Small grower's frustrations!

bigred(z8 Ark.)March 24, 2005

I've owed and operated a small mom and pop perennial nursery for 7 yrs now and am becoming increasingly frustarted because it's so hard to find most of the new cultivars you see in the catalogs so I can set myself apart from the mega-super-huge discount store chains.Gone now are the days that you can buy one plant and propagate from it since the biggest majority are TM,R,PPAF and whatnot.I understand the need of the propagator/hybridizer to get reconize/payed for all their hard work so please don't jump on me. I imagine there is a whole mess of paperwork,inspections and the like to get licensed to propagate these items once you do locate a source.

Just venting.


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Once they've been on the market for a season or two, it is not quite as difficult to find plugs or liners of the newest, "hottest" cultivars. Be prepared to pay premiums for patended plants but the licensing requirements are covered by the plug/liner grower. You can buy liners of the newest heucheras, etc. direct from Terra Nova, I believe Walter's offers commercial liners as well and Skagit Gardens here in the PNW typically offers a lot of brand new intros from PlantHaven, among others - 'Ivory Prince' hellbore, 'Big Sky' and 'Doubledecker' echinaceas, etc.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 9:06AM
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bigred(z8 Ark.)

I already buy from Terra Nova,mostly heucheras,tiarellas and ferns mostly. Recieved Waters Garden catalog last year but saw very little I wanted. Germainia has a few of the new echinaceas but I still haven't located a source for "Razzmatazz"other than a nursery in the Netherlands. I get my flowering shrubs(especially hydrangeas) and trees from Spring Meadows but now we have new hydrangeas "Lady in Red",oaklief"Little Honey" and mop head"Sun Goddess"(which I've searched everywhere for a source for at least 2 years)in the catalogs and I have a large inventory of hydrangeas I'd like to add these to.

Don't believe I've check out Skagits Gardens so I will be checking on them.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 9:39AM
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Hap_E(z9 Berkeley CA)

Skagits is an excelent source for new hot plants. You should also look in to Blooming Nursery, Notherwest Bulb & Perennials, Henry's Plant Farm, & Evermay Nursery.

If you get a chance to go to one of the larger Hort. Trade shows or trials, you will come away with arm-loads of new vendors. Since you are one of us "small guys", the minimums can get to be a problem.... It is one of the reason I like NW Bulb, they have nice low minimums and take great care of me just like I am a big grower.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 10:08AM
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Interesting comments, Hap. I am not a grower but buy finished containers and Skagit, Blooming and Henry's are all regular suppliers. While Blooming offers a huge range of perennials, they are not on the forefront of new intros, at least to my mind. Henry's is hit or miss - sometimes they offer something hot, but usually just the standbys.

Bigred, you may have a more difficult time locating liners for new woodies compared to perennials - breeders seem to be more possessive of their new introductions on trees and shrubs. Try Briggs for starts of some of the hydrangeas, including 'Little Honey'.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 12:15PM
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perennialprincess(z4 MN)

Bigred: are you attending any large trade shows? Mid-Am in Chicago in winter?

Or, do you belong to the Perennial Plant Association? The big symposium this summer is in Knoxville, Tennesee, and there will be a trade show. This would be a great place to network with other perennial growers - lots of great vendors are represented, including some of my favorites, like Walters, North Creek, Creek Hill, Terra Nova, Yoder/Greenleaf, etc. You can meet many of the owners. You can go on bus tours and schmooze with many perennial people and it is a great place to network.

Unfortunately for you, all this patenting and trademarking is the way of the world, and it won't end. You just need to stay up on propagators who are the first getting licenses to grow and propagate. Some of those I've mentioned above are on top of it, especially with perennials.

Good luck - I'll be in Tennesee this summer at the symposium myself.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 12:35PM
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juniorballoon(Z8a WA)

Is it difficult to get a propagation license for patented plants?


    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 2:51PM
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perennialprincess(z4 MN)


it is not difficult to get a propagation license, but, in many cases, the minimums are rather large, and if you are a small grower, you might find them very restrictive. Some varieties have a minimum royalty payment per plant, i.e. $400 per year. That means, if the royalty is 25 cents per plant, you will need to grow and sell 1600 plants to cover that $400. For some growers it is a piece of cake, for many small growers it is not. Most licensors don't want to manage a million small licensed propagators, so they keep their minimums high. If you can't make the minimums, it is best to buy from other licensed propagators.

You also need to show a business license, set up credit terms and all that other stuff that goes along with it.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 3:57PM
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bigred(z8 Ark.)

Lordy,I wished I could make some trade shows but hubby had to re-locate to Dallas for a job,home only on the weekends and I'm left to carry on during the week here alone so I have no time to spare and no employees to fall back on.So anybody going to the trade shows....take plenty of notes,get names and addresses for those of us left behind.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 4:27PM
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mdaughn(zone 7)

I work for an Arboretum and like to get in smaller quantities of the hot, new stuff too. I use 2-3 plant brokers, give them my wish list and let them do the work. Sometimes I trip over the minimums and sometimes I don't get everything my heart desires the first year. I jsut got info from Foremost,Co out of Florida. From their literature it looks like they broker a wide variety of plants but I have not used them. Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2005 at 11:50AM
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I know I'd be willing to go in with other small nursery's to order the newest and hottest plants and divide/share the orders. Up here in Maine 25-75 plants of any of the "hottest" sits around awhile even with advertising before being sold. The finished plants are usually to expensive to turn around and resell up here so stuck with ordering large amounts of plants. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 7:20PM
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juniorballoon(Z8a WA)

Perhaps there is a business opportunity for someone to become a patent broker and deal with the smaller nurseries. I wonder how many growers would be interested in smaller minimums? It may not be profitable enough for the larger patent holders, but might be enough for a one or two person operation. Enforcement and collection would deffinitely be issues.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 10:56AM
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pansysoup(CA 9/10)

One local nursery (who's become so successful that their snotty attitude cancels out their cool plants) grows a lot of their own bedding plants from seed, and they're the only folks around who have foxgloves in cool colors, wierd herbs, species perennials (like Alpine Poppy) that thrill both landscapers and the public. These aren't patented - in many case they're heirlooms that aren't even sold in seed packets.

I observe that every edition of T & M's catalog (the Bible of Coolness) has several **NEW** discoveries, like Soapwort, that they make sound really glamorous and fresh from the test tube.

I realize growing your own stock from seed is a nightmare. However, I know one small grower/landscaper who works closely with Annie's Annuals, feeding her seeds in return for access to cool new varieties.

I've found a grower in your neck of the woods (where you throw seeds as the soil and they grow) who is thrilled to start seeds for me in exchange for half the stock. Maybe there's someone down the road who can tell a six pack from a six shooter who could use a few bucks.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 12:54PM
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toyon(USDA 9b/Sunset 14 CA. (Sacram)

With a little searching you shouldn't have to deal with the patents. Most of them are garbage patents anyway. Look at the patented varieties of Verbena. Now look at the various species. There are a few unique Verbenas that deserve to be patented, but the majority of them look identical to some respective species. Cuphea llavea, same deal. There is a patent for one of them (Firecracker?) that looks only marginally better than the species, and you can often find a seedling that looks just as good.

Aside from all this, growing patented varieties shouldn't be a big deal. The cost is passed to you through the cost of plugs/liners and you may have to agree to allow inspection of the greenhouse by the agent. No big deal if you are not propagating patented varieties.

My only problem with the whole patent thing is it is turning into an unethical mess. There are plants that claim PPAF, but you can't find a thing out about the patent. There are patents that state the variety is a 'unique cultivar' of the species, and no further information on what the owner claims is unique, and when you look at the species and the cultivar, they are identical in all respects, as far as the eye can see. I think these patents are a way to monopolize a variety name, in which case they should register a trademarked name, or discourage others from propagating the plant at all.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 4:01PM
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