New Plants in 2015, as viewed from Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show

I just attended the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS) at the Baltimore Convention Center. Walking the aisles at MANTS takes at least one day, if not two. There are over 900 exhibitors from across the country and more than 10,000 attendees every year. These are wholesale companies reaching out to other companies, including independent garden centers (IGCs). Garden communicators such as myself attend to learn “what’s new,” identify trends, meet the owners, and connect with other garden communicators. Garden communicators serve as a conduit or bridge between the wholesale companies or the “field” and the public. We see what is available and communicate that back to the public, i.e., the customers. We serve a valuable role in communicating the “what’s new” or “what’s cool” before it even gets to a print magazine or in the IGCs. Below are a few new things I learned about at MANTS with a focus on edibles. Keep in mind that because MANTS is a trade show, some of the companies are wholesale so you will have to either visit the link to ask if they can locate a retailer or ask your IGC if they will carry these products.

Making Healthy Eating Easier

mighty2matogardenamericaGrafted vegetables are making healthy eating easier by reducing disease and soil-borne problems. Grafted tomato plants have been on the market for several years now but what is new this year are the Mighty 2 Matos, double grafted plants with two tomato varieties. Two different tomato varieties are grafted on to one disease-resistant rootstock, taking advantage of a vigorous and disease/nematode resistant root system while providing two types of delicious tomatoes. For example, with one plant you can harvest Blush Tiger and Green Tiger tomatoes, or Brandywine and Cherokee Purple, or Indigo Cherry Drops and Indigo Pear Drops, or Pink Berkeley Tie Dye and Pork Chop, or Sun Sugar and Sweet Aperitif.  http://www.mightymato.com

Burpee Home Gardens also sells grafted tomatoes; they have 15 varieties in their Bumper Crop Grafted Tomatoes line. The Big Collection features large tomatoes; the Bold Collection consists of the Indigo varieties; the Early Collection has plants that bloom and fruit early in the season; while Black Pear Heirloom and Red Pear Heirloom make up the Small-fruited Pear types. http://www.burpeehomegardens.com

Even more interesting is the new Ketchup ‘n’ Fries, a tomato plant grafted onto a potato plant. I had written about this in my December 17 article but at the time I thought Ketchup ‘n’ Fries was only available from Territorial Seed. I learned at MANTS that it is also available from GardenAmerica. http://www.gardenamerica.com

microgreensPart of why I garden is for healthy eating which is a challenge in the winter. I have been interested in micro-greens for some time now as a winter project. Micro-greens are different from sprouts, they are the seedling stage of edibles such as lettuce, radish, chard, kale, spinach, etc. You start them in a shallow container of soil, indoors, and cut them when they are only a few inches tall to put in a salad. I had a nice chat with Sandy Merrill at the Chas. C. Hart Seed Company who had a small container of micro-greens at her booth. They were quite tasty; I could see how easy it would be to grow them. She gave me a packet of “Veggie Confetti,” which I started this week and I will keep you posted on their progress in future articles. The Chas. C. Hart Seed Company has been in business for over 100 years and sells a wide range of seed at garden centers. http://www.hartseed.com

Keeping it Small

Visiting MANTS confirmed what I have been reading, there is a trend towards small edibles, or container edibles. Pixie Grape is a new line of natural dwarf grape plants. Developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, they only grow to 2 feet high and 1 foot wide.  They do not grow tendrils like regular grape vines do; they tend to put their energy in clusters of flowers, hence they fruit year round. Hardy to zone 3, they can be grown in the ground or in a container. Four types will be introduced: Cabernet Franc, Pinot Meunier Purple, Pinot Meunier White, and Riesling. http://www.plugconnection.com and http://www.gardenamerica.com

BRAZELBERRIES pink icing - all rights reserved c2014 LAB 2The Brazelberries Collection, developed by Fall Creek Farm & Nursery, Inc., is introducing Pink Icing, a diminutive blueberry bush. Pink Icing’s new spring foliage is pink, eventually turning to green in the summer, and blue/green in the fall. The blueberries themselves are large, appearing in mid-summer. Hardy to zone 5, this 3-4 foot shrub would make a great container plant on the deck. All Brazelberries are small enough for containers and hardy to zone 4 or 5. In case you missed the other members of the family there is a raspberry called Raspberry Shortcake (see June 2014 article) and three more blueberries:  Peach Sorbet, Jelly Bean, and Blueberry Glaze. http://www.brazelberries.com

New Landscape Edibles

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlants that serve the dual purpose of staying in the ground year round to beautify the landscape while providing food is another trend displayed at MANTS. Proven Winners has a new landscape edible for its Vitamin Berries line: Sugar Mountain Sweetberry honeysuckle. Related to honeysuckles, these are native shrubs also known as haskaps. Sugar Mountain Blue produces blue berries on large hedge-type plants that are more than 5 feet high and wide. The berries look like tubular blueberries but they do not require the acidic soil that blueberries require. Hardy to zone 2, these shrubs will fruit without pollination but will produce larger fruit if allowed to cross pollinate with another bush. Hence, Proven Winners also developed Sugar Mountain Balalaika, Sugar Mountain Eisbar, and Sugar Mountain Kalinka. http://www.provenwinners.com

Lo Hugger 2I also discovered the ‘Lo-Hugger’ American cranberry. I always thought of cranberries as northern bog plants but this is evergreen groundcover that can be grown in wet or dry soil, sun or part shade.  It grows to about 6 inches high, spreads out a couple of feet and produces pink flowers followed by edible, red berries. Hardy to zone 4, it is a fast growing, winter hardy plant. It also is a four-season interest, landscape edible – the foliage remains on the plant during the winter turning to red/bronze and then back to green in the summer. http://www.upshoothort.com

Packaging is Everything

I was surprised to learn that the Netherland Bulb Company, famous for spring flowering bulbs like tulips and daffodils, promotes quite a line of edibles. They sell everything from elderberry, goji berry, asparagus, horseradish, garlic, rhubarb, Dutch onions, shallots, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, pine berry, grapes, to organic and regular potatoes. I saw a wonderful display of boxed organic potato tubers, guaranteed to sell. You don’t have to put your hands in old bins to pick up dirty tubers. Packaging is important, if it is clean and easy to pick up and buy, it sells. http://www.netherlandbulb.compotato (2)

Walters Seed Company is another company that has capitalized on beautiful packaging. Houseplant, herb, and flower seeds and a soil pellet come in these adorable biodegradable containers. Seed Gems make great gifts, can be customized for party favors, and the boxes can be imprinted with special messages. Simply add water to the soil pellet, add seeds and grow. When the plant is ready to be placed in a larger pot or outside, put the entire biodegradable pot in the soil. Who wouldn’t buy these for Mother’s Day, a shower, or wedding. http://www.walters-seed.comseed gemsseed gems (2)

2 responses to “New Plants in 2015, as viewed from Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show

  1. I have grown the grafted tomatoes for 2 years now and I am not sold. I really don’ think that they out perform other varieties. But I am anxious to try the ketchup and fries one!

    Like

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