Varieties Wow at TPIE 2024

As a newcomer to the Tropical Plant International Expo (TPIE), I didn’t have any particular expectations of the show. I figured it would be a similar trade show to Cultivate, and there would be good networking opportunities and lots of new plants to see.

This was an understatement. I’ve never seen such a beautiful display of tropicals, foliage plants, and one of my favorites, succulents.

The show, held Jan. 17-19, started off a bit rocky for me due to the new construction at the Broward County Convention Center. My Uber driver saw construction all along the road, told me that there is no convention center there, and I must have the wrong address. I told him that there was only one convention center in Fort Lauderdale — this was it — and please find the entrance.

Once you passed the new buildings with welders working atop, the show was very inviting. There was even entertainment outside one of the main entrances to the show floor — a man playing steel drums to set the tropical vibe.

With more than 400 exhibitors, there is no way to include everything I saw in this article. I will mention a few of the highlights, and you can click through the slideshow above to see many of the trending plants at TPIE.

How American Floral Endowment Is Cultivating the Future of Floriculture

Danziger’s Floresta Line

Last year, Danziger introduced Floresta, a new program offering more than 150 varieties of foliage plants. The plants are propagated in Danziger’s indoor facility in Guatemala. This clean growing environment results in reliable plant material and consistent availability, according to Danziger’s Lisa Heredia.

Danziger had a booth at TPIE for the first time this year to display offerings from the Floresta line, which the breeding company refers to as “the future of foliage plants.”

A recent expansion at Danziger Guatemala brings the total greenhouse area to 25 acres. The farm’s greenhouses feature state-of-the-art technology, optimizing production for each different type of crop, including monstera, peperomia, pothos, tradescantia, and more.

Art & Sol Mangave from Proven Winners and Walters Gardens

The breeding program at Walters Gardens recently developed Manfreda × Agave hybrids, known as Mangave. Top varieties from this program have been moved into the Proven Winners brand, where they will be sold under the Art & Sol Collection.

These large succulent-esque hybrids retain the excellent heat and drought tolerance of their Agave background, while adding fast growing, tropical attributes from their Manfreda parentage, according to Kate Spirgen of Proven Winners and Nicole Hoonhorst of Walters Gardens. They can be grown solitary, in the landscape, or in mixed or mono decorative containers. Mangave are perennial in southern zones, with the option of being grown as an annual in northern zones or overwintered as a houseplant.

Suntory’s Award-Winning Sun Parasols

Three of the new Mandevilla ‘Sun Parasol’ varieties from Suntory Flowers won the Cool Product Award from the Garden Center Group at TPIE this year. Winners include ‘Sun Parasol Original XP Bluephoria’, ‘Mauvelous’, and ‘FiredUp Orange’.

‘Bluephoria’ and ‘FiredUp Orange’ also won Favorite New Flowering Plant in the new product showcase. ‘Bluephoria’ drew quite a bit of attention during the show. This mandevilla starts out with pink buds that turn into blue flowers.

Marketing Director Delilah Onofrey of Suntory Flowers described ‘FiredUp Orange’ as a “natural born thriller” with an upright habit, narrow leaves, and flowers with a flatter, pinwheel shape.

Orchids at Dümmen Orange

Among other things, Dümmen Orange is known for Welcome to the Jungle, a collection of houseplants including crassula, pilea, and senecio. This was prominently on display at TPIE, and there were many interesting varieties.

Another display that Marta Maria Garcia pointed out was the collection of orchids at Dümmen’s booth. Anyone who has grown orchids before knows that they are not exactly a “flower power” type of crop. They have blooms, but they are usually on the lesser side. Garcia showed me a few orchids that were just covered in blooms, including ‘Sogo Lotte’ and ‘Sogo Sakura’. I’d never seen an orchid with so many blooms and buds, so those caught my attention.

With an increasing number of exhibitors and attendees at TPIE, there is more to see and more interesting people to meet. The connections at such trade shows are always crucial. For example, I met a grower at lunch who shared challenges with Thrips parvispinus. This grower eliminated these pests by vacuuming them up with a shop vac — who knew!

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