Thrillers, touring Columbus, summer markets and webinars

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ellen Wells Subscribe
Mandevilla vs. Dipladenia
Touring Columbus
Arett’s Summer Marketplace
Decorate That Door
Eason's Spring Trials Book
Or, Attend Our Webinars
But Wait, There’s More!
Legalities of Doing Good


I wrote a lot about cannas in my last Tropical Topics (you can read it HERE until Monday). They’ve been on my mind lately because I’ve seen so many mandevilla combo containers this year with cannas playing the role of thriller. It’s a good look! Plus, I know some of you bring in cannas and other tropical plants for midsummer sales.

I spoke to Dr. Jeanmarie Verchot, a former Oklahoma State University researcher now at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center. Jeanmarie has been working with cannas since 2010, both academically and with her consulting company VF Canna.

Trained as a virologist, Jeanmarie works on developing diagnostics for several viruses that have hit the canna industry. We discussed the new seed cannas, which I understand to be free of those viruses. The older, heirloom varieties, she explained, are usually sterile, are field-grown and are propagated by dividing their rhizomes. This method results in “robust rhizomes,” as she calls them. That’s good for the homeowner because “you plant them once and you have them for the rest of your life, they continue to spread,” she said. “Our experience is those [seed-produced] plants don’t produce robust rhizomes, so you always have to go back to more seeds. I think the newer varieties out there don’t have those rhizome characteristics of some of the heirlooms.” She concedes that seed varieties are much better pots.

Speaking of seed varieties, my pal Dr. Criley interviewed Dr. Tomoaki Hakata of Takii Seed. He was the one who produced the first canna that could be grown uniformly from seed. The interview appeared in the Heliconia Society International Bulletin 19 (4). It’s informative! If you’re interested you can access it by visiting and clicking on the “go to link” at the bottom.  

Mandevilla vs. Dipladenia

Tropical Topics also tried to clear up a debate about mandevilla vs. dipladenia. The astute Dr. Richard Criley, my tropicals go-to guru from Hawaii, tried to clarify it in a nutshell: All dipladenia species have been placed under the mandevilla genus. “So, it's kind of like stephanotis (which used to be the genus name), which taxonomically is Marsdenia floribunda,” Richard explained. It’s all mandevilla.

“To me, there is a clear undeniable difference,” wrote Joy Baugh in a response to this information. “Mandevillas, as I know them, have much larger leaves, not shiny, grow into a taller vine, more sparse and are more susceptible to whitefly than dipladenia.  Dipladenias, as I see them, are more compact and bushy, shiny leaves, and so far I've not experienced any whitefly issues with them.”

Tom Ericson says the naming issue has caused a lot of confusion with his customers. They call in early spring to pre-order mandevillas, and when they come in to pick them up, he says, “they say they were looking for the bushy one. They don't want the vine because it gets too big. So now we always ask them if they want the bushy one or the vine. Half don't know.” Confusion ensues. “If the taxonomists want to argue over it all, fine. Do it behind closed doors and let it stay there.”

Well, that just about says it! 

Touring Columbus

Canna and mandevilla remind me of summer. And summer gets me to thinking about Cultivate’17 in Columbus, Ohio, coming up this July. And that gets me to thinking about my duties at the show, one of them being a Bus Ring Leader (or some such thing) for the Garden Retail Tour. Whew—all that because I was thinking about tropical plants!

Happening Saturday, July 15, the Garden Retail Tour will hit up three different Columbus-area garden centers: Oakland Nursery in New Albany, Wilson’s Garden Center in Newark, and Fisher’s Gardens in Reynoldsburg. And there’s a separate stop for lunch. As always, these tours are a great way to see how other folks do things. Maybe your store has a problem that could be solved by a solution you see at one of the stops. Maybe you’ll see a cool way to display a product effectively. Or maybe you’ll get to chatting with your bus seat neighbor from Chattanooga and you’ll learn the secret to selling more high-end combos. As I’ve heard from many tour leaders for many years—chances are you’ll see or learn something on the tour that will more than pay for your trip to the show. And maybe we’ll see some tropical plants, too.

Start your Cultivate’17 experience at  

Arett’s Summer Marketplace

Summer is also a time for your buyers to go shopping. Arett Sales is making it easy on the travel budget by offering a brand-new online Summer Marketplace.

The Summer Marketplace has a six-week open-to-buy period which started this week on June 12, and it’ll be open until July 24. You’ll find more than 7,000 product specials in the key categories of Fall, Winter, Birding, Holiday, Gift, Summer Insect Control, Weed Control, Outdoor Living and Pottery. Whew, that’s a lot!

Get online and get shopping now at   

Decorate That Door

For those of you who are travelling to markets this summer, the folks at Studio M are welcoming you to take a peek at their doors, literally. They are releasing Door Décor, a new concept in decorating the front of one’s home.


Studio M is known for its really eye-catching and artistic products for in and around the home. The new Door Décor is no different, featuring nine different and unique artists, including artists Susan Winget, Martha Collins and others. The cool thing about the new Door Décor is that the pieces not only look great on their own, but also coordinate with other Studio M products such as mats and flags. Create a whole front-of-home package for your customers! With nearly 20 designs to choose from, the Door Décor items are about the size of a wreath, made from layered PVC and are printed with fade-resistant inks.

So, go ahead—show yourself the door! See all the other stuff Studio M has to offer at  

Eason Publishes Spring Trials Book

Eason has taken a load off of the backs of the Bobbleheads, I tell you! They have just released the 2017 edition of the California Spring Trials report, something they’ve been diligently putting out for the last dozen-odd years.

Compiled by members of the EHR office team based on input of the salespeople that attended the trials, this year’s edition features genetics from 21 breeding companies and information gathered from 17 different stops on the tour. Comprehensive! Claim to fame is that it’s an independent report, not aligned with any specific breeder’s genetics. Just like our own Bobblehead coverage!

Click HERE and scroll down just a bit to access the digital version of the 27-page booklet. (You’ll also find a link to request a printed version.) 

Or, Attend Our Webinars

Another Spring Trials option is to listen to us! My fellow Bobblehead Chris Beytes and I are putting on another two-part webinar during which we will go over all the highlights—from the best genetics and products to the quirkiest names—of our six-day tour of the trials.

Part I covers the southern portion of the trials and will include genetics from all the Ball companies, GroLink, Dümmen Orange, Terra Nova, Floranova, Hort Couture, Florist Holland and more, and is sponsored by the good folks at Ball FloraPlant.

Date: Thursday, July 6, 2017
Time: 1:00 p.m. Eastern/Noon Central

Part II covers the northern portion of the trials. Varieties from the following companies will be featured: Syngenta, Proven Winners, Danziger, Benary, Sakata, American Takii, Westhoff, Hem Genetics and more. This episode is happily sponsored by PanAmerican Seed.

Date: Thursday, July 13, 2017
Time: 1:00 p.m. Eastern/Noon Central

Register for these webinars at

But Wait, There’s More!

We have a bunch of other webinars lined up, too. Like what?

Armitage Unchained! Dr. Allan Armitage is going to be turned loose to share anything on his mind regarding his specialty, perennials—plus a whole lot more!

Date: Thursday, June 22, 2017
Time: 1:00 p.m. Eastern/Noon Central

Fire Ants 101 for Greenhouses and Nurseries. Fire ant expert Lawrence “Fudd” Graham of Auburn University will share some fire ant history and biology, and go over the fire ant quarantine protocols for nursery stock and greenhouses.

Date: Thursday, June 27, 2017
Time: 1:00 p.m. Eastern/Noon Central

Register for all of our webinars HERE.  

Know the Legalities of Doing Good

All year I’ve been highlighting the good acts and deeds that horticultural businesses are doing. Doing good is a great thing. It’s even better when it’s done with legal regulations in mind. So, for those of you who are considering giving back to your community in some way—doing charity work, donating time, products and money, that sort of thing—I recently came across three legal tips (paraphrased) from Find Law blog for how to do it on the up and up:

1. Limit Where Donations Go. Limiting the charities an employer will agree to match contributions to can avoid potential tax risks and public perception nightmares.

2. Don't Offer Tax Deductions to Customers. If you have a per-sale donation policy, or are doing some other marketing promotion to donate a portion/percentage of sales, it should be clear to your customers that they cannot deduct their purchase, or even a portion of their purchase, as a charitable contribution.

3. Keep Really Good Records. The easiest way to make sure you don't miss any charitable contributions is to save donation receipts and keep good records of all contributions, including goods and services.

Read the tips in full HERE. And if you have some good that you are doing and want to share, let me know about it! Drop me an EMAIL or share it below.

Happy Father's Day to you all! Hope it's a great one. Meanwhile, got something to share? Just drop me a line about it—or anything else, for that matter—to   

Ellen Wells
Green Profit

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