Greenhouse Grower‘s second day of California Spring Trials 2017 offered some interesting new marketing efforts. Here’s a look at what we saw, and what you need to know.
Our day began with a visit to Speedling in San Juan Bautista, highlighting several companies including Hem Genetics, Thompson & Morgan, ABZ Seeds, Plant Source International, Village Farms, and Speedling itself.
Hem Genetics’ new lavender, ‘Blue Torch,’ is a trick to the eye and the nose. With small flowers and a rosemary scent, this eye-catching variety will draw interest for its uniqueness. Hem also officially launched its new heart-shaped tomato, which grows low and compact, and offers sweet fruit.
Thompson & Morgan has recently been acquired by a British lawn and garden company, BVG, and has some new faces representing it at trials. Its exciting intros included Pelargonium ‘Tall Dark & Handsome,’ a vigorous, climbing type of geranium that climbs to 6 feet with support and offers a mix of pollenless flowers in three colors, Orange, Speckled Coral, and Pink. There wasn’t a specimen available, but growers can inquire this year.
Plant Source International highlighted some new genetics it has licensed through Westflowers, including the new Cuphea Floriglory series, Portulaca ColorBlast series, and Constellation petunias. PSI is a supplier of unrooted cuttings to the North American market, with production in Mexico and in the U.S. It’s licensed to produce cuttings for a number of breeders, including Danziger, Florensis, GGG, Marcum, PAC-Elsner, and Westflowers. It also has a large open market program.
Pacific Plug & Liner
This year’s theme at Pacific Plug & Liner (PP&L) in Watsonville, CA, was “Camp Perennial,” a refocus on the operation’s recent direction to discontinue propagation of annuals and double down on its emphasis toward perennial and woody ornamentals production. In years past, Israeli nurseries Cohen, Hishtil, and Jaldety, have taken part in the PP&L trial location. This year, those nurseries have moved on to Chisan Orchids, allowing PP&L to use the full trials space to promote its own products and capabilities.
This year, that meant focusing on grower solutions in creative and eye- and mind-filling displays, laid out like campsites throughout the trial. The major offerings from PP&L include three exclusive products, all bred by Bart Noorrdhuis: Helleborus (Frost Kiss series and others), Eckibeckia, and Carex ‘Feather Falls’ and the new ‘Ribbon Falls’.
The operation has had great success with Eckibeckia since its launch of the original three varieties. Three more came on the market this year (see slideshow), and one of them – ‘Butterscotch Biscuit’ – has flowers that measure 6 inches across. That variety is almost sold out this year.
PP&L is hoping its focus on helleborus and carex will lead more growers to see these plants as solutions. Helleborus can be grown for both early spring and fall, and carex is a good solution for landscape customers, but also at retail, says PP&L’s April Herring.
PP&L also offers dianthus, hydrangea, its signature Bubble Berry and Hula Berry program, its cordyline program, and a variety of lavender, all of which grows well in the Pacific Northwest. Check out its Linerbility program for availability of young plants. This year’s trial program was all about Salvia – we’ll follow up with more information on that later.
Breeders at Pacific Plug & Liner
PP&L still included some of the suppliers it works with, including Bailey Nurseries, HMA, the Southern Living and Sunset Collections, and Cultivaris. Highlights from these include:
Bailey Nurseries – Known for its branded shrub lines, Bailey Nurseries debuted the look of its new Endless Summer Hydrangea branding, and highlighted its First Editions personality, Ask Amy, which is centered around showing the average homeowner how to plant landscapes.
Cultivaris – With an interesting new petunia series literally waiting in the wings, Cultivaris continued to highlight its collection of unique and fabulous varieties.
HMA – Also displaying at American Takii, HMA was showing a broader array at PP&L. It’s adding 25 new license agreements to be able to carry more varieties. There are new varieties in echeverria, and the company is expanding its selection of perennials, due to the number of opportunities in that segment. HMA is also offering an extended season free sample program to growers.
Southern Living and Sunset Collection – A new alliance with Skagit Horticulture will allow Southern Living and Sunset collections to improve its availability and distribution of plants. The program promotes plants in program with 10 full ad pages in Sunset and Southern Living magazines, social media and online content, and digital advertising on HGTV and DIY, Sunset and Southern Living networks.