Northern Tier Specialty Plants
Peonies, Daylilies and Lilies-Our Passion
Solaris Farms is relatively small family owned and operated nursery located in Northeast Wisconsin. 2020 marks are our 20th year in business. Nate (me) does most of the work related to the business, but is supported by his wife, Kim and a number of seasonal workers. The business specializes in difficult to find Paeonia, Hemerocallis, Lilium and a variety of other long lived perennials.
Hybridize, trial and distribute distinctive and enduring Paeonia, Hemerocallis, and other genera for northern tier gardens, as well as, educate the gardening public concerning these plants.
Solaris Farms vs. other plant sources
When we first began the business, the idea was to grow a wide range of northern hardy perennials and we did. Within a couple of years this idea was scrapped in favor of growing daylilies, peonies and lilies. Due to the complexities involved in propagating a wide range of plants with different needs we quickly settled on a few genera gardener’s could confidently grow. Growing these groups of plants has worked well and allowed us to introduce many new top-notch peony and daylily cultivar introductions for northern gardeners. An added benefit…we love these plants and they are a part of daily lives (even in winter).
Competition in the plant sales market is much like any other market selling goods-the range of quality, price and availability is great! Solaris Farms aims to provide high quality and rare (less commercially available) plants to the gardening/hybridizing community. We do not offer the same plants as most nurseries, big box stores or garden centers. This is by choice and our hope is that more gardeners become aware of the value of Solaris Farms’ plant offerings. More below…
Most nurseries and garden centers resell plants produced by other growers at low prices, often propagated and grown in greenhouses or less rigorous environments. Consumers can expect lower prices from resellers, but there is a non-monetary price to pay, namely inferior lower quality plants not necessarily selected for our climate. Issues with correctly named cultivars, disease, improper season of sale for planting and misinformation are often problems encountered by gardeners purchasing plants from general garden centers and related businesses. With this in mind, we propagate most of our own plants and strive to offer only superior selections for planting in the correct season. Many plants are culled at Solaris Farms in our trial fields each year that do not meet our expectation for northern tier plants, some originated by others. A fair number of our offerings were bred and born right here in Reedsville, Wisconsin. Selecting high quality northern tier plants is a painstaking process that often takes years of evaluation, but the resulting product is of high value for gardeners. Prices for such plants is often greater, but the long term productivity and beauty will outweigh the initial expenditure. Most of our plants will be productive garden residents for our lifetime and perhaps many more generations, if given proper care-making them a high value purchase.
The plants we sell
All of our plants are grown outside in gardens and field situations, without protection or ‘high culture’ practices. This allows us to evaluate plants for performance in what might be considered normal or even less than optimum growing situations. While this isn’t necessarily an original idea, the practice is completely adhered to and our selection process of plants to be further propagated and distributed is viewed as ruthless. In essence, field grown plants are evaluated for physical characteristics, plant habits, bloom habits and lastly flowers-in that order.
Many garden consumers are looking to purchase large plants that provide instant gratification, unfortunately long lived perennials seldom can be successfully transplanted and grown in this form. This isn’t to say Solaris Farms sells small plants-we don’t! Our plants are most often young and vigorous, appropriate in size to make a good transition to another garden. We very much want gardeners to experience long term success with the plants they purchase and this is accomplished by providing appropriately prepared divisions, grafts, bulbs, plants and propagules. More information can be found in ABOUT OUR PLANTS. The most vigorous and high quality plants we offer for northern tier gardens are tagged with the TNT label. More information can be found about these offerings on our TNT page.
We also are actively propagating rare plants, especially peonies! While these plants may not be of the easiest culture or are not commonly available, they are in high demand and any number of them are in danger of vanishing from commerce (or nature in some species’ cases). Personally, I enjoy working with this group the most, as the variation of plant and flower form are unique and any growing difficulties are outweighed by their charm and beauty.
This blog entry is only a small view into how and what we do here at Solaris Farms. This website is new and there is much information we hope you will utilize now and in the future. We will continually update information as time allows and believe your gardening experiences will benefit from our trials and tribulations. Happy gardening.