June 17, 2008

The Classic City Awards

Every year we discuss, debate and fight over the best plants in the garden. Well, not really, because the best plants, like cream, seem to rise to the top. Athens, Ga., is known as The Classic City of the South and many readers have visited this lovely college town. I hope everybody who reads this will want to visit the town and especially the gardens. The Classic City awards are based on garden performance over the entire season in the Gardens at UGA, where spring is pleasant, summers are hot and organisms are lurking. We have chosen no one-week wonders; they have to impress us week after week. We try to choose mainstream bedding plants as well as off-the-wall plants that should be grown more. Hopefully, you will agree with some, disagree with others, but get them on the shelf so the consumer can have a fair chance of success. […]

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June 17, 2008

Exceptionally Floriferous

  New for 2007 from Anthony Tesselaar Plants are ‘Volcano Ruby’ phlox and ‘Flower Carpet Scarlet’ rose. Volcano is a remarkable series of perennial phlox that are compact, sturdy, exceptionally floriferous and extremely tolerant of the powdery mildew. In spring 2007, ‘Volcano Ruby’ will be released, followed by additional colors in following seasons. Volcano’s dense upright multi-branched form, with up to 15 to 30 sturdy stems by the second season, features flower clusters of up to 125 flowers per stem. They provide masses of color from June through October and are hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 10. They grow 24 to 40 inches tall, depending on conditions. ‘Flower Carpet Scarlet’ is a hardy, compact bush with glossy green foliage and abundant clusters of vibrant red double blossoms. They are known for their big color, long bloom seasons and extremely high levels of natural disease-resistance. Flower Carpet roses aren’t fussy […]

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June 17, 2008

Small Wonder

Mini-Me is a versatile petunia that is perfect for small pots and hanging baskets. Its tight, mounded and trailing habit exhibits good branching and beautiful flowering. Unlike other small-flowered petunias, Mini-Me displays tremendous uniformity across the series of nine colors, including Baby Pink, Blue, Dark Purple with Eye, Lilac Vein, Pink Star, Pink Velvet, Purple, Red and White. All are available as unrooted and rooted cuttings exclusively through Ball Seed. For more information about Mini-Me petunias or to place your order, contact your Ball sales representative, call 800-879-BALL or visit www.ballseed.com. Tips For Growing On To Finish Plant one rooted cutting per 4- or 5-inch (10- or 13-cm) pot, two to three rooted cuttings per 6.5-inch (16-cm) pot or three to five rooted cuttings per hanging basket. Select a sterile, well-aerated growing mix with an optimum pH range between 5.5 and 6.0. Avoid excessive irrigation when plants are young. Feed […]

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June 16, 2008

Tropical Delight

    Although the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) has always been known for looking green as an oasis full of gorgeous indoor plants, it is now becoming a place where people are thinking green. Hosted by Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association (FNGLA), TPIE is the only national tropical foliage event. Nearly 7,500 industry professionals representing 46 states, two U.S. territories and 54 countries participated in this year’s event, Jan. 17-19 at the Broward County Convention Center in Ft. Lauderdale. Major buyers from garden centers, interiorscapers, retailers and wholesalers were booking their 2008 orders of green goods. Nearly 500 exhibiting companies showcased a wide range of tropical plants and related products. “Exhibitors went all-out not only to present exciting plants and products, but to display them in an exciting and inspiring manner,” says Jane Van Cleave of J. Van Cleave Marketing, who chaired the event. “TPIE displays are reaching […]

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June 16, 2008

Hanging Around

The hanging basket portion of the market continues to expand, and the trend seems to be to complex mixed arrangements of flowering and foliage plants, similar to the expansion of the market for 14-inch and larger patio containers. Mono-culture containers still remain popular, but larger pot sizes and a preference for lifestyle purchasing are demanding that responsive retailers and growers learn how to put together mixed containers and hanging baskets that are both high quality and artistic. This market can be the cornerstone of a strong independent retail program or a high profit local market if it is done right. Complex mixes of plants and larger hanging basket sizes put local producers at a definite advantage because they have less concern with shipability of the plants in the mix and don’t have the freight charges that a larger producer would have to incorporate for long-distance delivery. Growing hanging baskets can actually […]

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June 16, 2008

Good Points

North Carolina State University  Trial location: North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C. (Trial is part of the National Poinsettia Trial Program in cooperation with Purdue University, University of Florida and Homewood Nursery and Garden Center). Trial managers: John Dole and Ingram McCall Plant date: Aug. 3 for low vigor cultivars and Aug. 17 for all cultivars (some cultivars were planted at both times). Weather conditions for the season: Excellent weather conditions; among the best in years. No hurricanes and lots of sun.    Best In Show/Best New Variety ‘Ice Punch’ scored the highest in consumer marketing studies. It is an easy-to-grow cultivar with good axillary shoot development and uniformity. Most novel color pattern since ‘Cortez Burgundy.’    Best Old Variety ‘Prestige Maroon,’ released last year, offers uniform, sturdy growth, excellent breaking and great color.   Top Performers Rounding out the top three in consumer preferences along with ‘Prestige Maroon’ were […]

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June 16, 2008

Poinsettia Prowess

However, when it comes to post-greenhouse durability, stem strength and shelf life for the consumer, Prestige has built a reputation that has made it the No. 1 selling poinsettia variety in the world. That was until now. New for 2007, ‘Prestige Early Red’ is being offered by the Paul Ecke Ranch to further extend the benefits of the Prestige genetics into the grower and retailer market. Like the original, ‘Prestige Early Red’ features strong stems and plant habit that has virtually eliminated problems with stem breakage due to transport and handling. ‘Prestige Early Red’ also offers the characteristic dark green leaves and deep red bracts preferred by consumers. Not only is this variety strong, it is beautiful. The contrast between red bracts and yellow cyathia clusters is outstanding. ‘Prestige Early Red’ flowers 10 to 14 days earlier than Prestige does, making it an ideal choice for the early season market. […]

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June 16, 2008

The Niagara Pack Trials: Heading North

Would you really like to see the new varieties at California Pack Trials, but can’t get away from the greenhouse in April? Is California too far to travel? A new solution is the Niagara Pack Trials, a showcase of flower breeders and their new introductions. Retail-ready greenhouse plants that will be ready to ship in spring 2009 will be on display. This, the second year of the event, will take place at trial sites all within a 90-minute drive in the Niagara region of Ontario. There is no charge for growers or retailers to attend the event. This year’s Niagara Pack Trials will take place June 25-26. “Niagara Pack Trials will be held in several greenhouses in a beautiful part of North America, just minutes from upstate New York and down the road from dozens of vineyards, great theater, Niagara Falls and the city of Toronto,” says Laurie Scullin, who […]

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June 16, 2008

Basket-Worthy Beauties

Ball FloraPlant Free-flowering and early-blooming under short days, Cabaret calibrachoa has a higher pH tolerance, so the foliage stays dark green longer. In addition to ‘Cabaret Peach,’ also new for 2008 are ‘Yellow Glow’ and ‘Purple Glow.’ They grow 6 to 10 inches tall with a spread of 8 to 12 inches and require full sun. Ball FloraPlant ‘Abunda Colossal Sky Blue’ joins the Abunda series for 2008. This new variety produces extremely large flowers for high impact. The big, beautiful blooms are set off by the dark green foliage. They reach a height of 8 to 12 inches and spread 8 to 12 inches in full sun.  Ball Horticultural Co. ‘Happy Hour Rose’ morning glory features abundant, pretty rose-red flowers, each with a white throat, over variegated foliage. Plants climb 6 to 9 feet and flowering starts when the vine reaches 3 feet. Ball Horticultural Co. ‘Titan Pure White’ […]

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June 16, 2008

The Classic City Awards for Perennials — The Best of 2006

Our yearly accounting of the great stuff, not merely the very good, takes us to perennials this month. Plants that held the attention of passers-by and caught our eyes throughout the season, or when they were truly spectacular, made this list. We are in Zone 7 (7b) with lots of sun, heat and humidity. Go buy, grow and sell these fine plants. All are available through your plant distributor or propagator. Aquilegia ‘Corbett’ Our little doll of the columbines! Another compact version of our native Canadian columbine, ‘Corbett’ can and will stand proudly next to our other proven variety, ‘Little Lanterns,’ but with pale yellow flowers instead of the typical red/yellow bicolor. It is named for the town in Maryland where it was originally found. Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ A healthy, green circular mound gives way to a purple beauty in the early fall. Dubbed ‘October Skies’ and introduced by North […]

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June 16, 2008

Variety Shorts

    Functional Beauty Athens Select recently announced several new varieties to its heat- and humidity-tolerant collection of plants for 2006-2007, including setcreasea ‘Blue Sue’ and hibiscus ‘Panama Red’ and ‘Panama Bronze.’ ‘Blue Sue’ offers functionality and beauty in one plant. Its leaves have a distinctive blue tinge throughout and a handsome purple margin. Plants are topped with pink flowers held in the leaf margins. This drought-tolerant plant is equally comfortable in full sun or dappled afternoon shade. Hibiscus ‘Panama Red’ PPAF and ‘Panama Bronze’ grow to a hardy 4 feet tall and are equally wide. Foliage for both varieties is deeply cut and beautiful, with the color remaining stable through even the hottest days. The pair love full sun and thrive in hot and humid conditions. A bright-red flower may even spring forth now and again. Use these ornamental hibiscus as accent plants in the garden or in containers. For […]

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June 16, 2008

Variety Shorts

Abounding Blooms New additions to American Takii’s lineup for 2007/2008 include petunia ‘Opera Supreme,’ pansy ‘Nature Carmine Shades With Blotch’ and flower kale ‘Pink Kamome.’ Petunia ‘Opera Supreme’ has a low, trailing habit and spreads to a width of 4 feet. White is extremely floriferous, producing massive quantities of flowers from the tips of the trailing branches to the center of the plant. Pansy ‘Nature Carmine Shades With Blotch’ is one of two new colors being added to the Nature series. Being a cross between pansy and viola imparts the best characteristics of both–wide color range and flower size and very high tolerance of both heat and cold, as well as profuse flower quantities. Flower kale ‘Pink Kamome’ is a unique color addition to the existing fringe-leaved Kamome series made up of White and Red. It expands the color assortment for cool weather programs, as well as retail packages of […]

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June 16, 2008

Are “Weird” Plants Part Of the Future?

Life used to be less complicated a few decades ago, didn’t it? Remember those prehistoric times when the supposed time-saving technologies of Internet, e-mail, Blackberries and digital cameras were not as commonplace as smog? And in the landscape and garden center arenas, have you not watched the lava flow of vegetative annuals wash over the simple days of traditional bedding plants? The lava flow was necessary. We needed more than one more marigold, we needed a lobelia that could live in temperatures higher than 65ËšF, and yes, we needed the beauty of plants like calibrachoa and argyranthemum, even though we still can’t pronounce them. Everyone is richer for the new material that fills the containers, baskets and parks in North America. But, geez Louise, are we scaring people with some of the more unusual material we are putting out there? Some might even call them weird. Remembering clearly that bacopa […]

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June 13, 2008

Shibata’s Memoirs

Yoshimi Shibata’s memoirs are now in print. Across Two Worlds, Memoirs of a Nisei Flower Grower traces a lifetime of challenges faced by a man who not only triumphed over personal adversity, including forced internment during WWII, but rose to become an international leader in the California floriculture industry. Founder and former president of the Wholesale Florist & Florist Suppliers of America, Shibata helped launch its first trade show and innovated many standard practices employed by the floral industry today. He also won a landmark victory in propagation rights that went all the way to the Supreme Court and resulted in a revolutionary new business model for proprietary plant varieties. He and his immediate family own and operate the Mt. Eden Floral Company, Mountain View, Calif., (www.mteden.com), which distributes floral products through various channels nationally and internationally. His other businesses include the Mt. Eden Nursery in Hayward, Calif., and the […]

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June 13, 2008

Bulking Up The Greenery

The situation: The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), www.usgbc.org, is a community of leaders working to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated. The Council’s LEED Green Building Rating System is the national benchmark for high performance green buildings. Each year, the USGBC holds the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, where industry professionals gather to learn about the leading edge of the building and construction industry, including the latest updates and expansions of LEED. At Greenbuild 2006, USGBC representatives met with Initial Tropical Plants, www.initialplants.com, a leader in interior plantscaping for businesses, and asked the company to be a sponsor of their new Washington, D.C., headquarters.  The Challenge The USGBC stands for healthy, vibrant and green work environments, but its new Washington headquarters, while sleek and beautiful, did not feature any greenery. Valerie Goldbeck, branch vice president for Initial Tropical Plants in Washington, D.C., and design […]

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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

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

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

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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