Succeed With Succulents

Succeed With Succulents

[imageviewer]

Up until recently, succulents were grouped with cacti in niche collections. But unlike their prickly counterparts, succulents have really taken off, capturing a lot of consumer and designer interest. In addition to resembling living sculpture, plants are versatile and easy to use by offering the benefits of low maintenance and low water use.

Succulents are showing up at retail in dish gardens, as showy specimens, living walls, picture frames, topiaries, wreaths and centerpieces for indoor and outdoor use. Garden writers and celebrities are promoting them. Stylish home décor stores like Anthropologie and Crate & Barrel are carrying them as centerpieces. “There are so many textures and colors you don’t see in flowering material,” says Juan St. Amant of Plug Connection in Vista, Calif.

Vista just may be the succulent capital of the world. Major producers include Altman Plants, Plug Connection and EuroAmerican Propagators in nearby Bonsall. Ken and Deena Altman began their journey collecting cacti and succulents 35 years ago. Pretty soon, Ken will be publishing a succulent primer for consumers that’s similar to one he and Deena relied on as teenagers.

“For a niche product line, passion is a very good thing,” Deena says. “The details are so important, what collectors want to see. Just like us, they started with one plant. We are the only wholesale grower with our size and volume who tags genus, species and cultivars instead of selling generic cacti and succulents.”

Altman Plants maintains at least a thousand varieties of succulents on benches and benches of stock plants over 200 acres. Nearly three years ago, the company put in a tissue culture lab to propagate more difficult varieties and slower varieties more rapidly. “It’s something we can’t go to Ball or Express to get,” Deena says. “We have to be able to produce seed. Some varieties take decades to flower and produce seed. We’re taking care of large plants and managing seed. The inventory we have is incredible to deliver size and beauty to the marketplace. Some plants take 18 to 30 months from seed to produce a 2 1/2- or 4-inch pot.”

Altman Plants also has started patenting its breeding in succulents and sells liners under its Succulent Elements program through brokers Messick Co., McHutchison and McGregor Plant Sales. Program tags can be ordered with the plants.

Wholesale finished plants for retailers range in size from 2 ½-inch pots to 36-inch patio boxes, wall baskets, wire baskets and wreaths. A landscape line has been selected for Texas, California and Florida.

Shifting Supply Chains

While most of the production had been self propagation by growers, more offshore cuttings farms have added succulents to their unrooted offerings. Today, growers produce succulents from bought-in cuttings, self propagation, tissue culture and plugs and liners. There are a few varieties from seed, like Benary’s sedum ‘Dragon’s Blood.’

Tissue culture has been reserved for the difficult-to-propagate, showier premium varieties. “Tissue culture varieties are what people are interested in,” says Chris Berg, marketing director of EuroAmerican Propagators. “Yes, sedums and crassulas are easily done and have been around forever, but they are typical and not the most exciting array. Now there are dyckias, agaves and portulacas in really cool colors.”

Plug and liner growers are finding the interest and demand comes in spurts and not all at once like with annuals. Plug Connection produces its Tessera line of succulents in 102 cells for smaller varieties and 72 cells for echeverias. Sampler trays are available in both tray sizes. Growers can purchase off availability or the succulents can be assembled to order.

One Northeastern specialist, Peace Tree Farm in Kintnersville, Pa., grows larger liner sizes–50 and 72 counts. While larger liners take longer to produce, the turn is quicker for growers who purchase them, finishing a 4-inch pot in six to eight weeks. About 60 percent of the cuttings are bought in and the rest are self propagated. In the future, Peace Tree will be doing more of its own propagation.

“For us, it’s important because there are a lot of succulents being propagated right now,” owner Lloyd Traven says. “When you feel like you’re ahead of the curve and then everybody is doing it, you have to adjust and concentrate on varieties others aren’t carrying.” In addition to the classic succulents, Peace Tree is producing plants in genera you wouldn’t expect to be succulents–peperomias, begonias and tradescantias.

Advice For Northern Growers

If you’re a Northern grower and new to succulents, how should you begin? Plug Connection’s Greg Opgenorth says growers should consider cold hardy lines–sempervivums, sedums and delospermas. “In colder climates, these can be used as perennials, in rock gardens and in xeriscaping,” he says. While they are forgiving, extreme cold is detrimental.

Cast iron plants Traven recommends include crassulas, echeverias, euphorbias, graptoverias, graptopetalums, sedums and sempervivums. Growers who are new to succulents can get started with a few echeverias and a few sedums. “Look for a variety of colors and types,” he says. “Certain echeverias grab attention–fuzzy ones, silver ones, rippled, ruffled. White ones really attract attention. Don’t go for regular green, gray stuff that everyone else has. If all you’re doing is growing those in a 3 ½-inch or 4-inch plastic pot, you’re slugging it out with everyone else.”

For growers who are used to producing petunias, Traven says, “You cannot think in terms of bedding plants and be successful. The soil mix is different. It’s all about water management. If you have a grower whom you consider to be a dry grower, that’s the guy you put in charge. You don’t want a lot of feed or the plants to be soft.” Surprisingly, many succulents don’t want full sun. “That’s where people lose plants–watering them in the height of the day and they end up burning,” he says.

But overwatering is the biggest problem. “It’s so easy to overwater and kill them,” Traven says. “When you take cuttings, let them sit 24 hours. Don’t touch them. Let the ends dry out. Then have trays filled, watered in, stick the cuttings, put the trays through the water tunnels and don’t touch them. When you start to think the plants need water, walk away. Most of the plants, if they are stuck in moist soil, don’t need more moisture to root.”

Altman suggests growers choose tough plants that provide high color and require less light. Blooming varieties will be more difficult to produce in flower up North, she adds. Slower growing plants will finish more uniformly. “California is ideal with its high light and cool nights to bring out the unique colors and shapes,” she says. “You need a house that cools down.”

Chris Berg, marketing director of EuroAmerican Propagators, advises growers to produce the plants outdoors as much as possible. “This is how you’ll get the bright oranges, yellows, reds, purples and variegation,” he says, adding that Northern growers may want to buy in certain varieties finished from growers in Southern climates, because they take too long to produce in the winter.

Growers can make an impact at retail with an assortment of 10 to 15 varieties with cool colors and textures for retail displays. “You don’t have to have 50 varieties to get into the category. If you have 10 really unique things, you’re going to have a lot of success,” Berg says.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Succeed With Succulents

  1. i just got a blue mystic and it is beautiful. it’s sure to be a big hit. i just started with orchids so i’m really excited about this one. keep them coming.

  2. i just got a blue mystic and it is beautiful. it’s sure to be a big hit. i just started with orchids so i’m really excited about this one. keep them coming.

More From Varieties...

June 30, 2015

Opportunities Abound For Women In Horticulture, Says Dosatron International’s Lela Kelly

My love for horticulture goes back to my grandparents who were farmers in upstate New York. My family’s involvement in agriculture left a lasting impression that has spanned decades, and still drives my passion for our industry today. I started my career in horticulture when I owned a greenhouse, nursery and garden center in Sayville, Long Island, N.Y. We specialized in ground cover production, later branching out to producing perennials and bedding plants.     I then went onto wholesale hard goods distribution. In the 1980s, I was the first woman salesperson on Long Island. What an eye opener that was! New York is a very special place, different from anywhere else in the country. You cannot imagine how difficult it was walking into greenhouses and nurseries as a woman, in a man’s world. Luckily, I grew up in New York City in an Italian family, who taught me great […]

Read More
Medal of Excellence Award

June 30, 2015

Get To Know The 9 Variety Finalists For Editor’s Choice And Industry’s Choice Awards

Greenhouse Grower‘s Evening Of Excellence reception is rapidly approaching. Here, you can learn more about the varieties that are finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice and Industry’s Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ (Kieft Seed) Vinca Valiant Series (PanAmerican Seed)     Join us Monday, July 13 in Ballroom 2 at the Columbus Convention Center to find out which varieties will receive the coveted awards. The reception begins at 5:15 p.m. and the ceremony […]

Read More
lighting feature

June 29, 2015

Customizing Crop Foliage Color With LEDs: Red Leaf Lettuce

In the first of a four-part series highlighting the multiple uses of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), researchers share how end-of-production supplemental lighting with LEDs enhances red leaf lettuce color prior to harvesting and shipping.

Read More
Latest Stories
Medal of Excellence Award

June 30, 2015

Get To Know The 9 Variety Finalists For Editor’s …

Greenhouse Grower‘s Evening Of Excellence reception is rapidly approaching. Here, you can learn more about the varieties that are finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice and Industry’s Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ (Kieft Seed) Vinca Valiant Series (PanAmerican Seed)     Join us Monday, July 13 in Ballroom 2 at the Columbus Convention Center to find out which varieties will receive the coveted awards. The reception begins at 5:15 p.m. and the ceremony […]

Read More

June 24, 2015

Perennial Container Combos And New Intros Shine At 2015…

Despite a rainy start to the day, more than 300 perennial enthusiasts showed up at 2015 Darwin Perennials Day to see the latest perennial introductions first-hand and connect with some of the best suppliers in the business.

Read More
2015 Readers' Choice

June 24, 2015

The 2015 Readers’ Choice Finalists Up Close And P…

You’ve narrowed the Readers’ Choice Finalists down to top picks in the Annuals, Perennials and Best of the Rest categories. Now it’s time to pick the overall winner. Here’s a closer look at the three finalists to help you make your choice. Then join us during Cultivate'15 at Greenhouse Grower's prestigious Medal of Excellence reception on Monday, July 13, where we will reveal the winner.

Read More
WavePetunias-GrowIt_contest_featured

June 18, 2015

Wave Petunias Sponsors Photo Contest Through GrowIt! Ga…

The gardening season is heating up and the Wave Petunias Team wants to see the #WildestWave. The popular plant brand has joined forces with the GrowIt! Garden Socially app to host a two week contest in June that encourages Wave Fans to share and rate photos of their favorite Wave Petunias. The grand prize is a $100 gift card to the garden center of the winner’s choosing. “We are excited to work with GrowIt! and see our Wave Petunias tagged in cities from coast to coast,” says Claire Watson, brand manager for Wave. “Seeing gardeners’ creative photography, awarding a winner, and learning what each region likes about Wave Petunias will be extremely useful as we further promote our ‘Wow ’em With Wave’ ad campaign this season.” Gardeners can place an entry into the contest by downloading GrowIt!, filling out a profile, and uploading photos of Wave Petunias. Placing the tag #WildestWave in the photo’s comments section […]

Read More
Kaleidoscope Abelia (Plant Haven International)

June 17, 2015

PlantHaven International Launches National Campaign To …

PlantHaven International has partnered with BlueSkye Creative to initiate a national consumer ad campaign that carries across radio, video, print and social media to increase sales of Abelia Kaleidoscope.

Read More

June 17, 2015

Green Leaf Plants Plans Two Open House Events June 25-2…

Green Leaf Plants will hold two open house events this summer to give the public a chance to view trial gardens, take guided tours and learn about new varieties and programs. Both events will be held at Green Leaf Plant's facility in Lancaster, Pa. The event in July will coincide with Penn State University Extension Trials in nearby Manheim.

Read More
Suntory_EuroAmerican Propagators_CAST2015

June 17, 2015

ePlantSource Welcomes EuroAmerican to list of Partners

ePlantSource recently announced a new partnership with EuroAmerican. A complete assortment from EuroAmerican is now available on ePlantSource.com and varieties are available for sale now to customers for the 2015-2016 season. In addition to the innovative varieties included in EuroAmerican’s “Growing Opportunities — 365 Days a Year” program, Savvy Succulents, the Sunny Collection, the Senetti Collection and offerings from breeders such as Suntory and Ball Ornamentals, ePlantSource customers will also gain access to the well known Proven Winners assortment and combination containers. “During the recent California Spring Trials, I had the opportunity to sit down with John Rader at the impressive display in Ventura from EuroAmerican and I couldn’t be happier to now offer the complete EuroAmerican assortment to our customers,” says Gary Falkenstein, president/CEO of ePlantSource. “EuroAmerican is a visionary company and we are proud that they have chosen to work with ePlantSource for the coming seasons.” Catalog listings, […]

Read More
Pleasant View Gardens Open House

June 14, 2015

Pleasant View Gardens And D.S. Cole Growers Open House …

D.S. Cole Growers and Pleasant View Gardens, both a short distance away from each other in Loudon, N.H., have set July 30 as the date for their open house events. Attendance is free, but registration is required.

Read More

June 13, 2015

Bailey Nurseries’ Minnesota Expo 2015 Takes Place…

Bailey Nurseries will hold its Minnesota Expo 2015, a jam-packed event showcasing its farm and plants, on July 30 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in St. Paul, Minn. In addition to farm tours, participants can enjoy new varieties, hot picks and merchandising displays, as well as attend various seminars through the day. Registration is required.

Read More
2015 Readers' Choice

June 12, 2015

Vote For Your Favorite Finalist For Greenhouse Grower&#…

It's time for you, our readers, to decide which variety is picked as the best new introduction in 2015. Voting is now open for Readers' Choice Finalists.

Read More
gapanthus DuchessofDazzle_featured

June 10, 2015

24 Plants That Can Handle Drought

These drought and heat tolerant varieties are both eco-friendly and worry-free garden performers.

Read More
hort couture_Asclepias Monarch's Promise_featured

June 9, 2015

ePlantSource And Hort Couture Partner On Variety Availa…

ePlantSource, a Colorado-based online broker of live goods to professional greenhouse growers, recently announced that the complete collection from Hort Couture is now available to be purchased through ePlantSource.com for the 2015-2016 season. The collection from Hort Couture, which offers exclusive varieties to be retailed through independent garden centers only, includes a full line of annuals, tropical, succulents, herbs, vegetables and ornamental grasses. “We are very excited to add the Hort Couture collections to what ePlantSource offers to professional greenhouse growers,” says Gary Falkenstein, president/CEO at ePlantSource. “We feel they have an exciting concept and they do a fantastic job at selecting products that bring a great draw to independent garden centers.” In making the announcement, ePlantSource touted Hort Couture’s pride in selecting varieties that will help independent garden centers stand apart from their big box counterparts, as well as its rigorous genetic evaluation program to ensure success for growers, […]

Read More
Allan Armitage At Tradeshow

May 15, 2015

Allan Armitage On Plants: We Are Alive And Well, Thank …

Allan Armitage tells why the horticulture industry is about the people, not the plants, not the marketing and not the social media, and why horticulture is here to stay.

Read More
Coleus-Campfire-BallFloraPlant

May 6, 2015

Costa Farms Releases 2015 Midseason Top Performers

Costa Farms has announced the mid-season top performers in its 2015 Season Premier Trial Garden. Its research and development team has been working to grow and evaluate hundreds of varieties and their findings have been published online.The plants presented in the report have thrived in Miami’s mid-spring conditions. Every spring, the company’s research and development team trials more than 500 varieties of annuals, perennials and tropical plants from plant breeders around the world. All of the varieties have been tested in Costa Farms’ 2-acre Season Premier Trial Garden in Miami, Fla. The team assesses the plants for abundance of bloom, crop uniformity and overall performance. Within the report, the varieties are organized by their color. “There’s one thing pretty much everyone who shops has in mind when they step into a garden center: color,” the report states. Because of that, the report is divided by hue, so everyone can zero in on their favorite. Click here to […]

Read More

May 1, 2015

18 New Grasses To Grow

Ornamental grasses fit in with the needs of today’s landscapers and consumers better than ever. Whether your customers are looking for creative solutions for patio containers or a mass planting in a landscape, some of the 18 new varieties included here are sure to meet the need.

Read More
PP&L CAST 2015 intros

April 22, 2015

6 Breeding Companies Serve Up New Varieties At Pacific …

Pacific Plug & Liner’s theme this year, Labyrinth, a conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants, was perfectly topped off (pun intended) with fascinators for the women and newsboy caps for the men. The PP&L team dressed their part to act out the gothic “conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants.” Truly, the displays looked like they practically popped out of a catalog, and the costumes were a nice touch. Retailers take heed, the fully merchandised displays at Pacific Plug & Liner are worthy of emulating. We’ll let the pictures tell the story of all the fabulous variety introductions presented at  Pacific Plug & Liner’s 2015 California Spring Trials, where Cultivaris, Cohen Nurseries, Histil Nurseries, Jaldety Nurseries, Southern Living/Sunset Collection and Pacific Plug & Liner all highlighted their 2016 introductions.  

Read More
Speedling 2015 CAST intros

April 22, 2015

Speedling Inc. Presents New Varieties From ABZ Seeds, H…

You name it, we saw it at Speedling's California Spring Trials location in San Juan Bautista, where five companies showed off their new introductions for 2016.

Read More
Danziger_Coreopsis_Solanna Glow1

April 22, 2015

Industry Perspective: McHutchison’s Vaughn Fletch…

Vaughn Fletcher with McHutchison Horticultural Distributors is part of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence For Industry’s Choice Panel. Fletcher recounts some of the standout varieties he saw while visiting Danziger "Dan" Flower Farms and Beekenkamp during California Spring Trials.

Read More