Where can I learn more about how to grow this crop?

Greenhouse growers can use reference books and websites to find crop production information, including environmental and fertility/substrate management recommendations.

Spigelia flowers in a greenhouse.
A crop of Spigelia ‘Apple Slices’ in the greenhouse. Photo by Heidi Lindberg, MSU Extension.

Are you growing a crop that is new to you this season? Do you question a certain crop’s pH, electrical conductivity (EC) or fertigation recommendations? Do you wonder what environmental parameters regulate flowering? There are several different resources that are excellent for growers looking for information on floriculture crops. Michigan State University Extension recommends the following resources for commercial growers.

Reference books

Some books are organized by plant genera that provide an extensive production guide of common greenhouse crops.

Ball RedBook Volume 2 – 19th edition: This reference book has crop production information for most annuals, perennials, cut flowers and potted ornamental crops. It provides recommendations for propagation and finishing growing conditions, common pests and diseases, information on varieties and landscape siting information. (Edited by Jim Nau, Ball Publishing, 2021.)

Floriculture: Principles and Species – 2nd edition: This comprehensive production guide provides research-based information and references of over 100 common genera/species. It also includes chapters on production principles such as propagation, temperature management, flowering control, etc. (By John Dole and Harold Wilkins, Pearson, 2004.)

Ball Perennial Manual: Propagation and Production: This reference book provides information on the description, hardiness, propagation and forcing/finishing guidelines for 300 species of herbaceous perennial plants. (By Jim Nau, Ball Publishing, 1996.)

A Growers Guide to Water, Media and Nutrition for Greenhouse Crops: This comprehensive book covers water, media and nutrition for greenhouse crops, with chapters on water purification systems, advanced irrigation systems and pH/alkalinity control. (Edited by David Reed, Ball Publishing, 1996.)

Water, Root Media, and Nutrient Management for Greenhouse Crops: This practical guide provides a thorough overview of greenhouse production, including plant nutrition and water quality. Covering new trends, technologies and regulations with insights from industry professionals and academics to optimize plant health and production efficiency. (Merhaut, Williams, Mangiafico, Regents of the University of California, 2018.)

Specialty Cut Flowers: The Production of Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs, and Woody Plants for Fresh and Dried Cut Flowers: This reference manual provides propagation and growing recommendations, greenhouse and field performance, post-harvest and cultivar information for the niche cut flower industry. (By Allan Armitage and Judy Laushman, Timber Press, 2003.)

Light Management in Controlled Environments: Developed by over 10 lighting experts, this book provides research-based information on electric lighting, shading and other strategies used to regulate crop growth. (By Roberto Lopez and Erik Runkle, Meister Media Worldwide, 2017.)

Easter and Hybrid Lily Production: An in-depth guide to cultural and production information about greenhouse forcing of Easter and hybrid lilies. (By William B. Miller, Timer Press, 1992.)

Nutrient Deficiencies in Bedding Plant: A Pictorial Guide for Identification and Correction: This book explains the causes of nutrient deficiencies, diagnostic techniques and corrective procedures, with color photographs, for 25 popular bedding plant species. (By James Gibson et al., Ball Publishing, 2007.)

Plug & Transplant Production: A Grower’s Guide: A complete reference for everything needed to grow plugs and transplants. Covered topics include selecting structures and production systems, understanding seed physiology and scheduling plugs. (By Roger Styer and David Koranski, Ball Publishing, 1997.)

Cutting Propagation: A Guide to Propagating and Producing Floriculture Crops: This handbook covers the latest techniques for propagating crops using terminal, stem, and leaf/stem cuttings. It includes information on propagation basics, stock plant management, environmental and cultural conditions, equipment, and post-harvest handling. (By John Dole and James Gibson, Ball Publishing, 2006.)


Crop Factsheets on Fert, Dirt, and Squirt: Developed by members of the Electronic Grower Resources Online (e-GRO) team, this website provides nutritional crop factsheets for popular annuals, perennials, herbs and other specialty crops. The crop factsheets provide recommendations for fertility (in parts per million) and substrate pH and EC.

MSU Extension Floriculture and Greenhouse Crop Production: This website contains published trade magazine articles in 11 categories, focusing on crop type or production parameter. Popular topics include light management, propagation and height management.

If a problem with a specific crop stumps you, the e-GRO website also has diagnostic articles, or Alerts, which provide highly specialized information on crops. For example, a recent e-GRO Alert on gerbera daisy discusses stunting in the “Chronic Underwatering of Gerbera Daisy,” which might help growers identify problems.

Floriculture InfoSearch: Developed by North Carolina State University and the American Foral Endowment, this website is a focused search engine for floriculture information published in scientific journals and trade magazines.

Supplier crop recommendations

Plant breeding companies and suppliers often provide crop factsheets for individual cultivars. These can be especially helpful for new varieties and cultivars or specialty plants. For example, many growers are growing early-season crops such as Senetti Baby’ Blue Bicolor’ (Pericallis, Suntory Flowers). On the variety factsheets, they typically provide general grower culture, temperatures and recommendations for pinching, plant growth regulators and crop timing.

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