Pentas production tips

2019 Ask the Experts - Pentas

Scott Hanes, a Benary technical service manager, talks growing pentas, popular colors and more.

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April 24, 2019

Photo courtesy of Benary

Pentas are commonly grown in hot, humid climates and are commonly featured in mixed containers or mass landscape planters. Below, Benary’s Scott Hanes discusses presenting pentas, what makes them unique and more.

Greenhouse Management: Where are pentas most commonly produced and how are they most commonly presented?

Scott Hanes: Native to Eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, pentas are the perfect crop for hot, humid areas like the deep south in the United States. They are most commonly produced in 4.5- and 6-gallon pots, with some growers sowing pentas every week of the year. These tough annuals thrive in harsh climates and provide great color all season long, even becoming perennials in tropical areas (USDA Zones 10-11). Commonly used for mass landscape plantings, pentas also perform well in borders, as specimens or in mixed containers. They even work as houseplants in a south-facing window with enough light and consistent moisture.

GM: What are some of the most popular colors for pentas?

SH: The most popular pentas colors on the market are red, violet, white and pink. These are the core colors, but some others like rose and lavender are also used frequently. Compact hybrid genetics are a lion’s share of the market, although taller types and some native species are still produced commercially. New breeding has led way to more novelty colors, bicolors and other concepts, which are becoming more popular.

GM: What makes pentas unique when compared to other plants?

SH: Their amazing summer performance makes sense as pentas’ growth and flowering is predominantly heat-driven, seeming to only improve as temperatures crank up. Pentas are also one of the best pollinator-attractants you can plant to bring masses of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds all summer long. Pentas lanceolata are even valued as traditional medicines in their native habitats for their antibacterial, antimicrobial and other medicinal properties. One unique feature of pentas is that their roots release H+ ions into the substrate or soil which in turn lower the pH over time. They are extremely iron-efficient plants, which makes them very susceptible to Fe/Mn toxicity and Mg/Ca deficiency at low pH under 6.5.

GM: What differentiates the new Graffiti 20/20 series from the previous generation?

SH: The new Graffiti 20/20 series is a full upgrade to the Graffiti OG (Original Genetics) series, with completely new breeding for enhanced performance, uniformity, timing, and color range. The improved genetics offer one-week faster flowering and perfect timing across all colors. Graffiti 20/20 was bred to have larger florets with wider petals for more color. Our breeding also selected for better branching which provides more flower clusters and nonstop blooming. Now unrivaled in uniformity and speed, Graffiti 20/20 provides the best compact matching habits that perform in production and in the landscape. The Graffiti 20/20 series now has nine vibrant colors including novelty colors like lavender pink, ruby, and flirty pink (bicolor). Mix and match any colors together for an easy summer combo or count on all colors blooming together at retail or in the landscape this summer with these great genetics.