Greenhouse Management: Tell me the latest on what Benary is offering its customers in the begonia category.
Scott Hanes: We offer a range of fibrous begonia semperflorens, including classic vigorous series like Cocktail + Super Olympia, as well as fast-flowering series like Nightlife + Sprint Plus (or Super Cool in cooler climates). Our tuberous begonias assortment includes the classic Nonstops as well as the dark-leaved Nonstop Mocca + vigorous Nonstop Joy series. We also offer the Illumination series, which trails and cascades more than any other tuberous series. Our Groovy series is a compact Begonia boliviensis series with excellent uniformity, and we also offer the Sun Cities collection for more vigor. Our Funky Begonias are a novelty hybrid series that combines the best of tuberous + boliviensis genetics.
Our BIG Begonias are an interspecific hybrid series and a flagship product for Benary. No other begonia genetics offer the performance, uniformity and versatility of our BIG series.
GM: What advancements has the company made in this category over the last several years?
SH: The Nonstop Joy series is a perfect example of our commitment to helping the grower and retailer. Nonstop Joy Begonias have all the beauty and color of the original Nonstop™ Series, yet the mounded, vigorous habit makes it easy to produce and ship. They are the only semi-trailing tuberous begonia series on the market.
The Begonia Groovy™ Series also provides an amazing show of color all season and is easier to ship! Their huge bell-shaped flowers rival vegetative varieties, yet Groovy™ Begonias are from seed, so you don’t have to worry about bringing in cuttings.
GM: What are some of the key characteristics Benary is looking for in begonia breeding?
SH: At Benary, we want not only the grower to be successful, but the consumer as well. Consumers are looking for user-friendly plants. They want interesting plants that are low-maintenance and easy to grow. Begonias are very easy for consumers, but can be a little tricky, and delicate, for growers because of the incredibly small seed and the high-water content in the plants. Therefore, there is an incredible amount of seed technology that goes into this class in order to make growing them easier for the grower. Some of the technical features that are a priority are very good germination, excellent uniformity in growth, flower size and flower color, high uniformity in packs at point of sale, and resistance to botrytis and powdery mildew.
GM: What colors are most popular in this category as we look at 2022 and beyond?
SH: In our experience, customers in different countries have very different preferences. In most areas of the US, they like big and bold flowers and colors. Red is the most popular color in the US by far, followed by rose, but vibrant and striking bicolor seems to be popular right now as well. In the UK, pastel tones, bicolors and special colors are preferred. In China, they definitely like red and yellow tones. But the needs are different in every market we serve.