Sunday, December 23, 2018

Could Hemizygia 'Candy Kisses' be a Major Minor Crop?

Hemizygia 'Candy Kisses'

            A flowering houseplant that should get attention is Hemizygia ‘Candy Kisses’.

            My leading buyer wants plants that are variegated or flowering.  Why?  Because they sell.

            We get both with H. ‘Candy Kisses’ --- a variegated flowering plant.  It’s a guaranteed short day to flower plant, so it flowers in the winter time when we want some color in the house.  Self-branching and easy to propagate, it is easily programmable It could be flowered year around by artificially giving it short days.  It fits in small pots, so can be an affordable low-cost bit of color.

            We have two clones --- ‘Candy Kisses’, with white and green variegation and ‘Lemon Lime’, with light and dark green variegation.  They are interesting plants with a minty aroma when not in flower.  Both can be used in spring combination planters for summer patio growing where variegated filler plants are needed.

            ‘Candy Kisses’ and ‘Lemon Lime’ are worth producing in large quantities to gauge the sales potential.  Somebody should do that !

Hemizygia 'Candy Kisses' - Budded from short days

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Another mystery of Lipstick Plants discovered

Young growth on old plant (R), Young growth on young plant(L)

We have hanging baskets of the common Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus lobbianus) in various stages waiting for them to flower/sell.

The group held over from their non-flowering summer are first to bud.  The group that were propagated from new growth – a pair of leaves that rooted and branched with new shoots are growing well but no buds.

The middle group are last year’s baskets, cut back short and allowed to branch with new growth.  These budded and will flower second.

So, in order to budding ---- uncut old branches, old growth cut back with new shoots, and last, new propagations.

The flowering response of Lipstick is not precise.  The only thing I know for sure is it’s a function of age.  Young shoots don’t flower.

But now I know that young shoots from old growth will flower sooner that young shoots from young growth.

So, how will this discovery help speed up production?

1.      If you have baskets that stop flowering in the summer heat, cut them back hard.  The new growth will flower by Christmas.

2.      If you’re propagating cuttings in cell packs, don’t worry about keeping them moving.  You can hold them in cell packs, which take less space, to let them get age.  The shoots will reward you with faster flowering when potted up.

If you are a homeowner with one Lipstick hanging basket, it would make sense to cut it back 1/3 at a time for three months so you would always have flowers forming.

      ---Too complicated?

Then, just know to keep your old plant and cut it back in Summer.  It will flower faster than if you start a new basket.

Old growth on old plant(R), Young growth on old plant (L)

Sunday, November 25, 2018

What's the cultivar name going to be?

String of Hearts - Pink

            The trend for Strings of Things has been hard to detect.  For commercial houseplant growers who are paying attention and believe that there is demand here, the problem is limited plant material --- major propagators don’t have much available.

            String of Peas has a chance.  There are cuttings available from succulent propagators.  For others like String of Bananas, String of Beads or the elusive String of Dolphins, you are on your own to maintain your own stock plants.

            String of Hearts, the green version, is sought after but difficult to grow enough.

            With all these difficulties, why worry about the pink version of String of Hearts?

            It is a sturdy plant but grows exceeding slow due to pink variegation.  It’s going to be worth the effort, so we need a good name.

            Having found no established cultivar name, I declare that it should be ‘Pretty Pink’.

            Pretty has the double meaning of “mostly”, “pretty-much” and Pretty as in “beautiful”, “good-looking”.

            I propose Ceropegia woodii ‘Pretty Pink’.

Ceropegia woodii 'Pretty Pink'

Sunday, November 18, 2018

What's the trend in houseplants?

Primulina 'Loki' living on the windowsill

            I was invited to give a talk to the Indoor Plant Society in Philadelphia, Saturday.  I had agreed to do this, thinking that I will learn more from them, then they from me.

            My talks are a ‘Show ‘n Tell’ about my plants.  So, ‘Mini’ plants for miniature gardens and your windowsill.

            The group of knowledgeable houseplant lovers had brought well-grown plants for their own ‘Show ‘n Tell’.

            To survey the crowd, I asked:  ‘How many grow plants at the windowsill? ----all hands up.  ‘How many have a miniature garden?  --- 2-3 hands.

            This confirms my impression that even though we sell ‘Mini’ plants for miniature gardens, almost nobody does that.  Our small plants are moving into houses to live on a windowsill.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

What should we call it?

Peperomia polybotrya
       "If it doesn’t have a name and a use, you will never sell it”

     “Botanical names are mandatory for plant science; Common names are necessary for marketing plants”

            Pilea peperomioides would have not had its success without common names of ‘Chinese Money Plant’ or ‘The Friendship Plant’.  These names are tied to the folklore of this obscure foliage houseplant.

            The next internet wonder after Pilea peperomioides could be Peperomia polybotrya.  Initially, and probably in the future, the two will be confused.  Plant collectors who know both plants, tell me that they like the Peperomia much better.  It is bigger, more upright, less floppy and has shiny leaves.  It is a low light plant, less phototropic (doesn’t grow toward the light), is self-branching and is more durable.

            But what to call it?

            An internet search comes up with ‘Owl’s Eye’ and ‘Raindrop’.

            Each leaf has a round dot with radiating lines out from it.  I liked ‘Owl’s Eye’, at first, because older leaves had distinct radiating lines and I could see the connection to an Owl’s eye.  Younger leaves don’t show this.

            ‘Raindrop’ seems to fit better.  You have the dot which could be where the raindrop hit the concave leaf and the splash radiated out onto the shiny leaf.

            Will the rage be: “Do you have a ‘Raindrop’ plant? --- It’s similar to the ‘Chinese Money Plant’, but better”

Peperomia polybotrya 'Raindrop'

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Houseplant Boom from The Economist.

String of Peas for The Sill

          It’s always interesting to see what outsiders of the plant industry say about us.

I’m copying from The Economist, an international magazine.  The story was pointed out by Chris Beytes, Editor of Grower Talks, the leading horticulture trade magazine.

I’m impressed that we grow 6 of the 8 plants searched for on Google.  Also, I sell to one half of the U.S. businesses mentioned.

--- The closest I’ll come to international notoriety.

People born after 1980 have been slower than previous generations to settle down. Some want to explore the world before they get married and have kids. Others simply cannot afford to buy a house. But they can afford houseplants, and many are finding that nurturing them is a more manageable form of domesticity.

Since the turn of the century, exports of plants from the Netherlands—by far the world’s biggest producer of plant life—have increased from $6bn in 2000 to $9bn in 2016. In that year, Europeans spent some €36bn ($42bn) on houseplants and flowers. And in America, Millennials are thought to account for fully one-third of the houseplant sales. Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer, began selling plants last year, and direct-to-consumer start-ups like Patch and The Sill have cropped up, delivering leafy goods in pretty pots to doorsteps everywhere.
To illustrate the piece, they pulled Google search data for eight different plants, showing the increase in search queries between 2010 and 2018.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Groupies are everywhere

Groupies are everywhere.

            You never know when you’ll run into some of your groupies.

            These three young people came to the Delaware Gesneriad Show and Sale in Wilmington.  They had come from Philadelphia to look at interesting plants and buy some.

            When they saw that my plants were there with the recognizable blue tags, they were even more surprised that I was there in person.

            They proceeded to tell me that they have been following my ‘Mini’ plants, looking for varieties they don’t have.  They’ve been to many of my customer’s garden centers and plant shops in and around Philadelphia.

            I guarantee you that these delightful plant collectors are not normal   They knew botanical names and what the hottest trends are with houseplants.  There are few young people as knowledgeable as they are.

            I hope to meet them again.