Five questions with Christa Steenwyk

Advertorial - Advertorial | Ask the Experts: Perennials

Christa Steenwyk, vice president of marketing and customer relations, discusses the variety of propagation techniques at Walters Gardens that produce standout perennials.

March 11, 2021

Christa Steenwyk

1. What are some of the ways Walters Gardens has positioned itself through the years to be the expert in perennials?

Walters Gardens has been able to create a wide selection of perennial plants our customers can be successful with by becoming successful with them ourselves. Decades of experience growing different genera have given us a precise knowledge of perennial production. Our catalog is balanced with greenhouse-grown liners and bare-root product with intentional choices made on what varieties to include and what product size is best suited to each plant. Through careful curation, we have the capacity to be a one-stop-shop for perennials and the experience to provide a consistent, high-quality product.

2. What makes you different from other perennial propagators?

Not only do we offer a wide selection of varieties and liner sizes, we also have invested in our New Plant Development department. The department, led by Hans Hansen, has focused on hybridizing innovative perennials. They are working on improving many genera and developing new varieties that are truly unique and interesting. In addition to submissions from outside breeders and sources, New Plant Development works on around 80 unique, goal-oriented projects and evaluates more than 35,000 seedlings a year.

3. How do you make decisions on what plants or products to include in your catalog?

Almost every plant begins with in-ground trialing. As the majority of perennials spend their lives in the landscape, it is important that we ensure the plants we offer are distinct and high-performing in this category. Our production team then trials the plants to ensure they can supply them. Finally, the Trials department grows the plant in the recommended container size to discover any anomalies during finished production. We take great pride in having an extensive trialing process to ensure our customers are successful with our product line.

4. How does Walters Gardens stay cutting-edge?

Walters Gardens has invested in our staff to help bring the best product to market. Our IPM team, trials department and expert growers are committed to keeping our perennials the best on the market while finding innovative solutions for improving production and plant quality.

5. How have your customers been able to benefit from your expertise?

We don’t keep our knowledge just to ourselves. Our plants are grower-supported after they leave the building through culture sheets and videos on our website to growers on standby to help with any questions you may have. Many members of our sales team have a background in plant production as well and are able to help troubleshoot concerns with customers before they become problems.

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