January 19, 2009

The Endless Benefits Of Indoor Plants

One aspect of indoor air quality that’s received minimal attention to-date is the impact of plants on the removal of carbon dioxide, but three industry organizations have collaborated to shed some light on that benefit in a research project titled “Project” Carbon. The National Foliage Foundation (NFF) will fund the project. Green Plants for Green Buildings (GPGB) and Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA) have teamed with NFF for the project. The three organizations are hoping their research can reach a variety of sectors, including commercial foliage, plant and cut flower buyers, garden center representatives, supermarkets, chain retailers, wholesale and retail florists, interiorscape companies, buying cooperatives, brokers, landscape companies and public gardens, among others. You can view a preliminary report of the project here. The interim report will be completed by July 1, and a final report will be provided to NF on Nov. 1.

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January 16, 2009

Voila… Hollyhocks And Violas from Sahin

Hollyhocks (alcea) are one of those crops that will receive higher interest in the future. This plant has all the characteristics of a back-to-nature concept. This year, Sahin introduces a complete new series: Spring Celebrities. The first colors that will be introduced are Carmine Rose, Lemon, Purple and White. Additional colors are in the pipeline and will be released within two years. This hollyhock is an instant flowering perennial, so it doesn’t need a cool period before flowering. Compared to other series, a significant improvement on basal branching was observed. Plants are dwarf, multi-stemmed and excellent for use in large pots and in the garden. Landscapers will love Spring Celebrities’ vigorous development and fast establishment in the garden. Retailers will appreciate the basal branching and the compact height of this hollyhock.  Sahin is now offering clean seeds for easy plug production. Seeds germinate eight to 10 days after sowing at […]

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January 16, 2009

Perennials That Eat Up & Spit Out Stress

In our constant battle to bring the best plants to the attention of growers, landscapers and buyers, we once again unveil the Classic City awardees. I presented Classic City annuals in January, and in this issue I present the Classic City Awards in the category of Best Perennials. These recommendations are based on real data, not preference of color or plants remembered from grandmother’s garden. Real data. Real stinking weather at times. Real plants. Real opportunities. These and other equally wonderful plants from previous years can be found on The Gardens at UGA website. Plants are generally available from most brokers and distributors of fine plant material. Miscanthus ‘Gold Bar’ Miscanthus grasses have been around for many years, and provide value and beauty in the landscape. In general, they are tall, which can occasionally be a problem in smaller spaces. ‘Gold Bar’ has exceptional posture, providing a highly useful structure […]

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January 16, 2009

Contained Beauty

Abbott-IPCO ‘White Wonder’ is a new caladium from Abbott-IPCO that features a beautiful strap leaf and can tolerate full sun. Makes an excellent 4- to 10-inch pot plant with or without de-eying. It is similar in stature to White Ruffles but more upright and whiter, giving it a perky appearance. Ball Horticultural Co. Helianthus ‘Miss Sunshine’ is a 2010 introduction that’s exclusive from Ball. This pollen free variety won’t drop messy pollen and aggravate allergies. It’s mildew tolerant and requires less plant growth regulator input. Great for indoors, it can also be used as a landscape item in Florida. ‘Miss Sunshine’ continues to bloom with secondary flowers, and can reach a height of 16 inches and width of 8 inches. Another Ball exclusive is its double gloxinia, which is especially suited for 5- to 6-inch production and is available in five colors: red, orchid, purple, watermelon and purple speckled. They […]

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January 16, 2009

A New Niche: Grasses

As businesses and consumers go green, North American native grasses have leapt into the spotlight. Prized for their natural beauty and versatility, they offer the added environmental bonus of attracting birds, butterflies and other beneficial wildlife. To meet this growing demand for environmentally friendly choices that still make an impact, one supplier has answered the call with easy-growing options every grower will love. Known for its broad range of perennial starters and specialty plants, Emerald Coast Growers has made a name for itself in grasses, holding the distinction as one of North America’s largest ornamental grass liner suppliers. Now, Emerald Coast has developed Native Wonders, a full range of North American natives that takes full advantage of the grasses’ striking habits yet also provides the versatility to perform for many different uses. “This trend toward preserving nature and the environment is something we’ve been following closely,” says Cheri Markowitz, sales […]

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January 14, 2009

Mark Your Calendars For Cyclamen

Golden Fields Greenhouse in Castroville, Calif., will host its annual cyclamen trials beginning this Sunday, Jan. 18. The trials run through Jan. 23, and retail and wholesale growers are invited to attend. More than 300 cyclamen varieties from various breeders will be on display, and several breeder representatives will be attending to give tours and overviews of their new introductions. Those interested in attending should call 831-755-0570.

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January 13, 2009

Knock Out Rose Now Available In Yellow

Sunny Knock Out, a fragrant and yellow rose, has been added to the Knock Out Roses series for this spring. Sunny Knock Out has dozens of bright yellow, 3-inch blooms that transition to a pastel cream color and creates a two-tone effect on one plant. It also will bloom for five-plus months. Sunny Knock Out’s habit is slightly more compact and upright than the original Knock Out rose. Foliage is semi-glossy dark green and offers a rich contrast against the fragrant, yellow blooms. This particular rose will grow 3 to 4 feet high by 3 to 4 feet wide. It’s hardy to Zones 5-9, and available online through www.GreatGardenPlants.com or by calling 1-877-447-4769.

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January 13, 2009

Easy-To-Access Combos From Ball

Ball Horticultural Co. has posted more than 45 container gardening combinations and monoculture containers on its website for growers looking to create combo recipes. In addition to the recipes, growers will find easy-to-understand diagrams with container sizes and a listing of plants to be used. Ball has tested the containers to make sure they grow well throughout the season and promote customer success for repeat business. The site can be searched based on exposure for where the container will thrive, and retailers can download a PDF version of the container page for future use. For more information, visit http://www.ballhort.com/Retailers/Tips.aspx

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January 6, 2009

FNGLA Names Best Plants Of Decade

The Florida Plants of the Year program is in its 10th year now, and the Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association (FNGLA) is celebrating the program’s milestone anniversary by recognizing the Plants of the Decade. The 10 plants deemed Plants of the Decade include three flowering shrubs–one evergreen with pink flowers and guava-like fruit, one semi-woody butterfly attractor and the third, a low grower with masses of small white flowers. The remaining seven plants are a clumping fern, a flowering ground cover, a robust palm, a deciduous tree, a clumping native palm, a heat-tolerant perennial and a versatile houseplant. You might recognize a few of the selected varieties such as: – Groundcover ‘Perennial Peanut’–’Autumn Fern,’ an herbaceous perennial–’Firebush,’ a native semi-woody evergreen shrub –Torenia fournieri Summer Wave –Zamioculcas zamiifolia, a tropical perennial For more information, visit www.fngla.org.

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January 6, 2009

Try These Hibiscuses On For Size

Henry Buffinga, a Canadian plant breeder who works with Fleurizon, has introduced five new tropical hibiscus plants to the Northern Lights line. The introductions are improvements, according to Fleurizon, because individual flowers last up to seven days and there is no flower bud abortion during transport. The five new varieties are ‘HighLite,’ ‘Moonlight,’ ‘Sunlight,’ ‘Purple Planet’ and Northern Light.’ And they’re all available as cuttings from Takao Nursery in Fresno, Calif., and Bay Gardens in Apopka, Fla. ‘HighLite’ stands out because of its intense yellow flowers, and it’s a very fast growing variety with spectacular color. It’s recommended that you use extra plant growth regulator to keep the plant close to the growth of the other varieties. Flowers last four days. ‘Moonlight’ is a gorgeous variety with large flowers similar to ‘Sunlight.’ Flowers on both varieties last four to seven days. ‘Purple Planet’ has gorgeous purple with soft pink edge […]

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January 6, 2009

View: A Look Back On Poinsettia Season

Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery made his rounds to retailers. Now he’s ready to offer his assessment of the 2008 poinsettia season. Introduction The 2008 season was not the best I’ve seen with earlier discounting and lower consumer demand based of our observations of 40 retail locations in Florida and Colorado. It is certainly possible other areas of the country experienced stronger sales, but my sources tell me many other areas are down in demand and sell-through. We have heard stories of retailers canceling orders and rejecting the agreed-upon quantities. A Few Observations – Painted poinsettias are not as widely available as they have been in the past three years, with the most availability at independent garden centers (IGCs). – Glittered poinsettias were prominent with all national retailers and independents offering them in various sizes. – IGCs command a $4 to $6 price premium for glittered while the big boxes get […]

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January 6, 2009

Proud Of His Poinsettias

Phil Johnston, a Canadian grower, had some success using Gloeckner’s Fantasy Colors to paint his poinsettias this season. He shared photos of some of his favorite 6-inch poinsettias with us. The batch pictured was purchased from Rekker Gardens in Bowmanville, Canada. Johnston also purchases many poinsettias through Ontario Flowers. “The only other person that seems to realize the potential of [painted poinsettias] is P.J. Ellison and her rainbow poinsettia tree,” Johnston says. “We are getting $10 to $12 wholesale for these, and I am selling them retail for $19.99. Not bad for a 6 inch!” If you have photos of your favorite poinsettias and holiday crops from this season, be sure to send them to us at [email protected] We’ll be sure to share them in a future Benchrunner.

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December 22, 2008

On Safari With Fides

Right after Horti Fair last fall, Fides hosted a group of North American growers in South Africa. This was an opportunity not only to see where their kalanchoe cuttings come from but visit growing operations in another part of the world and take in cultural attractions while cultivating new friendships and business relationships. The tour was hosted by Reinoud and Rian Hagen of Fides North America, and the following growers participated: – Ed and Joanne Boekestyn, Boekestyn Greenhouse, Jordan Station, Ontario –Mickey Ferragine and Tony Gutta, Bradford Greenhouses, Barrie and Bradford, Ontario –Bert and Jane De Bolster, Hanemaayer Greenhouses, Vineland, Ontario –Sim and Debra McMurry, Metrolina Greenhouses, Huntersville, N.C. –Bob and Joanne Newhouse, Walden Gardens, Wainfleet, Ontario –Duane and Marion Van Alstine, Balfour Greenhouses, Fenwick, Ontario –Stuart and Liz Van Staalduinen, Bayview Flowers, Jordan Station, Ontario Based in Holland and owned by Kirin in Japan, Fides is a flower breeder-producer […]

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December 22, 2008

From Breeder To Market

On the way home from the group trip Fides hosted in South Africa (page 108), I spent two days visiting growers in Holland and Germany. I had the pleasure of spending an entire day with Ike Vlielander, who has devoted his career to breeding kalanchoes for Fides and helping growers succeed with their crops. In addition to visiting three Dutch growers who built their businesses on kalanchoes, we got up bright and early to visit the Flora Holland auction, which merged with the other large auction house in Aalsmeer this year. Inspired early on by legendary breeder Claude Hope, who had also worked with kalanchoe, Vlielander has introduced more than 160 varieties including the double-flowered Calandivas, which won six international awards in 2004. “When you think back 32 years ago, about 1 million kalanchoes were sold at the auction and grown from seed,” he says. “Now 100 million kalanchoe plants […]

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December 22, 2008

Fabulous Foliage

Fort Lauderdale, Fla., becomes the fashion runway for tropical foliage plants each January, when new varieties and interiorscaping concepts make their debut at the Tropical Plant Industry Expo (TPIE). The theme of this year’s event is “Tag It Tropical,” Jan. 15-17 at the Broward County Convention Center. Check out the following varieties and many more at the show. For more information about the show, visit www.tpie.org. Corn. Bak B.V. Dutch breeder Corn. Bak B.V. has introduced three new guzmania varieties that fit together as a series. Plants are fast-growing and suitable for 4-inch pots. ‘Ritmo’ (top) has an orange star-shaped inflorescence and is a welcome addition to the current assortment. ‘Tinto’ (middle) has a bordeaux red star-shaped inflorescence, bringing a new color to the collection. ‘Glossita’ (bottom) has a salmon-colored, star-shaped inflorescence. Florica Farms Florida grower Florica Farms has introduced two new dracaenas. ‘Art’ is similar to the old standby, […]

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December 19, 2008

How Many Poinsettias Can You Fit In A Car?

While the poinsettia season has been disappointingly soft for growers and retailers, consumers are taking advantage of bargains. Gary Mangum of Bell Nursery shared a picture his representative Kevin Spear took in the parking lot of a BJ’s Wholesale Club in Philadelphia. The customer bought 30 10-inch poinsettias to give as gifts. The year before, he came too late and all the 10-inch were gone. Do you have any pictures to share of your holiday crops or a recap of the season? Send them to Editor Delilah Onofrey at [email protected] and we’ll present them in a future edition of Benchrunner.

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December 18, 2008

Too Much White Christmas

Louisiana growers have come to expect the multiple hurricanes that plow through their region each year to cause structural damage to their greenhouses. But snow? Two to eight inches of it fell in a single day across the state a couple of weeks ago, and the snow’s weight caused many greenhouses to collapse. Fifteen of 18 greenhouses at Poole Brothers Nursery’s main location were damaged recently by unexpected Louisiana snowfall. Thirty-five of the 70 greenhouses at Poole Brothers Nursery in the central Louisiana collapsed under the weight of the snow. Owner Debbie Head says six inches fell at the nursery’s main location in Lecompte, where three of 18 houses were left standing. Poole Brothers has five locations in all, and some of its affected structures were new. Astoundingly, Head says the snow-caused damages are worse than the wind and heavy rain damages her nursery’s structures sustained from hurricanes Gustav and […]

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December 18, 2008

The Classic City Awards: Perennials

The Classic City Awards are presented in November after months of evaluation in The Gardens at the University of Georgia. Click here for the lowdown on the top 10 perennials from 2008 for the 2009 market. Miscanthus ‘Gold Bar’ ‘Gold Bar’ has exceptional posture, providing a highly useful structure as a border plant. The half inch creamy yellow bars that accent each bright green blade are striking and lure the viewer as they approach the plant. In this, its second year in the garden, plants were two and a half feet tall at the peak of summer. Tricyrtis ‘Kohaku’ What an exquisite beauty! The lavender petals gradually fade into a blue center. From the center of the bloom, a light yellow pistil and stamens arise, speckled with burgundy. Gaura ‘Snow Fountain’  Cascading petals of white resemble falling snow frozen in time without the bite of cold weather. The brightness of […]

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December 18, 2008

Rocky Mountain Poinsettia Report

Two weeks ago, marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery shared his assessment of retail poinsettias at North Florida box stores. This week, he offers his thoughts on poinsettias at independent garden centers and box stores in Denver, Colo. Introduction With less than 12 shopping days left, the roads were clogged and some retailers were extremely busy on Saturday, Dec. 13. Poinsettia inventories were fairly large, and most retailers were offering discounted prices ranging from 20 to 25 percent. At the national retailers, inventories were 90 percent red whereas independents like Paulino’s Garden Center, Echter’s, and Tagawa Garden Center offered an array of colors, novelties and painted poinsettias. Paulino’s Garden Center: One of the best marketers of poinsettias anywhere, featuring high-quality products that are very well merchandised on tables with appropriate spacing. They have really used the painted concept to differentiate themselves with unique artistic offerings. Echter’s Garden Center: A high-end retailer offering […]

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December 17, 2008

Proven Winners Taking Action Against Illegal Propagators

Occasionally, you’ll read about growers who’ve been caught propagating cuttings illegally. But in many cases, those growers may get away with a slap on the wrist. Proven Winners North America takes a different approach. In the most recent year alone, Proven Winners, through Royalty Administration International (RAI), caught 137 growers illegally propagating its plants. And it is taking even more aggressive steps in the coming year to protect its breeders and the integrity of the industry. Since 2000, Proven Winners has levied assessments of more than $1 million against illegal propagators. To discourage illegal propagation, Proven Winners recently increased its illegal propagation fine from $1 to $2 per cutting. And RAI, an organization providing patent and royalty enforcement support to Proven Winners North America, flower breeders and other plant marketers, will be increasing the number of grower visits it makes with better territorial management and the hiring of additional field […]

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