According to Plantpeddler President Mike Gooder, the genetics within the horticulture industry continue to evolve. Gone are the days when a genus was limited to one size fits all. Now, there are lines to fit specific applications. In begonias, this is definitely the case. Below, he discusses the current begonia market, popular traits and opportunities in vegetative and seed grown production.
Greenhouse Management: What is the current state of the begonia market?
Mike Gooder: We see an increasing consumer interest in begonias of all forms. The resurgence of foliage plants will likely play into indoor flowering products. There is an expectation that we’ll see greater demand for indoor-type begonias and the opportunity for growers to expand sales. That most notably will include Hiemalis types, with many other options. On the outdoor side, there continues to be a strong market which is across the board for all types. This includes vegetative material, which is our focus, to improvements with seed types. From personal containers, baskets, gardens and landscapes, to professional and commercial applications — there are begonias which fit every niche and need. It’s a strong and viable market. Breeders continue to develop innovative lines and varieties. New 2021 selections are coming from key players including Beekenkamp, Dummen Orange, Koppe and others. Though a longtime seed breeder, the notable newcomer to vegetative cultivars is Syngenta, offering two new series. It is another exciting year of begonia introductions.
“We see an increasing consumer interest in begonias of all forms. ... There is an expectation that we’ll see greater demand for indoor-type begonias and the opportunity for growers to expand sales.”
GM: What are some of the popular plant traits on the market right now?
MG: The focus is on continual improvements in ease of production, enhanced plant and flower habit, with a keen eye on superior garden performance. The Koppe R’Ilona series is an example of an improved Hiemalis line featuring more natural branching. More branches equal more flowers, but also flowers are held a bit closer to the plant. This allows for better display over the foliage canopy, but also improved shipping and post-harvest in retail and for the consumer. All major breeders are actively trialing for both greenhouse and outdoor performance as part of the criteria. Examples are improved powdery mildew resistance, uniformity and adaptability in use. A major step forward has been in new interspecies crosses bred as true container varieties, thus shaped by design for balanced height and fullness for baskets, mono-culture pots and combinations.
GM: What is the application of rooted-cuttings versus seed-plugs in the production of begonias?
MG: Both forms are viable, and type depends on use and application. When you look at total numbers sold throughout the market, seed types hold the greatest numbers in bedding plant flats and landscapes. Whereas, if you’re looking at the direction of our industry, with larger basket and container production, this is where vegetative genetics shine. begonias in mixed containers can really add a premium to people’s programs. For this application, premium-quality vegetative genetics excel, as they are engineered for this use versus seed types. Whether vegetative or seed, begonias are complex, challenging in propagation, and success of the crop is dependent on a great start. To reduce your risk and increase your success, start with quality liners from a begonia specialist like Plantpeddler.