From Chris Beytes’ Acres Online newsletter; photo, too:
“A geranium by any other name is still big and red
“The first time I visited the European Pack Trials, I was baffled by all the new series names I was seeing. Turns out they were all the same varieties—the plug suppliers, distributors or growers simply put their own series names on them. Sometimes they’d even pick a yellow from one series, a blue from another and a red from a third and create their own series.
“Which leads to geranium Big Red, which is a new Viva! exclusive to Home Depot this spring.
“You won’t have heard of Big Red, but you might have heard of Calliope Dark Red, from Syngenta (Fischer). It’s an interspecific hybrid (zonal/ivy cross) that was introduced at Pack Trials in 2008. Visitors raved over its blood-red color. And it did well at summer field trials all over the country.
So what’s the deal with “Big Red”? I emailed Syngenta’s Gary Falkenstein, who replied that Home Depot wanted to do a big promotion with Calliope, but Syngenta did not want to make it an exclusive. So they decided to launch the plant under a different name (the Calliope name will still be on the pot, only in much smaller print).
Regardless of how it does as Big Red, Calliope cutting sales have been booming, Gary reports. Walmart and Lowes will be selling it, and lots of cuttings have been sold to IGCs, too.
“Without a doubt, it’s the biggest first-year introduction of a single variety,” Gary says. “We’ve sold over six times as much as any new, first-year geranium variety. Our sales and technical staff have visited several of the big producers and most all of the production is looking very sharp.”