SUMMER IS COMING AND YOU’LL want to be ready with the hottest varieties on the market. Sun Parasol mandevillas from Suntory Flowers thrive in the heat, offering easy care and continuous blooms until temperatures dip to the low 40s. Keep your offerings current with these top five introductions.
Sun Parasol Apricot
Big breakthrough color Sun Parasol Apricot will debut at the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) this month. Apricot matches the Sun Parasol Giant mandevilla series with blooms spanning 3.5 to 4.5 inches. Ideal for trellises in larger pots, it is a very fast grower with excellent branching. Apricot’s trailing habit is also beautiful in hanging baskets. Growers should produce in pots 6 inches or larger as a trellised item. “Besides the color, the speed of growth is the other thing that really impresses me,” says T. Jay Higgins of Sun-Fire Nurseries, who will be showing the plants at TPIE. “It has a trailing habit and is a very, very fast grower with excellent branching.”
Sun Parasol Designer White
Designer White brings an entirely new form to Sun Parasol mandevillas – an upright, non-vining shrub! Plants full of classy white blooms grow into elegant bushes with sturdy stems that don’t need to be supported by stakes or trellises. Vigorous growth makes them natural to train as a standard tree form or topiary. Plants are disease resistant and thrive in the heat. Designer White is an exciting alternative to hibiscus standards with a shorter crop time. The breeders from Suntory are excited to introduce this new category of Sun Parasol to the premium market.
Sun Parasol Red Emperor
In the Sun Parasol Giant class, Red Emperor reigns supreme with its gorgeous, large crimson flowers and superior garden performance. The Giant varieties are classic mandevillas with large leaves and large flowers that span up to 5 inches. New for 2016 is Dark Pink, an improvement over Pink for disease resistance, plus a color that deepens as blooms age. Giant varieties have a vigorous growing habit, coarse foliage and are natural climbers. They are stunning trained to a trellis or obelisk in patio pots and the most heat tolerant. Best commercially grown in pots 6 inches or larger, trained to a trellis or as a hanging basket. These plants require the most heat for successful production.
Sun Parasol has a hot new sister named Sundenia! She produces the large mandevilla flowers that consumers love in the Sun Parasol Giant series on plants that are more compact, like the Sun Parasol Original series. Colors include Red, White and the striking Coral – a vibrant pinkish red. Flowers are 3 to 5 inches in diameter — double the size of a typical dipledenia. Superior branching plants increase the flower count. Grow commercially in 6-inch pots or larger; or in hanging baskets. Also, differentiate Sundenia from other dipladenias and mandevillas by growing it as a bush instead of training it to a trellis.
Sun Parasol Garden Crimson
Garden Crimson is the first bedding plant mandevilla for landscapes. These plants bloom early and are naturally compact with a spreading, trailing habit. Powerful basal branching creates low breaks. They can be planted in masses like petunias. No trellises required. Garden Crimson is an excellent choice for window boxes, hanging baskets and patio containers. For growers, Garden Crimson is the fastest Sun Parasol crop. Grow and sell in quart pots as a premium bedding plant or plant in 6-inch pots or larger as a bush form or in hanging baskets. We were pleased to see significant landscape installations of Garden Crimson last year at Maker’s Mark Distillery in Kentucky and Castle Pines Country Club in Colorado.
Expanding possibilities with princettia
Get a jump on the traditional poinsettia season by selling Princettia euphorbias in October. The premium pinks pair perfectly with breast cancer awareness promotions.
Leading the way in promoting Princettia euphorbias in North America, Plantpeddler completed a successful breast cancer awareness campaign with the Hy-Vee grocery chain in October. Although the bright pink hybrid euphorbias bred by Suntory Flowers have become a symbol of breast cancer awareness in Japan, Australia and Europe, this is the first time a charitable promotion happened with a major retailer in the United States using the Princettia brand.
Based in Cresco, Iowa, Plantpeddler has been a strategic grower partner creating a market for Princettia as an alternative and complement to traditional poinsettia offerings. Princettia hybrids offer vivid colors, compact habit and a different look with smaller bracts. The three pink varieties have been praised for their vivid colors, longevity and durability. And Princettia Max White is noteworthy as the only true white poinsettia on the market.
Rolling out retail
Plantpeddler found the perfect retail partner in Hy-Vee. Based in West Des Moines, Iowa, the employee-owned grocer ranks among the top 25 supermarket chains in the United States, with $8.7 billion in annual sales and 235 stores in eight Midwest states. Hy-Vee’s floral team is known for its merchandising, winning prestigious awards competing against other retailers in supermarket floral. Hy-Vee also has an internal floral wholesaling division that serves its stores.
Through the month of October, 23 Hy-Vee stores participated. The stores were in key Iowa markets including Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Each market selected a local charity as the beneficiary. Cedar Rapids chose Gems of Hope, Waterloo chose Beyond Pink Team and Des Moines selected the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The sales were a nice tie-in to Hy-Vee’s support of breast cancer awareness walks and events that month.
For each 6-inch Princettia plant that sold for $14.99, two dollars went to the charitable cause. Plantpeddler shared in this charitable contribution. The goal was to sell at least 4,000 plants. Consumers could show their personal support by putting their name on a handbill with the pink ribbon promoting the cause. The design matches the elevated tags created by The John Henry Company. Clear plant sleeves also promoted the Princettia brand with a special breast cancer awareness logo.
Local news coverage and digital media created regional awareness. Plantpeddler was featured in at least two television programs promoting the cause. And internally, Hy-Vee challenged its employees to sell more plants. In one “checker challenge,” cashiers who rang up the most plants won a gift card.
Breaking new ground
The goal this year was to show it can be done, says Plantpeddler’s President Mike Gooder. “It was a large-scale pilot — not five stores, but 23 out of 230 plus stores. Hy-Vee is in both small towns and larger markets including Kansas City, Omaha, Des Moines and Minneapolis.”
If 4,000 plants were sold in 10 percent of the stores, that means 40,000 could be sold if there’s a full roll out this coming year. “If we can sell 30,000 next season, that will be a nice number,” he says.
Forcing the plants to be ready for late September sales is a challenge. In addition to an earlier stick date and the need to black cloth, the summer heat affects finishing differently than the typical Christmas sales window. “You need to be an A-level grower with a certain quality of infrastructure,” Gooder says. Blooming potted plant growers who are accustomed to 52-week programs are most suited to this kind of plant forcing.
A heartfelt cause
Plantpeddler’s sales account manager, Stacy Bryant, spearheaded the Princettia program with Hy-Vee. “We saw the potential because of the plant’s vibrant pink color and the other fundraising opportunities Hy-Vee had been participating in,” she says. “Breast cancer awareness is a cause so dear to women in general. It’s great to have a signature floral item for it. Princettia is a delicate, feminine plant but also very strong and resilient.”
The cause also hits close to home for Gooder, whose wife Rachel’s sister died from breast cancer. “We’ve all been touched by it,” he says. “Our customers are women. We should try to help our number one customer by supporting research and awareness for breast cancer and cancer of all types. In Princettia, we have found the right product to do the right thing. The color is right and it has a unique flower that has not really been seen. Not only is it cool and different, but it holds up at retail, which is important. A consumer who buys it in October should also be able to enjoy it through the Christmas period.”
In addition to the Hy-Vee program, Plantpeddler sold Princettia plants and promoted the cause in its own floral shop. Using Facebook and the local newspaper was especially effective getting the word out.
Now is the time to order Princettia cuttings for the coming season. Consider implementing a breast cancer awareness program with your customers.For more information about Princettia euphorbias, visit www.suntoryflowers.com.