As many growers and garden center retailers can attest, houseplants and tropicals are having a moment, and that excitement was apparent at the 2019 Tropical Plant International Expo.
"There is electricity in the air, and it’s an optimistic show," says Jared Hughes, owner of Groovy Plants Ranch based in Ohio. "People are excited.”
TPIE, which featured 400 exhibitors and 6,488 attendees, took place Jan. 16 - Jan. 18 at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Theresa Riley, owner of Rockledge Gardens in Rockledge, Fla., served on the TPIE committee for several years, and said the 2019 show was a standout.
"I really think this year is one of the best I remember in a very long time! Lots of positive vibes and buzz," she says.
The Garden Center Group echoed this sentiment, noting that 2019 TPIE was one of the best-attended by independent garden centers that comprise the group.
"We had the largest number ever of Group Centers in attendance at TPIE this year. And, as a result, we had a record number helping to find great products to present the Cool Product Awards," Danny Summers, managing director of the Garden Center Group, noted in a press release. "We have over 30 judges (a new record), and they nominated over 70 products in their search results. And, we awarded 15 companies awards for their 'cool products.'"
Here are 20 plants and products honored at TPIE 2019 by the Cool Product Award judges, with notes from the Garden Center Group, and other noteworthy items the GIE Media Horticulture Group spotted while walking the show floor:
1. Begonia maculata, Costa Farms
2. 'String of Dolphin' Succulent, Branette Farms, Cool Product Award winner
Senecio peregrinus is actually a hybrid between Senecio rowleyanus (string of pearls succulents) and Senecio articulatus (the hot dog cactus). Its nickname was inspired by the fact that its little leaves look like dolphins leaping out from the water.
3. Brunfelsia americana 'Lady of the Night,' Butler's Foliage Cool Product Award winner
Clusters of 2-inch white flowers that are held on long slender tubes release their heady perfume at night, but a curious nose may find fragrance almost any time of day. George Butler III says the difficult-to-describe fragrance is like a "spicy gardenia."
4. Cordyline 'Singapore Twist,' exhibited by Butler's Foliage and Cordyline 'Singapore' shown by Excelsa Gardens
Two companies pointed to this plant as one of their favorites that also received attention from attendees at the show. The plant pictured below is from Butler's Foliage.
5. Medusa Flower, Greendale Nursery, Cool Product Award winner
Strophanthus preussii, produces a wild and unusual floral display that arrives from late spring to fall on this shrubby climbing vine. Clusters of cream-colored flowers bedecked with long, curly streamers and a rust-tinted throat.
6. Hollywood Hibiscus 'Rico Suave,' Ramco Farm, Cool Product Award winner
Introducing another "character" in J. Berry Nursery's Hollywood Hibiscus Series, this ultra bright gold-orange ruffled petals leads to a deep burgundy center. A constant bloomer with full body of deep green foliage.
8. Magnolia or Olive Tree Housewarming Gift & Keepsake (two sizes), The Magnolia Company, Cool Product Award winner
Each unique gift package contains a tree, along with its own set of care instructions, personalized gift card and engraved ornament. Available with magnolia and olive varieties.
9. Aechmea 'America,' Bullis Bromeliads
Attendees crowded around this plant exhibited by Bullis Bromeliads at TPIE 2019.
10. Sun Parasol Garden Crimson and Kawaii White Peppermint planter, Suntory Flowers
Sun Parasol Garden Crimson paired well with Kawaii White Peppermint in a planter at the Suntory booth. Suntory also pomoted its new compact, mite-resistant Mandevilla, Sun Parasol Mitebuster Red.
12. Folding Wooden Plant Stand, Avery Imports, Cool Product Award winner
This cleverly-designed plant stand is three panels wide, hinged. Each panel features 6 planter slots (18 total). Slots include a waterproof liner.
This special double plus variegated bloom on this drought-tolerant succulent is available bare-root.
14. European Cypress Gift Bag, Coastal Nursery, Cool Product Award winner
This new kit is ideal for Christmas gifts for hostesses, teachers, parents and more. This product is grab-and-go for the consumer, arriving to the retailer as a complete package from decorative ornaments and lights, down to the gift tag and bow. Alternate combination is available for Easter as well.
15. Illuminated Terrarium, Flori-Design, Cool Product Award Winner
Every year The Garden Center Group expects Gail Cash to reveal new creatives in her planted combinations. This year she offers a new terrariums with battery powered LED lighting.
16. New collections from LiveTrends, Cool Product Award winner
A host of new plant-container combinations were revealed with a JOY theme. Their message said, "We deliver JOY, by fusing nature, fashion, and art through unique living design." Our favorites were these planters with messages of love, as part of their 2019 collection.
Designed by Don Murray and Shibu Varughese, this fun new alternative to the hanging basket. Available in two bright colors, the kit has bird body, beak, and tail feathers plus hanging chain. The combination of bright fun look and sturdy design was a real hit with the retail judges.
18. Kokodama Collection and Rack, Sun Bulb, Cool Product Award winner
This year they have added even more combinations in Kokodama hanging planters and created two sizes of hanging displays for the retailer making this an easy YES to add to your tropicals department. A variety of plant types are available along with several sizes of Kokodama planters.
20. Naturals black and white collection, daVinci Pots
These patterns are some of the most popular in the daVinci line and speak to trends that trend analyst Christine Boland outlined in her opening keynote at TPIE.
Stay tuned for more coverage of TPIE. The 2020 show is scheduled for Jan. 22-24, 2020.