I’ve had several questions about Hortonova,
the horizontal trellis, a polypropylene mesh,
used to support flowers with long stems.
“Where can you buy
Many catalogs, like Johnny’s, carry Hortonova.
Be sure to check your shipping charges when comparing
companies because a California company may appear
to have a cheaper product, but if you live in
New Jersey, the shipping charges may make the
final cost higher. You can do a search on the
web (under Hortonova) which is what my flower
partner, Linda Essert-Kuchar, and I did this year.
We ended up going with Specialty Ag Products (800-483-8889).
“When do you put
the mesh on?”
The sooner the better -- simply because it’s
easy to get busy around the farm and the flowers
don’t care; they keep right on growing.
It’s much easier to install the netting
over rows of nice, low transplants than to try
to squeeze tall plants through the net squares.
Besides, the purpose is to help guide your flowers
to a straight posture. This year, we tried what
several flower pros told us at conferences: We
laid the Hortonova over the bed, flat on the ground
(but already through the T-posts at a minimum
of 10-foot intervals) and planted into the grid.
Then we raised the Hortonova. Boy, it worked out
“What flowers do
you use Hortonova on?”
Mostly everything that grows tall and needs help
staying that way, or which may blow over in the
wind -- like snapdragons, campanula, dianthus,
A little bit about Melanie
Melanie and husband George own a 19.2-acre certified
organic farm in Emmaus, PA, where they, with son
Don and daughter Ruth, have operated a modified
CSA and members-only home market stand, sold at
Farmers’ Markets, to health food stores
and restaurants. Melanie specializes in specialty
cut flowers. A former newspaper reporter, she
also is a freelance garden writer. She is a member
of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers.
I’ll be happy to anwer them!
E-mail me at email@example.com
and include your name and general location.
April 19, 2004 I know, it’s SPRING and
you’re not thinking fall. We’ve finally had a break
in the weather here in Pennsylvania. Outside beds can be tilled
and hoed. My back is aching and my fingers are numb from pulling
weeds, but I’m still smiling. Yep, it’s definitely
NOT fall. But we’re on a four-season roll, so bear with
me for the fourth season finale: Fall.
Planning for fall should really start now anyway. A couple
years ago I got a frantic e-mail from a friend in August.
“I don’t have enough flowers for fall!! What can
I plant NOW??” I had to laugh. I had written much the
same to a friend a few years before. Believe me, it’s
much easier to start thinking about autumn now.
Two friends and I were brainstorming recently about our fall
favorites. Here’s our short list (as short as you get
when three die-hard growers get together and start talking
-- We have some growing now for summer, but it’s great
for fall. Calendula is easy and pretty and the colors just
exude fall. It’s also fast, and goes strong until heavy
frost. Stems are sturdy on most varieties and don’t
need netting. Try direct seeding thickly around the first
of August (adjust timing to your zone) for a properly timed
fall show. Cut the main bloom for sale. Johnny’s (www.johnnyseeds.com)
‘Flashback Mix’ and ‘Sunshine Flashback’
(orange with dark red undersides) really look the part. Gloeckner’s
‘Princess Nagasaki’ (double, golden yellow), ‘Princess
orange) and Princess Yokosuka (deep orange with dark center
are favorites. And Germania (www.germaniaseed.com)
has the Princess series with black centered golden and orange
-- I’m always surprised at how my celosias, especially
‘Pampas Plume’, become show flowers as the temperatures
chill. Again, the colors -- orange, scarlet, yellow, pink
and cream -- are perfect into fall. We succession-plant transplants
beginning in late May into late June and always let some volunteer
plants grow from last season because they’re usually
big and strong. Celosia dries nicely to extend the season
past heavy frost, too.
-- These guys love fall -- produce best under short days.
The greenery is nice for a fall bouquet filler. In our area
of Eastern Pennsylvania, we direct seed closely the beginning
and middle of July for fall.
-- An article in Growing for Market got me excited, as they
so often do, to try Karma Dahlia’s last year. They were
great flowers but I wasn’t so great about weeding
that particular patch in a wet year and let’s just say
the weeds won. A friend’s Karmas at our farmers’
market were fantastic. So, this year, we’re going in
on an order with him from Gloeckner’s (they have an
introductory special: minimum of four trays = 288 plants).
Delivery and planting is set for June 15 on the calendar and
they WILL be weeded. These dahlia cuttings are planted every
year and are certified disease free. There are some great
tuber dahlias, too. We just don’t want to get into digging
and storing tubers.
-- The day-length neutral varieties like Sun Series and Sunrich
Series go well into fall -- and can keep going in the greenhouse
into winter. We like to mix them with...
Majesty’ Ornamental Grass (millet) --
The deep purple foliage and flower plumes go really well with
sunflowers. We try to pick before the pollen shows -- or leave
them in the field until the pollen washes off. Smaller spikes
keep coming, too, we found last year.
-- “Stink,” says our friend, Paul. “I tell
my customers that.” But he hastens to add, “They
do look nice in bouquets.” He favors the open-pollinated
types, like Gloeckner’s ‘Cracker Jack’.
Gloeckner’s ‘Sunrise Mixed’ promises to
be odorless, so we’ll have to try this one. The standard
has been the ‘Gold Coin’ but I don’t like
the smell. We’ll direct seed closely in early to mid-July.
Formula Mix’ -- I’ve mentioned these
before, and they’re one of my favorite fall flowers.
Learn from my mistake: Don’t plant them too early. We
seed into cells four or five weeks before planting out (they
won’t sit in trays too long) in early July this year.
-- We like ‘Indian Summer’ and ‘Prairie
Sun’ and have patches that keep on coming (Rudbeckia
hirta, which includes both of the mentioned varieties is a
perennial best grown as an annual and it reseeds, which is
why we continue to have good patches). We start new seed each
year, too. They're easy, but it does take time -- 120 day
-- ‘Blue Bedder’ (Germania) is another that just
comes on strong in fall. Great filler flower. It’s 18-20
weeks sow to bloom, so it takes a whil, but it’s worth
the wait for a fall surprise.
There are tons of flowers, grasses and vegetable crops that
do well at the flower stand in fall, including lilies
(in crates--see Lilies
make everyone smile for more on growing lilies in crates),
(can be grown in crates, too), broom
and pepper branches
like ‘Numex Twilight’ (Johnny’s), with little
sunset-colored fruit. Our friend Paul finds this the most
popular at his Philadelphia market. He puts them in in mid
June in plastic with hoops and row cover.
is also great into fall -- cut it back (you can cut it high
with a mower if your patch is big enough) when blooms are
spent and you’ll get a fall flush. Of course, dried
statice is great for fall arrangements. We cut back Blue Horizon
Ageratum also and get a good fall flush. Other goodies to
dry include yarrow, strawflower, lavender and sage.