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GardenSMART Episode

Show #8/6308. Bringing A New Plant To Market

Summary of Show

Plant Development Services
PLANT DEVELOPMENT SERVICES (PDSI) has been in the business of bringing new and exciting plants to market since 1996. Founded by Greg Smith, third-generation owner of Flowerwood Nursery and passionate plantsman, PDSI recognized the need the nursery industry had to evaluate and market new plant selections. For More Information Click Here

Where Do This New Plants Come From
Sometimes THESE NEW PLANTS are just mutations that happen naturally, a plant-lover will find them and bring them to PDSI and say, “ Hey, I think this is cool, what do you think?" If it's a good plant, they can bring it to market. Other breeders are actually very technical about it - they may plant thousands of seedlings, they make selections over numbers of years, then pick the very best, bring them to us, and we go, “ Oh, that's really nice, I like that color, or that bloom, or that shape.” For More Information Click Here

Breeding
A lot of the work really is just OLD SCHOOL BREEDING where you take a male and a female whose traits you like and want to get something that's kind of in-between, then it's the process of evaluating, in many cases, tens of thousands of seedlings to find that one that you like. They call that open pollination and a lot of breeding is done that way, where they just collect thousands of seeds from any plant. There’s always a little variation in each seedling population so you'd look for that one, that unique one. For More Information Click Here

Branch Sports
Kip mentioned mutations. Some of the mutations are just simple and natural mutations, like BRANCH SPORTS. There are a number of selections that have come to PDSI, that basically were just variegated or chartreuse plants. And that's where a lot of the best variegated plants have come from - branch sports. Something interesting - especially with variegated plants - a lot of plants tend to what they call "revert”. For More Information Click Here

Propagating Plants
One of the most popular ways of cloning plants or PROPAGATING PLANTS is vegetative propagation. Talk us through that whole process. Once they find this great, new plant, they then must figure out how to reproduce it in numbers that can get to the consumer. The fastest way for most plants is from doing a cutting. Take a little, small piece of the plant, put it in some soil, then put a mist on it to let it root and make sure that it's easy to root because if it's not easy to root, it's going to be very difficult to reproduce. And that’s an important part of the selection process when picking plants. For More Information Click Here

Tissue Culture
But some plants don't root well, or just do better in what they call TISSUE CULTURES. They actually take it in the lab and make little tiny cuttings. From there they can produce big numbers and then send it to growers who then put it in a little bit larger pot and the process begins that way. But as mentioned before, a few things are done by seed, but most of these plants are clonal plants, you need to do either a cutting or tissue culture so you have the exact plant to be able to reproduce. For More Information Click Here

New Plants - Distylium Cast In Bronze & Jewel Box
This is distylium CAST IN BRONZE. It's a medium-grower, gets to about four-feet tall, the new growth continues to have that beautiful bronze coloration. And it's an evergreen plant. Another reason distyliums have become more and more popular is they're a nice replacement for people that like boxwoods. Some of the boxwoods have a blight issue, and are prone to getting disease. For More Information Click Here

Gardenia - Fool Proof & Diamond Spire
Let's talk about FOOL PROOF first, because it really, really solves an important issue that was starting to happen with radicans, which was root rot and other kinds of disease issues. This happens with plants from time to time, especially something that's in high cultivation, where we have millions of them out there. Something that attacks one, then in time, can spread to others. It’s through good breeding practice that the industry comes up with solutions which mean you're now not going to lose your gardenia every other year. For More Information Click Here

Magnolia Stellar Ruby
This plant, MAGNOLIA STELLAR RUBY, has that same fragrance. It really loads up with blooms. As one can see it has blooms up and down the stems. It has a little bit different color. Whereas the other was that light, yellow color, as these open they provide that really dark, ruby coloration to the flower. Another great thing about this plant is the habit. It only gets about eight to ten feet tall and makes a nice, thick hedge plant. For More Information Click Here

Roses - It’s A Breeze
In the last couple decades, it's been exciting to see ROSES moving back into the landscape category. They've always been great garden plants, but a lot of the roses, if you go back 30-40 years, were finicky, caring for them involved a lot of spraying to just keep black spot and mildew off of them. But with the advent of some of these new, super-hardy, disease-resistant selections, we're seeing roses reclaim their rightful place in the landscape as this bulletproof plant that gives you great foliage, great blooms, and now, a lot of these really, really nice compact forms. For More Information Click Here

Hydrangeas - Heart Throb & White Wedding
Before we leave Kip has two really exciting HYDRANGEAS that Eric wants Kip to talk about. One is Heart Throb, which comes from a dutch breeding program. It has a bright, bright red flower and a super nice, compact form. And then White Wedding, which is a paniculata, which with most of those, you get more of the greenish flowers. This is a really, really bright white. And once again has a nice, compact habit. For More Information Click Here

LINKS:

Plant Development Services, Inc.
Plant Development Services, inc.

Distylium - Cast In Bronze
Cast in Bronze Distylium

Distylium Jewel Box
Jewel Box Distylium

Gardenia - Fool Proof
Fool Proof™ Gardenia

Gardenia - Diamond Spire
Diamond Spire® Gardenia

Magnolia - Stellar Ruby
'Stellar Ruby’ Magnolia

Rose - It’s A Breeze
It's a Breeze™ Groundcover Rose

Hydrangea - Heart Throb
Heart Throb® Hydrangea - Southern Living Plants

Hydrangea - White Wedding
White Wedding® Hydrangea from Southern Living

Plant List

Show #8/6308. Bringing A New Plant To Market

Transcript of Show

In this Episode GardenSMART steps into the exciting world of new plant selections to see how they go from an idea, to the field, to your nearest garden center. As avid gardeners every year, we wait expectantly for the next round of new plant introductions to find their way to our local garden center. There's so much work that goes into bringing a new selection to market. From the point of discovery, there are years of propagation, evaluation, and patience involved in getting everything just right and building enough stock to finally launch.

PLANT DEVELOPMENT SERVICES (PDSI) has been in the business of bringing new and exciting plants to market since 1996. PDSI was founded by Greg Smith, third-generation owner of Flowerwood Nursery and passionate plantsman, PDSI recognized the need the nursery industry had to evaluate and market new plant selections. Today, they license over 100 amazing new selections and the list grows every year.

Eric next meets Kip McConnell, who is the business development director of PDSI. Kip is a graduate of Auburn horticulture and works to develop retail channels for new plant selections, identifying new plants and connecting the many people along the way to make sure that each new selection is a success.

Kip, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for joining us. Kip in turn thanks Eric, he’s glad to be here.

Eric thinks that Kip has one of the best jobs in the industry. Not only does he get to grow plants but is on the cutting edge, the very, very front edge of discovering these new cultivars and then working to bring them to market. Eric thinks the behind-the-scenes activity we’ll see in this show is something that a lot of people don't get to see. Where do all these new, exciting plants, like a new color heuchera, where do they come from? The new compact or upright versions of plants that we know and love, where do they come from? And that's what Kip does for a living.

Kip agrees, that is what he does and this is a great job. He gets to do a lot, he used to be in production, but doing this he actually gets his hands dirty a little bit, but also gets to travel the world. They work with plant breeders here locally, throughout the United States, as well as around the world and gets to see stuff that's amazing every day.

Sometimes THESE NEW PLANTS are just mutations that happen naturally, a plant-lover will find them and bring them to PDSI and say, “ Hey, I think this is cool, what do you think?" If it's a good plant, they can bring it to market. Other breeders are actually very technical about it - they may plant thousands of seedlings, they make selections over numbers of years, then pick the very best, bring them to us, and we go, “ Oh, that's really nice, I like that color, or that bloom, or that shape." So they do the evaluations here, decide if it's great, if so then figure out how to market it and bring it to market.

A lot of the work really is just OLD SCHOOL BREEDING where you take a male and a female whose traits you like and want to get something that's kind of in-between, then it's the process of evaluating, in many cases, tens of thousands of seedlings to find that one that you like. They call that open pollination and a lot of breeding is done that way, where they just collect thousands of seeds from any plant. There’s always a little variation in each seedling population so you'd look for that one, that unique one. They also do controlled crosses, where they'll bring that certain parent that has an attribute that you really want, either a bloom color, or a growth habit, or whatever it is, then pair it with another parent and actually control the pollen going in, so the seed has the genetics of both parents. It's still hit and miss but you have a better chance of getting what you want when you do these controlled crosses. And there's a lot of that going on, as well. The other way that they manipulate the seeds is via irradiation or chemical treatments.

Kip mentioned mutations. Some of the mutations are just simple and natural mutations, like BRANCH SPORTS. There are a number of selections that have come to PDSI, that basically were just variegated or chartreuse plants. And that's where a lot of the best variegated plants have come from - branch sports. Something interesting - especially with variegated plants - a lot of plants tend to what they call "revert". They go back to the original, so you have to trial them for a number of years to make sure they're stable. Usually, seedlings don't do that, if it comes out as the seedling and it's got an attribute, it is stable; but with branch sports one must trial to make sure they're stable.

OK, so we found the selection that we want. Let’s walk over to the propagation greenhouse and talk us through the process of taking that one amazing selection then turning it into 10,000 plants, then making it available to market. 

One of the most popular ways of cloning plants or PROPAGATING PLANTS is vegetative propagation. Talk us through that whole process. Once they find this great, new plant, they then must figure out how to reproduce it in numbers that can get to the consumer. The fastest way for most plants is from doing a cutting. Take a little, small piece of the plant, put it in some soil, then put a mist on it to let it root and make sure that it's easy to root because if it's not easy to root, it's going to be very difficult to reproduce. And that’s an important part of the selection process when picking plants. Once they do that, they then start building numbers. They can cut each plant, have a clone of each one until you get to large numbers, at that point they can release plants. They can then send out these little young plants, they call them liners, they next pot them into larger pots, grow them on, and then they can sell them, either to a landscaper, or retail, or whatever they're doing. That's how that is accomplished.

But some plants don't root well, or just do better in what they call TISSUE CULTURES. They actually take it in the lab and make little tiny cuttings. From there they can produce big numbers and then send it to growers who then put it in a little bit larger pot and the process begins that way. But as mentioned before, a few things are done by seed, but most of these plants are clonal plants, you need to do either a cutting or tissue culture so you have the exact plant to be able to reproduce. Regarding vegetative propagation - Along the stem, there are little lenticels, they are like little pores where gas is exchanged on the stem of the plant and there are also potential root buds on all the stems. So if you basically give it a rooting hormone to stimulate those roots to pop, then put it in the right environment, like a greenhouse with a lot of humidity and growing media, that keeps it nice and hydrated. In time, if it's a plant that can be rooted, you'll get those little roots pop out and you have a clone. Kip agrees, that's exactly right. A lot of people don't realize that every one of these plants has all the information it needs, in those little hidden buds, to create roots, and stems, and leaves, everything it needs. Sometimes it may need a little hormone to coax it to come out, but usually it's just water, humidity and the right process. And that's how one ends up with all these plants.

Eric believes that some of the most exciting shows that we produce are the ones where we introduce new plants. In this Episode we've got a bunch of plants that are super exciting, plants our viewers need to know about.

The first plant we'll start with is distylium. Eric remembers the first time he was introduced to distylium. That was probably 15 or 16 years ago. He was at a nursery in Indiana, they gifted him a couple of new selections and said, “this is going to be the next important evergreen landscape plant." Well, that's not really happened, but it still is a plant that has got so much potential and is one gardeners need to know about. These two selections are wonderful. Eric would like for Kip to just talk us through all the specifications. Kip agrees Eric is so right distylium still is not very well known in the industry, but it's gaining traction, especially in the landscape market because they're really tough plants. They're evergreen, and a landscaper loves things that are very tough, so they don't have to replace them. And it's great for the consumer because they always have a good plant. What they look for in distyliums, as they do with a lot of plants, when bringing new plants to market, is the solutions it solves. What is different from what's out there in the market. Foliage color is always an important element. This is distylium CAST IN BRONZE. It's a medium-grower, gets to about four-feet tall, the new growth continues to have that beautiful bronze coloration. And it's an evergreen plant. Another reason distyliums have become more and more popular is they're a nice replacement for people that like boxwoods. Some of the boxwoods have a blight issue, and are prone to getting disease. These plants don’t typically have that problem. The more dwarf version is called Jewel Box, it has a much smaller leaf, much finer texture, really provides this whole different look. And again, it's a really tough plant, a really easy-to-grow evergreen.

One of the things we didn't talk about is how do we get these plants to market? One vehicle PDSI uses is their relationship with Southern Living magazine, and these are in the Southern Living Plant Collection. These are two selections that we think are really going to catch on for the consumer.

There's so much potential that distylium has. And Cast In Bronze is one that Eric really loves. Distylium does bloom but it’s kind of an innocuous flower, you don’t really see it. But throughout the season one will get two or three flushes of this beautiful red, burgundy foliage which provides the color interest. If looking for something that's more dwarf and compact Jewel Box is a wonderful selection, too.

Gardenia is one of those iconic southern plants. Eric thinks it's obligatory in any good, southern garden to have gardenias, and not just for the form and beautiful foliage, but the fragrance is unmatched. It would be hard to imagine something more pleasant than walking past a gardenia when in full bloom. Eric thinks the upgrades to the genus, if you will, are really significant.

Let's talk about FOOL PROOF first, because it really, really solves an important issue that was starting to happen with radicans, which was root rot and other kinds of disease issues. This happens with plants from time to time, especially something that's in high cultivation, where we have millions of them out there. Something that attacks one, then in time, can spread to others. It’s through good breeding practice that the industry comes up with solutions which mean you're now not going to lose your gardenia every other year.

That was happening with radicans. It's a great plant, one of the few dwarf type of gardenias on the market but people had just gone away from it because it was so difficult to grow; not just for consumers, and landscapers, and gardeners, but also for the growers. And they were losing so many in cultivation that it was not profitable anymore. That was one of the things in the breeding program that the breeder really looked at and worked on - something that had a really great root system, something really hardy, really easy to grow, but still had that same look, bloom and shape of the old radicans - white, beautiful bloom, low-mounding habit. So, it's still a gorgeous plant and every consumer wants something that they can plant and forget it.

Eric loves the fact that Kip has an example of Diamond Spire in a container, because this is a great in-ground plant, but it's a plant that almost screams, “I was born for a container." With its' upright habit one can see all the buds and we're not that far away from this being just covered in white. An amazing plant. Everybody knows gardenia, they know the fragrance, they see the bloom, but when they see this plant, they don't automatically think gardenia until it blooms. And then they see that beautiful bloom and with that beautiful fragrance, they go, “Wow! that's so interesting."

Container gardening is really huge now, and everybody's looking for that upright thriller. If you can get it in a shrub like this, where you can have beautiful fragrance and bloom... and it re-blooms throughout the season meaning you don't just have that one-time bloom it’s phenomenal. You can have fragrance throughout the summer on this plant and with just a little bit of shearing, it holds its' pyramid shape well. Again, super unique in the gardenia category. Kip is super excited about it. It's going to be a winner. Eric loves using woody ornamentals for the thriller. They provide a great year-round interest feature, then you can change out your fillers and your spillers. This one is going to be right at the head of the pack.

Eric also loves using yellow, chartreuse, and variegated foliage in the landscape. Especially with evergreens, we have to think about the fact that there are chunks of time in the garden where we don't have our perennials or other flowering plants popping out. So, introducing these kinds of splashes of color in with other evergreens really allows us to achieve successful year-round interest in our garden. And these are really, really exciting. With Touch Of Gold, Eric can envision a million applications for this. What a great plant. Kip agrees, this chartreuse yellow color is super popular. Their best-selling introductions right now are like that. This was one that was brought to PDSI. Some other introductions get a little larger. This has a nice, tight habit. If someone wants a little bit more of a formal area or a really low hedge, this is an ideal candidate. Max height is what? Maybe four feet? Probably not even, two and a half to three feet for this plant. Perfect. It's going to stay small and retain a great habit. Once you get it to this habit, it's going to stay that way. This yellow color is actually the color you're going to see during the winter, but when it flushes in the spring, it will show a lighter green color. And, it's electric. It's going to really just pop, but continues to have great color throughout the season. This is one of those branch sports we talked about off a hoogendorn holly, which is a dwarf holly, and it had a yellow sport. So they started replicating that, and this is what they came up with. It's great that this being the winter foliage you can see it is truly a year-round plant. It's not just the bright, chartreuse flush, but it turns to bright, electric yellow, and then it holds up year-round. And that's a great feature. And will do so even as a container plant.

The guys next talk about the Golden Oakland Holly. It too has great variegation. This a branch sport off of what they call Oakland Holly. So they decided the name Golden Oakland worked really well. If you need a bright spot in your landscape, something that's going to get 12-14 feet tall and has a nice pyramidal shape to it try Golden Oakland Holly. It is a very tough plant, something you can plant, forget, and it's always going to look good. The architecture of these kind of pyramidal upright plants are important plants to not overlook in the garden as a feature. A lot of hollies are big round bushes, they do what they do, but sometimes in the garden, in the landscape, we need that focal point or something that accents the architecture of a home, and that's where these are really important. And this being a variegated version makes it even that much more special. Many people forget it's not just the color of the bloom, but there's the texture, the structure, it's the shape. All of that is important when you're deciding which plant you need for your landscape and your garden.

Every time Eric sees a Michelia, it brings back these wonderful nostalgic moments that remind him of his grandmother's garden. It's a wonderful plant that has almost a tropical, exotic component to it with that rich banana scent when it's in full bloom in the summer. Eric loves this plant, we don't see enough of it. It's not super hardy, maybe from 7, 8 south which is a big area. Kip has that same memory. The one his grandmother had was a small tree, it got rather large. But that banana fragrance on the blooms was just something that stays with you.

This plant, MAGNOLIA STELLAR RUBY, has that same fragrance. It really loads up with blooms. As one can see it has blooms up and down the stems. It has a little bit different color. Whereas the other was that light, yellow color, as these open they provide that really dark, ruby coloration to the flower. Another great thing about this plant is the habit. It only gets about eight to ten feet tall and makes a nice, thick hedge plant. So anytime you need a hedge along the fence row or around a properly line, or whatever you need, it’s a great choice. It's evergreen, it blooms, and has great fragrance. It's a great plant. They will reintroduce this genus to the market, and Kip thinks this is a great one to bring it back with. Eric agrees, he's going to need one of these for his garden.

In the last couple decades, it's been exciting to see ROSES moving back into the landscape category. They've always been great garden plants, but a lot of the roses, if you go back 30-40 years, were finicky, caring for them involved a lot of spraying to just keep black spot and mildew off of them. But with the advent of some of these new, super-hardy, disease-resistant selections, we're seeing roses reclaim their rightful place in the landscape as this bulletproof plant that gives you great foliage, great blooms, and now, a lot of these really, really nice compact forms. 

And that is what It's A Breeze is. It provides so many options that you didn't have with roses before. You can see this is a great landscape rose. Of course - beautiful, red flowers, continuous bloom throughout the season, it just keeps blooming and blooming. No disease issues. It's going to get maybe two to three feet tall, and probably four to five wide, it grows a little bit wider than tall. But really great, dark green foliage and of course, that red bloom. No diseases. It has tons of uses in the landscape. There are a lot of roses on the market, but It's A Breeze really has a place. Something Eric loves about this plant is that it does have a touch of fragrance. With many of the old rose-breeding programs, fragrance was not the priority. One of the things that has been so magical about roses over generations is the fragrance. And the fact that this one actually does have a nice fragrance is a huge bonus. As Eric said a lot of fragrance had been lost in the breeding, but with the new work coming along you'll see other introductions coming where fragrance is becoming more and more of a priority in breeding. So that's coming back, but people don't want a rose that's not disease-resistant so breeders are having a tough time, but they're doing it. They're finding ways to bring in the beautiful color, the shape, the fragrance, and the disease-resistance. Kip is showing us the red one but there's a white selection, as well. The white is brand new for their program. It gets a little bit larger, but again, beautiful, white blooms throughout the summer. In the early spring and in the fall, the bloom has a hint of pink to it, but most of the season it's pure white. Again, super disease-resistant, just a great plant to add to your garden. Eric wonders - if we have a red and a white, when can we expect to see a pink? Kip replies actually, very soon, believe it or not, it's coming.

Before we leave Kip has two really exciting HYDRANGEAS that Eric wants Kip to talk about. One is Heart Throb, which comes from a dutch breeding program. It has a bright, bright red flower and a super nice, compact form. And then White Wedding, which is a paniculata, which with most of those, you get more of the greenish flowers. This is a really, really bright white. And once again has a nice, compact habit. Heart Throb is what a lot of people would consider the traditional macrophylla or a mophead type hydrangea. Most people think of these as blue, but this one has the darkest red bloom Kip has seen on these type of hydrangeas. It has a real compact habit, it's great as a container plant, but also great as a small garden plant. The foliage is super dark green. And again, the bloom is just a vibrant red. And that's one of the reasons they picked it, because a lot of the red ones are just kind of a dark pink this is really red, and the bloom lasts a long time. A lot of the blooms fade quickly, this bloom lasts longer through the season, so you have that color interest a lot longer on Heart Throb. Eric and Kip next discuss White Wedding. Of course, paniculatas are completely different. They're for full sun, they're a little bit bigger plant. White Wedding is a little more compact than most, which is a nice attribute. It only gets to maybe four feet tall, which is very nice. It has big, huge, white conical-shape blooms on it, pure white. Really nice plant. Lots of blooms and easy to care for. There are a lot of paniculatas on the market, but Kip thinks this is a real standout. Eric absolutely agrees. 

In this Episode we took a look at some of the most exciting plant selections coming to market. And Kip gave us a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make them a reality in the marketplace. Eric loves talking new plants. And loves meeting people who are passionate about what they do, plus we love learning new things. Kip exemplifies all of these. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and your time with us today. Kip appreciates the opportunity, it's been great to be here.

LINKS:

Plant Development Services, Inc.
Plant Development Services, inc.

Distylium - Cast In Bronze
Cast in Bronze Distylium

Distylium Jewel Box
Jewel Box Distylium

Gardenia - Fool Proof
Fool Proof™ Gardenia

Gardenia - Diamond Spire
Diamond Spire® Gardenia

Magnolia - Stellar Ruby
'Stellar Ruby’ Magnolia

Rose - It’s A Breeze
It's a Breeze™ Groundcover Rose

Hydrangea - Heart Throb
Heart Throb® Hydrangea - Southern Living Plants

Hydrangea - White Wedding
White Wedding® Hydrangea from Southern Living

Plant List


   
 
FEATURED ARTICLE
GardenSMART Featured Article

By Kim Toscano, Southern Living Plants
Photographs courtesy of Southern Living Plants

Nandina is a remarkably adaptable plant - It transitions from sun to shade, moist to dry soils and modern to traditional garden design. To learn more click here for an informative article.


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