Need training for ornamental plant growers?

Electronic resources, workshops and conferences are available to train new ornamental plant staff.

Have you recently had employee turnover in your staff or do you want to train someone without any growing experience? There is a wealth of educational opportunities from webinars to in-person events to conferences for all levels of horticultural knowledge and budgets.

Online and mobile resources

Michigan State University Extension offers an online, self-paced class for those with some horticultural knowledge. The first module of the College of Knowledge online class is Root Zone Management. This intensive class has four hours of pre-recorded presentations that are available for $99 through the eXtension website. Other modules on temperature management and lighting for greenhouse applications will be available in 2015.

''E-Gro (Electronic Grower Resources Online) is a collaborative online resource from 10 universities in the United States. With almost 2,600 subscribers, E-Gro Alert e-mails provide timely information on production problems from floriculture specialists across the United States. In addition to the e-mail alerts, the website also has a university (over 50 lectures on basic topics), videos (short clips on single topic), online books and webinars. All content is available to users for free. To learn more, check out this overview of the E-Gro website. 

The MSU Floriculture website is also a great resource for growers. It has information on greenhouse energy efficiency, including a podcast series on sustainability, and hundreds of articles on floriculture marketing and production  (annual bedding plants, herbaceous perennials, light, pest management, PGRs, Potted Flowering plants, propagation and temperature). It also has links to books, bulletins and tools and to other programs such as the Michigan Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) and Michigan Garden Plant Tour

The mobile-optimized customizable training website Back Pocket Grower offers training tools and guides. It was developed by multiple university and industry partners. Growers can look at text bulletins, YouTube videos, over 140 training videos, and calculators like how to make dilutions, crop budgets, etc. Some of the content is available in English and in Spanish.

The MSU floriculture Extension staff and nursery Extension staff also send out information in their e-mail newsletters about regional programming in Michigan. The newsletters include information about educational events, articles written by our staff, and timely information on production problems. To sign up to receive our newsletters, contact your regional Extension educator for floriculture and nursery.

The University of Arkansas and University of Arizona offer more formal college courses online. Greenhouse Management Online through the University of Arkansas is a non-credit, 16-week course offered in the fall intended for industry professionals. The course covers topics of an undergraduate-level class, including greenhouse designs and construction materials, lighting, heating and cooling systems, growing media and mineral nutrition, water quality and irrigation systems, and plant growth regulators. The course is $650.

Greenhouse Plant Physiology and Technology Online is also a non-credit course offered in the fall for industry professionals. The nine-week course covers how the environment affects crop physiology and emphasizes the uses of technology in the greenhouse. A hybrid of science and engineering, Greenhouse Plant Physiology and Technology Online is intended for an audience with significant horticultural knowledge. This course is ideal for horticultural graduate students, Extension educators or professionals developing technology to support the ornamental plant industry. The course is $728.

Meetings, workshops and conferences

ExpoFor those employees who are hands-on learners or would benefit from the networking, face-to-face meetings may be more beneficial. MSU Extension’s floriculture events and nursery events webpages list the current events occurring throughout Michigan on pertinent topics. Some upcoming events include Plant Health Management Workshop, Independent Plant Breeders Conference and Greenhouse Grower’s Expo.

The 2014 Greenhouse Grower’s Expo offers the latest-and-greatest research-based information for both greenhouse retailers and wholesalers. It is our biggest and most comprehensive event of the year and is Dec. 9-11 at the DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Some of the hot topics include impatiens downy mildew management, neonicotinoids and bees, greenhouse vegetables, and designing mixed containers. We will also be offering a bus tour to southwest Michigan greenhouses and leading soilless media provider. The cost to attend the Expo is $75 by Nov. 10. The cost for the bus tour is $79.

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