Creating a plant with the 'wow' effect without flowers. It is attempted more often and over the last few years it seems to be bearing fruits. In the US, for example, the Royal Hawaiian Colocasia series of PlantHaven has characteristics with colorful stems and leaf markings was introduced in 2008 and over the past three years, the sales in the US have increased 25 percent. Also in Europe and the UK the series is beginning to catch on.

Not just green plants
The plants in the Royal Hawaiian Colocasia series are not just green plants, explains Maureen Needham of PlantHaven, a US based royalty management agency. "Breeder Dr. John Cho of University of Hawaii wants to create the 'wow' effect with the coloration of the plant. The series is striking due to leaf markings and colorful leaf veining and stems." And the 'wow' effect seems to be picked up by the consumer. "The demand is increasing year on year as more people appreciate the glamor and impact of these tropical looking plants in the garden and landscapes."

Dr. John Cho with Black Coral. He started breeding food Colocasia for disease resistance to a fungal leaf blight that reduces yield up to 80%. This disease occurs worldwide. His ornamental Colocasia hybrids also carries the resistance to the leaf blight disease.

Top seller - Black Coral
Since the introduction of the series, new varieties have been added every other year. Currently, the series consists of 11 varieties of which the Black Coral is among the top selling varieties. This variety has deep black glossy foliage with blue veins and has a medium height of 48" x 36" at maturity.
New variety - Maui Sunrise
The latest introduction to the series is Maui Sunrise. Needam: "It is more compact than its sister plant White Lava and it has glossy green leaves with a white center that is expressed early in its growth. So it is still a small plant showing its white center when displayed in the garden center, attractive to the eye."

Maui Sunrise was firstly introduced at the Cultivate'18 in Ohio, Columbus, last month and the reactions were positive. "People liked the creamy white center which was larger than the normal Nancy’s Revenge type, and they liked the compactness and the fullness of the plant."

Maui Sunrise. On the left at the Cultivate'18, on the right in the greenhouse.

Expansion UK and EU
All over the US, the series is popular. "It is suitable for all areas in the US. For the cold areas, it is an annual item. It is hardy to Zone 7b (5F or -14C) and can come back the following year if mulched and doesn’t get too wet." And also in the UK and Europe, the program has been discovered and is being picked up. Currently, PlantHaven has two plug suppliers in the EU and slightly different varieties are being developed for this market. "The varieties for this market should be hardier, along with shorter, more compact and clumping, such as Maui Sunrise."
And Needham has high hopes for the existing series to take root in the EU as the weather seems to becoming hotter in Europe. "I think that more Colocasia varieties will become interesting for them."
For more information
And go to the dedicated Colocasia pages on PlantHaven’s website: