April 19, 2010

MasterTag’s SnapTag Solves Tag Dilemma

Research MasterTag recently conducted found 62 percent of gardeners prefer to use tags as an in-house reference and 66 percent prefer to use them as garden markers. If you do the math, it’s clear tags as they’re currently designed can’t serve both functions. But that’s why MasterTag has designed the SnapTag, a two-tags-in-one item that serves as both reference material and a garden marker for the home gardener. SnapTags benefit growers because they can be used as stock or custom options and they help growers differentiate their product. In addition to SnapTags, MasterTag has developed a program for creating beautiful container gardens called Container Creations. Combination planters were seen at just about every Spring Trials stop this year but most of the combos we saw were pre-selected for consumers. Container Creations, however, leaves the creativity to consumers. Special tags have been created for the program that identify plants with upright, […]

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April 19, 2010

The New Speedling

Speedling has been known as one of the industry’s top young plant growers for years – it recently ranked fourth on our Top 25 Young Plant Growers List with 275 to 280 million young plants produced last year – but the operation is producing more finished plants these days and is serving as a contract grower where it can. “We’re trying to branch out on finished and pre-finished [plants],” says Speedling’s Kathy Enders. “We’re trying to do more contract growing in large pot production, and we’re doing some of the tougher crops like gerbera.” “Speedling is reinventing itself. We’re updating our computer system for quicker response times, for example, and we’re hoping to have it up by September.” Enders also discussed Speedling’s seed geranium program that typically lasts 10 weeks. “Usually, you have 15- or 16-week crop times on geraniums,” she says. “But generally the crop you’re getting from us […]

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April 19, 2010

Taking Cyclamen Outdoors

A colleague and I last week visited Greenheart Farms, where we saw several different varieties of cyclamen on display. My colleague, an avid gardener, commented there how he’d love to add cyclamen to his garden, but he a cyclamen expert told him cyclamen historically have not worked well as an outdoor crop in the United States. Then, on Friday, I visited Schoneveld Twello, a cyclamen breeder, showcasing its new varieties and one new series at Speedling. Schoneveld conducts cyclamen trials outdoors in The Netherlands each year for its Picasso, Mini Winter and Verano series–it’s conducted trials for five years now–and Siebe-Dirk Streekstra shared the results of this year’s trials with us. Schoneveld found that it’s Picasso cyclamen series are the most suitable outdoors. Plants don’t suffer from botrytis infections, Streekstra says, and blooms are hardy. A few varieties–’Wine Red,’ ‘Red,’ ‘Dark Salmon Pink’ and ‘Dark Violet’ exceeded 20 days of […]

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April 16, 2010

Taking Mums In A New Direction

Syngenta wants to give Yoder mums a contemporary spin, and it’s introducing retail programs like Mum Mania and Daisy Delights to capture the attention of younger consumers. Syngenta is also working with John Henry Company on containers, labels and signage that match each mum’s color and style. “We’ve been looking for different ways to add excitement to pot mums,” says Liz Hunt, a Syngenta Flowers product manager. “We’ve been working on coming up with bi-colors and different flower forms, and we’ve looked at different ways to combine flower forms and colors to create a different presentation at retail.” Syngenta also has new tools for growers to make production easier, as well. “Our new garden mum catalog features a lot of great tools for sales reps and growers to put together programs–a spring program or a natural-season program, for example,” Hunt adds. “We’re just trying to simplify things.”

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April 16, 2010

Allan’s Top Four On Thursday

Syngenta Dianthus Diabunda series:  In this day and age of petunias and calis, it is nice to see that some of the old folks didn’t get left behind. One of the old folks is dianthus, an old fashioned plant but one that keeps working for us. It is good to see some new breeding in this great grand dame, and the Diabunda series caught my eye. These selections of Sweet William offer the grower a quick turnover, as I was told that plants don’t need vernalization, quite a breakthrough when one thinks how much vernalization the old Sweet Williams needed. Available in 6 colors, these vigorous plants would be excellent for 6-inch or gallon containers. Oro Farms Erysimums: What in the world is an erysimum? As my colleague and good friend Royal Hines at Oro said, “Erysimum is a obligate cold-requiring plant…”  And the austute group with him said “Whoa, […]

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April 16, 2010

Contract Growers Called On For Oro Liner Program

Oro Farms introduced and explained its new liner production program to us Thursday at Spring Trials in Gilroy. The program’s concept is different than traditional rooting station-type liner programs in that contract growers will produce liners to Oro’s specs, and liners will then be sold and distributed through Oro Farms. The first two contract growers in Oro’s program are Van Wingerden International (N.C.) and Head Start Nurseries (Calif.) “One issue with liners in the past is there has been inconsistency in production,” says Brian Gold, CFO of Oro Farms. “We feel like we’ve done a good job penetrating the market to larger growers. Many small and mid-sized growers don’t use unrooted cuttings, and this creates a way to get better market penetration with our genetics.” Other contract growers will likely join the program in the coming seasons, Gold adds. Learn more about Oro Farms at OroFarms.com.

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April 16, 2010

Highlights From Danziger

Danziger is showcasing all 298 of its varieties at Spring Trials in Gilroy, where introductions like ‘Alonia Big Blue’ angelonia, Scopia Double bacopas and eight new Noa calibrachoa varieties are among the standouts. ‘Alonia Big Blue’ has much thicker, sturdier stems and bigger flowers than its predecessor, ‘Alonia Blue.’ It joins four other varieties in the Alonia series, but it’s the first ‘Big’ variety in the series. In addition to the Scopia Doubles, ‘Great Pink Crown,’ ‘Dynamic White,’ ‘Blue’ and Silver’ are new in the Scopia series. Twenty varieties now make up the Danziger bacopa series. One new and one improved helichrysum are on display at Danziger, as well, in ‘Dark Red’ and ‘Purple Improved.’ Other Danziger standouts: ‘Brasco Violet’ brachysome; ‘Noa Black Purple,’ an extremely dark calibrachoa variety in the series; and lobelia ‘Snow White.’ Danziger also has some unique new heuchera in the Kira series.

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April 16, 2010

Kwik Kombos Kick Off

Syngenta Flowers’ Mark Seguin, who manages this program, says, “We underestimated the interest and potential. The only issue has been availability.” Kwik Kombos debuted last year as an answer to the Confetti Garden program from Dummen and Trixie liner program from Selecta. Syngenta has been setting its program apart by incorporating more genuses and offering a smaller liner size—a 102-cell in a geranium strip instead of a 50 or 72. The big question was will it take longer for the smaller liners to finish? Seguin demonstrated comparable results when the liners were lit for five weeks and pinched. The smaller liners offer freight savings, getting twice as many units in the same shipment. The next step is to offer the Kwik Kombo mixes unrooted and to evaluate more combinations. Seventeen are currently offered and 55 more are being studied. “Just because a combination makes a nice basket doesn’t mean it will […]

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April 16, 2010

Combos Made Easy

Combo programs like Confetti Garden, Kwik Kombos and TrixiLiner rose to prominence in the last year. Now, Oro Farms is jumping into the combos market with its Combos Made Easy program. The plants selected for Oro’s combos are compatible to grow together, and Oro’s Brian Gold says all combos have require just one similar PGR application. “Most combos in the containers have six cuttings,” Gold says. We’re making recipes available to our customers.”

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April 15, 2010

Can You Name This Petunia?

Dömmen welcomed its guests at Edna Valley Vineyards in San Luis Obispo with the challenge of naming this pink petunia. What do you think? I say Dömmen should go with ‘Malibu Pink.’ Or, if Dömmen really wants to have some fun with the name and it can get away with this, go with ‘Malibu Barbie Pink’ petunia. Have a name in mind? Send your response by e-mail to info@dummenusa.com.

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April 15, 2010

Magnum, Stardust Series The Discussion At Dömmen

The flowers on Dömmen’s new Magnum New Guinea impatiens series aren’t just big–they’re enormous. And six varieties in the series debuted this week at Edna Valley Vineyards in San Luis Obispo, including New Guinea impatiens like ‘Magnum Fire’ and ‘Magnum White Blush.’ “Magnum is a large-flowering variety that’s very vigorous,” says Dömmen’s Perry Wismans. “We don’t recommend it for 1-inch but it’s good in 5- or 6-inch [containers].” Other colors in the series are: –Blue–Lavender–Salmon; and–Peach Dömmen’s other series introduction, Stardust, kicks off with three varieties, including ‘White Sparkle,’ a low-growing, compact euphorbia. Little green was visible in the ‘White Sparkle’ on hand at the Dömmen trial. Compared to another Dömmen euphorbia showcased, ‘Silver Fog,’ the newer euphorbia featured twice as many, if not more, flowers. Other Stardust varieties are ‘Pink Glitter’ and ‘Pink Shimmer.’

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April 15, 2010

Dragone, Potunia Touched Up

In addition to its Magnum and Stardust series, Dömmen has added varieties to several existing series like Dragone begonias, Potunia petunias and Survivor pelargoniums. New in the Dragone series are ‘Champagne,’ ‘Pink Hope, ‘White Blush’ and ‘Sunset.’ These new, lighter colors contrast well with Dragone’s dark foliage. Large flowering is still a major Dömmen objective with the series. The popular Potunia series welcomes a few newcomers, as well: ‘Blackberry Ice,’ ‘Papaya’ and ‘Piccola Blue Vein’ are among this year’s introductions. The standout among the new petunias is ‘Papaya,’ which essentially covered its container with flowers and left no foliage to be seen. Survivor, meanwhile, welcomes two pelargoniums aboard in ‘White 2011′ and ‘Light Salmon.’ Salmon is also seen in Dömmen’s new Magnum series.

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April 15, 2010

New Decade For Knock Out Roses

Just a week before the California Spring Trials, an announcement shook the rose landscape. Brokers and growers who had sold and produced the revolutionary Knock Out roses for 10 years would no longer have access at the young plant stage. When we visited Greenheart Farms on Wednesday during the trials, General Manager and Chief Operations Officer Bill DeVor explained why Conard-Pyle went to a more exclusive arrangement to control production and marketing and rescue the roses from becoming devalued and commoditized in the marketplace. “The market is saturated now. I’ve seen a gallon pot being sold for three bucks,” DeVor says. “That’s why Conard-Pyle had to get its arms around the product.” As a young plant producer, Greenheart Farms is more focused on small to medium growers and Northwest Horticulture serves larger operations. Changes go into effect in July. Also new is packaging requirements for the product. All Knock Outs […]

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April 15, 2010

Allan’s Picks From Greenheart And Dummen

Greenheart Micro Miniature roses:  Bill DeVor, the rose grower at Greenheart, showed us the new wave of roses coming down the pipe and he discussed some good ideas.  The micro miniatures were the most interesting to me in that they are being selected as an “annual” rose.  That is, a small rose that can be planted with other sun loving bedding plants, watered overhead at 2:00 am and abused like a begonia or petunia, and not get foliar diseases or otherwise fall apart.   If they can stand bedding plant abuse and the flowers and foliage remain at least as healthy and ornamental as the plants around them, then why not have a bedding rose.   Time will tell, I look forward to trying them out. Dummen Magnum New Guinea impatiens:  It is hard to have a series of impatiens stand out from the bazillions of impatiens already out there.  The Magnum […]

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April 14, 2010

Jiffy Off & Running At Spring Trials

Jiffy is exhibiting for the first time this year at California Spring Trials, where the company unveiled its “Plant In A Jiffy” program targeting garden center retailers. Essentially, Jiffy plans to produce paper sleeves and attractive plant carriers that garden center retailers would offer as impulse items in checkout areas. Consumers would potentially buy the plugs in sleeves—or multiple plugs made available in carriers—and have the ability to plant plugs directly into the ground or in containers with sleeves because they’re biodegradable. Another component of the program is the growth media used. Jiffy has developed a bonded growth media called Preforma that growers would use to propagate plugs in the “Plant In A Jiffy” program. Growers could then work with retailers to make plugs consumer friendly. Jiffy General Manager Rick Friedrich says we could see the “Plant In A Jiffy” program in stores this fall. Jiffy is currently offering Preforma for […]

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April 14, 2010

Hort Couture Has Arrived

While Hort Couture is heading into its fourth year with plans for Spring 2011, in many ways this year marks the rebirth and relaunch of the brand. Developed by Jim and Jennifer Monroe of Greenbriar Nurseries in West Virginia, the fashion-forward brand is designed for independent garden centers and grower-retailers like themselves. The idea was to give plants and gardening a more hip or chic image. The focus is more on container plantings than landscaping. Through a joint venture with Gerry and Patty Raker of C. Raker & Sons in Michigan, the Monroes and the Rakers have created a comprehensive supply chain alliance with key breeders, young plant producers, brokers and retailers. “This is big-picture stuff,” Gerry Raker says. “We’re trying to create a strategic alliance with suppliers, vendors and sales reps. Our focus is the independent garden centers and innovative small businesses, to work with each other and become […]

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April 14, 2010

Coloropsis Additions Stand Out For Skagit

The Coloropsis coreopsis series from Skagit Gardens has been a success for the Washington-based propagator so far, and the addition of three varieties for 2011 should enhance the series’ value to growers. Coloropsis varieties produce masses of flowers from early summer into fall, thrive in hot sun and were originally introduced by Sunny Border Nurseries and hybridized by Darrell Probst. The series offers hot and spicy color combinations that give a burst of bloom color. The three Coloropsis newcomers are: -‘Jive’ -‘Mambo'; and -‘Salsa’ ‘Jive’ is white with single blooms and a burgundy eye with an orange center; ‘Mambo’ is pale pink with a raspberry eye; and my favorite newbie, ‘Salsa,’ is golden yellow with a wide burgundy eye. The burgundy color against the flower’s yellow perimeter bursts right at you. And multiple buds means lots of bursting color throughout summer. The series is compact in habit, too. Pamela Youngsman, […]

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April 14, 2010

AllRecipes.com Program Offers Big-Time Edibles Enhancement

Among the most exciting developments Tuesday at Imagination Canyon in Santa Barbara was John Henry Company’s partnership with AllRecipes.com. John Henry is now designing packaging and tags for AllRecipes.com, and all tags can be scanned by the consumer’s phone for instant recipe downloads. Programs like this should continue to tighten the gap between our industry and Generations X and Y. “AllRecipes.com is the most widely-used recipe site in the world,” says Brenda Vaughn, John Henry Company. “And they’re now offering consumers opportunities to grow vegetables.” Vaughn says she simply wrote AllRecipes.com a letter urging the company to partner with John Henry on edibles. Now, recipes are among the information John Henry is putting on tags, and a unique bar code on tags allows consumers to scan them and retrieve recipes for meals they otherwise might not think about if vegetables weren’t appropriately merchandised. Tags are still the bread and butter of […]

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April 14, 2010

Allan’s Choices At Imagination Canyon

Skagit Gardens Helleborus Gold Collection: You have already heard a good deal about this new series of hellebores (from me at GGTV, and others) and one can’t help but be impressed.  The breakthroughs are in upward facing flowers, handsome foliage and good colors. They flower early, look wonderful in a pot and can open up an entire early season of winter and early spring sales at the retailer.  ‘Pink Frost’ and ‘Cinnamon Snow’ are among my favorites. Coreopsis Coloropsis series: That Skagit is making a push with annual color shows how lines between annuals and perennials are becoming more blurred.  These annual coreopsis show very well in retail containers and should provide lots of punch in the garden. ‘Salsa’ appears to have the best habit and flower power but ‘Fuse’ and ‘Mango also looked  good–and more are not too far away.  Euphorbias:  Skagit has been a leader in bringing new landscape upright […]

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