International conference on Proteaceae and new ornamental crops

BG-P1030250_web_02Excitement is building among flower and ornamental plant researchers, pot plant and flower growers and marketers who will meet in August when Perth hosts the VIII International Symposium on New Ornamental Crops, the XII International Protea Research Symposium and the XVII International Protea Association Conference. The draft program has just been released and is available on the conference website ( With early registrations closing on May 19, please take advantage of the reduced rate by booking without delay!

Conference highlights will include the presentations from conference keynote speakers. Prof. Tim Entwisle, Royal Botanic Gardens Director and scientific communicator and author, will introduce his concept of ‘Sprinter and Sprummer, Australia’s Changing Seasons’.

Conservation biologist Prof Stephen Hopper will speak about science-based solutions to maximise commercial opportunities presented by the biodiversity found in the Australia’s landscapes, which are the world’s oldest.

Pete Kruger, US-based General Manager of Ball Ornamentals, will share strategies used by his company to successfully introduce new woody ornamentals into the North American market, focussing on introductions of Southern Hemisphere plants. He will present the latest data about ornamental plants in the US market. Drawing on his knowledge and extensive experience in the cultivation and marketing of Proteaceae.

South Africa’s Dr Gerhard Malan will speak about ‘breaking the exotic mould’, describing the worldwide cultivation of proteas and investigating likely reasons and possible pathways for continued expansion of South African protea cultivation.

Other speakers from around the world will be covering a broad range of topics, in many cases exploring further the issues raised in the keynote presentations. These include flower and pot plant marketing and promotion, propagation and production methods, and on-farm quality assurance systems. Postharvest technologies, related to speciality cut flowers, to overcome leaf blackening in Proteas, screen potential new crops and assist long distance shipping, will also be discussed.

There will be a strong emphasis on selection and development of new ornamentals, with examples from the Middle East, Madeira and the Canary Islands, Pakistan, India, New Caledonia and Australia. Novel technologies to create new plants (lisianthus and waxflower) will be introduced. The latest research into Australian species like eucalyptus, waxflower, grevillea, kangaroo paw, Persoonia, umbrella fern and waratah will be presented.

Key strategies to protect new varieties and maximise their commercial success will be addressed by several speakers. Other presentations will focus on promotional strategies to build demand and will outline market trends for Proteaceae and related plants.

Various speakers will present research into managing specific postharvest issues, like bract browning in proteas. Others will explain the importance of postharvest screening in the selection and development of new ornamentals.

Keynote speaker Dr Malan will also be a guest at a special industry meeting being held during the conference and hosted by WildFlowers Australia, where he will participate in a Q&A session on all things Proteaceae.

The conference affords a rare chance for industry members to meet their counterparts from all over the world during the spectacular wildflower season when floral displays are at their best. In contrast to many conferences, this one features two days of conference presentations followed by two days of technical field visits.

An optional 4-day pre-conference tour will take delegates south-west of Perth to view the local flora and the unique scenery. Technical visits have been arranged to the Geographe Community Landcare Nursery, the Banksia Farm (the world’s only complete arboretum of banksias), and the Nindethana Seed Service.

Various registration options are possible, including full registration, or day registration for conference days or technical tours, or a combination. A range of sponsorship, trade exhibition and company promotional opportunities are also still available. Please see the conference website for all the details.

Hosted by the International Protea Association (IPA) and the New Ornamental Crops and International Protea ISHS Working Groups, the conference has been sponsored by The International Protea Association, the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Proteaflora Nursery Pty Ltd, East Coast Wildflowers and the Perth Convention Bureau.

For more information please contact Bettina Gollnow by email at

Posted 13 May 2015