Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Is there innovation in a small hanging basket?

Plastic Hanging Baskets



Innovation is intriguing.  How does it happen?

The history of innovations is well told by Matt Ridley in "How Innovation Works".  He has fascinating stories of how new inventions came into being and increased our standard of living.

            He argues that even the light bulb was not a lightning bolt of inspiration.  Edison built on all previous knowledge and then trialed and error-ed through 6,000 types of filaments until one worked.

            Ridley builds the case that innovative ideas are most likely a rearrangement of previous good ideas.  Sometimes ideas were ahead of the technology of machines or materials. 

            Hanging baskets was such a simple idea.  Why didn’t we think to do this before?

            Take a pot of flowers and put a hanger on it so it could be hung on your porch.

            That word from the movie ‘The Graduate’ was right ---- “Plastics”.  The development of plastic pots with flexible hangers saved Spring flower growers by giving them a new income stream. 

            Ubiquitous plastic containers replaced all those terra-cotta clay pots and associated broken backs lugging them around.

            So, with all these hanging baskets, how can a new size be considered an innovation?

            When I saw the little basket at Strange’s Garden Center in Richmond, I knew that this is what I’ve been looking for.

            Existing hanging baskets for houseplants are too big and too heavy.

            Through some detective work, I found that I could import this 10 cm basket from Holland by way of Canada.

            This 4” basket will replace our 4.5” and give indoor gardeners that ‘wittle’ hanging houseplant that they didn’t know they wanted.

            That’s how innovation works.




Sunday, July 5, 2020

'Nanouk' Tradescantea - Now you can see.

'Nanouk' Tradescantea



          Now we have a picture.  My son solved the upload a picture problem.

              'Nanouk' Tradescantea

          Everyone will want one.

Imagine if...

Not this plant

Imagine if this plant has pink and white variegated leaves, grows fast and is branched.

The ‘Hot’ new plant I want to show you is ‘Nanouk’ Tradescantea.  But right now, Google Blogger is broken, and I can’t upload any new pictures.  The only pictures I can access are ones already in use on the blog.

Since I could not imagine a new plant either, unless actually seen, you can search for ‘Nanouk’ Tradescantea.

When we had this plant 8-9 years ago, it was ahead of its time.  Due to the big leaves, it looks good in spring 10”-12” hanging baskets.

Now we need to squeeze it down into small pots for indoor gardeners.  It can certainly grow in small pots and baskets.  When it grows too big, just cut it back and give away your cuttings.

True to supply and high demand, there was no supply for unrooted cuttings.  But I was able to secure stock plants indirectly from Canadian growers.


It will be easy to produce and I’m looking forward to distributing it to all our garden center customers.  Since there can be no picture, you will have to see the real thing.




Thursday, June 18, 2020

What's going on with String of Hearts?

String of Hearts 'Pretty Pink'



What’s going on with String of Hearts?

String of Hearts is number 6 of our top selling plants for 2019.  It would have been much higher on the list if we could have had more to sell.  Our offshore propagators are only beginning to have stable numbers.

            This last week we put 900 2.5” pots on the availability list.  They’re gone.  Why?

            String of Hearts (Ceropegia woodii) has a lot going for it.  It is an easy houseplant to keep alive and therefore, sought after.

            It grows quickly with warm, long days of summer.  It can be dry without harm and thrives on neglect.  If rooted in small pots, it takes up little space and will trail down with heart shaped leaves.

            There are three clones to pick from.  Traditional silver and green, heart shaped leaves, is the most common.  A solid silver leaf, ‘Silver Glory’, is very attractive but still carries a high price due to limited supply.  Since it is just as vigorous as the green/silver clone, it will show up at your plant store soon.

            The pink version is in a class by itself.  I don’t think the supply will ever catch up with the demand.  String of Hearts ’Pretty Pink’ has stable pink variegation but grows slowly.

            My previous blog stories about String of Hearts have attracted above average page views.  A lot of people want to know about String of Hearts.  Again.  Why?




Sunday, June 14, 2020

So Easy and So Hard




           If every human who has the virus did not transmit it to any other human, in 15 days the virus would be dead.



Tuesday, May 12, 2020

I choose not to participate in the recession

Primulinas have only just begun




    I choose not to participate in the recession.



The last recession of 2008 put me out of business.  I had to sell all assets and destroy my lifetime business.  My employees and customers were gone.  It was a stressful and sad time.

This devastating time will bring the same fate to many businesses who will not be able to maneuver around high debt, low sales and high operating costs.  It will be such a waste that this plague crushes businesses that were successful eight weeks ago.

            Those lofty advisors that tell you that what hurts you only makes you stronger, do not understand hardship.  You may or may not come out of this stronger.

            This time, ten years later, I have a better business model.  I moved away from annuals to houseplants.  I have no employees, few assets and no debt.  Is that smart or lucky?

            Indoor gardeners want to buy houseplants.  When stores are open, they will buy again.

            I choose not to participate in the recession.




Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Let it Shine!

Peperomia polyboytra 'Raindrop"

Peperomia 'Raindrop' - Natural shine


            Peperomia polybotrya ‘Raindrop’ is a solid foliage houseplant from the past.  Its current claim to fame is that it looks like the Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides).

            To get indoor gardeners to pay attention, we need the dominant characteristic to be obvious.

            It can survive in very low light, a great feature to give long life as a decorative plant.  But if you don’t notice it, you’ll never find out.

            Plants with shiny leaves are somewhat suspect --- Did you shine those leaves?  Did you spray it with leaf shine?

            With Peperomia ‘Raindrop’, shine is what you get.  It will be its dominant feature.  All its other desirable qualities will be apparent later.

            Many customers just want some no-nonsense greenery.  Why are Pothos and Philodendron so popular?  They just live, no matter what.  ‘Raindrop’ will do this, too.

            Costa Farms, the largest foliage producer in the United States, is promoting this plant in their foliage collections.  They have their production, I have mine.

            When there was a frantic demand for this plant two years ago, I found there was no supply.  I was fortunate to find a tissue culture lab that would take on this project. The media protocol was not known. Now, two years later, we have plantlets coming out as bushy liners that can be grown on for the houseplant market.

            And guess what --- they have shiny leaves.

            Peperomia ‘Raindrop’ is a much better plant than Chinese Money Plant.  It is upright and sturdy, doesn’t go flat with drought and lives.

            Will it catch fire like Pilea peperomioides?  We won’t know until you have one and you tell your friends.


            Let it shine!