The “future of work” has accelerated due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with many workers giving up commuting and setting up home office instead.
As people spend more time at home, many want their space to be more visually pleasing.
So they turn to the brightness that only flowers can offer.
“The flower industry in general has seen a lot of growth and renewed interest because people are at home,” said Ryan Hall, director of marketing at Syngenta Flowers, whose North American division is based in Gilroy. “They invest in their personal space.”
In early April, Syngenta Flowers hosted its annual California Spring Trials event at its Hecker Pass Road facility, a week-long event where flower companies and growers across the state showcased the latest strains that will be hitting stores next spring.
Syngenta, a global agriculture company, grows its flowers for North America in Gilroy.
The facility marks the first step in a process to get flowers to consumers. Syngenta breeds the varieties and sells the seeds or cuttings to a breeder, who in turn propagates the products.
Syngenta genetics are found in flowers sold at countless major department stores, garden centers, florists and others, Hall said.
Hall says Syngenta is known for growing geraniums, and his best-selling dark red geranium, Calliope, comes from Gilroy.
“This deep, crimson color was innovative in the way it was bred,” he said. “It has really delivered a lot more garden performance and consumer value.”
Hall said Syngenta’s team of scientists is always striving to use genetics to not only make flowers more brilliant, but also to last longer and resist disease with minimal effort.
The products are constantly evolving, which is not always immediately apparent to the average customer.
“The geranium you bought 10 years ago isn’t the geranium you can buy today,” Hall said. “It gets even better.”
“Color Walks” is a motto that Syngenta’s sales force is familiar with, Hall said. People are looking for bright colors that exude happiness, as well as ones that catch the eye even when passing at 80 km/h.
Blue is an elusive color that very few plants can match, but remains one of the most popular colors for consumers, according to Hall.
Syngenta recently entered the hydrangea market. These flowers have a long shelf life and a wide range of colors, including bright blue.
“Hydrangea is one of the top five flowering shrubs on the market,” Hall said.
While always popular, zinnias are particularly popular with consumers due to their drought tolerance and disease resistance.
“They do fantastic in summer landscapes because they can handle the heat,” Hall said. “They are performing spectacularly in our field trials here in Gilroy. This is the perfect addition to Gilroy gardens.”
Syngenta breeders also like petunias, which Hall said have “amazing” genetic potential, resulting in different color combinations that mix well with other varieties.
While color trends don’t change much from year to year (Hall said anything that’s bright and has a strong visual impact is a top performer), flowers that do more with less care are currently driving the market.
“It’s more bang for your buck,” Hall said. “Crops with really narrow seasonal windows that are only good for a month or two, we usually see them fall out of favor. Products that look good for longer with less effort grow.”
In particular, Syngenta’s Madinia dipladenia, whose flowers resemble a trumpet, blooms almost all year round.
Hall said that one such plant, which he has on his patio at home, grows strong after four years with the occasional drip of water and fertilizer.
To view Syngenta’s flower varieties, visit syngentaflowers-us.com.