Sunday, December 8, 2019

What if your houseplant only lasted for five years?

Primulina 'Loki'  - 5 years 

What if your houseplant only lasted for five years?

            My Primulina ‘Loki’ lives at the west kitchen window.  Previous blog stories show that it has been growing there for 4-5 years.

            It gets water and light, never had any fertilizer.  The flower bud count is down to 2, so maybe it’s showing that some fertilizer would help.        

However, it does show that fertilizing houseplants has little to do with success.  Water without drowning and light is what matters.

If you would want to design a flowering houseplant that could live for years and flower occasionally, you would have difficulty.

But, look----we have that plant ---Primulina.

Like an African Violet –but better!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

'Silver Glory' String of Hearts

'Silver Glory' - credit web image
‘Silver Glory’

            Who knew?

            I had a reader ask how many kinds of String of Hearts there are?  At the time, I thought it was one and only, Ceropegia woodii, String of Hearts.

            Then a sister plant showed up ---- Ceropegia linearis woodii ---- now called ‘Heartless’ String of Daggers.  The demand for this is endless.

            Luckily, the internet allows new ideas and pictures to flow around the world instantly.  I looked at the right time and found ‘Silver Glory’ String of Hearts.  The heart shaped leaves are solid silver on the outside giving a distinctive look ---- different from the traditional green and silver.

            Assuming that ‘Silver Glory’ will be stable in propagation, this will be a winner.

Monday, November 11, 2019

String of Daggers - The newest Strings of Things

'Heartless'  - top

String of Daggers

            Common plant names add to the hobby world of plants.

            We found Ceropegia linearis woodii and knew that it looked ‘Heartless’

            Continuing logically, my customer, Kaity, sees the sharply pointed leaves as looking like small knives.  She proposes the name – ‘String of Daggers’.

            I’m with Kaity.  Our ‘Heartless’ String of Hearts’ should be called ‘String of Daggers.

Non-disclaimer:  You first learned about the ‘Heartless’ saga of ‘String of Daggers’ here at Gary’s Specialty Plants, today.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Billionaires are not harming me., O. T.

Is this a great country or what?

Billionaires are not harming me.

            I don’t watch any TV news, but I read a lot of internet headline news.

            It seems that politicians and some social manipulators believe that billionaires have an unfair advantage over everyone.  If Jeff’s or Bill’s or Warren’s stock goes up or down, it doesn’t affect me in any way.  They did not take anything from me to make their fortune.

            It is not a zero-sum game.  Billionaires can make or lose their own money same as you or me.  If you and I don’t have excess money, it’s our own fault, not theirs.

            If government taxes would take half or all of billionaires’ money, it would not benefit me in any way. So why are politicians trying to convince everyone it’s a good idea?

            Financial inequality drives the U. S. economy.  If you need more money, try to figure out how to get it.  Create a product or service that people with the money will pay for.

            Billionaires are not preventing anyone from succeeding.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Serendipity --- It's everywhere

Serendipity is my new word.

            This July at the Gesneriad Convention in Cincinnati, I was wondering if I understood the word Serendipity and if I was using it correctly.  I had asked various people if they had a good definition.

            By a serendipitous meeting with Bob Clark, from Seattle, I asked if he had a definition for serendipity.

            Without hesitation he said, ‘happy accident’.  What a great response.  Happy accident is perfect.

            I’ve had many serendipitous events happen recently.

            If you pay attention, you will have serendipity more often then you believe is possible.  You may find a new plant that you like.

            Pay attention.

Friday, October 18, 2019

It's all still true...

It ain't bragging if ...

'Mini' Plants with Custom  Blue Tags

For years, my tag line was:

            “Nobody does what I do with plants.  They could, but they don’t!”

It always seemed like bragging, but six years of developing the ‘Mini’ plants program has proven it true.

"It ain’t bragging, if you can do it."

My ‘Mini’ plants for Miniature Gardens and your Windowsill have substance---they are full pots of unique varieties that indoor gardeners want.  Serious collectors recognize my custom blue tags when seen at one of my 30 retail outlets.

A Specialist beats a Generalist every time.

      Gary K. Hunter, Grower
   Gary’s Specialty Plants

‘Mini’ Plants for Miniature Gardens and your Windowsill !

          1610 Fern Glen Drive         
            Drumore PA 17518
   (717) 951-4507 – Cell (Voice Mail)


     Two years ago, this was important enough to write about.  Now with plant sales doubling every year, the relevant news is I have 65 customers.  I get two or three new customer requests every week.  

      The houseplant boom continues.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

What if there is no heart?

String of Hearts

What if there is no heart?

            String of Hearts (Ceropegia woodii) is a perfectly named plant.  Since it’s one of the many Strings of Things, it is in high demand.

            In our search for more stock plants to propagate from, we discovered a different clone called Ceropegia linearis woodii.  In researching it, I found that the leaves are not shaped like a Valentine heart, but more like a teardrop.  Otherwise, the same green and silver leaf on a string.

            Now, what to do?  How can we sell this as String of Hearts?

            So, you know about lemons and lemonade?

            I want to call it ‘Heartless’ String of Hearts.  Everyone that I’ve told, laughs and agrees that’s it.

            ‘Heartless’ String of Hearts.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie' Returns

Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie' -- The Best Miniature Flowering Houseplant

Sinningia ‘Li’l Georgie’ returns.

            Sinningia ‘Li’l Georgie’ is the most amazing miniature flowering houseplant.  Much has been written about it here, here, and here.

            I will not break my rule of saying what is going to happen before it happens.  Delays and failures are always lurking.

            I will only say that ‘Li’l Georgie’ may return for sale within the year.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

So, You Want to Start Your Own Business... , O. T.

There is no limit!

And so ---- you want to start a small business!

            Thousands of job-haters would like to start their own business but stay small.

            I’ve discovered a book --- The Million-Dollar, One Person Business:  Make Great Money.  Work the Way You like.  Have the Life You Want.  by Elaine Pofeldt.  I’ve listened to her read it to me from Audible.  She has done brilliant work in studying this expanding model of Entrepreneurial activity.

            With her case stories and from her being self-employed herself, you will get a sense of what it is like to start and succeed with no employees and little fixed costs.

            If you don’t find it interesting nor learn from it, you should not start a business.

            The million-dollar business is not the goal. (Unless you want it to be).  The goal is to be independent. 

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Who knows the origin of String of Dolphins?

String of Dolphins -- The hottest plant

One of the ‘hottest’ plants is String of Dolphins – Senecio peregrinus.  Where did this come from?  Why had we not known about this novelty plant before?

The internet will tell you everything.  But what to believe?

              I don’t know if the stories of its origin are true.  One account is that it is a hybrid of two species and has a species name of peregrinus.  This is suspect, because hybrids of two species are conventionally given a hybrid name in single quotes; e.g.  Sinningia ‘Li’l Georgie’ is a hybrid of (Sinningia concinna X Sinningia muscicola).

            Perhaps, it is natural occurring species found in nature as Senecio peregrinus --- common name:  String of Dolphins.

            A counter argument is that it is a hybrid---- either natural occurring or man-made.  We have had hundreds of flowers go to seed, but have not seen any seedlings sprout, implying it may be sterile.  This is a common phenomenon of F1 hybrids of two species --- a sterile hybrid.

You are welcome to comment to give an accurate picture of String of Dolphins.

This novel plant is going to become a standard.  It would be nice to know its history.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Does Pilea peperomioides flower, Part II ?

Pilea peperomioides with open flowers

          The flowers are open.

          Still not exciting.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Does Pilea peperomioides flower?

Pilea peperomioides in flower

          All species in the wild must flower at some point to help perpetuate itself.  This is the first time I have seen it.  This is a much older plant than we normally have around since all younger ones are sold.

          It's easy to see that this is not a flowering plant that is grown for its flowers.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

It's never too late to learn..., O. T.

Do you know what this means?

I missed it when it was happening.  I had never read a Harry Potter book nor seen a movie about the marvelous world of wizards and witches.

It’s been 20 years since the clever writer, J. K. Rowling, finally got her ingenious stories published for the world to read.

I’ve listened to three books from Audible and watched three movies interpret them.  I wonder if the movies could stand alone, without knowing the descriptive details from the books.

The advantage of the audio, performed by Jim Dale, with his amazing storytelling, is giving the characters their own voice.

I’ve been entertained and now know why so many were taken over by Harry Potter.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

String of Hearts has Problems

String of Hearts

            In our Pennsylvania greenhouse winter condition, String of Hearts (Ceropegia woodii), does not grow.  Stock plants in full winter sun and in warm night temperatures (64) do not put out runners for propagation.   In the summer, they grow quickly.

            So, what’s the problem?

            It’s too cold?  The day length is too short?

            Experiments can be tried.  I can grow some under lights where they will get 18 hours of light and 75-85 temperatures.  If they grow rapidly, problem solved.

            Next problem.  How to make them branch?  We need a branch at every leaf axil, but most of the time only get one.

            A project worth trying is spray with B-Nine, a growth regulator that sometimes promotes branching.  Spray long strings of hearts to see if there is any effect.  There is a chance only the pair of leaves near the pinch will branch.  If so, it could be branched on the stock plant before cut for propagation.

            The lack of cooperation from our stock baskets is starving the market for the thousands of String of Hearts that could be sold.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Can we bring back Sinningia 'Little Georgie'?

Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie' - An amazing plant

My Sinningia ‘Li’l Georgie’ has been out of production for several years.  It is one of the best miniature flowering plants ever created.  The few that remain at the greenhouse always attract visitor’s attention.         

The limiting factor has always been practical propagation.  Tissue culture works --- we proved it twice until I lost my source.

Perhaps there is a way.  There is a ‘poor man’s' method --- establish hundreds of tubers and then cut the tiny young shoots, root them and pot three per 2.5” pot.  Grow out to flower and sell for a high price.

What has changed since we last sold ‘Li’l Georgie’?

1.      Houseplant demand has exponentially increased.

2.      Plant collectors will pay higher prices for unusual plants.

3.     Garden Centers with expanded houseplant departments are begging for rare plants like ‘Li’l Georgie’

Somebody should do this.

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Real Test

Happy Plant Buyer

            After unloading my plants at Strange’s Garden Center in Richmond, I observed a customer selecting three of my plants.

            I wanted to find out the ‘Why’, so I asked her-----

            She was holding two of our ‘hot’ plants --- Pilea peperomioides and Peperomia polybotrya ‘Raindrop’.

            I asked if she knew about these plants before she came there.  “Well, a little, but no.  I like these and I want to learn about them.”

            She also bought two nice ceramic pots to put them in.  There was a discussion about holes or no holes in the pot.

            Later, I happened to see her at the cash register and thought she needs to be in a blog story.  So, I asked her permission for her picture.

            She was very pleasant, and I met a real plant buyer who picked the ‘hot’ varieties because she liked them.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Mayor Pete, O. T.

Blue Skies Ahead

            After learning about Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a potential Presidential candidate, I discovered he has written a book about his life and accomplishments.

            I’ve recently tried audio books (Audible) so I can listen in the truck on long distance delivery trips.  I bought the book, ‘The Shortest Way Home’, written and read by Pete Buttigieg and I'm impressed.

            You owe it to yourself to hear the life story of a very smart and sensible American with the drive to be the President of the United States.  It is a compelling story and you will thank me for letting you know about him.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Anniversary - Going into the Eighth Year.

Just resting

Pic- Kevin Cohn

    This blog started April 8, 2012 ---  seven years ago, today.  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 10,000 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 than a bunch of jumbled thoughts.

            I should have started sooner.

             My interest in featured plants has changed over time.  The hot plants this year are Chinese Money Plant, String of Dolphins and Peperomia polybotrya 'Raindrop'.

             What's next?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

What will we do with them?

Peperomia polybotrya 'Raindrop" --Everywhere.

Right now, there are so few Peperomia polybotrya ‘Raindrops’ that nobody even knows that they exist.

But what if tissue culture propagation is successful such that an infinite supply suddenly becomes available.  It might happen.

          ‘Nothing is sold unless it has a name and a use’

I want the name to be Peperomia ‘Raindrop’.  The dominate player in the market will influence the name and what becomes accepted through common use.

The leading ‘use’ for ‘Raindrop’ will be as a low light houseplant.  It is sturdy and has shiny leaves.  It should be able to take its place by other houseplant standards like Pothos, Philodendron or Ferns.

If you follow the Law of Focus, then one use---- houseplant----should be enough.

However, the most dominate segment of the horticulture industry is Spring Garden and Patio Plants.  And more and more gardens are in the shade.

What if we made a planter with ‘Raindrops’ and Begonias?

If Peperomia ‘Raindrop’ could get in the Spring market, we will need a lot of them.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Why are we holding back?

Peperomia polybotrya 'Raindrop'

            The phenomenon of the Chinese Money Plant has gotten a lot of ‘Press’.  Many in the plant world have followed the rapid rise of Pilea peperomioides and tried to explain it.

            Indoor plant lovers published pictures on social media and the demand spiraled up.  The real shortage of availability fed the instinct of ‘Get it before its gone’.  With demand chasing limited supply, the prices moved up, which just made it more desirable.

            There is a similar plant, Peperomia polybotrya‘Raindrop’ out there waiting for its chance to zoom.

            Experienced plant collectors all say it’s a better plant than Chinese Money.  It has a sturdy stem with coin-shaped shiny leaves.  It’s the perfect houseplant.  It can live in very low light, doesn’t mind being a little dry and will branch and make shiny, green leaves.

            So, why hasn’t it caught fire?  The supply is very limited, but that didn’t stop Pilea.

            Why are we holding back?

            Peperomia ‘Raindrop’ needs to be promoted in every possible way.  Garden Centers need to promote it when the they have plants for sale.  Being temporarily sold out increases desire.

            This is a legitimate, easy houseplant.  Those who have one will tell others.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Note: This is not a political question, O. T.

Some ideas don't work

I buy Succulents from Mexico through a U. S. broker who has established a big business importing unrooted cuttings.

If there would be a tariff (tax) imposed by President Trump on this product, say, $1 Dollar per plant,  the idea is that production would return to the U.S. southern states.  The actual result would be that any U.S. grower who would enter the succulent market would charge the same as the imported plant plus the tariff dollar.

The law of unintended consequences would make your favorite succulent cost too much, you will stop buying and the booming succulent market will collapse.

Fortunately, horticulture is a minor industry, so it has been ignored by the tariff imposers.

Free international trade allows for low cost plants to be enjoyed by all.  Don’t let the President tell you that tariffs are helping U. S. business.

If tariffs were added to the price of plants, it would cripple us.

Tariffs are counter-productive, un-American and stupid.  President Trump is wrong to go against practical economics.

The next President will return sanity to free enterprise by abandoning all tariffs.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

No Stagnation in Lettuce

'Just saying'        Credit- Kevin Cohn

I’m always annoyed with doomsayers who say there is nothing new and ‘Let’s go back to the good old days’.  There is no stagnation in lettuce.  I have no relationship with greenhouse vegetables, but I find this story amazing:

         "BrightFarms, a leading supplier of greenhouse vegetables, is ramping up its expansions efforts with new greenhouses planned for New England (Central Massachusetts), New York (Hudson Valley), and North Carolina. The new greenhouses will each be 280,000 square feet and sit on 20 acres of land. According to BrightFarms, each greenhouse is expected to create around 55 full-time jobs.

        The greenhouses will each produce more than 2 million pounds of fresh, leafy salad greens and herbs per year."

The full story here:

Free enterprise at it’s best.  Is this a great country or what?

Sunday, February 10, 2019

There should be a record of this...

String of Dolphins

            It is so rare that a small business gets national notice, that it should be recorded.

            Ellen Wells of Ball Publishing has been tracking a story about the new plant --- String of Dolphins.  She offered to help match buyers with sellers for this still rare plant.

            Here is the mention in the Feb 2019 Buzz e-newsletter.

Gary Hunter of Gary’s Specialty Plants in Drumore, Pennsylvania, responded to my request for folks who sell the very hot and trending dolphin succulents, also known as string of succulents. He ships within 200 miles of Drumore and is still accepting new customers. Gary says all “strings of things” are worth watching.

This is more than getting my name in the paper.  This is genuine recognition of what’s happening in houseplants and a boost for making sales happen.

         I appreciate this recognition and thank Ellen for her effort. 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Which are you?, O. T.

Just My Opinion

                                   Those who can, Do !
                                   Those who can’t, Criticize !

            There is a saying for everything.  I like sayings that apply.  It helps simplify the situation.

            Since I stopped watching TV news years ago, my life got better.  Bad news sells better than good news, so that’s what you get.  Bad News – Repeated.

            I keep up with what is happening in the world through internet news aggregators.  I look at several, so maybe by taking the average of the slant of the stories, I can get a reasonable impression of the facts.

            Many opinion pieces allow comments which I look at to help frame the topic. Now, I think that I will stop doing that.

            Random comments bring out the worst.  There are people with their own agenda, argue without fact. (They are welcome to start their own blog).  There is name calling which poisons any good argument.  There are internal cat-fights between screen names who have established their personalities or may even know each other.

Someone who is a professional news writer, who has the filter of an editor and who protects their reputation, does not need kibitzers criticizing them.  Thoughtful comments could be helpful if well-reasoned. However, thinkers who are capable of that, learn not to waste their time, because they get sniped at, as well.

Random comments serve no purpose to improve understanding of a public question.  I will stop reading them.  My life will be better.