Friday, December 30, 2016

An Easy Common Name

Lipstick plant buds

          If this was the first time you ever saw this flowering plant, you might think, " This looks like a tube of lipstick."

          The Lipstick Plant is the most recognizable common name for the genus Aeschynanthus.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Another Asian Violet Success!

Primulina 'Loki' grown by Scott in Office

            If Scott, a very casual houseplant grower can do this , what is the World waiting for?

Lipstick Plants for Christmas

Lipstick Plant with many Flowers and Buds

Lipstick Plants (Aeschynanthus) are notorious for random flowering.  This has made them difficult to be commercially produced in flower on a predictable schedule.  This unidentified variety is spectacular right now.

This one will be worth propagating to see if this success can be duplicated?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Sinningia 'Esther' Project

Sinningia 'Esther' with seed pods

Sinningia ‘Esther’ flowers were easy to pollinate and Sinningia cardinalis-types give you hundreds of seeds.

With S. ‘Esther being a hybrid of uncertain background, the seedlings will be variable.  But, hopefully, they will give a showy cluster of red flowers on upright branching plants.

            Since seedlings will be plentiful and cheap, I can plant 2-3 in a 4” pot for a reasonably priced novel flowering houseplant.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Is this all we need?

Primulina 'Loki' at the windowsill.
              This Primulina ‘Loki’ has been growing at the West kitchen window for three years.  It’s in a 2 ½” pot, has never had fertilizer and has wilted many times.  Yes, the foliage is perfect.

            This flowering randomly occurs two or three times a year.  Most casual houseplant growers would consider this one of their easiest flowering houseplants.

            Why doesn’t everyone have one?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Is this a Flowering Plant that you would buy?

Sinningia 'Esther' grown by Gary's Specialty Plants

            I’ve been waiting for the bright red buds to open on Sinningia ‘Esther’.  Mel Grice shared this interesting Sinningia cardinalis-type hybrid with me at the National Gesneriad Convention in Delaware this year.

            Is it good enough to propagate for sales?  Red is always a good color to have.  The drawback seems to be only one flower per leaf axil.

            This plant is from a side shoot tip cutting.  There looks like a lot of pollen, so a seed pod may be a good method of getting a lot of plants that should be similar.

            Worth a try?

Sinningia 'Esther'

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Anthuriums are positioned wrong

Anthurium 'Small Talk' Pink
            Very few flowering plants are sold commercially without flowers.  In fact, the production goal is to induce flowering as quickly as possible and sell them at their peak color.  ---- Cyclamen, Chrysanthemum, or Poinsettia would not sell without full color.

            Anthuriums want to be flowering plants but they take a long time which makes them cost more.  What if they were positioned as a durable foliage plant with shiny heart shaped leaves which may flower occasionally. 

            Lower expectations for flowering because that’s what happens anyway.  Anthuriums are just as pretty as Philodendron and can serve as tough low light foliage plants.

            One of the most recognizable common plant names is the Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus).  Flowering is unpredictable but many indoor gardeners will keep them for years in the hope of an occasional burst of red flowers.

            That’s where we’re at on Asian Violets(Primulina), also.  Be happy when it flowers.

            Anthurium hybridizers will strive for flowers but foliage will carry them.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Anthurium 'Small Talk' - The Experiment

Anthurium 'Small Talk' Pink

Anthurium ‘Small Talk’ --- The Experiment

            An experiment involves asking a question and testing a hypothesis.

            The question is:  Can Anthurium ‘Small Talk’ be produced here and sold at a profit?  This is not an off-the-wall trial.  Anthurium ‘Small Talk’ is an established dwarf variety produced by tissue culture by Oglesby in Florida.  The varieties of Pink and Red are selections from their own hybridization project.

            Anthuriums were always thought to be uneconomical to be grown in the North due to long crop time.  But now there is major production in Ohio and Southern Canada.  I wanted to find out if they can be finished in my 6.5 cm pot for my ‘Mini’ plant mix.

            The secret that needs to get out is that Anthurium flowers last for months making it a good value.

            The first group is starting to show first flower after 6 months.  They have been in 6.5 cm pots and could be sold that way.  But the Pink has gotten bigger leaves and proportionately looks better in a 3 ½” clay pot as shown.

            The first 8 have been sold.  We still don’t know if this is going to work??

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Mosquito is an Endangered Species.-- O. T.

Make mosquitoes extinct

The mosquito is an endangered species.

            This should be the World headlines.

            Why can’t we eradicate mosquitoes from the face of the earth?  Mosquitoes transmit diseases that bring death and disability.  They have no redeeming qualities.

            Species are saved by environmental outcry.  Let’s do the opposite and find a way to make mosquitoes extinct.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

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 in Tropical 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.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Fourth Anniversary

Primulina grown as 'Mini' Plants

           I’m into the fifth year of writing this Blog.  Before I started I wrote about 30 stories because I was afraid that I would not have anything to say later.

            I’m sure that I am the only one who has read every story. (Now 243).  But with the power of ‘search’, the real significance is when a random stranger finds my obscure observations about something that they care about.

            The most significant viewer increase always comes when someone else refers their readers to my Blog.

            It’s what Seth Godin and other smart marketers have been saying:  Word-of- Mouth is the most powerful type of marketing.  We value our friend’s opinions.

            When I started, Streptocarpus and Sinningias were my focus.  Now it is Primulina and ‘Mini’ plants. 

            Streptocarpus and Sinningias are terrific, colorful plants, but they require a very precise commercial grower and a very adventurous buyer.

            Asian Violets, like an African Violet, but better, are much easier to produce and survive as houseplants.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Where are the Primulina?

Primulina ready for sale at Longwood Gardens
        These Primulina are available for sale at the Longwood Garden's Plant Shop now.

        Varieties are:  'Loki', 'Betty', 'Rachel', 'Piccolo', 'Aiko' and 'Naine Argente'.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

An unlikely pair, Part II

Primulina 'Loki' with Snake Plant grown by Nadine

Here is Primulina ‘Loki’ keeping company with the indestructible snake plant.  Now in flower after spending the Winter inside, Nadine has moved it outside with some shade.  It’s eight months later from the Part I  picture.

Primulina will become a common houseplant.

Nadine's planter outside with some shade.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

An unlikely pair

Snake plant with Primulina 'Loki' grown by Nadine

            Wouldn’t it be amazing if these two plants proved to be equally tough?

            The snake plant or Mother-in-Law’s tongue (Sansevieria zeylanica) was the original indestructible plant.  My Grandmother had them everywhere.  They wouldn’t die.

            Nadine planted Primulina ‘Loki’ with hers and I predict that it will be just as durable.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Whatcha gonna do with that reptile?

That Pet Place sales cart for vivarium plants

The pet business is huge.  People, young and old, want to have something living to care for.  If you are attracted to reptiles then you need an enclosure for them to live in your house.

            That Pet Place in Lancaster sells many types of reptiles and had a demand for plants suitable for their terrarium-like reptile habitats.

            A vivarium is an enclosure for keeping animals and plants under semi-natural conditions.

            So the management of That Pet Place was looking for a source of ‘Mini’ plants that their customers could use to build their own scene to simulate a natural environment.  They made a two shelve cart with LED lights and pebbled trays to display the plants.

            This has worked exceedingly well.  The plants are well kept and they’ve had rapid turnover.  They sell a lot of plants.

Monday, May 30, 2016

How to get picked by Google search?

Primulina RED 'Loki' grown by Joan Santino

How to get picked by Google Search?

            There is a science to SEO – Search Engine Optimization.

            But the easiest way is to write on Google’s FREE blog --- Blogger.  Write about something so obscure that no one else has done it and you win the search report.

            If you search for “Primulina RED ‘Loki’”, the first nine stories are mine.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Comments worth sharing...

Primulina 'Chastity'- hybrid by John Boggan
      Comments on Blogs are often overlooked, so I’m copying these into the lead.

            From John Boggan, a plantsman, who has introduced several Primulina hybrids.

“This is the beauty of primulinas, and why I think they have a lot of potential as commercial house plants: the foliage is so beautiful, even without flowers, and they are just so easy to grow.

            My response is if you want something to happen, tell your friends.

I think that the testing is complete. Primulina can survive as a houseplant. Now it will be the ramp-up stage. Can the distribution gain any traction? Will the supply be able to find any demand?
Initially it will be friends telling friends to try one.”

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Mystery of the RED 'Loki' Continues...

Primulina 'Loki' - Red grown by Joan Santino

            This well grown Primulina ‘Loki’ by Joan Santino, shown at the Springfield AVS Show, renews the continuing question:  What causes some ‘Loki’ to show attractive Red hairs while others,  like mine, to be all green.

            There has been much speculation by Gesneriad growers who have helped me try to deduce the environmental answer.

            We think that it is not high light, low temperature or low Phosphorous.
            My bet was that there are two clones.  But I would have lost all of my money.  When I propagated a leaf from Joe’s Red plants, all of the babies came out green.  So no mutation or distinctive clones.  It has to be some other trick.

            When I asked Joan about her Red plant she told me it is grown warm, under lights.  The new clue is that she had used high Phosphorous fertilizer, 5-50-17 for about 8 weeks leading up to the show.

            All of my ‘Loki’s are green.  I use 15-5-15 Ca Mg --- low Phosphorous.

            Is this it?  High Phosphorous = RED

            Why does it matter?  After seeing Joan’s stunning Red ‘Loki’, it’s worth seeking out the Red manipulator.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Watched Pot...

Primulina yungfuensis-Propagation - 8 weeks

  The watched pot never boils. 

         From three leaves to twenty plants to a hundred small leaves, I’ve been trying to propagate Frosted Jade as fast as possible.  I used small leaves because that’s all I had.  They rooted but I was unsure if any plantlets would come up.  So I looked at them every day.  Nothing --- until I was away and didn’t look at them for days.

            Almost all the small leaves have babies coming up.  It’s almost too good to be true.  This species of Primulina has everything good going for it --- distinctive, stunning variegated foliage on a vigorous plant.  And now, one more feature --- rapid and easy propagation.

            By Fall, I’ll have several hundred salable plants.  And most likely, I’ll have small plants for the July Gesneriad convention in Wilmington DE. 

            You must have one of these Frosted Jade plants.  Prove to yourself that this is an amazing find.  From a weed in China to successful houseplant.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

More Success with Asian Violets...

Primulina 'Loki' grown by Scott - repeat flowering

Can Asian Violets become common houseplants?

Asian Violets will not gain momentum as houseplants without success by everybody who tries them.  This picture shows the second round of flowering under office conditions by Scott.  And the foliage is perfect. It has nearby window light but mostly office fluorescent light.  The only change has been the addition of a felt wick to aid the watering ---- less frequent, because the ceramic pot has a water reservoir.  

            The previous flowering in December is shown below.

            To reflower under the less than ideal office conditions should move Primulina to the top of the list of easy houseplants.

Primulina 'Loki' flowering five months ago.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Packed and Shipped

Mini Plants packed and shipped from Florida

           Yes, you can get Mini plants packed and shipped from Florida.  Sometimes this is what you get.

            Or, you can get them locally delivered on our truck---- Unscrambled!

Primulina 'Loki' grown and shipped by Gary's Specialty Plants

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Full circle with Frosted Jade

Primulina yungfuensis grown by Drew Norris.

            We have come full circle with my blog story about Frosted Jade (Primulina yungfuensis) in Gleanings - April 2016.

            Gleanings is a free monthly e-newsletter from the Gesneriad Society edited by Mel Grice.  Sign up – there is always interesting news.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

What's New?

Primulina 'Rachel' grown by Karyn Cichocki

            The most common question I got over the years when talking to Garden Center buyers is “What’s new?”

            New plants keep gardeners interested and help sales.  Of course, “New” is relative to what you’ve seen before.  And there is a lag between what the Garden Center buyer decides is new and what the final consumers see as different.

            This helps explain how managers in the plant industry think that Fairy Gardening has peaked while the facts show  that people are just now learning about it.  We forget that the subjects we think about daily are only casually observed by consumers --- sometimes for only 5 minutes per year.

            Asian Violets are new and will be for years.  Only hard core hobbyists know about Primulina.  Casual observers have not been exposed to them.

            The main issue has simply been --- no supply.

            I have P. ‘Loki’, P. ‘Rachel’, P. ‘Piccolo’ and P. ‘Betty’ in production and for sale.  By 2017, Frosted Jade (P. yungfuensis) will be available.

            ‘New’ plants are here now.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Frosted Jade

Primulina yungfuensis grown by Bill Price

Primulina yungfuensis grown by Drew Norris

            Common names and marketing names are a part of Horticulture.  They evolve and there is no stopping them.

            Primulina yungfuensis has tremendous potential as a commercial plant, but we need a better name if it will be talked about.

            Several names have been proposed to me and the consensus is that Frosted Jade should be the one. Jade has a Chinese connection and the leaf has a dark green color.  If you look at yungfuensis with the sun shining on it, the silver variegation on the dark green jade sparkles like frost looks on grass.

Hybrids get nice English word names that have some significance to the hybridizer who usually gets to name his selected new releases.

Species have Latin names but can be designated with a cultivar name, if there is variability in the collected specimens.  Sometimes, a geographical name will be added to a species name to distinguish it from other clones of that species.  Occasionally, some named species cultivars are determined, by taxonomist, to be different enough to be named a different species.

            While all of this is going on, common names and marketing names are valuable to keep the plant world turning and the horticulture trade moving.

            Through a technicality, the botanical name cannot be Primulina yungfuensis ‘Frosted Jade’.  By adding the cultivar name, it implies that there are other different clones of the yungfuensis species.  Since at this time there is only one known clone of yungfuensis in North America, there cannot be any distinction.

            By announcing my marketing name of Frosted Jade, I hope that it becomes the common name for Primulina yungfuensis.

            In casual conversation it will be much easier to ask:  “How’s your Frosted Jade doing?” then saying: “How’s your Primulina yungfuensis doing?”

            Will Frosted Jade gain acceptance? --- The market will decide.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Primulinas have longevity

Primulina yungfuensis grown by Bill Price

            Since I’ve been trying to build the case that Primulina will become a common foliage houseplant, it is nice to see this picture of an old plant getting ready to flower again.  This is Primulina yungfuensis grown by Bill Price which is now 10” in diameter.

            Asian Violets survive drought without harm, take sun or shade and can tolerate hot or cold.

            Now we can say that they can live for years and will flower when big and old.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fairy Gardens Trending Up!

Asian Tray Garden by Gary's Specialty Plants

            From the trade magazine, Greenhouse Manager, there is a very valuable report by Carol Miller on April 4, 2016.  She has used Google Trends to create a graph of selected terms.  By searching for “Fairy Gardens”, the graph shows (the blue line) that interest in the subject has continued to increase since 2012 and 2016 will be the highest ever.

Fairy Garden Trend - Blue Line

Quoting from the source:

"This graph has a lot to say. First, “hanging baskets,” instead of declining as a search term as baby boomers get older, is only getting more and more popular. Although “container gardens” was a competitive term in 2005, “hanging baskets” have increased in frequency while “container gardens” has declined sharply.
If you thought fairy gardens peaked in popularity somewhere around 2012, if search terms are any measure, this graph shows otherwise. “Fairy gardens” did not really begin registering as a search term until that year, and has grown every year since. It’s on track to reach its most popular level yet in 2016."

            I ask everyone in this niche market what their opinion is about the Fairy Garden/Miniature Garden trend.  Those involved feel like it has lost its newness and may be leveling out.  This may be wrong.  This data from the general population shows that they are just now finding out about Fairy Gardens and are searching for information on the internet.

            Our sales of ‘Mini’ plants have doubled each year for five years.  I get one to two inquires per week from Garden Centers who have found me by seeing my plants at other stores.  Of the Garden Centers who have a ‘Small Plant’ department, all continue to stock our plants.  No one has abandoned Miniature Gardens.

            The facts are:  Fairy Gardens --- Trending up !

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Good Ole Days, OT

Buttermilk Junction, Martin County, Indiana, April 1937

            We all like to think that the good old days were better.

            Would you like to be progressing toward the life shown here?

            Through free market capitalism, human ingenuity and just striving for a better standard of living, life is better.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Do you know any cats? , OT

Maurice Sendak
                     If this doesn’t make you smile, you don’t know any cats!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Who needs flowers?

Primulina yungfuensis grown by Drew Norris, Picture by Jim Roberts

Who needs flowers?

            Primulina yungfuensis is a distinctively different Asian Violet.  It has patterned variegation that makes it stand out.  So far it has only been shown in Gesneriad flower shows by hobbyists who are lucky enough to have one.

            I had speculated that it should be spread far and wide even before I had one.  I have about 20 small plants now from leaves shared by Arlene Dewell, Jim Roberts and Drew Norris.

            The leaves rooted quickly and produced multiple plantlets.  The patterned foliage shows immediately making interesting leaves at any size.

            This Primulina species could be a commercial foliage plant, unless it has some fatal flaw that is not apparent yet.

            From the show plants, we know that it can be grown as a specimen with many leaves before it flowers.  It can be a houseplant for your windowsill equivalent to Calathea, Agleonema or Dieffenbachia which are grown for their foliage. Maybe a more believable comparison is to the decorative foliage of a mini Cyclamen before it is covered by flowers.   Asian Violets survive drought without harm, take sun or shade and can tolerate hot or cold.

            We will need a variety name for this species if there is any hope of it being talked about.  Primulina yungfuensis will never flow off your tongue.  What should it be?

            Eventually the blue flowers will show up.  But we don’t need them for Primulina yungfuensis to be a successful indoor plant.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Will it happen again?

Blue Job's Tears  - Perfect for your windowsill  !

Will it happen again?

            Last year  in 2015, the week after Easter was the biggest sales week for the year.  Why did that happen?  There were four times the normal individual wholesale orders.

            Possible reasons are:

          There is retail space available after the Easter plants are gone.

.         It’s Spring and it’s time to get inventory of small plants.

           Finally, with Spring getting gardeners excited about plants and planting, there are many more people in the store.  Some of them will see and want small houseplants for their windowsill.

     It was just a random event.

 Nobody knows.

            We will know about this year’s big week after Easter soon.