If you want to visit a neutral company that works with just about all the flower breeders, Plug Connection in Vista, Calif., is the place. In addition to facilitating a comprehensive comparison trial in new varieties against others on the market, the company selects vegetative crop categories to trial. This year it was petunias ranging from the small-flowered petunias to large ones in all color classes.
Pack Trials continue to be a great opportunity for Plug Connection to showcase its own collections of offerings, which are expanding every year. New this year is the Mosaics collection of succulents, which were presented in a giant living wall, in combination plantings, pots, liner trays and even whimsical topiaries. There is now question this category is capturing more attention. Consumers are intrigued by their sculptural qualities and love the fact they are low maintenance and require less water. In regions with watering restrictions, succulents fit the bill.
Now in its third year, Plug Connection’s Organiks certified organic line of vegetables and herbs is taking off with licensed growers. Sunbelt Greenhouses in Georgia is serving the Southeast. Armstrong Growers in California serves California, Arizona and Las Vegas. Armstrong is the largest independent garden center chain, comprising the Armstrong Garden Centers in the West and Pike Family Nurseries in the Southeast. Sunbelt is the grower that serves the Pike chain. In the Northwest, Tanasacres Nursery is serving Washington and Oregon. Plug Connection is looking for licensed growers to serve the Northeast and Midwest.
Beyond the Organiks line of finished plants in biodegradable pots, Plug Connection dedicated speculative production of certified organic vegetable and herb plugs and sold out every week, says Juan St. Amant, who is in charge of product development. “Overall, we’re up 30 percent this year,” he says. “That’s part of why our theme this year is ‘A Favorable Outlook.’ The landscape trade is hurting, no doubt, but for the rest of us, weather is more important. There is opportunity in gardening and growing vegetables.”
Plug Connection also is exploring adding a line of tropicals, such as cordylines and acalyphas, to compliment the Royal Hawaiian colocasias.