This month's winning success story comes from Greg Holzman, plant explorer, cycad expert, and owner of Pacific Cycad Nursery in Hawaii. Often called the "Johnny Appleseed" of cycads, Holzman has been instrumental in the conservation of these endangered plants and in the renaissance of cycads as landscape specimen plants.
Cycads are the oldest living seed-bearing plants on the Earth (they date back to the Jurassic era, when dinosaurs roamed our planet). Holzman fell head-over-heel in love with these ancient beauties more than 30 years ago on a visit to South Africa, and decided to dedicate himself to their conservation and distribution. He served as the Cycad Curator at the National Tropical Botanical Garden, before starting his own nursery. We talked one-on-one with Holzman earlier this month.
Individual cycads often live for hundreds of years, but cycads are extremely slow to propagate. Slow propagation combined with plant fanciers' desire to own exotics led to cycads being heavily poached, and some cycad species nearly disappeared.
I decided to propagate plants in a nursery - not an easy task - and to make seeds and plants available on the legitimate market in order to reduce illegal poaching and black-markets. It's a great feeling to be one of the first people to sell cycad seeds and to be part of this conservation movement.
The cycads in my nursery come from a wide variety of climates from across the globe - from dry alpine settings to tropical swamps. I have to keep all of them growing and healthy in my sub-tropical nursery, which can get 15 inches of rain in one week followed by weeks of drought and drying winds. On top of that, cycads have a tendency to go into long periods of dormancy.
About five years ago, Keith Giertych of Growth Products introduced me to the company's products. I had been interested in soil microbial activity and organics for a very long time, but this was a revelation! I started using Growth Products' Essential® Soil Amendment and Companion® Biological Fungicide, plus Pro-Balance 15-2-15, Re-Store Plus 3-0-2, X-Xtra Iron, and Micrel Total. The difference was amazing. Now my cycads stay healthy during both wet weather and drought thanks to the increased microbial activity that Essential and Companion engender, and I'm able to get almost continuous growth which allows me to speed up the cycad's propagation cycle. I share this news with everyone in the international cycad community, and it's turning heads.
Absolutely! I’ve changed my philosophy entirely. My new philosophy is, “Feed the soil and the soil will feed your plants.” Essential and Companion contribute to the build-up of vitally important beneficial soil microbes such as Bacillus subtilis. With high levels of good soil microbes, growers can cut back on traditional fertilizers, and yet get better, healthier plants than ever before. “I also like Pro Balance 15-2-15 for my seedlings and container grown and first year transplants to the ground because the fertilizer’s low salt helps keep my microbe activity high.”
Lawns here on the wet side of Kauai often have fungal problems, including difficult-to-control fairy ring and dollar spot. I’ve started treating diseased lawns with Companion in rotation with orange oil, and the fungus problems are quickly knocked out and the lawns often looks better in just one week. I’m just amazed by Companion.
Many thanks to Greg Holzman for his help with this article, and congratulations for providing our Best Success Story of the month. Want to learn more? Read more about Holzman and his cycads in
Hana Hou magazine.
Growth Products has been amazed and impressed with the knowledge and skills of its professional customers. Now is your opportunity to let your Success Story be heard! Visit www.growthproducts.com to enter to win $500 in free Growth Products’ merchandise and to have your story featured in our monthly newsletter. In addition, one Grand Prize winner will receive $2,500 in cash!