Set Yourself Apart With Sun Parasol

Liven up your tropical assortment with unique mandevilla varieties that sizzle all summer!

 

By Delilah Onofrey

 

From the Mediterranean to the Swiss Alps, sunny Florida to cool Canada, Suntory’s Sun Parasol mandevillas captivate gardeners all over the world and have become the most fashionable plant for patios, balconies and hanging baskets. No longer a niche tropical, mandevilla is a major plant category thanks to revolutionary breeding, starting with the first true reds.

 

Sun Parasol plants demonstrate superior garden performance and disease resistance, thrive in the heat and don’t mind consumer neglect! It’s often the only plant that is still alive when gardeners return from vacation. With the widest range of colors and forms, Suntory’s breeding program is unmatched! Thousands of mandevilla hybrids are evaluated each year to find that perfect new introduction.

 

Following are three fresh introductions that will make your offerings stand out from the crowd!

 

SUN PARASOL GIANT MARBLED CRIMSON

This striking new variegated variety just debuted this month at the Tropical Plant International Expo in Fort Lauderdale, FL. It is a sport of the top selling Giant Crimson, producing large flowers spanning 4-6 inches. Foliage has a stable variegated pattern of creamy lime and dark green. Unlike other variegated varieties, vigor is strong, and plants will finish at the same time as the other Sun Parasol Giant varieties. This natural climber is stunning trained to a trellis or cascading from hanging baskets.

 

SUN PARASOL APRICOT

Looking for a different color scheme? Sun Parasol Apricot blends beautifully with pretty pastels or adds dimension mixed with darker colors. Best suited for hanging baskets and patio pots, this heavy bloomer produces large, light peach flowers spanning 3-5 inches. Growth is vigorous, faster than Sun Parasol Giant varieties. Branching is excellent.

 

SUN PARASOL DESIGNER WHITE

Sun Parasol Designer White is unlike any other mandevilla. It’s a completely new form with sturdy stems that don’t require staking. Grow as an upright non-vining shrub or train like a hibiscus to create standards/trees. Plants create bushes of beautiful glossy, green foliage with attractive white blossoms for a classy addition to any summer landscape or patio. Your friends will ask, what is that? Position with your premium tropicals.

 

If you are a retailer, you have a great opportunity to position yourself as the place for Sun Parasol! With nearly 20 varieties to choose from, you can make sure your assortment isn’t the same as your competition down the street. Get creative with premium combo planters. While the box stores have the basics, you can offer so much more!

 

About the author: Delilah Onofrey is license manager for Suntory Flowers in North America. She can be reached at 440-522-1447, donofrey@gmail.com. For more information about Sun Parasol mandevillas, visit www.sunparasol.net.

Prime performing fall vegetables for farm market produce growers

For me, seasons pass too quickly. In mid-December, it always feels like the growing season is a long time off and the short days and long nights seem endless. Once winter breaks, the action picks up fast and there are no dull moments. Suddenly, here we are at the first of July. Spring planting is done and, while anticipating the summer harvest, it’s already time to plan for fall harvest.

Where I live in hardiness zone 5, we have about 75 days until the first frost. Fall crops to sow NOW are Brussels Sprouts, Peas, Cauliflower, Cilantro, Green Onions, Cabbage and Broccoli. Based on my experience over many, many trials (and years) my current recommendations are…

Brussels Sprouts: If sown now, the best choice is Catskill Green. This heirloom type is full of traditional Brussels flavor and forms abundant heads in time for the late fall market.

Peas: Snap peas are by far the most popular type of pea showing up in the fall markets. Shoppers like them because they are string less and both the pod and the pea are sweet, crisp and edible. Sugar Sprint with its diminished string and sweet crisp flavor is our number one Fall harvest variety.

Cauliflower:  I prefer Snow Crown because this hybrid forms a good size crown that holds is color, shape and flavor and can remain in the field and follow an extended fall with ever increasing head size.

Cilantro: The trick to market fresh Cilantro is to harvest often and seed often. Your last crop of the season can be sown now and you will have fresh bunches for the fall market. The winner is Tasty Ole.

Green Onions: Like cilantro, the trick to green onions is to always have tender young coming on so harvest often and seed often. I prefer the variety White Bunching which is a real work horse and by far the most widely grown commercial variety.

Cabbage:  This is a wide category and our farm market growers have success with growing all four of the major types for fall. Green, Red, Oriental, Savoy.

  • Green: If you have grown FM Tasty Early Green Cabbage you know that the color, texture and flavor are what make it popular in the fresh market. Growers repeat the success with a fall crop sown directly in the field in early July.
  • Red: For a red cabbage for fall produce grow Red Express, great, eyecatching color and long post-harvest shelf life.
  • Savoy: Along with great color, here is one that you should offer as a premium novelty, Purple Savoy.

Broccoli: I’m going to suggest this novelty selection because “foodies” are all a buzz about it, it is best when harvested fresh and your average fall fresh market does not have it on board. The variety is called Artwork. It is a stem type with an abundance of tender small flower heads that form after the harvest of the terminal crown. Harvest and keep them on ice in the market and they command a premium price.

Basil: There is plenty of time to sow basil seeds. I suggest at least 3 sowing from now through August 21, each will yield fresh, no flower crops, perfect for the local market. I recommend two outstanding new cultivars. One: Dolce Fresca, traditional spicy flavor, broad deep green foliage and compact nodes, great for fresh bunching or in blister packs. Two: Sweet Dani Lemon, as the name suggests it has a lemon scented bouquet. The harvest is plentiful. Offer both types as micro greens or fresh bunching.

The following is a chart that I offer because it is requested so often.The type category is not intended to be botanically correct, instead it refers more to how I feel the consumer looks at the way that the product is packaged and sold.

CROP TYPE DAYS TO HARVEST FROST SURVIVAL
Brussels Sprouts Fruit 90-100 YES
Peas Fruit 70-80 YES
Cauliflower Fruit 60-80 NO
Cilantro Leaf 60-70 NO
Green Onions Fruit 60-70 YES
Cabbage Fruit 50-90 YES
Broccoli Fruit 50-70 YES
Beets Root 50-60 YES
Kohlrabi Fruit 50-60 YES
Turnips Root 50-60 YES
Bush Beans Fruit 45-65 NO
Collards Leaf 40-65 YES
Kale Leaf 40-65 YES
Leaf Lettuce Leaf 40-60 NO
Swiss Chard Leaf 40-60 NO
Spinach Leaf 35-45 YES
Basil Leaf 30-60 NO
Radishes Root 30-60 YES
Mustard Greens Leaf 30-40 NO