By Julio P. Yap Jr.

The common belief that colorful flowers can only thrive in cooler highland areas has been shown to be untrue following the development and introduction of heat-tolerant, widely adaptable, and easy-to-grow varieties for the Philippines.

The interest in annual flowers for small space gardening in the city, property development, national parks, and agri-tourism has grown significantly. In photo is the Flower Showcase exhibit of ABC at the Quezon Avenue Promenade of the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City during the recent Hortikultura Filipina 2018.

This became possible after Allied Botanical Corporation (ABC) selected and identified a wide range of annual flowers adaptable for both highland farms and the hot lowland farm areas in the country, through its lowland research and development (R&D) facility in Tayug, Pangasinan, and its highland satellite trial station in La Trinidad, Benguet.

According to ABC president Michael Caballes, the interest in annual flowers for small space gardening in the city, property development, national parks, and agri-tourism has grown significantly because nowadays, property buyers are not only looking into the price of the property but also at the aesthetic quality of such projects.

Over the past two years, there has been an increasing interest in using colorful annual flowering plants for property development.

Caballes says that one particular aspect of property development which is often overlooked is landscape development, specifically for ‘softscaping’ (the horticultural elements of a landscape, according to Wikipedia). Often, developers use cheap, low maintenance green perennials for their landscape projects. “Hence, the need to develop and introduce an assortment of climate-ready annual flowers for the Philippines has already been undertaken by Allied Botanical Corporation several years ago to meet the demand,” Caballes says.

Each year, the research and product development team of ABC grows and selects no less than 50 varieties of annual flowers for the different markets in the Philippines. The process of selection is a necessary step to ensure that growers, agripreneurs, and real estate developers will be able to successfully grow these crops.

Rowena Bienes of ABC (right) joins Sally Leuenberger (the Orchid Queen of Davao City) during the opening of Hortikultura Filipina 2018.

Along with the selection process, Caballes says that ABC also develops production techniques which are later shared with potential growers to ensure the success of their flower production. The extensive R&D efforts undertaken by ABC led to the introduction of a wide assortment of annual flowering varieties, like those exhibited during the recent Hortikultura Filipina 2018 at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

During the event, ABC showcased its “Flower Fiesta,” a display in which a collection of heat tolerant annual flowering plants for the Philippines transformed the main Quezon Avenue walkway into a huge and attractive floral garden, greeting visitors coming from the different areas of the
venue.

Aside from the attractive colors, forms, and textures of these annuals, ABC has confidently recommended specific varieties for cultivation during the different growing seasons and in various elevations in the country. Whether it is container gardening, annuals for real estate project launching, seasonal themed landscape designs, cut flower and pot plot production, Caballes says that ABC has the right variety, adding that annual flowers not only bring color to a landscape but also encourage life and a whole new ecosystem to thrive. After all, bees and butterflies are particularly attracted to sunflower, cosmos, calendula, salvia, antirrhinum, dianthus, and zinnia.

Bee foraging is becoming a necessity for honeybee farms in the country. Growing these annuals at bee farms ensure enough food sources for the bee population.

Among the major uses of annuals are for bedding and ground cover. When planted in mass populations, they add vibrant color to the landscape. Flower varieties like the Zinnia Double profusion mixed can make for excellent ground cover because the variety comes in vivid colors like red, fire, cherry, yellow, deep salmon, white, and golden. On the other hand, the Torennia Little mixed can be useful as an edging plant, while the Marigold Marvelous flame, orange, and yellow can create warm colors as bedding plants.

Two women take time out to relax and enjoy the soothing effect of having a well landscaped area in the metropolis while visiting the recent Hortikultura Filipina 2018 at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

Among the more important plants for a landscape are filler plants and plants that are used for the background. For example, different sunflower varieties, like Vincent’s Choice, Fresh, and Pomelo from Sakata would make an attractive backdrop for a park bench or help hide unwanted structures or unattractive hardscapes. Caballes says that these sunflower varieties can grow up to 5 to 6 feet tall, making them ideal as background plants.

The Canna Tropical series from Takii, on the other hand, can be an excellent filler or as a hedge plant. They can grow to about 4 to 5 feet tall. The Canna Tropical series comes in yellow, red, rose, scarlet, salmon, and white. The Gomphrena Ping Pong series can become attractive medium-height fillers which produce nice round white, lavender, and neon rose blooms. Some of these annuals, like the Sunflower, Celosia, Marigold, Statice, and Gomphrena, are also used for cut-flowers or dried flowers.

Enthusiasts and growers who are looking for easy crops to cultivate can go for the Marigold, Vinca, Zinnia, Cosmos, Pelargonium, or Torenia. Caballes assures that ABC will continue to provide flowering plants and technical expertise so that growers and enthusiasts will be able to realize that there are so many flowering plants can also be grown in urban areas and in other places of the country.

This appeared in Agriculture Online’s April 2018 issue.