June 13, 2008

Moving Beyond Blue Carnations

It was only a matter of time before flowers became the next frontier for biotechnology, and now it has happened. In a joint venture between German-based Selecta Klemm and U.S.-based Mendel Biotechnology Inc., transgenic ornamental plants are only a few years away. The new entity, Ornamental Bioscience (www.Ornamental-Bioscience.com), combines Mendel’s technological expertise and patent estate in drought, cold and freeze tolerance, disease resistance and flower stability traits, with Selecta’s experience in plant transformation technology, its extensive variety patent estate and experience in marketing ornamentals worldwide. Christian Klemm, CEO of Ornamental Bioscience, says it is time for the ornamental market to catch up to other areas of agriculture that have already made strides–and profits–in transgenic crop production and marketing. “We envision the ornamental market will undergo substantial development in the coming decade,” Klemm says. “The global market for ornamentals has an annual retail value of several billion dollars. Ornamental Bioscience will […]

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June 13, 2008

Foliage Forecast 2007

No one can predict the future. So many variables can contribute to the ups and downs of any industry. But where the foliage industry will stand in 2007 might be best determined by looking at where 2006 has taken it. With no major hurricanes last year and fuel costs finally beginning to level out, some major changes may be on the horizon.  Buyer Dynamics Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscapers Association (FNGLA) Executive Vice President Ben Bolusky explains that a lot of the biggest challenges the foliage industry faced last year are still evolving, one of them being buyer dynamics. “In dealing with the growers, FNGLA sees buyer channels narrowing,” he says. “The demand for tropicals and foliage is not shrinking, yet the base of buyers appears to be. It is challenging for foliage growers to identify and find a diversity of buyers in the wholesale marketplace.” Bolusky also notes that the […]

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June 13, 2008

Plants For Even Hotter Weather

When up against wildfires, drought and water restrictions, bedding plants would seem to be part of a losing battle. In dry and fire-prone areas of the country, however, gardeners can fight back–with succulents and cacti. New options for these parts of the country are being researched, looking for varieties that are both functional and beautiful. Cactus varieties have been evaluated on criteria including blooming, a minimal number of spines and day blooming by John Erwin of the University of Minnesota. Experiments began with cooling, photoperiod and total light treatments and 58 of the 65 varieties tested went into flower. Now follow-up work is being done on 10 to 15 of those to see which ones are best for commercial production. But are cacti cold hardy? The ones Erwin is researching native to the cold mountaintops of Argentina are cold hardy, but research is looking at how cold hardy. And while in […]

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June 13, 2008

Connecting People & Plants

This spring, garden celebrity P. Allen Smith’s new garden home retreat will be the epicenter of all his media platforms engaging consumers. In addition to being a showcase for the latest and greatest in gardening, activities at the retreat will appeal to interests ranging from home building and home décor to cooking, outdoor living and entertaining. Animal lovers will connect with the dogs, chickens, sheep and horses on the working farm. The retreat also ties in with the green movement, with the energy-efficient home being built with sustainable materials and the grounds irrigated with recycled water and maintained as organically as possible. “The retreat is America’s test kitchen for outdoor living,” Smith says. “Not only will we be trialing new plant varieties, but other products that are part of the outdoor lifestyle. What the consumer really needs is a way to pull it all together, feel good about it and […]

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June 13, 2008

New Varieties

 •  Agri-Starts Inc. Musa ‘Little Prince’ is an exciting new musa introduction. This dwarf variety stands at a stout 2 to 2.5 feet full grown. It is the perfect accent to a tropical garden or container. It requires ample moisture, fertile soil and part to full sun. Alocasia lauterbaachiana is great for something different in a mixed container centerpiece. This upright alocasia has slender serrated leaves that are a deep green with a burgundy underside. It grows best in filtered light and does not require much water. Six-inch pots can be finished in 12 to 15 weeks. ‘Frosted Citrosa’ is a sport of citrosa with a striking white variegation pattern on the edges of each leaf. The plant requires no growth regulators and grows more compact and tolerates warmer temperatures than the original, all while still emitting its trademark fragrance. For more information, contact Agri-Starts Inc., Apopka, Fla., 407-889-8055 or […]

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June 13, 2008

Trialing & Styling

In response to both grower and retailer demand, the California Pack Trials will be earlier this year, from March 29 to April 6, before the busy spring season gets too far under way. Bus loads of growers travel with their big box buyers to discuss next spring’s program just as this spring begins. For one week, California’s U.S. Highway 101 will become the runway for the launch of new annuals and perennials. From Gilroy in the north and then south to the Los Angeles/Ventura area, the journey continues down I-5 to Encinitas. In addition to the flower breeders that are already based in California, others will come from as far as Japan, Israel, Germany, Holland and the United Kingdom to showcase their new offerings. Now that Fischer is owned by Syngenta and is in charge of its genetics on the seed and vegetative side, the company is rebranded as Syngenta […]

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June 13, 2008

Name That Conifer

A few weeks before Christmas, I visited a local garden center, looking for a little something to spruce up my desk here at the office. Something different. While I drifted in a sea of red, white and pink poinsettias, I came across a small assortment of potted plants–cyclamen, African violets and a few bromeliads. In two long rows of benches, there was only one product gussied up in holiday decor. It was a line of ferns decorated with bunches of cranberries and a few pine cones, as well as snowmen and glittery stars on picks tucked in amongst the green. I immediately gravitated towards the collection and snatched one up. Am I a fern person? Not particularly, but this one is growing on me. There was also a mini-Christmas-tree-looking woody ornamental in a 4-inch pot. I bought it, although I have no idea what it is. In fact, I know more […]

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June 13, 2008

Beyond Baskets

Proven Winners has published a beautiful, 40-page booklet that helps growers capitalize on containers. While past books have been produced to inspire and educate gardeners and retail garden centers, “The Container Design Book” was produced specifically for growers. “The popularity and versatility of container gardening is a trend that promises to pay big dividends for growers and retailers in 2007,” the book’s introduction states. “And Proven Winners is helping to set that trend by providing the plants and design savvy to inspire gardeners–and the resources to make it easier for growers to capitalize on containers.” The guide illustrates how to create more than 90 professionally designed, portable beauties and contains growing tips for containers in general, as well as many specific varieties. A “Hanging Basket Compatibility” chart is a table that cross references varieties with each other in combination baskets. About 30 varieties are recommended for monoculture baskets. Attractive sample combinations […]

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June 12, 2008

Greenhouse Grower’s Medal of Excellence

For 20 years, we have recognized outstanding contributions in advancing flower varieties through our Medal of Excellence awards program. Our traditional award for breeding, the Editor’s Choice, reaches this special milestone this year. The Industry’s Choice is determined by our well-rounded panel and this same slate of nominees will be voted on by you, our readers, to determine our Reader’s Choice Award. Eligible varieties are chosen from among the new introductions at the California Pack Trials. We also will present our Industry Achievement Award to German flower breeder Benary and our Marketer of the Year award to Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses for its Exotic Angel Plants brand on July 14 during a reception at the OFA Short Course in Columbus, Ohio.

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June 12, 2008

A Place For Woody Plants

The history of greenhouse production mirrors the economy and lifestyle of the American population. When the first protected structures were used in the New World, they were dug, not built. Cold frames became the accepted way to provide a head start on the slow spring for seedlings and roots. When the first greenhouses were constructed, they were built to keep the winter out so vegetables could be produced for the market. Tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach and lettuce were major greenhouse crops in the 1800s and early 1900s. As the economy improved, in the late ’40s and ’50s, cut flowers vied for space with the tomatoes, and chrysanthemums, carnations and roses became the greenhouse crops of choice. As peace time prosperity settled onto the land, florists popped up, and that market became stronger everywhere. As transportation improved, cut flowers and vegetables moved across the country. However, the vast improvement in global transportation […]

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June 12, 2008

10 Years Of California Dreamin’

Since 1998, we’ve brought 40 growers, retailers and landscapers with us to Pack Trials through the California Dreamin’ program, where we give away two trips for two at the Southeast Greenhouse Conference in June. For most of our trip winners, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Many have never been to California or been able to see the full breadth of what is available in varieties from all over the world. This year’s winners were Bill and Andrea Henry from Little Marrowbone Farm near Nashville, Tenn., and Susan Brown and Denise Etheridge from Homewood Nursery in Raleigh, N.C. While Little Marrowbone is a small grower-retailer focused on upscale niche items, Homewood Nursery, owned by the Stoffregen family, is one of the leading independent garden centers in the Southeast. While Brown is the perennials grower, Etheridge focuses on annuals and blooming potted plants. One of the highlights for Etheridge was meeting Paul Ecke […]

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June 12, 2008

Le Grand Tour de Fleur

At Greenhouse Grower, we look forward to giving you the world – a whole world of floriculture, that is – after spending a full week covering the California Pack Trials. More than 30 flower breeders and propagators rolled out their cutting-edge flower varieties and strategies during the ultimate road trip, March 29-April 5. In addition to American companies, many of which are based in California, breeders and producers from as far as Japan, Israel, Germany, England and Holland camp out for a couple of weeks and make a pretty substantial investment in this event. Many exhibit at plug and liner growers, which also gives these growing operations an opportunity to showcase their facilities and product lines. Many Pack Trials hosts reported record highs in visitation, which is encouraging. Nearly 2,000 plant seekers make this pilgrimage each year. While the majority are representatives of the broker distribution chain, busloads of growers […]

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June 12, 2008

Year-Round Radiance

  Ball FloraPlant With striking flowers and dark foliage on upright, airy plants, ‘Ballerina Compact White’ is a compact gaura for use in smaller spaces and mixed containers. It grows 12 to 18 inches tall and spreads 24 to 36 inches. Hardy to Zones 6 to 10.   Ball FloraPlant Viola ‘Harvest Moon’ is a mounding, trailing variety with fragrant, bright yellow blooms over dark green foliage. It blooms continuously and offers excellent heat tolerance. ‘Harvest Moon’ grows 6 to 8 inches tall and spreads 18 to 24 inches. Hardy to Zones 5 to 8.   Ball Ornamentals Fireball Red photinia is a new Red Tip bred and selected for its bright red new growth. Fireball Red grows into an upright shrub, approximately 3 to 4 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide and is perfect for low-growing foundation plantings. Hardy to Zone 7 and warmer.   Ball Ornamentals […]

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June 12, 2008

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 Annuals 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 […]

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June 12, 2008

A Few Coral Bells To Grow

I have long insisted that in our zeal to introduce so many new plants, we confuse our customers with so many choices. Marketing programs have been trying to direct choices for specific uses (butterflies, native, weather tolerant), but with some groups of plants, particularly perennials, customers need someone to hold their hands and say, “We carry these varieties because we know they work well in the greenhouse and the landscape.” However, being able to say that with honesty requires a little reading or a little research. Who has the time? With perennials, there are literally dozens of coneflowers, tickseeds, Shasta daisies and even hellebores being offered today. Just because someone says they are new does not mean they are good. A number of people across the country have asked me to try to sort out the many coral bells (heuchera) that seem to roll off the assembly line every year. […]

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June 12, 2008

Selling Sustainability

One of the main objectives of the California Pack Trials is to help growers and retailers succeed with plants in the marketplace and capitalize on consumer trends. Many Pack Trials hosts this year demonstrated they are in tune with the desire to offer more sustainable products and strategies. We saw a wide range of biodegradable pots and environmentally responsible packaging. Some of the breeders also emphasized how variety selection fits in with conserving energy, growing more plants in less space and reducing the need for chemical inputs. The best part is all of this is being presented as a choice for growers and retailers who would like to differentiate themselves with a green message. Never before has the supply chain been more prepared to facilitate this with a wide range of offerings.

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June 12, 2008

New Varieties At Pack Trials 2008

American Takii American Takii emphasized where its varieties fit into green strategies under the theme “Garden Performance Naturally.” Even the Opera petunias were presented as an alternative to mulch by crowding out weeds as a beautiful groundcover. Varieties were grouped in solution-oriented themes for growers, gardeners and landscapers: drought tolerant, disease tolerant, deer resistant, nematode tolerant, resistant to snails and slugs, attract butterflies, energy efficient and genetically dwarf. “It’s what we’ve been saying all along but just another way to present it,” says American Takii’s Bonnie Marquardt. In other news, Takii was integrating new acquisitions, Sahin in Holland and Global Flowers in Denmark. The companies continue to do business as usual, but under the umbrella of Takii & Company, LTD. While Global Flowers specializes in potted plants, like gerbera, Sahin breeds niche products, including grasses, perennials and annuals.  Ball Horticultural Co. SEED INTRODUCTIONS: • Clear Crystal tetraploid alyssum series • […]

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June 12, 2008

Natural Selections

AAS Selects 2009 Winners All-America Selections (AAS) has announced four winning varieties for 2009, including three vegetables and a viola. Eggplant ‘Gretel’ is the earliest white eggplant. The glossy pure white fruits are produced in clusters and can be harvested in 55 days when three to four inches long. Bred by Seminis Vegetable Seeds, the mature plant reaches three feet tall and wide and is perfectly adapted to the trend of growing vegetables in containers. ‘Honey Bear’ squash is a compact, bushy plant that is powdery mildew-tolerant, allowing the delicious winter acorn squash to be grown in smaller space gardens. Bred by the University of New Hampshire, plants produce three to five dark green acorn squash weighing about a pound. ‘Honey Bear’ mature plants are two to three feet tall and spread four to five feet. ‘Lambkin’ melon was bred by Known-You Seed Company Ltd. as a gourmet breakfast or […]

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June 12, 2008

Thoughts On California Pack Trials

Our esteemed magazine editor, Delilah Onofrey, wrote many a fine blog posting during the 2007 Pack Trials, and if you didn’t read those up-to-date factual accounts, you missed out on the heart and soul of the trials. I accompanied Delilah to the Northern part of the tour, but had to return to my main job of confusing students after a few days. However, many thoughts of those days still remain, and here are just a few of them. Of course, they are my thoughts and opinions only, and I am usually wrong.  Gaillardias Are Trying To Be The Next Echinacea Keep your eyes peeled with breeding from around the world on this genus. In just the few places I visited, they were a plant that everyone wanted people to see. I especially liked the dwarf forms coming from Kieft Co. (Gallo series), but the material at Syngenta (Sunburst series) was also […]

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June 11, 2008

Magnificent Mandevillas

    Counterclockwise from top right: ‘Sun Parasol Dark Pink,’ ‘Sun Parasol Crimson,’ ‘Sun Parasol Cream Pink’ and ‘Sun Parasol Dark Red.’ Sun Parasol is a completely new collection of mandevilla hybrids from Suntory Flowers, Ltd. The brand is an entirely new group of varieties obtained through cross-breeding. The genus mandevilla has many sub-groups, including sanderi, boliviensis and amoena, which are all known for their climbing or trailing properties. Until recently, the sanderi group was the leading variety in the North American market; however, the arrival of Sun Parasol has the potential to overtake the sanderi group in volume.  Taking The Market By Storm The secret of ‘Sun Parasol Crimson’ is that it is the first genuine crimson sanderi that stays true to color. It also has better branching than the old sanderi types and is easy to cultivate in North America. In addition to introducing dark reds and crimsons, […]

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