Keepsake Plants

Leamington, Ontario

Formerly Yoder Brothers Inc. now Keepsake Plants Ltd.

US horticultural giant, Yoder Brothers Inc., recent marriage with Syngenta Flowers, a Swiss-based breeding company, means a name change for Yoder Canada as of July 2009 . The acquisition includes all rights to Yoder's pot and garden mums, aster genetics and breeding programs, as well as the Yoder brand name. Yoder will continue to sell and service Yoder brand mums and asters from its customer service groups in the US and Canada.

The marketplace. 
"We look forward to being known as something other than the mum company," says Chris Jacobs. "Our new name will better reflect our remaining businesses as well as mirror future opportunities." 

In 1977, Yoder Brothers purchased Yoder Atkin, in Leamington, Ontario and became Yoder Canada. The Canadian operation has nearly 29 acres of greenhouses and sells Yoder cuttings to Canadian greenhouse growers. 

Yoder Canada specializes in finished mums, Fleurettes, azaleas, poinsettias, Easter lilies, Persian violets and other flowering plants, including perennials. 

The greenhouses are currently filled with Christmas products - and that means lots and lots of poinsettias. Yoder Canada's Production Chief, Rob Bigley, thinks the poinsettia bloom is as impressive as the fall leaves. Ribbons of color as far as the eye can ‘sea'. 

Poinsettias represent 20% of Yoder Canada's annual volume of production but only 10% dollar-wise. "Every greenhouse grower produces some poinsettias so it is difficult to standout with a product that has become a commodity," says Rob Bigley. "However, the poinsettia is one of the few plants we can grow and sell at this time of year." 
Yoder Canada sells direct to most of the big chain stores in Canadian and US markets. "We are a mass market grower and have a reputation for consistency in product quality and timely delivery," adds Rob. "The selling season for poinsettias is 6 weeks so there is very little margin for error. No one sells poinsettias in January." 

"Poinsettias very often don't need much supplemental lighting but they must be constantly monitored for temperature and moisture," explains Grower/Manager Scott Laforest. They don't like cold temperatures - anything below 50 degrees F will actually harm the plant. Also, the poinsettia is a dessert plant, and if allowed to dry out, it will drop its leaves to conserve moisture. 
Oddly enough the biggest problem at the consumer level is over-watering. "No plant likes to sit in water too long and that can be as little as ½ hour. The roots actually drown," adds Scott. Good drainage is essential to maintain the life of the plant in the greenhouse as well as in the home. 

Growers are always looking for new things to produce for the Christmas season and Yoder Canada is at the forefront of this type of research and development. General Manager Chris Jacobs proudly holds a new plant that will be introduced to the market in a few weeks. 

"This is a Helleborus plant and the newest edition to our line of InsideOut products - special perennials that you can enjoy as indoor potted plants then move outdoors to the garden," says Chris. "All our InsideOut products offer tremendous value because they provide inside beauty now and perennial garden beauty later - a true keepsake." 

The Christmas Rose 
Helleborus has glossy evergreen leaves and snowy white flowers that fade to a beautiful pale green. 

Helleborus is a member of the Buttercup family and has long been a hobby garden favorite. Now thanks to companies like Yoder, Helleborus is more widely available. The plant is prized for its long lasting white flowers which bloom at Christmas then fade to green, pink and/or purple. It is a low and slow growing plant (1 foot height), but once established makes excellent groundcover for shaded areas, especially under trees. 

The happy little flowers and beautiful green leaves brighten up the garden when many other plants are looking bleak and miserable. 

The plants come packaged with detailed care instructions for both indoor and outdoor environments. 

Yoder Canada also sells red and white azaleas during the holiday season with braided azalea topiaries trees as the premium product. The Yoder branded Keepsake Azalea is different from the outdoor perennial which drops its leaves in the winter. The Keepsake is an evergreen variety originally from Japan. It is known for its canopy of blooms that lasts 3 to 4 weeks. Once finished blooming, the lush green foliage can be transplanted to the garden. It will not bloom again nor will it survive our Ontario winters but it is a beautiful green addition to any garden. 
The growing cycle for a potted azalea is approximately two years. Most of Yoder's azaleas start off in their Florida greenhouses then are transferred to Ontario for finishing and distribution. 

The finishing process can be very labor intensive as the plants must be pruned to ensure a brilliant bloom canopy. As a member of the rhododendron family, the Keepsake Azalea is more like a miniature tree than a typical potted plant such as a mum. 

Azaleas look spectacular with freshly cut Christmas greens. Just ‘stab' a few pieces of pine or cedar into the azalea root ball, then place the whole thing into a pretty container. Water the potted arrangement daily, but never let it sit in water. 

For more information about Yoder's companies visit the website at www.Yoder.com
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