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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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

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

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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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

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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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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