True blue this spring

In garden centres across Europe, Senetti® is currently bringing a burst of colour to spring in the colour of blue.

MNP/Suntory’s cutting-raised Senetti Pericallis series was introduced 17 years ago. It has revolutionised flower count, shape, colour range, reblooming ability, and weather tolerance within the genus, which seed annuals had dominated in the past.

Though technically treated as an annual by most greenhouse growers and gardeners, Senetti Pericallis is a tender perennial in regions with cool, moist summers. It is a member of the Compositae family of plants. Today’s hybrids are descendants of the African species, Pericallis cruenta and Pericallis lanata, which originate from the Canary Islands and Madeira.

European breeders began crossing them in search of the picture-perfect plant. Before reclassification, Pericallis was known as Senecio, from which MNP/Suntory’s brand name Senetti® derives.

If you still think of Pericallis as being a floppy, thirsty, open seed annual decorating granny’s dresser, it’s time to revisit to refresh your opinion. Senetti Pericallis produce large, free-flowering daisy-like blooms that last from early spring until summer and quickly become a prominent plant in flower borders, window boxes, containers and cityscapes.

Jeroen Egtberts, managing director MNP/Suntory.

Jeroen Egtberts, managing director of MNP/Suntory, says: “Suntory took commercial Pericallis production to a new level as Senetti continues to bring more choice to growers and gardeners alike, expanding its Pericallis portfolio with exciting new bold colours.”

Classic, Compact and Baby

Today, members of the Senetti Classic series are available in three solid shades (lavender, magenta, deep blue) and four bicolour shades (Pink Bicolour, Magenta Bicolour, Violet Bicolour, Blue Bicolour).

The news of the moment is the introduction of the colours Senetti Super Blue and Senetti Kobalt Blue. Super Blue is unusual because of its navy blue colour. According to MNP/Suntory, the Super Blue is an intense blue colour improvement, and it is proving very appealing to consumers.

Growers should grow Senetti Super Blue in a cold greenhouse under as high exposure to light as possible. Such growing conditions will make the growth habit nice and compact and intensify the colour.
Senetti Kobalt Blue is an early grower and will turn heads at retail because of the masses of vivid deep blue blooms rising above rounded and compact foliage.

Senetti Blue Bicolour is another eye-catcher in blue with masses of rich blue flowers that have a white circle around the dark purple-blue centre.

A second, more compact series includes Magic Blue, Red, Ruby Red, and Violet varieties. At the same time, Baby Senettis come in Baby Magenta, Baby Blue and Baby Magenta Bicolour.

The breeding programme continues, with White being the newest colour in the Senetti Compact range and offering the first white Senetti Pericallis on the market.

Other new shades added to the Compact series are Pink, Hot Pink Bicolour and Ruby Red, with Senetti Red Orange and Senetti White Red Heart, added to the Classic series.

Superior performance

Egtberts says the company sees a superior performance from the Senetti Pericallis portfolio. It produces masses of flowers – bloom count can be as high as 200 heads on a plant grown in a 25cm pot – and delivers weather-resistant plants with a natural field flower-like look.

Senetti is typically an early-season plant. Egberts says, “True to tradition; seed Senecio goes on sale first. Garden centres and flower shops stock their first cutting raised Senetti in mid-March. There’s always an air of excitement when the first Senettis come into season as this group can rebloom, contrary to seed raised Pericallis, which stops flowering once it has produced seeds. When the plants are cut back, new flowers will emerge in four to six weeks, provided temperatures during the day and night are relatively cool as high temperatures will stop the reblooming.”

Easy to grow

Senettis are pretty easy to grow for the professional grower and end-consumers alike. MNP/Suntory Sales and License Manager Klaas Droog says, “Senetti is a quick-growing crop, usually finishing around 12-16 weeks, depending on the variety and growing conditions. Senetti Pericallis flowers under short-day conditions and require no plant growth regulators. Instead, it can be controlled by ideal temperature management with cooler growing conditions resulting in better crop performance.”

In Africa and Israel, cuttings are taken from vegetative plant parts. When stuck in week one, URC ’s usually need around three to four weeks to root nicely in the northern hemisphere.
MNP/Suntory collaborates with van M. van Veen BV. from Rijsenhout, a household name within the young plant industry, for rooting. Rooted cuttings are potted in 12, 13, and 15cm pots.

Egtberts says, “In Belgium, growers even grow them in 27 to 30cm pots using three cuttings per pot to create a wow effect, while in Germany the majority of Senettis are grown in smaller 12 to 13cm pots.”

In a commercial greenhouse environment, growers use a drip system or ebb-and-flood system and keep humidity levels low. Senetti has a vigorous root system and needs much water and food as the crop matures. Growers aim to use a slow-release fertiliser to achieve the best results. There are an estimated 35 professional Senetti growers across Europe.

Egtberts explains: “In France, Senettis is also grown as an All Saint’s/All Souls’ crop. There are growers in Spain, Germany, Austria and Scandinavia.

Senetti Magic Blue and Super Blue.

“The blue and white varieties are a firm favourite with customers from Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

“The UK is equally an important Senetti market.”

Marketing muscle

MNP/Suntory puts marketing muscle behind Senettis. The company is well aware that dynamic marketing concepts are fundamental to being unique in today’s horticulture market.

They offer a range of merchandising materials, point of sale, posters, brochures, cultivation flyers, labels, banners, high-resolution images, logos and artwork to support all of its clients, large and small, to help market Senettis.

After a two year break due to Covid-19, Senetti will hopefully be once again in full display at this year’s Flower Trials from 14 until 17 June 2022.

The last time industry professionals could see Senetti in their full glory was in the 2019 Royal FloraHolland Spring Fair in Naaldwijk, Netherlands.

Back then, MNP/Suntory hosted a Senetti Experience, celebrating 14 years of dedicated breeding work. Senetti® Experience was a show on its own, including a colourful Senetti® patio, echoing the atmosphere of a Moroccan courtyard garden and planted with both the newest and classical Senetti® varieties. Visitors had a sneak preview of pre-commercial varieties while Senetti® executives, Jeroen Egtberts and Klaas Droog, were on hand to answer all Senetti® questions.

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