Mark Seguin
Photo courtesy of Sakata Seed America

Greenhouse Management: More than 700 varieties of petunias have been granted plant patents in the U.S. Why should any grower consider SuperCal® petunias over all the others?

Mark Seguin: In a word, performance. Unlike traditional petunias, SuperCal are a unique hybrid-cross between petunias and calibrachoa. This unique bloodline delivers extraordinary attributes that have earned SuperCal the reputation as the best summer-performing petunia on the market. Every petunia can provide a nice retail display when grown under the closely managed environment of a professional grower, but what really drives success and sales growth is how well the product performs after the sale.

Consumers purchase flowers with the hope that the beautiful display of living color will transfer to and enhance their home. Too often this beauty is short-lived and the resulting displays are quickly overwhelmed by the challenges of Mother Nature. Whether it be heavy rain, disease (like powdery mildew or botrytis) or unrelenting summer heat, SuperCal has proven its superior ability to outperform and maintain its flowering display far beyond competitors. The heat tolerance of SuperCal is simply unsurpassed.

GM: What’s with all the talk regarding a new generation of petunia?

MS: For 2019, Sakata is introducing SuperCal Premium petunia. Beginning with five new colors, SuperCal Premium varieties feature the same exceptional garden performance as established by the original SuperCal but have larger flowers and a more grower-friendly plant habit. Each of the new varieties are very early to flower (10.5 hours or less response time) and the designer colors offer a unique color palate to enhance the traditional product offer.

What’s more, combining the earthy color tones with their exceptional heat tolerance opens the door to a new fall promotion for petunias. Consider the positive impact the three-color SuperCal Premium Bonfire Mix can offer to your customers. The flowering window far exceeds that of traditional mums and the plants will continue blooming right up through a very hard frost. This value-driven opportunity is a win-win for both retailers and end consumers.

GM: Does this mean the end of SuperCal is near?

MS: On the contrary, Sakata will continue its innovative breeding and development of both series. The profile for SuperCal will focus on a semi-trailing habit with somewhat smaller, multiflora-like blooms, while SuperCal Premium will feature a strong mounding habit and grandiflora size flowers. I firmly believe that given the superior attributes that intergeneric hybridization delivers, SuperCal can have the same positive impact on the petunia market that SunPatiens have had on the New Guinea market. When consumers have success in the garden, they enthusiastically share the experience and sustained growth follows.