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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July 7, 2008

Stacking Up By State

Determining the top 25 states for floriculture turned out to be more difficult than we were anticipating because USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) only tracks 15 states now. The last time the agency tracked 36 states was in 2005, so we used that data. At first we thought we could at least update 15 of the states with 2007 data, but the way the results were calculated was different in 2007 than in 2005. While 2005 excluded operations with less than $100,000 in sales, the 2007 report has an expanded wholesale value that includes operations with sales less than $100,000. The value of sales for growers below the $100,000 level was estimated by multiplying the number of growers in each size group by the midpoint of the sales range. We decided the cleanest way to go is for all 25 states to be from the same set of data […]

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July 4, 2008

Online Only: Bedding Plant Survey 2007

We asked growers if they will add or remove varieties next year. Here are the varieties mentioned, in no particular order.   Add Remove Heuchera villosa Intensia phlox cuphea datura succulents clarkia petunias Neon syngonium bacopa seed geranium verbena Zonals upright lantana phlox palms torenia bananas   ‘Diamond Frost’ euphorbia   citrus   Knockout rose   Comet daisy   How Was The Weather? Based on responses: Midwest: Early April was a problem for some with rain and even some hard freeze, but the rest of the season was good to great. Northeast: April was very bad, with a late snow. May and June were good. West: Great. April was a little cool. South: A mixed bag. Several reported heavy rain, an Easter freeze. Others reported great weather and temperatures. What Was The Best Selling Variety? Growers reported a lot of different varieties as best selling. The top five mentioned were […]

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July 2, 2008

Ball Serves Independents Through e-Marketing

Ball Horticultural Company will provide photos and information on a wide range of gardening and plant topics to dataKart, a subscription-based software provider for independent garden centers. Independents can then, in turn, create and send store-branded e-newsletters to enhance their relationships with customers. “We’re completely dedicated to helping IGCs be successful,” says Bill Calkins, independent garden center manager for Ball. “By partnering with an innovative service like dataKart, we can help everybody win.” A customer service management product, dataKart is online software that integrates directly with a store’s point of sale software. Independents can send e-newsletters from ready-made templates to create a more valuable customer experience. Plant information, gardening tips and photos are provided by Ball and other providers. “Beyond customer communications, dataKart offers business intelligence tools to help retailers run their business more profitably, giving IGCs the capability to use marketing tools that, in the past, have been reserved […]

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July 2, 2008

Raker Trial Gardens To Open Soon

The Raker Trial Gardens will officially open to the public July 16 in Litchfield, Mich., where gardens cover more than three acres and include a variety of annuals and perennials used primarily for horticulture comparison trials. This year, C. Raker & Sons has conducted three main trials. The annual comparison trials contain varieties like French marigolds, osteospermum, heuchera and miniature impatiens. The container trials consist of 220 examples of monoculture and mixed culture varieties in 20-inch patio containers, and the hanging basket trials include more than 300 varieties. New attractions to the Raker Trial Gardens are the breeder beds, 16 beds designed by professional landscapers and sponsored by industry companies. The trial gardens are open through August 29 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information, click here.

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July 2, 2008

Trialing In The East Texas Heat

The annual Overton Horticultural Bedding Plant Trials and Field Day in Texas drew about 150 growers, breeders and gardeners this year who viewed more than 500 bedding plant varieties. And because Texas constitutes an increasing market for new bedding plant varieties, seed companies flocked to Overton to test the strength of their varieties. Goldsmith Seeds, for example, enter numerous varieties, including vinca lines resistant to aerial phytophthora. Goldsmith sends trials to about a dozen universities around the country each year, but Don Snow, the company’s technical product manager, prefers these particular trials. “The trial is really important to us,” he says, “because when it performs well here and it performs well in Dallas, then we have the confidence to go to customers down here and say, ‘This will work for you.” Wayne Pianta, a technical product representative at Ball Horticultural Company, agrees. “Everyone comes here, because this is one of […]

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July 2, 2008

UF Selects Its Best New Varieties

The University of Florida recently chose 10 varieties as Best New Varieties for 2009 from its spring trial, including ptilotus ‘Joey’ from Benary and heliotrope ‘Scentropia Dark Blue’ from Syngenta Flowers. Those varieties were selected as the two most interesting varieties to 270 consumers who were surveyed during trial garden open houses in May. Best New Varieties are selected for consistent, excellent garden performance over an eight-week evaluation period. Winners are selected from more than 850 varieties, including 280 new introductions that will be available for 2009. Besides ‘Joey’ and ‘Scentropia Dark Blue,’ other varieties that made Florida’s Best New Varieties list include: – Calibrachoa ‘MiniFamous Tangerine’ from Selecta First Class–Coleus ‘Indian Summer’ and ornamental pepper ‘Calico’ from Ball Horticultural Company–Geranium ‘Caliente Fire ’09,’ and lobelia ‘Techno Heat Dark Blue’ from Syngenta Flowers–Petunia ‘Potunia Lobster’ and verbena ‘Empress Strawberry Charme’ from Dummen–Petunia ‘Supertunia Vista Silverberry’ from Proven Winners

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July 2, 2008

Georgia Trials Showcase Innovation

From breakthrough plants to sustainable practices, there was much to see at Dr. Allan Armitage’s trials at the University of Georgia (UGA) June 18, during an industry open house right before the Southeast Greenhouse Conference. Nestled on a terrace surrounded by university buildings, the UGA Horticulture Gardens were planted 25 years ago to assess the performance of annuals and perennials in hot, humid conditions. Data on all plants are provided through the Web site, www.uga.edu/ugatrial. In addition to being a valuable resource for growers, garden center retailers, master gardeners, horticultural distributors and flower breeders from all over the world, the gardens are, first and foremost, a teaching tool. “As a teaching facility, the garden allows students to learn about the myriad of annual and perennial species and to study the different growth habits, tolerances and uses of herbaceous material,” Armitage says. “Students can also learn about those elusive terms called […]

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June 25, 2008

Touring The Gardens At Michigan State

The Michigan State University (MSU) Garden Plant Showcase will take place at the Plant & Soil Sciences Building this year on August 6. University faculty and staff will lead presentations on new plant material, how to regulate plant height of floriculture crops using plant growth retardants and how to recognize and treat common greenhouse diseases. Advanced registration for the showcase is encouraged and accepted by July 28 for $35. Registration includes lunch, a parking pass and a copy of the annual trial book, which is also available for purchase at the university’s visitor center. MSU has seven acres of floral displays in the Horticulture Gardens, and it trials about 1,000 cultivars of annuals and herbaceous perennials growing there each year. For more information on this year’s showcase, click here.

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June 24, 2008

The Bread And Butter Of Perennials

  One of the best conferences I have ever been part of was held in Indianapolis in late September 2006. The Perennial Production Seminar was hosted by Ball Publishing and was attended by 400 or more of the who’s who of production, marketing and promotion of perennials for the greenhouse and nursery industry. They must have run out of speakers so they asked me to talk a little about plant selection. I talked about the great new plants, of course, but the point I was trying to make is that new is good, but tried and true is necessary. Here are some of the plants you should put on your A list. They are not new. In fact, some of the newer cultivars may be better and may be more popular, but these are always asked for, often by name. This list was compiled with the help of many colleagues and […]

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June 24, 2008

Variety Shorts

Powerful Poinsettias Selecta First Class recently introduced several new poinsettias to its lineup. ‘Christmas Carol White’ and ‘Christmas Carol Pink’ are new additions to Selecta’s red Christmas Carol introduced last year. They are early-season varieties with slightly oak-shaped bracts and foliage. The response time is 7.5 weeks. They have a medium to high vigor, upright growth habit, excellent branching characteristics and large, showy bracts. The Christmas Carol series is extremely energy efficient, very uniform and easy to grow. ‘Apricot Candy’ has apricot bracts and stands in contrast to the cinnamon-colored ‘Cinnamon Candy’ introduced last season. It flowers mid-season (8.5 weeks’ response time) and because of its similar vigor and response time, it is a great addition to the Christmas Feelings series. Dark-green foliage, upright habit, medium vigor and large cyathias complement the unique color. A great specialty variety joining the Christmas Feelings series, ‘Christmas Feelings Crazy’ is more compact than other […]

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June 24, 2008

In Search Of The Variegated Tapioca

The world of plants is changing. No, it has changed. New plants have become so important that even backyard gardeners are approaching breeders with Grandma’s plant in the hope they will obtain some royalties. It used to be that people wanted to introduce the plant to provide a legacy for Grandma, but times have changed. Larger companies have become so important in the introduction of new plants that it often becomes a numbers game. And the numbers, good grief, it seems that breeding companies and distributors almost dictate that a new plant must sell at least 10,000 liners, often more. If not, they pass. We have made the introduction of Grandma’s plants more and more difficult by throwing up obstacles everywhere. First is the issue of patenting. Patenting costs money, therefore sufficient plants must be sold to pay for that. In order to do so, promotion of that plant is necessary, […]

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June 24, 2008

Variety Shorts

Sweet Perennials The new Darwin Plants perennials trade catalog for 2007 is now being distributed in the United States. Here are some highlights: ‘Heart and Soul’ astilbe features large, fully fluffed plumes of light lavender-pink flowers set off with a subtle blue sheen that creates an appealing effect. Large petals contribute to the visibility of the sheen, as do low light angles at the start and end of the day. It has more robust qualities than many others, including increased tolerance for heat, humidity and sun. It also holds up better in transport. ‘Sweet Heidy’ is a new hybrid hardy geranium from Dutch breeder Marco van Noort. The flowers have distinct, white centers surrounded by pink, which fuses into blue, with an overlay of dramatic dark veins completing the look. The variety is the result of several crossings, including G. wallichianum, which is responsible for giving it an exceptionally long […]

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June 24, 2008

Breeding A Stronger Heuchera

How does one go from a Ph.D. in the evolutionary genetics of butterflies and moths to establishing a well-respected breeding program for heucheras? “It’s almost an accident,” says Martha Oliver of the career path her husband, Charles, found himself traveling in the 1980s. This near accident took Charles from the genetics of winged things to the genetics of native plants — with a detour in the field of water testing — and can partially be blamed on bees. While operating a drinking water testing facility in western Pennsylvania, Charles and Martha Oliver were avid gardeners with a deep interest in native plants. The hobby soon pushed the nine-to-five job out of the way. The Primrose Path nursery and mail-order business began in 1984. “I was just starting into the retail business, building up stock from seed for lots of plants,” Charles says. “I was getting heuchera hybrids out in the garden […]

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June 24, 2008

Color Exravaganza

We know what you’re thinking: “Sure, cineraria are pretty in pots but what about the great outdoors? It’s not what my customers are looking for.” Look at Senetti cineraria, part of the Suntory Collection, and think again. Traditional cinerarias are one-hit wonders, putting on a powerful display of potted color. The Senetti series (Pericallis hybrids), the first re-flowering cineraria on the market, changes the concept completely. In essence, the Senettis give you and your customer a two-season plant in each pot. Senettis offer four stunningly vivid hues that shout, “think spring” for weeks on end in the midst of winter, just when the indoor environment needs it most. And Senettis will bloom again — outside this time, when cool-but-kind spring temperatures arrive. Just cut back the first flush of flowers once they have faded to rejuvenate the plants for a second flush of color.  For gardeners in mild-winter climates, Senettis […]

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June 23, 2008

The Green Menace

Habitat destruction is the number one greatest threat to biodiversity, and second place goes to the spread of invasive species. Invasive plants overcrowd native vegetation, affect animal habitats and can even increase flooding and fire hazards. While most landscape plants are not invasive, species that do escape and invade can cause major ecological damage. According to the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANGC), which represents wholesale nursery growers, retail garden centers and associated businesses in California, the landscape trade is to blame for about 85 percent of invasive woody plants in the United States, while 53 percent of California’s invasive species have horticultural origins. In order to prevent the spread of invasive species, CANGC recently approved voluntary codes of conduct for nursery professionals to follow to prevent aggressive plant invasions. CANGC is developing a plan for implementing the codes in California garden centers and nurseries by participating in Cal-HIP, […]

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June 23, 2008

Variety Shorts

High-Color Foliage Recently released by ForemostCo, Rhoeo ‘Tricolor’ adds a vivid splash of color to every situation. ‘Tricolor’ can be used as a bedding plant, patio plant and as a stand-alone foliage option. Mix it in planters or use it in landscapes–’Tricolor’ will add color everywhere. With regular availability from ForemostCo as unrooted cuttings, ‘Tricolor’ plants root and grow quickly and can be saleable in four to six weeks. It can be used in all light exposure situations from deep shade through full sun. Combining a low input cost with great performance, ‘Rhoeo Tricolor’ will be an attractive addition to a grower’s bottom line. In its 20 years of operation, ForemostCo has become a large importer of live plants to the United States, accounting for more than 20 percent of all plants brought in to the country. Working in partnership with its customers and growers throughout the globe, ForemostCo, Inc. caters […]

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June 23, 2008

Floriculture, European Style

For 2007, the National Floriculture Forum (NFF) is doing something new — traveling to Europe. We will first spend four days in the Netherlands visiting the Dutch Auction, pot plant growers and other horticultural sites. Then we will travel down to Essen, Germany to spend two days at the International Trade Fair for Plants (IPM). IPM is a unique combination of exhibition areas, plants, technology and floristry that offers a comprehensive overview of the green industry. With 1,400 exhibitors from 41 countries and 62,100 trade visitors every year from all over the world, the IPM ESSEN show is the world’s largest event of its kind. This is where the decision-makers of international floriculture meet to invest, conclude business transactions and expand business relations. The dates for the 2007 NFF are January 21-28, arriving in the Netherlands on January 22. The group will then travel to Essen, Germany by bus for the […]

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