"By most consumers, the dianthus is still perceived as a perennial only, but there are signs that that perception is changing," explains Bart Hayes of German breeding company Westhoff when talking about the Best Friends Forever series, a series that currently includes 6 'gift items'.
Dianthus market in Europe and North America
According to Hayes, the dianthus market has been growing rapidly. "In Europe specifically, because it is a great crop for growers: low-cost production, very forgiving to transport, programmability with cultural controls. But it is also a great purchase for consumers because of its very long performance and continual flowering."
In North America, he continues, "the demand is growing, and due to phytosanitary restrictions, production and distribution there is more challenging, leaving many competitors absent from the market."
Westhoff and potted plant breeding
"Although Westhoff has not traditionally been known for potted plant breeding, we feel we have an obligation to the consumer to bring products to market that they are demanding. This breeding project has been going for many years, and we finally have a product that we feel is equal, if not obviously superior, to what is available in the marketplace today."
Best Friend Forever series
The idea behind the Best Friends Forever series is to market it as a grab-and-go gift item; "The perfect potted gift item for your BFF." The assortment currently consists of 6 colors, of which each variety has an abundance of blooms. "That is because they open in succession. In turn, it gives a very wide bloom window to allow for wider shipping windows, longer shelf life, and extended performance for the consumer", Hayes explains. Additionally, the plants are heavily branched, and with the ability to re-bloom, it allows for handling and shipping, as well as the occasional bump at home.
But what about the production side of the series? "Although the series is selected specifically for post-harvest performance and heavy, consistent flowering all-season long, it is still an easy and a low-energy production cost product. Eager to learn more about propagating and growing the product, click here (PDF) for the culture guide.
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