Proven Winners’ Focus on Creating Moments; Syngenta Hypes New Sunflower and Boosts Breeding Efforts; Danziger Developing Breeding Lines and Combos

Proven Winners’ Focus on Creating Moments; Syngenta Hypes New Sunflower and Boosts Breeding Efforts; Danziger Developing Breeding Lines and Combos

Here’s the scoop on industry news, marketing programs, and more from Greenhouse Grower’s first day of California Spring Trials 2017.

Danziger asked CAST attendees to vote on their favorite combos for a chance to name one.

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Danziger Has a New Structure

Headstart Nursery hosted Danziger again this year. The grower supplies a majority of the Danziger product at Spring Trials, and more. Based in Israel, Danziger Flower Farm is able to breed desert heat tolerance into its plants, which include annuals, perennials, potted crops, veggies, and more. After showing continuous growth in the past few years, the breeding company recently underwent a redesign of its logo and identity, and has a new business structure to shore up its business in North America.

Mike Fernandez is now Market Manager North America for Bedding Plants and Perennials. Fernandez will continue leading the business activity in North America, developing new businesses and initiatives for further growth. Kate Zvara is Key Account Manager and Retail Specialist. Zvara brings many years of experience in the industry and will reinforce Danziger’s relationship with the market, focusing on retailers, as well as growers. Anna Chernyavsky, Director of Sales – Bedding and Perennials, just joined Danziger last August, and is directly in charge of the U.S. and United Kingdom markets.

With cutting-edge propagation facilities and nurseries in Israel, Guatemala, Kenya, and Colombia, Danziger supplies elite quality vegetative material to around 1,000 customers in more than 60 countries. Danziger also manages more than 600 varieties under breeders’ rights.

Developments in annuals include five new colors in Cascadias petunias, one of which is Blue Omri, named after a soldier who was killed in Israel. All proceeds for the variety are being donated to the family the soldier left behind. Danziger is putting resources into bidens breeding, looking to add a number of new varieties, including the double-flowered ‘Blazing Fire.’ Look for more varieties coming.

Danziger is wanting to have a larger presence in the perennials market, so it’s adding new varieties this year, and adding perennials to its new combos. California Spring Trial (CAST) attendees were asked to choose their top three favorite experimental combos for an opportunity to name one of the combos.

Syngenta Flowers’ big push this year, which includes a branded program, is Sunfinity sunflower.

Syngenta Flowers Focuses on Sunfinity and Beyond

The big story at Syngenta Flowers this year was its massive promotional efforts centered on the new Sunfinity sunflower. An indeterminate sunflower that is seed sterile and has no pollen, allowing it to be cut and brought inside for bouquets, Sunfinity still produces pollen and is attractive to pollinators. Syngenta has a big branding push behind the variety, aimed at making it a name consumers ask for at retail. Tags (from MasterTag) are required with plug purchase, and while there are also branded pots available (from Summit Plastics), they are not required for sales. Sunfinity will be available for 2018 sales, but it’s being piloted at retail this spring, as well. There is no retail exclusivity for this product. Syngenta recommends the network of plug producers for growers to buy plugs from growers who have widely trialed and already know how to produce it. However, seed sales will be available, as well.

Syngenta Flowers is picking up its breeding efforts on several different fronts, including verbena, pentas, and geraniums. It further outlined the Calliope pelargonium family, which last year was broken into two different series —Medium for smaller, more compact varieties, and Large, for the vigorous growers. It has two new families in garden mums — Rhonda and Nikki. In poinsettias, Breeder Ronald Snijder says breeding efforts are starting to pick back up . With two new varieties for winter 2017, an early, compact red in ‘Aria,’ and an early, large-flowering ‘Majoris,’ Snijder says this is just the start since Syngenta Flowers hired a new breeder. He encouraged growers to trial the two new experimentals on the market, currently named ‘Mirage’ and ‘Lyra’ – because he says he is confident they’ll be pleased with these potential new intros for 2018.

Overall, the company felt alive and abuzz with a renewed sense of purpose and community. All breeders were on site to answer questions, and all material was grown at Syngenta Flowers, so growers’ questions would be able to be easily addressed.

Proven Winners Has a Beat on Trends

Our third and final stop of the day, Proven Winners, was at the lovely and scenic Kirigin Winery in Gilroy, CA. The branding powerhouse continues to put effort behind its consumer research and trendwatching through web searches, data, and consumer observations via service and social media.

Proven Winners is testing the retail concept Proven Pollinators. What do you think?

Proven Winners is testing a retail concept called Proven Pollinators. Based on what’s trending online — succulents, vegetables, and pollinator-friendly plants — the market can gather that consumers are feeling nurturing. The concern over pollinator health offers an opportunity to educate consumers about what plants are best for pollinators, and provide them with the tools and resources they need to be successful. So Proven Winners is polling the concept, talking with retailers, looking to see if they’ll dedicate a section of their store to pollinator plants, and potentially double dip by selling those plants in another area of the store. Proven Pollinators branded pots are being tested, as well as a biodegradable pot. The market, says Retail Account Manager Jessica DeGraaf, needs to begin to address the amount of plastic it is using, and take steps to address this, based on consumer demand.

One trend Proven Winners Marketing Director Marshall Dirks says the company feels compelled to address is consumers’ need for creating memorable moments in the space of very busy and crowded lifestyles. With more than 50% of Americans opting not to take their vacations, it’s important to promote the ability to create moments in the gardens. And it’s ok, Dirks says, if consumers don’t notice plants while they do it, because once you take away the plants, they’ll notice. The point is to determine how encouraging outdoor liviing can plants help families grow memories.

Social media continues to engage consumers, and gathering data through searches and watching trends on sites like Pinterest, As a result, Proven Winners is developing Pinterest

This push-up wildflower seed dispensary is a fun idea for kids that’s being pushed through the Pollinator Partnership, from Uncommon Goods. Companies outside our industry are doing this, and we need to, as well, said Retail Account Manager Jessica de Graaf.

boards to match trends, and in doing so, it came across a site that addresses consumer gardening content requests better than other horticultural sites. The site? Amazon.com. Proven Winners is now partnering there to help develop content that addresses consumer needs.

Adding to the convenience factor is the need for a plant presence on the new Amazon Dash page, where consumers can get anything shipped for them in 24 hours. The “Push Button” concept is captured with Proven Winners’ 2018 National Recipes for the market.

Proven Winners is continuing its support for Garden Answer, run by Laura LeBoutillier and her husband Aaron. Laura created 200 videos in the past year, which received 238 million views in 15 months. This year, she’s already had 70 million hits in the first three months of 2017.

In recognizing the difficulty for hiring the right people, Proven Winners has also developed a training and development panel of independent garden centers, and it’s launching Proven Winners University to help train garden center employees.

Stay tuned for more news and updates on these and other breeders.