To Grow Or Not To Grow

Impatiens walleriana

Despite well-documented cases of impatiens downy mildew, impatiens still tops the list of bedding plants in terms of flats sold. Based on the 2011 Floriculture Crops Summary, 8,353,000 flats were sold in the USDA’s 15-state sample. In the potted plants category, impatiens are in fifth place behind vegetative geraniums, pansies, petunias and seed geraniums (in that order). They’re fourth in quantity sold among annual bedding plants in hanging baskets after petunias, vegetative geraniums and New Guinea impatiens.

Impatiens walleriana is clearly still a mainstay crop for many growers. The dilemma that many face is what to do this season. In general, consumers are not very aware of the disease and will still be expecting to purchase impatiens this spring. Many retailers are aware, and some still want to provide what their customers are looking for. Landscapers in affected states will probably stay away from impatiens, since damage is most severe in landscapes. At the top of this chain are growers, who are leery of selling a product to retailers that may develop the disease and produce unhappy customers. And, even if growers do decide to grow impatiens, how many should they produce with the uncertainty in the marketplace?

We went straight to the source, Greenhouse Grower’s Fresh Air Forum, to see what growers were planning to do this year.

Paul Westervelt (Saunders Brothers): We expect to sell many, many less. Our primary sales region (the greater Washington D.C. area) was hit pretty hard this year [2012](spring and fall), so we expect it to be a huge issue for landscapers, retailers and homeowners. We’re struggling now with how many to grow. We think we’ll sell out, but how responsible is it to sell something that is expected to fail? We’re offering alternatives and have a preventative spray program planned for the few we do grow. We’ve also talked with our vendors about their spray programs to make sure our program meshes well with theirs.

Erik Friedli (Flamingo Road Nursery): South Florida was hit last year, and our planting season is just starting again. We are not selling impatiens this year. We’re telling our customers that seeing them available in the box stores and elsewhere is an indication that they are not concerned with their success as gardeners. We are trying to switch customers to alternatives, but it is too soon to say how well we are succeeding.

Pamela Johnson (King Farm Inc.): We haven’t gotten hit hard yet with this problem, but we are cutting back this year by 40 percent and adding torenia to our program, along with more begonias and New Guinea impatiens. This year is going to be tough by far. Where’s that crystal ball?

Michael Pawelek (Farmer and Consultant): I am concerned that the few alternatives will not come close to selling like single impatiens. There are literally whole neighborhoods in the Houston, Texas, area with 100-plus-year-old live oaks shading most yards and esplanades where hundreds of thousands of single impatiens are planted every year.

This is a sad situation. I have been saying for years that breeders need to quit trying to come up with every flower color under the rainbow for every species of plant and instead concentrate on new offerings that were more disease-resistant and required less PGRs at the wholesale level. A good example of a job well done are the newer roses that have been produced in the last 15 years.

Paul Westervelt:
Begonias far outsell impatiens for us, so that’s an easy substitute in our region. Then [there’s] coleus and SunPatiens. We’re also offering other items in smaller numbers (unless customers book them in time to change production) — torenia, porphyracoma, oxalis, caladiums, browallia, ipomoea and anything else I’m confident I can finish.

Does it stink that one of our best selling annuals is being sabotaged by a super- contagious disease? Absolutely. But let’s focus on proactive solutions rather than the sky falling. Let’s get out in front of it so our customers and their customers are informed and have realistic expectations. I think quietly continuing to sell impatiens as if nothing’s wrong is like leading a blindfolded customer to a cliff and hoping they don’t fall off it. GG

Leave a Reply

One comment on “To Grow Or Not To Grow

  1. I recently changed jobs from nursery to landscape maintenance ( man do I miss the nursery!)and found very few nurseries in south Florida growing impatiens, although Home Depot continued to sell them. We put a few regular impatiens in the ground only to have them melt down in a matter of a week, two tops! The trend in south Florida landscapes this year was to plant New Guinea impatiens, wax begonias or geraniums. While this is a shame because impatiens offer such a wide variety of colors as opposed to begonias, it is the perfect opportunity for nurseries to expand their winter annual palette. There are many annuals get passed by because they are "Northern" annuals, but winter in south Florida is a great time for snapdragons, pansies, lobelia and various other annuals that get overlooked. I personally would like to encourage south Florida growers to consider it in the future.

More From Annuals...
Eason 2017 Perennials Guide

May 25, 2016

Eason Horticultural Resources Releases New Perennials Guide And Spring Trials Report

The two guides are available in digital and print versions and offer information from several breeders.

Read More
Echinacea ‘Butterfly Rainbow Marcella’

May 25, 2016

15 New Perennials For Bees, Butterflies, And Other Pollinators

These 15 new perennials, available for retail in 2016 and 2017, will produce colorful flowers and foliage year after year, providing habitat and food for bees, butterflies, birds, moths, and other pollinators.

Read More
P.Allen Smith Cut Flowers

May 25, 2016

Sakata Seed America And P. Allen Smith Extend Partnership To Add New Cut Flower Collection

Sakata is taking its partnership with plantsman P. Allen Smith a step further to create the P. Allen Smith Home Grown Cut Flowers Collection, a selection of premium cut flower seed hand-picked by Smith and bred exclusively by Sakata.

Read More
Latest Stories
NGI-SunPatiens-Compact-Hot-Coral-Sakata

March 23, 2016

P. Allen Smith Says SunPatiens Are Hero Plants For Cons…

Plants that ensure consumer success with disease resistance bred into their genetics, and ease of use in a variety of conditions, are heroes for gardeners, especially beginners, and they should be celebrated and supported to promote gardening success and interest. These are the messages the award-winning designer, gardening, and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith wants the horticulture industry to know, with the recent announcement of his expanded partnership with Sakata Seed. In an exclusive interview with Greenhouse Grower, P. Allen Smith describes his expanded partnership with Sakata Seed to promote SunPatiens and why the now 10-year-old series helps both novice and expert gardeners to be successful. Smith also collaborates with Sakata to promote the HomeGrown Collection of vegetables. SunPatiens Set Consumers Up For Success, Smith Says As a plantsman first, Smith has extensively trialed SunPatiens in his gardens at Moss Mountain Farm in Little Rock, AR, and says he is […]

Read More

March 15, 2016

California Spring Trials Central Region Preview: More N…

Spring is finally here, and you can draw inspiration from the hundreds of new varieties you’ll see at California Spring Trials (CAST) 2016. The annual exodus to the West Coast is coming up, but before you hit the trail, check out the slideshow below to see some of the new annuals making their debut to the trade this spring. Because so many annuals are revealed at CAST, we had to build two slideshows — one for the Northern Region and one for the Central Region. Last week’s focus was on the Northern Region, but this week we’re highlighting annuals that will be showcased in the Central Region. We asked breeders to share with us pictures and information on some of the great new annuals introductions they will debut at CAST 2016. They didn’t let you down. These new annuals introductions have all the great characteristics you’ve come to rely on from breeders — excellent […]

Read More

March 9, 2016

Get A Glimpse At New Annuals For 2017, Debuting At Cali…

California Spring Trials (CAST) is coming up, but before you hit the trail, here’s your chance for a glimpse at the new annuals that will be hitting the market in 2017. We asked breeders to share with us pictures and information on some of the great new annuals introductions they will debut at CAST 2016. They didn’t let you down. These new annuals introductions have all the great characteristics you’ve come to rely on from breeders — excellent branching, good uniformity, flower power, and most important, long-lasting garden performance. Check out the slideshow below to see some of the new annuals making their debut to the trade this spring. And because so many annuals are revealed at CAST, we had to build two slideshows – one for the Northern Region and one for the Central Region. This week we’ll focus on the Northern Region, but stay tuned for the Central […]

Read More

November 6, 2015

Greenhouse Production Tips For A Successful Spring Pans…

Following good, methodical growing practices from start to finish will produce a pansy crop that is not only green and healthy, but well-toned and able to withstand the potential extreme temperature and weather conditions of spring bedding crops.

Read More
Dahlia1

October 12, 2015

Dahlia Production Tips For High Quality Greenhouse Plan…

We are beginning to see a new generation of dahlia breeding where emphasis is moving back to staggered blooming and improved disease tolerance. Here are some tips for greenhouse production that will get your dahlias off to a strong start.

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
Salvia 'Ember's Wish'

March 11, 2015

Annual Salvias – Not Just Red Bedding Plants Anym…

Salvias are popular — and they need not all be the same. Here are a few you know well, and perhaps a few you do not. All are easy to grow and may be found through a broker or grower.

Read More

February 18, 2015

New Annuals For 2016 From California Spring Trials

California Spring Trials (CAST) is long past for 2015, but you still have the chance to see the new genetics that will be hitting the market in 2016. We asked breeders to share with us pictures and information on some of the great new annuals introductions they shared at CAST, so we could share them with you.

Read More

November 14, 2014

First Vegetatively Propagated All-America Selections (A…

All-America Selections (AAS) honors two vegetatively propagated impatiens with AAS winner status.

Read More

October 13, 2014

Growing Tips For Verbena

Rich Schoellhorn, product manager at Proven Winners, shares some tips for growing verbenas successfully.

Read More

October 13, 2014

Greenhouse Grower 2014 New Varieties Guide: Petunias [S…

Greenhouse Grower asked more than 40 breeders to send photos of new introductions they think are worth your attention. The result is the 2014 New Varieties Guide. See what petunias made the cut.

Read More

June 12, 2014

New Begonia Variety And Coleus Series, Plus Two Lobelia…

Terra Nova Nurseries introduces seven new varieties and one new series.

Read More

May 27, 2014

Two New Salvias Added To Southern Living Plant Collecti…

Two new salvia varieties are now available exclusively to growers from the Southern Living Plant Collection and Sunset Western Garden Collection.

Read More

May 9, 2014

New Petunias Making Their Debut In 2015

Take a look at the new petunia varieties that will be making their appearance in 2015.

Read More

April 23, 2014

Foliage Begonias May Be A Big 2015 Trend [Spring Trials…

A number of breeders debuted their rex begonia and begonia hybrid lines at 2014 Spring Trials.

Read More
Petunia 'Success Violet' from Benary

April 11, 2014

What’s New With Petunias For 2014? [Slideshow]

Breeders are rolling out great new petunia introductions for 2014. Take a look at the variety of petunias they have to offer.

Read More
Verbena 'Superbena Royale Whitecap' from Proven Winners

November 11, 2013

Three New Verbena Superbena Introductions From Proven W…

Three new varieties have joined the verbena Superbena line-up this year: 'Superbena Royale Plum Wine,' 'Superbena Royale Whitecap' and 'Superbena Violet Ice.'

Read More
Calibrachoa 'Mini Famous Double Blue' from Selecta

October 17, 2013

6 New Calibrachoa For 2013

Check out these lovely new introductions in calibrachoa.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]