Grower Profile: Brohl’s Greenhouse, Inc.
Monday, January 8, 2018 | Lance Lawson
Tucked in the countryside just north of the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, you will find Brohl’s Greenhouse, Inc. Brohl’s Greenhouse, Inc. was started in 1966 by Jack Brohl as a small greenhouse that sold vegetables and some flowering plants to the community of Macomb. As the business grew, his sons started to take on some of the responsibilities.
His sons Mike, Jim, Marv and Brian Schwark, have taken over most of the growing and business duties. Brohl’s Greenhouse, Inc. has grown to 2.5 acres of covered greenhouse growing space that still produces bedding plants, mums, poinsettias and vegetables.
“Brohl’s Greenhouse, Inc. family and staff (from left to right) Marvin, Mike, Jack, Brian & Jim Schwark.”
Most of their plant material is sold wholesale to mostly landscapers as well as independent garden centers, schools and churches. When asked why they focus on selling to landscapers, Jim had a simple answer: it is better to sell to many small landscapers, than to a few larger growers. If one landscaper cannot pay his/her bill, then it is easier to absorb this loss as they do not buy as much plant material as a large grower. Landscapers come in looking for a large amount of a few items, whereas large growers not only want a large number of certain plants, but they also want a small number of many other types of plants. This makes it more time consuming to pull orders and there is limited space to grow all these crops.
When asked if there were any crops that were their specialty, periwinkle (Vinca) was brought up. They have little trouble growing vinca even when it is grown on non-heated floors. The secret, besides being good growers, is growing Vinca at very warm temperatures, which this crop prefers, and watching the watering. In addition, they do a great job growing Rieger begonias and New Guinea Impatiens, along with all other spring annuals, mums and poinsettias. Jack has been expanding a summer hobby where he grows 180 hanging baskets of tomatoes in order to harvest the fruit through the summer. Most of it is given away, but it serves as a "thank you" for their customers.
“Brohl’s poinsettia crop comes from cuttings taken from their stock plants. After taking cuttings, these stock plants are grown on to produce huge, show-stopping poinsettias.”
“Each mum plant produced is uniform and the perfect size.”
All plants are started from seed or unrooted cuttings. They buy in few plugs or liners as they can produce their own at a lower cost. Jim said they already have heated space in the winter that can accommodate plugs and cuttings, so it makes sense to grow their own. With the recent installation of high efficiency heaters, their production costs are even further reduced.
When Jack first started the business, they grew their potted plants in topsoil. In 1968, they started mixing domestic peat with topsoil. This worked well for years, but the weight of the growing medium was an issue. In the 1990’s, they got away from top soil and started blending different soilless media. Finally, in 2005, PRO-MIX BRK20 was the growing medium of choice and is still used today with the addition of BIOFUNGICIDE*. They have been happy with the product’s ability to drain well during the winter months and that the BIOFUNGICIDE* has helped greatly reduce root diseases. They have been also been pleased with the attentive service that their local sales representative, Denny Zelek of Greene, Merten and Slawinski, has provided.
We would like to thank Brohl’s Greenhouse, Inc. for their commitment and loyal use of our PRO-MIX products. We wish them continued success in the future.
*BIOFUNGICIDE is not available in Canada. All BIOFUNGICIDE products are available under BIOSTIMULANT in Canada and in Latin America.
PRO-MIX® is a registered trademark of Premier Horticulture Ltd.
The Anderson family, Chet, Kristy, and sons Chet and Nick, have run The Fresh Herb Company in Boulder County, Colorado, for over 30 years. Founded in 1983, the business began in a rented greenhouse and has since blossomed into one of the region’s premier ornamental operations.