Thursday, November 23, 2017

Remember when... , O. T.

Joe's Pizza & Pasta Maplewood NJ

Remember when you could get Pizza by the slice?

            The lunch special at Joe’s Pizza & Pasta in Maplewood NJ has two slices and a drink for five bucks.

            When traveling on deliveries, I’m trying to be more adventurous by trying local, non-chain eating places.  With a national chain you know what you’re going to get --- assuming you like something on the consistent menu.

            With local diners you are not sure, it’s the fear of the unknown.  This is foolish to worry because independent restaurants do not exist unless they are good.  ---- Small Town U S A.

            The lunch crowd was lining up at Joe’s.  I got 2 slices with Pepperoni.  Remember the kind with the Pepperoni grease running down your hand --- delicious!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

There's a new Frosted Jade in town...

Primulina yungfuensis - Original Frosted Jade
There is much interest in the species Primulina yungfuensis, first shown and distributed by Jim Roberts.  It has distinctive variegated foliage and I’ve proposed a marketing common name of ‘Frosted Jade’.

            Once I got stock established, I have propagated hundreds.  Its only weakness is brittleness --- its leaves want to snap off.  I think that it could be a stand-alone plant, promoted as Frosted Jade.

            Awhile back, I noticed a different leaf pattern----a mutation in the population of yungfuensis.  It has much more silver and is distinctively different from the original clone.

            I’ve propagated these leaves to prove that it is stable.  Once I have a group to test, I can decide about naming and possible release.

            A new Frosted Jade…

Primulina yungfuensis- New clone from vegetative mutation

Who is the Asian Violet Leader?

Asian Violet - Primulina 'Diane Marie'
            If you do a Google search for ‘Asian Violets’, you will find my Blog stories at the top of the list.

            Isn’t that wonderful!  I’m the leader of the ‘Asian Violet’ movement, bringing Primulina into the light to make the World a better place.

            As with most ‘Fifteen minutes of fame’, there is more to consider.

            If I’m the leader, where are the followers and why aren’t there hundreds of references to Asian Violets?

            If you follow Steve Blank’s framework of how to segment a market, he would call Asian Violets a New Market.

            The great thing about a New Market is that there is NO competition.  The bad part is that there may be NO customers?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Name a daylily...

Primulina 'Loki' grown by Paul Susi

If I ask causal gardeners to give me a name of a daylily, they likely will say:  “Stella de Oro”.  They won’t know that the genus is called Hemerocallis, but somehow, they’ve heard of ‘Stella de Oro’.

How did this happen?

Relentless promotion by somebody.

The breakthrough in daylilies was new hybrids that flowered more than a “day”.  This was followed by flooding the market with plants, so the story perpetuates itself. 

What would it take to make the answer: ‘Loki’, for the question:  “What Asian Violet are you familiar with?”

It’s been 42 years since the hybridizer, Walter Jablonski, released ‘Stella de Oro’.  When will everybody know ‘Loki’ as the breakthrough that started Asian Violets as a common houseplant?

Can or will this happen?  Of course, it can.  There has been enough practical testing of Primulina ‘Loki’ to prove that it is a durable houseplant with interesting variegated foliage.  It is attractive with or without blue flowers.  Peter Shalit, the hybridizer, released it as a good plant.  I believe that it is the best one to lead.

Will it?  Today, there is virtually no commercial supply.  Today, there are few commercial growers who know about this plant.  Only dedicated hobbyists have Primulina or could name a few varieties.

‘Stella de Oro’ perpetuated its popularity because it was a breakthrough---a continuously flowering hybrid.  It sells because it’s advertised as the best.  Growers produce it because it sells.

The Asian Violet, ‘Loki’, could change the future.  Like an African Violet, but better.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Are Asian Violets 10X better...?

Primulina 'Loki' grown by Karyn Cichocki

Are Asian Violets 10X better than African Violets?

In Peter Thiel’s book, Zero to One, he argues that a new product must be 10 times better than what’s available to have any chance of success.

If Asian Violets (Primulina) are going to challenge or overtake African Violets, why will that happen?

African Violets are the top selling flowering houseplants in the World.  How could that change?

Let’s compare: 

African--    Abundant colorful, double or single flowers, all shades and colors.
Asian--  Clusters of single flowers, mostly blue.  Limited pink, white or yellow.

African--  Stick a leaf for plantlets.
Asian--  Stick a leaf for plantlets.

Home growing:
African--  Tricky until you find the right system.  Flowers sporadically.
Asian--  Survives neglect.  Flower sporadically when old enough.

African--  Many leaf shapes, green or variegated leaves.
Asian--  Attractive variegated leaves.  Some plain green leaves.

African--  Limited
Asian--  Unlimited

Commercial production:
African--  Holtkamp Greenhouse is dominating force in worldwide production.
Asian--  No large-scale production.  Limited to hobbyists and specialty mail order.

            Asian Violets will be compared to African Violets.  Today, it is no contest.  Primulina has zero market share.  Survivability as a houseplant is their only 10X advantage.  Is survivability the trait that overrides all others?

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Word at the Show

Primulina 'Diane Marie' - Runner-up Best in Show - Gesneriad

The word at the DAVS show.

            Saturday was the Delaware African Violet and Gesneriad Show and Sale.  There were many interesting, superbly grown plants to see and discuss.

            Among them, were entries of Primulinas in flower and non-flowering classes.  I was fortunate to win Runner-up Best in Show – Gesneriad with my Primulina ‘Diane Marie’.  As they say with flower show timing: “You should have seen it two weeks ago when it was really flowering”

            Overheard was a visitor who asked about the Asian Violets.  Since this was an un-coaxed comment, I had to find out how my preferred common name had come out.  The gentleman explained that if we had African Violets, we must have Asian Violets.  When I told him that Primulina are native to South China and North Vietnam, it was even more obvious that Asian Violets is the logical name. 

            Pam was there, so I asked her for another quote.  She said: “Primulina are easy to grow!  African Violets are too temperamental.”  She has switched most of her hobby growing to Primulina.

            We talked about their forgiving nature of surviving a dry period.  Ray speculated that: “Primulina might be the Succulents of the Gesneriad World”.

But Tom said: “Yes, but not P. ‘Betty’”, which from his experience did not survive.  So, the toughness is probably variety specific.

I think that it’s a good analogy.  We’ve all been saying that Primulina recover from a drought without damage.  So, let’s just call them:  The Succulents of the Gesneriad World!”

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Violet and Gesneriad Show

Sinningia 'Prudence Risley'

Please join us for a very special show and sale, featuring Venetian opera masks decorated with violets and unique arrangements inspired by Venetian balconies.

Delaware Center for Horticulture
1810 North DuPont Street
Wilmington, DE
· Friday October 6th, 2017 from 3:00 to 7pm during the Art Loop
· Saturday October 7th, 2017, from 9am to 4pm
Parking and admission:  Free

Additional Information: of page) or

     An invitation from the Delaware African Violet and Gesneriad Society to their judged Flower Show.  There will be interesting plants for you to see and buy.