1. The Hollywood Hibiscus collection has gained significant popularity. Were you surprised at all by this collection catching on so strongly?
JB: I am not surprised that the collection has caught on quickly. J. Berry Nursery and our breeding partner, DHM, set very high objectives for our breeding programs. We set out to develop selections that were strong against pests, grower-friendly, more sustainable, heavy flowering, beautiful, durable flowers and rewarding to consumers. Many were tested in Europe, Texas, Florida and with consumers across the country. The biggest surprise was how quickly growers realized the increased value, lower PGR requirements, lower production costs, and extraordinary flower power. The growers saw the value in our marketing and packaging, which I am very proud of. Buyers from across North America saw for themselves the Hollywood Hibiscus performing at a stunning level as they toured growers during TPIE.
2. What is the consumer-level appeal of the Hollywood Hibiscus? What do you think makes the plants so popular with gardeners?
JB: We present the collection as a value-added product. The plants speak for themselves. Because the flowers are prolific and exotic and the shrub is lush and vibrant, it helps the consumer to decide to purchase. We have had great feedback from our consumer trials. For the first-time consumer, they are attracted to the beautiful gold container and nicely designed graphic of the logo, and fun names of each character (variety name).
3. Do you have any advice for how garden centers can better market, merchandise and sell J. Berry Nursery varieties?
JB: I would ask that garden centers purchase enough to make them noticeable, provide highly visible shelf space, and keep them away from all other lesser hibiscus. I also think they should purchase several selections at once so the customers can relate to a Hollywood cast of characters.
4. Are there any new varieties or collections coming from J. Berry that you’re excited about?
JB: Our breeding efforts are now in the seventh year. Each year, we are concentrating on desirable traits that will lead to new colors, new growth habits and new varieties. We are just beginning and the years ahead will keep the improvements and excitement going with Hollywood Hibiscus.
5. The Hollywood Hibiscus is known for its resistance to windy conditions and leaf spot. How can retailers use these traits to their advantage?
JB: I think those attributes will be difficult for consumers to grasp. Once they experience the benefits, the consumers will repeat the purchase because of their past success. Growers and retailer garden centers also will understand how well the Hollywood Hibiscus handle stress and still are beautiful and sellable.