Greenhouse Management: Tell me the latest on what Bailey is offering its customers in the hydrangea category.
David Roberts: This year we introduced Endless Summer® Pop Star™ Hydrangea to the trade and will be rolling it out to the consumer marketplace in Spring 2023. Pop Star™ truly represents the new gold standard by which we will evaluate all future introductions. Pop Star™ is the heaviest flowering, best reblooming Hydrangea macrophylla we’ve seen to date. It’s also our most compact variety in Endless Summer®, while still being a vigorous grower with dark, glossy leaves that are incredibly disease resistant. This plant is not only beautiful, but it’s easy to grow, requiring fewer applications of PGRs and fungicides.
GM: What advancements has the company made in this category over the last several years?
DR: Two of the most important selection criteria we have are rebloom and disease resistance. We conduct an annual rebloom trial to determine which of our selections have the most potential for Endless Summer®. We also have a zero-tolerance policy for plants that are susceptible to mildew. As a result, our populations are incredibly floriferous and disease resistant.
GM: What are some of the key characteristics Bailey values in hydrangea breeding?
DR: Rebloom, disease resistance, stiff stems, early flowering, heavy bloom load, early reblooming, heavy rebloom load, vibrant colors, ease of propagation and high production values are all top-of-mind.
GM: What colors are most popular in this category as we look at 2022 and beyond?
DR: Everything starts with the classic Endless Summer® The Original blue. Consumers just can’t get enough of it. As we’ve continued introducing new varieties into the collection, we’ve seen consumers flock to the vibrant raspberry red of Summer Crush®; they can’t stay stocked on a retail shelf! As we look to the future, it’s a balance of those classics that home gardeners know and love with a splash of vibrancy like that raspberry red of Summer Crush® and the blurple (blue-purple) of BloomStruck®.
GM: What does using Bailey genetics offer customers that going with another breeder would not?
DR: I hate to sound like a broken record but excellent rebloom and incredible disease resistance are a tent pole of Endless Summer® genetics. In our trials, Pop Star™ is the best rebloomer on the market. It’s got great resistance to mildew and Cercospora, and it’s one of the fastest rebloomers we’ve ever seen with new buds forming four weeks after a hard cutback. Not only do Endless Summer® plants provide stress-free color all summer long, but they’re some of the most cold hardy Hydrangea macrophylla on the market. Most of our varieties are listed as Zone 4, meaning they can take temps as low as -30° F and still flower the following spring and summer. Not many Hydrangea macrophylla can claim that and live up to that promise.