections with hundreds of new images and design plans for homeowners, forums for open discussion and a few instructional videos. The site also has a more personal feel through Hopkins’ blog, found in the Meet Fran section. She plans to update it frequently and respond to consumer questions there. Hopkins produced and starred in each of the instructional videos to make the STEPABLES brand even more personal. […]

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July 23, 2008

First The Seed, Now A Foundation

The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, formed First the Seed Foundation at its annual convention this summer to keep the industry informed about seed and its promise for the future. Bud Hughes of Verdant Partners will serve as the foundation’s president of the board. “The mission of the First the Seed Foundation is to conduct education, outreach and communication on the value of crops and food produced from seed,” says President and CEO Andy LaVigne. “We, as the seed industry, have a great story to tell about our contributions to American agriculture, and ultimately, to the lives of people around the world. The foundation will provide a platform to educate today’s world and tomorrow’s work force about the importance of the seed industry.” The top priority of the foundation is to educate young people about seed. First the Seed Foundation will begin educating with […]

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July 23, 2008

FloraStar Gives Remaining Funds To AFE

As a final thank you to the floriculture industry, the remaining funds from FloraStar were donated to the American Floral Endowment in a short and informal ceremony on Monday during Short Course. FloraStar was dissolved after 19 successful years when it was determined the unique value of the FloraStar award program had diminished due to the rapidly changing market. A check in the amount of $36,318.50 was given to AFE, presented by Bob Humm and Gary Hudson representing FloraStar and Danny Takao representing OFA. Mike Mellano and Sten Crissey, along with several of the Trustees from the American Floral Endowment were present for the ceremony. “On behalf of all the people who have participated in FloraStar over the years, it is a pleasure to hand over this check to AFE to further floriculture research and scholarships,” said Bob Humm, the last acting president of FloraStar. “We know it will be used […]

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July 22, 2008

Top Crops

The USDA’s Floriculture Crops 2007 Summary analyzes retail and wholesale values of floriculture crops, among other measures. So what are the top crops in the industry? Here’s a list, based on wholesale sales of bedding plants and blooming potted plants in 2007.      1 Poinsettias Wholesale sales in 2007 19,359 in 5-inch or smaller pot size 28,154 in larger than 5-inch pot size $2.65 average price in 5-inch or smaller pot size $4.61 average price in larger than 5-inch pot size 2 Orchids Wholesale sales in 2007 10,525 in 5-inch or smaller pot size 4,896 in larger than 5-inch pot size $6.78 average price in 5-inch or smaller pot size $11.15 average price in larger than 5-inch pot size 3 Petunias Wholesale sales in 2007 6,866 flats sold 3,748 hanging baskets sold 23,339 pots sold $0.96 average price in 5-inch or smaller pot size $2.37 average price in 5-inch […]

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July 16, 2008

Back And Forth On Begonias

Thousands of begonias are grown and sold each year at Peach Tree Farm in Kintnersville, Pa., where owner Lloyd Traven’s production is down to an exact science–even for new varieties like ‘Mandalay’ and ‘Bellagio. Without good cuttings at shipping, ‘Mandalay’ and ‘Bellagio’ will simply grow to 6 feet tall without flowering, he says. Pinching those varieties immediately after the third node is critical to flowering, as well. “This is a tough crop,” Traven says. “If you can produce them, you will not be able to keep them in the greenhouse.” Traven has also found that begonias require special care before they’re shipped off. He recommends giving them a little bit of extra nitrogen before packaging them and, of course, keep them well watered.

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July 16, 2008

Ball, Summit Team For Biodegradable Options

Ball Horticultural Company and Summit Plastic Company spent two years researching and developing biodegradable packaging, and the two companies have partnered to bring just that to the market. “It is estimated that, while 48 percent of consumers place their plant pots and trays in their community recycling programs, most of that plastic still ends up in a landfill,” says Bill Doeckel of Ball Horticultural Company. “Ball is committed to changing those statistics, and we’re pleased to have a partner, Summit, that shares our goals.” Summit will produce a range of bio-packaging products using bio-resin, which looks and feels like plastic yet degrades after a few months in the ground. The partnership made sense, too, because Summit is easily able to manufacture bio-resin with its tools and equipment without altering the size of packages.

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July 10, 2008

Being Manic Depressive Is Exhausting

Working in this industry often reminds me of all the time I spent as a baseball parent. During my son’s baseball seasons, which lasted longer and longer as he ascended to the next levels, Susan and I were raving manic depressives. Up one moment, down the next, celebrating a home run or anticipating a strikeout with dread, we never knew what to expect. One thing never changed, however: Baseball season always came around again. If you are a parent, you can understand. This industry evokes similar behavior, perhaps not moment to moment, but surely day to day. The drought situation in the Southeast, for example, has made us all manic depressives. Last fall, when the heavens snapped shut, we went into a region-wide depression, all of us, from seed breeders and distributors to home gardeners who couldn’t water their hanging baskets. As winter rains slowly appeared, we stood outside and smiled […]

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July 9, 2008

Pretty Perennials

  Ball FloraPlant ‘Golden Alexander’ lysimachia is a first-year flowering perennial with variegated leaves that put season-long color into landscapes and combos. Upright and vigorous, it reaches 18 to 24 inches in height and width and is hardy to Zones 3 to 8. Benary  Salvia x superba ‘Adora Blue’ flowers the first year from seed without vernalization and is heat and drought tolerant. Its unique, deep blue flower spikes are attractive in pots or the landscape. Benary Astilbe arendii Astary series is the first annualized astilbe on the market. Its naturally compact habit and luxurious flowers promote consumer appeal. Available in pelleted seed form, Astary can be produced quickly for reduced production and shipping costs. Benary Delphinium ‘Benary’s Pacific Giant Percival’ flowers the first year from seed without vernalization. With a unique flower color and variety of uses, it will be a consumer favorite. EuroAmerican Propagators Salvia nemorsa ‘Marcus’ offers […]

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July 9, 2008

Cold And Sustainable Poinsettia Production

    Temperature In response to rising energy costs over the past several years, greenhouse growers have implemented a variety of tactics to reduce energy costs, including lowering their temperature set points, increasing insulation, starting production later in the season, consolidating production, installing energy curtains, contracting fuel, purchasing energy-efficient heaters or switching to alternative fuel sources. Since many of the above strategies require substantial investments, for many poinsettia growers, the most cost-effective solution is to lower greenhouse growing temperatures. However, it is important to remember that temperature controls the rate of plant development, including time to unfold a leaf and time to flower. As the average daily temperature (ADT) decreases, the rate of development decreases and a crop is increasingly delayed. In addition, if temperatures are at or below a species-specific base temperature, the developmental rate is zero and the plant stops developing. Poinsettias are tropical plants native to Mexico […]

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July 9, 2008

Serving Up Holiday Style

Dömmen ‘Marco Polo’ rounds out the poinsettia assortment in the apricot color range. An 8-week variety with medium vigor, RED FOX ‘Marco Polo’ can be produced alongside red cultivars like ‘Euroglory,’ ‘Infinity’ and ‘Viking.’   Dömmen ‘Viking’ is absolutely cold resistant and very robust with a vigorous growing habit. The thick stem and the resistance against botrytis make this cultivar super strong.   Dömmen New in the RED FOX assortment are two euphorbias, ‘Silver Fog’ and ‘Silver Shadow,’ which differ in habit and leaf shape. ‘Silver Fog’ is more compact with short round leaves, and ‘Silver Shadow’ is slightly more vigorous with a longer shaped leaf. Dömmen Dömmen introduces ‘Infinity Marble,’ an addition to the 2007 Infinity series that exhibits medium/large vigor, good branching habit, and an excellent V-shaped growing habit.   Dömmen ‘Flame’ offers “red hot” color, superb branching habit, and V-shape growth, making this new novelty trendy and […]

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July 8, 2008

Two More For Editor’s Choice

Royal Hawaiian Colocasias This sensational collection comes from an internationally acclaimed breeder at the University of Hawaii. Originally bred for a food crop, these colocasias are bred to be disease resistant and are sturdy garden performers with fabulous foliage and stem interest, along with a tidy, clumping habit in the garden. The first five varieties are:–’Blue Hawaii’ with large green leaves and bluish-purple veins–’Hawaiian Eye’ with large greenish-purple leaves and dark burgundy stems–’Hilo Bay’ with glossy, olive green ruffled leaves and dark purple stems–’Diamond Head’ with purple-black leaves and burgundy stems–’Pineapple Princess’ with yellow-green leaves and burgundy stems. The whole collection is promoted in a brochure tag and will be sold at independent garden centers only this year. Licensed young plant growers include Pacific Plug & Liner and Plug Connection in California and James Greenhouse in Georgia. From 72 liners, the Royal Hawaiian colocasias will finish in a gallon in […]

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Medal Of Excellence Nominee: Rudbeckia 'Tiger Eye Gold'

July 8, 2008

Medal Of Excellence Nominee: Rudbeckia ‘Tiger Eye Gold’

Goldsmith Seeds has introduced the world’s first F1 hybrid rudbeckia, ‘TigerEye Gold.’ A familiar variety in the garden, the American native rudbeckia thrives in a wide range of conditions, north to south, coast to coast. ‘TigerEye Gold’ offers growers advantages over traditional open-pollinated rudbeckia varieties, including rapid and uniform plug development, excellent and uniform establishment following transplant, great pot-fill resulting from superior branching, fine-tuned PGR responsiveness, uniform bud development and flowering. This bench-run uniformity translates into a high-value 4- to 6-inch product.  Retailers benefit from ‘TigerEye Gold’s’ compact habit and durable, eye-catching flowers. Customers won’t be able to resist! Home gardeners and landscapers will love the incredible display of long-lasting, semi-double golden blooms. These 18- to 24-inch plants make a strong statement over a wide range of conditions, weathering heat and humidity while offering reduced sensitivity to powdery mildew and requiring minimal care.  Cultural Information Uniformity formerly unknown in rudbeckia Excellent […]

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July 8, 2008

Medal Of Excellence Nominee: Ptilotus ‘Joey’

When growers and consumers alike see the new ptilotus ‘Joey’ the first question asked is, “What is that?” The next question is, “How do you pronounce it?” Benary says, “Just call it Joey!” The new Ptilotus ‘Joey’ is truly a breeding breakthrough. A native to central Australia, ptilotus offers exceptional beauty, and the side benefit of heat and drought tolerance. Large, conical spikes of feathery flowers top thick silver green foliage. The 3- to 4-inch bottlebrush flower spikes are glistening silver with a darker neon pink color near the tips. ‘Joey’ offers growers exceptional germination rates and a high percentage of transplantable plugs. Short crop times (approximately 14 to 16 weeks) allow for quick returns on this truly unique crop. Excellent as an accent in mixed containers or as a compliment in annual flower beds, ‘Joey’ is a natural in any sunny garden location. ‘Joey’ is truly an exceptional plant […]

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July 8, 2008

Medal Of Excellence Nominee: Bellagio And Mandalay Begonias

Bellagio and Mandalay begonias are derived from Begonia boliviensis (an Argentinean form of the family, which naturally grows on cliff facings). These plants have both heat and humidity tolerance and have survived through the summer here in Florida in pots. Bellagio and Mandalay are not tuberous begonias as we know them. True tuberous Begonias (Begonia x tuberhybrida) are either from seed or tubers, difficult from cuttings, and prefer cool moist conditions which limits their sales regions and time of sale across the United States. Tuberous Begonias have minimal heat tolerance and are prone to a variety of root rots that make them somewhat touchy for the average consumer. They will form a tuber when the daylength is short, the temperatures are cool and the overall light level begins to drop. But even though they form a tuber, they are still way more flexible and summer performing than true tuberous begonias. These […]

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July 7, 2008

Medal Of Excellence: Celebrating Years Of Excellence

New varieties are the lifeblood of our industry â€” the grower’s pipeline to create new markets and refine production for existing ones. For 20 years, Greenhouse Grower has recognized many of the unsung heroes of our industry — the breeders who bring new varieties to life. Our Medal of Excellence awards program, which recognizes innovation in varieties, sprouted in 1989 when founding Editor Jane Lieberth and Contributing Editor Dr. Allan Armitage covered the California Pack Trials together. Impressed with all the great work breeders were doing to create uniform series of seed annuals, they decided to recognize the most significant introduction from the trials each year. This recognition was published in the magazine, and we presented the award over an intimate, elegant dinner with the winning breeding company during OFA’s Short Course. Ten years later, our Group Publisher Joe Monahan had the vision to make our Medal of Excellence a true industry recognition […]

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July 7, 2008

The Veggie Boom

Times are tough, on everyone. On businesses and consumers. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself changing my habits to counter the bad economy. I’m not going out to lunch or dinner as much as I was when business was booming. I’ve even started testing out the theory of hypermiling, which claims you can improve fuel efficiency by changing the way you drive your car. Coast up to stoplights and signs instead of braking at the last moment. Use cruise control. No speeding. In addition to fuel efficiency, another advantage is that I don’t have to scan the horizon for speed traps anymore. Personally, the verdict is still out on this trend. Being in the car everyone on the freeway passes is not something I ever saw myself, the leadfoot, doing, but if it works, the money saved will be worth the lost rush of passing the Sunday driver […]

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