Friday, January 5, 2018

The Anniversary Issue...

Sinningia 'Prudence Risley' grown by Gary's Specialty Plants

My anniversary story is early this year.   I usually miss the date, so here it is now.

            This blog started April 8, 2012 --- soon to be six years ago.  Thank you, Google.

            I’ve reread many of the stories.  Many are irrelevant or time sensitive (fleeting).  Some are actually very good.

            My form is a picture and some words about a single idea.  My inspiration is Seth Godin, who has had a daily story over 7,000 times.  Only a genius can do that.

            That first post said: “My target reader will be, first of all, me.”  This has taken the pressure off.

            Forcing yourself to write an idea is so much more exacting that a bunch of jumbled thoughts.

            I should have started sooner.

Monday, January 1, 2018

This is too important not to repeat,,,

Another Historic Day for Primulina

EIGC Booth - Primulina will be a common houseplant !

            History by definition is everything that has happened previously.   The significance of events is what people remember.  Ancient history is mostly guesswork and only comes to life if some enterprising author weaves a story from fuzzy facts.

            Computers with infinite storage have changed that.  Now, every event will be recorded forever.  The only thing left is:  ‘Does it matter?’ and ‘Does anybody care?’

            On July 26, 2016, Ellen Wells reported on Asian Violets (Primulina) as a possible new houseplant.  The original story inTropical Topics is copied here:

Gary’s “Next Big Thing”
I keep asking about what folks think will be the “next big thing,” the next tillandsia or succulent trend. “Asian violets,” says Gary Hunter of Gary’s Specialty Plants in Drumore, Pennsylvania. Gary is in the miniature plant business and is a regional grower of small houseplants. His biggest business with small plants is through Longwood Gardens’ plant shop, where they sell hundreds of mini plants each week, all year long.
Gary’s latest project is working with these Asian violets, the common name for Primulina, a genus in the Gesneriad family. “Primulina are like African violets, but better,” writes Gary. “Primulina species and hybrids have been in the hobby world for years but have never been grown commercially.” The reason, he continues, is that these plants take up to a year to flower, eliminating them as a commercially viable flowering plant. “What I was missing was that they could be sold as a small, variegated foliage plant in 6.5-cm pots and fit with our assortment.”

That's Primulina Loki pictured above. Precious! Gary likes these Asian violets so much that he believes they’ll become as popular as African violets, if not more so. Not convinced? Check them out yourself at next week’s Eastern IGC Show at the Valley Forge Casino Resort outside of Philadelphia, where Gary will have a booth. Or check out Gary’s BLOG, which is full of great information.

            The significance is that this is the first known reference to Primulina in a commercial horticultural trade magazine.

         The commercial barrier has been broken and has been recorded here as a historic event.  The facts are preserved.


Still, nobody cares.  But Asian Violets are too important to ignore.

            We have enough good species and hybrids to start.  If we can move Primulina from a minor, minor-crop to a major, minor-crop, they will be a success.

            In rereading this quote by Ellen Wells, it jumps out at me as suspect.

            “Gary likes these Asian Violets so much that he believes they’ll become as popular as African violets, if not more so.”

            Almost every African violet grower, amateur or pro, just laughs at that.

            I’m confident that I’m right.  The future will decide.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Greatest thing since sliced bread, O. T.

Maurice Sendak
            I’m no longer impressed with sliced bread.  If anything, the advancement is to actually get bread that is not sliced.

            To me it should be:  The greatest thing since flannel sheets!

            Flannel sheets must not be that common.  No motel features soft flannel sheets.

            My history started as a kid on the farm where my farmhouse upstairs bedroom had no heat.  My Mother had warm flannel sheets for Winter and smooth cotton sheets for Summer.

            I don’t remember how I got back to trying flannel again as an adult but it’s great, year around.  If your skin is shocked by cool slick sheets, try flannel.  After three nights of soft and warm, you’ll never go back.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Who wants this plant and why?

Pilea peperomioides

There is demand for Pilea peperomioides, the Chinese Money Plant.


Apparently, there has been viral circulation of pictures and stories about this green houseplant.

It’s just been sitting there in the mix with other carefree foliage houseplants.  Like most ‘hits’, it would be impossible to predict or plan for.

A few years ago, it was the ‘Peace Lily’ – Spathiphyllum.  Everybody wanted one.   Then it was ‘Fiddle Leaf Fig’ – Ficus lyrata.  The World’s supply is just now catching up.

If growers could anticipate which plant is the new hot one, money could be made.  If growers could create this demand for their ’championed’ variety, Primulina 'Loki', money could be made.

The only answer is to use the Walmart method--- watch what sells, get more of that.

I’m going to start growing Pilea peperomioides until nobody buys it anymore.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

If you would start a Gesneriad Farm...

Mini Sinningias - Assorted

If you would start a Gesneriad Farm, what would you do?

            Let’s suppose that the houseplant boom of the 1970’s is starting again.

            The leading commercial horticulture trade magazine, Grower Talks, gave its lead story to this idea.  The Sill, of NYC, gets a mention as a rising star by building a retail mail order source for foliage houseplants.  They also just opened their second storefront in Manhattan.

            If every apartment dweller in NYC suddenly sees the need for a plant, we will need a lot of plants.

            The grower at Costa Farms, FL, makes this novel observation:  “Urban markets are exploding with small apartments and rental units, and houseplants are, in a way, taking the place of pets.”

            Last time, the supply never did catch up with the demand.  Then it peaked, and houseplants proceeded to crash toward zero.

            While starting with easy surviving foliage plants, it quickly moved into more interesting oddities and flowering plants.  Enter---- Gesneriads.

            African Violets, the leading flowering houseplant in the World survived ---- most others did not.

            Are indoor gardeners ready for Streptocarpus, Nematanthus, Columnea, Aeschynanthus, Primulina and Sinningias?  Since there is very little supply, nobody knows.

            As Seth Godin says:  “Start small, start now!”

Streptocarpus 'Rose Halo'

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

To Champion...

Sinningia 'Prudence Risley' - Where are you?

To Champion…

            Synonyms:  advocate, promote, defend, uphold, support, back, stand up for, crusade for…

            “To Champion” a particular plant takes a lot.

Sinningia 'An's Nyx' - Where are you?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

What ever happened to S. 'Li'l Georgie' ?

Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie' grown by the late John Lindstrom
What ever happened to S. ‘Li’l Georgie’?

            Sinningia ‘Li’l Georgie’ was and is a most amazing plant.  The hybrid Sinningia (S. concinna x S. muscicola) made by Jim Steuerlein in Florida was a breakthrough.  Through testing, we learned that this micro-miniature Sinningia could be grown in the open without any extra humidity.

            It’s not false advertising to say that it is one of the World’s smallest everblooming houseplants.

            I gave the history, starting here, of my attempt to distribute it into commercial horticulture channels.  We sold several thousand.

            And then what happened?

            My second tissue culture lab closed its business.  With the end of the only practical source of propagation, the ‘Li’l Georgie’ project died.      

            Will it come back to life?

            The plant is too good to stay hidden.

Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie' - Always flowering