Registration now open for 2023 Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo

Education sessions focus on plant production, customer engagement, pest management and specialty cut flowers.

Pink flowers
Education sessions at the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo are a great way to stay up-to-date on current research and recommended production practices. Photo by Jeremy Jubenville, MSU Extension.

The 2023 Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo, in partnership with the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo, will be held Dec. 5-7 at the Devos Place Conference Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Michigan State University Extension floriculture team worked with the Western Michigan Greenhouse Association and the Metro Detroit Flower Growers Association to develop an educational program consisting of 19 sessions on a variety of relevant subject areas. This year’s schedule emphasizes greenhouse plant production, retail and customer engagement strategies, integrated pest management and specialty cut flowers. These sessions feature presentations by a range of Extension and industry experts and are designed for audiences across the organizational spectrum from entry-level employees to operations managers.

Both new and experienced growers will benefit from presentations on horticultural lighting, propagation and finishing, fertilizers and foliage plants. Erik Runkle and Roberto Lopez of Michigan State University (MSU) discuss some research-based guidelines for using LED lighting during propagation. Dylan Sedmak from PanAmerican Seed shares his keys steps for successful seed propagation.

Struggling a bit with foliage plant production? Join Jonah Brown from Danziger and Lopez as they provide temperature, light, irrigation and plant growth regulator (PGR) recommendations for the some of the most popular foliage crops. Jaden Gimondo from MSU Extension discusses the finer points of fertilizers, while Jamie Gibson of Syngenta Flowers graciously shares his extensive knowledge on plant growth management for high-quality crops. Sessions include:

  • Greenhouse Lighting During Propagation
  • Sowing Your Success: Solutions for Seed
  • From Selection to Success: Choosing the Right Fertilizer
  • Tips for Growing Foliage Plants in the North
  • Achieving Plant Growth Management I – Success with PGRs
  • Achieving Plant Growth Management II – Non-Chemical Growth Control

The MSU Extension floriculture team is proud to present an outstanding lineup of national and international experts in integrated pest management (IPM) that you won't want to miss. Join Sarah Jandricic from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture (OMAFRA) as she shows us how a systems approach to greenhouse IPM provides a highly effective framework for controlling insect pests. "The Bug Lady" Suzanne Wainwright-Evans comes to Michigan to share some of the insight and knowledge she's gained from over two decades as an independent consultant and specialist in biological control. As always, Mary Hausbeck of MSU will help you stay ahead of the curve with her ever-popular greenhouse disease management updates.

This year, we'll wrap up the Expo in style with a special hands-on workshop focused on greenhouse biological control and pest management in spring floriculture crops featuring Wainwright-Evans (Buglady Consulting), Jandricic (OMAFRA) and Steven Arthurs from BioBee USA. Learn best practices, pest identification and application techniques while experiencing live demonstrations at one of Michigan's premier perennial producers, Walters Gardens. Don't miss these expert sessions:

  • A Systems Approach to Greenhouse Biological Control 
  • A Deeper Discussion on Beneficials
  • Greenhouse Disease Management Update
  • Special Workshop: Greenhouse Biological Control Essentials: Setting Yourself up for Success (Optional add-on: $149. Seats are limited.)

Retailers can hear the latest thoughts in retail and customer engagement strategies, from effective weekend workshops to shifting plant marketing paradigms, as well as harnessing public interest in native plants and discovering the best-performing garden plants of this year. Learn the essential elements of organizing captivating weekend workshops from an interactive panel with topics that include theme selection, logistical planning, social media promotion and partnership cultivation to ensure your events not only work but thrive.

Join Alicia Rihn from the University of Tennessee as she explores the transformation of plants from luxury goods to experiential products, shares strategies to effectively engage new customers, and discusses the power of leveraging native plants to boost sales. As always, don't forget to catch up on the 2023 highlights from the Michigan Garden Plant Tour with results from the MSU Trial Garden, DGI Propagators, Four Star Greenhouse, Mast Young Plants, Raker-Roberta’s Young Plants and Walters Gardens. Join us for these informative talks:

  • Plants Are Experiential Goods – Ways to Increase Customer Engagement and Boost Sales
  • Leveraging Native Plants to Boost Sales
  • Greenhouse Events That Work: A Grower Panel
  • Best-performing Plants in the 2023 Michigan Garden Plant Tour

The annual specialty cut flower track contains a mixture of plant production and business management topics. Lindsay Daschner of Forget Me Not Farms walks us through her anemone and ranunculus production process and shares some tips for growing high-quality stems. Weed management is always a challenge in specialty crops. Debalina Saha and Manjot Kaur Sidhu from MSU will discuss non-chemical weed control techniques and possible herbicide programs. Daschner returns to the stage to team up with Nikki Deming from Kalamazoo Specialty Plants where both will share their approach to filling labor needs using local sources.

The day wraps up with an extended session on forming agricultural cooperatives and collectives featuring MSU agricultural economics professor Bill Knudson, Alex Cacciari of the Michigan Flower Growers Cooperative, Josephine Brown from the Michigan Flower Barn, and the current president of the Kalamazoo Valley Plant Growers Cooperative, Paul Schaap. Be sure to catch these sessions:

  • Producing High-Quality Anemone and Ranunculus in Michigan
  • Recruiting and Retaining Workers from Select Sources of the Local Labor Market
  • Weed Management Recommendations for Specialty Cut Flower Production
  • The Ins and Outs of Cooperatives and Collectives

Rounding out our program, the annual MSU Floriculture Research Update highlights grower-supported projects and will feature reports by Zach Rutledge, Hausbeck, Jeremy Jubenville and Lopez from MSU. Growers and greenhouse managers will also be interested in learning from Tom Fernandez as he walks us through a water quality report and discusses contaminants and their removal.

For added value, there’s education for lavender growers, a beginning farmer meet and greet, agricultural labor sessions, and a whole lot more offered by our partners at the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo.

Visit the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo website for the full session schedule.

Registration is now open! Early birds can save $20 by registering before Nov. 15, 2023. Attendees and exhibitors can find registration, lodging and trade show information at the Great Lakes Expo website.

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