2001 Bedding Plant Trials
Use the results from the seed-propagated pansy and viola trials at the University of Florida and seed and vegetative trials at Penn State University to help you decide which new varieties are right for your crop schedule.
As we have seen in the last couple of years, growers and
gardeners alike were far more interested in the many new vegetative cultivars
introduced than they were in new seed cultivars. This trend seems likely to
continue for the foreseeable future; however, seed producers are making great
strides in breeding some of these new plants and it is very likely that
seed-propagated cultivars, like Wave petunias, will very soon be available to
compete with some of the vegetative materials. Here, in GPN’s first
annual bedding plant trial report, the University of Florida reveals the
findings of its specialized, seed-propagated pansy and viola trial, while Penn
State University unveils the best of its multitudinous seed- and vegetatively
Trials and Methods
University of Florida.
style='font-weight:normal'> Each cultivar was randomly planted in four separate
plots, with each plot containing 6 plants. Cultivars were each planted in a
field that was scouted for pests and sprayed as needed to simulate commercial
conditions, and in an unsprayed field to simulate homeowner conditions.
Cultivars in the sprayed field were evaluated for foliage and flower quality,
and in the unsprayed field for pest resistance. This scheme resulted in 48
plants of each cultivar being evaluated in a total of 8 plots. style='mso-tab-count:1'>
Today’s trialing scheme
organizes the cultivars into classes based on species, growth habit and plant
size, as well as flower form, color pattern and flower color. In the late
winter and spring of 2000-2001, 105 cultivars of Viola cornuta L. (horned
viola, viola, miniature pansy or Johnny jump-up) and Viola x Wittrockiana Gams.
(Pansy, Garden P., Ladies-Delight, Heartsease, Stepmother’s Flower) were
evaluated using our new trialing scheme. All cultivars, with the exception of
‘Fama Purple’, had good germination. Immediately after germination,
seedlings were transplanted into model 128 Todd planter flats and placed into a
screen-sided, fiberglass-covered greenhouse for plug production. Mature plugs
were transplanted into ground beds in each of the two fields, in full sun.
Nutricote 13-13-13 180-day, slow-release fertilizer was applied to each plant
at 2 tsp. per plant, or approximately 2,017 lbs. per bed acre (262 lbs.
nitrogen per bed acre). Beds were fumigated approximately 14 days before
planting with a mixture of 66 percent methyl bromide and 33 percent
chloropicrin at 350 lbs. per acre and covered with white-on-black polyethylene
film. Subsurface seepage irrigation water was supplied from lateral ditches
spaced 42 feet apart.
In the winter of 2000-2001,
Florida was in the midst of a record drought. Rainfall fell below the normal
average prior to March; however, 8.7 inches fell in two days at the end of the
month. The highest temperature was 88º F, while the lowest was 33º F.
Selections for heat tolerance were made as observations (not ratings) while
walking through the field in early May after the trial was completed to
determine if any attractive cultivars appeared to be strikingly better than
others in a class. The average maximum temperature between early April and
early May was 85° F and the average minimum temperature was 65° F.
The combined average rating presented in Table 1 (page 44)
represents an overall view of performance for each cultivar in its class over
the entire season, and is the sum of the average foliage, flower and pest
ratings. Flower diameters are also presented since this has become an important
marketing consideration. We consider cultivars with a combined rating of 5 or
higher as outstanding, 4-4.9 as fair to good performers, and 3.9 or lower as
fair to poor.
Penn State University.
style='font-weight:normal'> The vegetative trials at Landisville are part of
the overall Variety Trials conducted by Penn State University. This trial is
located at The Southeast Research and Extension Center in Landisville, Lancaster
County, Pa., because the climate is typical of the hot, humid conditions found
in the Mid-Atlantic States and results are applicable to Eastern urban areas
from New York to Virginia.
We had 930 cultivars entered
this year, a 23-percent increase over last year. Plants were received as rooted
cuttings in late March or early April and transplanted outdoors in late May
into 4-gallon pots containing Scott’s coir soilless media. Osmocote
15-9-12 was surface-applied and additional liquid feed plus micronutrients were
applied based on soil testing. Plants were irrigated as needed using drip
The weather in 2001 started out
slightly cooler and dryer than normal, but by early August it turned hot and
remained dry. August temperatures reached the high 90s with three days above
100° F. These hot and dry conditions provided stresses that allowed
evaluation of all cultivars for summer heat and mite tolerance.
The Penn State seed-propagated
flower cultivar trials are conducted at Á University Park, Pa. The
climate is more moderate than Landisville with fewer hot days and lower
humidity, particularly at night. Last season the weather was quite variable. It
warmed up fast, but there were several late frosts (late May). The overall
temperature was cooler than normal and mildew and Botrytis were common.
Rainfall was erratic and supplemental irrigation was needed. Seeds were
received in December through March, grown in a greenhouse until late May and
then transplanted into tilled, fertilized ground beds.
Outstanding Seed Cultivars
style='font-weight:normal'> There were some outstanding tall dianthus cultivars
that would be suitable for cutting or bedding in the 2001 trials. ‘Melody
Pink’ from Sakata had good vigor and many nice flowers. ‘Kawara
White’ and ‘Kawara Pink’ also produced tall plants with good
vigor and very attractive flowers. (Penn State University)
style='font-weight:normal'> Disease pressures were quite evident this season in
the impatiens. The most vigorous cultivars were the best performers. Some of
the best in last year’s trials included: the double-flowered
‘Fanciful Orchid Rose’ and ‘Fanciful Salmon’, and the
single-flowered ‘Dazzler Blue Pearl’ from Ball Seed; ‘Accent
Orange’ from Goldsmith; ‘Balance Rose’ from Hem Zaden;
‘Tempo Cinnamon’ from Bodger; and ‘Carnival Deep Pink’
from Daehnfeldt. (Penn State University)
style='font-weight:normal'> Flower size was normal to huge. The only pest
problems observed in the unsprayed field during this trial were thrips
(Frankiniella bispinosa) and gray mold (Botrytis sp.). Thrips feeding on
flowers caused severe scarring to the darker shades of blue and purple, and to
reds, roses and yellows. However, the whites and whites with dark color
expressed little or no scarring. Also, blacks did not express these symptoms
unless they had purple color breaks. Disease ratings showed little effect by
gray mold for the season with the exception of three pansy cultivars rating
below 4.8: ‘Bingo Yellow Clear’, ‘Dynamite Ocean’ and
‘Majestic Giant Supreme Rose W/Blotch’. (University of Florida)
The outstanding pansy performers
in each class were:
style='font-weight:normal'> ‘Accord/Banner Black’ edged out
‘Halloween’ in better performance and larger flower size. Halloween
had some color instability with purple showing through on flowers of some
plants. Accord/Banner Black had the best heat tolerance in this class.
style='font-weight:normal'>‘Baby Bingo Sky Blue’ led this class in
outstanding performance, followed by ‘Scala Blue’. Flower diameter
was smaller for Baby Bingo Sky Blue than for ‘Bingo Azure Clear’.
‘Baby Bingo Blue Blotch’ had the best heat tolerance in this class.
style='font-weight:normal'>‘Baby Bingo Exp Marina Shades’ was a
step above the competition, while ‘Baby Bingo Blue Blotch’ and
‘Scala Blue W/Blotch’ were equally outstanding. Baby Bingo Exp
Marina Shades had the smallest flower in this class and ‘Majestic Giant
Supreme Mid Blue W/Blotch’ reined supreme with the largest flower. Baby
Bingo Exp Marina Shades had the best heat tolerance in this class.
style='font-weight:normal'> ‘Accord/Banner Purple’ and
‘Dynamite Purple’ were equally good. Unfortunately, ‘Fama
Purple’ had poor germination, limiting the surviving plants to trialing
in the sprayed field; there, all three cultivars had a combined average rating
(foliage and flower quality) that ranged from 4.0-4.3. Flower diameter was
smallest for Fama Purple and largest for Dynamite Purple. Accord/Banner Purple
had the best heat tolerance in this class.
Purple. All the purple cultivars in this trial had variable color. ‘Lavender Cool Shades’ had the smallest flower, while ‘Dynamite Lavender’ and Fama Lilac Shades had equally the largest flowers. Lavender Cool Shades also had the best heat tolerance in its class. >
style='font-weight:normal'>This class exhibited performance that ranged on the
low end for ‘Bingo Deep Purple’ to ‘Baby Bingo Exp
Denim’ on the high end. Á ‘Baby Bingo Purple W/Face’
produced the smallest flowers while ‘Majestic Giant Supreme Purple
W/Blotch’ was the largest flower measured in this class.
‘Midnight’ had the best heat tolerance in this class.
style='font-weight:normal'>. ‘Baby Bingo Lavender Blue’ was
significantly better and had the best heat tolerance in this class, although
‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Purple Jester’ were still near the
top. Baby Bingo Lavender Blue yielded the smallest flower and Purple Jester
produced the largest flower.
style='font-weight:normal'>. ‘Baby Bingo Beacons Field’ was a
splendid plant with a significantly higher rating than ‘Accord Purple
Picotee’ and ‘Dynamite Purple Rose White’. Baby Bingo Beacons
Field was the smallest-flowered plant; the other cultivars were equally the
largest. Though the deep purple color contrasting the white on Baby Bingo
Beacons Field is usually by itself a tempting target for thrips, this cultivar
was unusually free from feeding scars.
style='font-weight:normal'>. They had a difficult time in this trial.
‘Dynamite Scarlet’ and ‘Scala Scarlet’ both had variable
plots, while the latter had a color break, which is fairly common in reds.
Flower diameter was the same for both cultivars.
style='font-weight:normal'>. The sad saga continued for this red class having
the same color breaks and plant variability. The ratings ranged lowest for
‘Majestic Giant Supreme Red W/Blotch’ and highest for ‘Karma
Red Blotch’. ‘Baby Bingo Fire’ had the smallest flower and
Majestic Giant Supreme Red W/Blotch had the largest flower. We will wait and
watch for a few good reds in the future. ‘Bingo Red Blotch’ had the
best heat tolerance in this class.
Rose/blotch. This class follows
the same problem-plagued pattern experienced with the reds, ranging from a low
rating for Majestic Giant Supreme Rose W/Blotch to a high rating for
‘Bingo Rose Frost’. The flower diameter was smaller for cultivars
like ‘Baby Bingo Rose Wing’ and ‘Dynamite Rose
W/Blotch’ and larger for ‘Bingo Rose Light Blotch’.
‘Bingo Rose Blotch’ had the best heat tolerance in this class.
style='font-weight:normal'> ‘Scala White’ was a cut above the rest.
Thrips scarring did not surface in this class, helping its performance. Flower
diameter ranged on the small end for ‘Scala White’ to ‘Scala
Cream’ on the larger end. Scala White had the best heat tolerance in this
style='font-weight:normal'>. ‘Scala White W/Blotch’ was
significantly better and had the best heat tolerance in this class. Flower
diameter ranged from the large-flowered ‘Fama Spanish Eyes’ to the
smaller-flowered ‘Majestic Giant Supreme White W/Blotch’. Once
again, as in the purple/white class, thrips flower feeding scars were fewer,
despite the presence of a dark-colored eye. White may hold the key to low
levels of scarring.
style='font-weight:normal'>. Ratings ranged dramatically from ‘Bingo
Clear Yellow’ to ‘Baby Bingo Yellow’. Flower diameter was
smallest for ‘Baby Bingo Yellow’, while ‘Bingo Clear
Yellow’ was a larger-flowered plant in this category. ‘Scala
Yellow’ had the best heat tolerance in this class.
style='font-weight:normal'> Class ratings were lowest for ‘Majestic Giant
Supreme Yellow W/Blotch’ and highest for ‘Bingo Red Yellow’,
which also had the best heat tolerance in this class. Flower diameter was
smallest for ‘Baby Bingo Red Yellow’ and largest for
‘Majestic Giant Supreme Yellow W/Blotch’.
style='font-weight:normal'> Several of the newer pentas cultivars have been
consistently outstanding in the garden. Ball Seed’s ‘Butterfly
Cherry Red’ and ‘Blush’ both had excellent flower production
and vigor. (Penn State University)
style='font-weight:normal'>. Many of the new seed-propagated cultivars perform
as well as or better than their vegetative rivals. Some of the best new
seed-propagated cultivars include ‘Tidal Wave Cherry’ and Tidal
Wave Hot Pink’ from PanAmerican. These plants displayed their outstanding
vigor once again last season. Although they were a bit shorter than in previous
seasons, they filled the bed early with a thick mat of foliage covered with
flowers. The Wave petunias were all outstanding, with ‘Lavender
Wave’ providing a new color with a nice plant habit and form similar to
‘Purple Wave’. Á Another outstanding cultivar,
‘Ramblin Burgundy Chrome’ from Goldsmith, had a nice, dark flower
color, good vigor and flower number. It filled the bed early with a mix of
upright and prostrate growth. (Penn State University)
style='font-weight:normal'> One of the most spectacular new plants in the
garden this year was ‘Cherokee Sunset’, an AAS winner. This
cultivar was very vigorous with large orange, red and yellow flowers similar to
‘Indian Summer’ in size. Some of the flowers were double and some
single, providing a very interesting visual mix in a mass bed. (Penn State University)
from American Takii had above-average vigor, and an interesting red flower with
large white bracts. (Penn State University)
style='font-weight:normal'>. The most interesting new seed geranium was
‘Black Magic Rose’, an AAS winner. These plants had dark foliage
with a nice green fringe and bright pink flowers with a bit of white. The
combination was very eye-catching and a favorite of garden visitors. (Penn
style='font-weight:normal'> The best snapdragon in the garden in 2001 was
‘Liberty Classic Rose Pink’ from Goldsmith. This cultivar had very
good vigor and flower production into October. ‘Coronette Orchid’
from Syngenta was also outstanding last year. (Penn State University)
from Ball Seed produced 10 or more 6-inch flowers per plant. The attractive
bicolor flowers were burnt orange and yellow. (Penn State University)
style='font-weight:normal'>. ‘Victory Red’ from Sakata was the best
in the trial last season. These plants had better than average growth and nice,
big, red flowers. (Penn State University)
style='font-weight:normal'> Nearly all the violas (miniature pansies) rose to
the top as outstanding performers in this trial with the exception of
‘Princess Blue’ and ‘Princess Yellow’, which had
problems with plant variability, plant death (more noticeable in Princess
Yellow) and flower thrips (Princess Blue). ‘Penny Orange’,
‘Princess Purple & Gold’, ‘Princess Lavender
Yellow’ and ‘Penny Deep Blue’ were rated 7.0, indicating no
visible signs of gray mold. Viola ‘Princess Cream’ exhibited
excellent heat tolerance, observed to maintain an attractive display of foliage
and flowers through early May. (University of Florida)
Outstanding Vegetative Cultivars
style='font-weight:normal'>. The newly introduced, light yellow
‘Courtyard Daisy Primrose Petite’ from Proven Winners is
free-flowering and has a low-spreading, compact habit with silvery green
foliage. We also like Flower Fields’ ‘Comet Pink’, which
performed nicely all season, and Danziger’s white daisy
‘Neptune’, which did well early. (Penn State University)
style='font-weight:normal'>). We think that if growers are willing to provide
sufficient fertilizer and additional chelated iron, any of the new varieties
will do well. We especially like Flower Fields’ ‘Penny Candy
Violet’, ‘Bridal Shower’ and ‘Blue Shower’.
Proven Winners has the compact-growing ‘Cabana’ and Ball FloraPlant
has introduced their new ‘Abunda Lavender’. (Penn State University)
style='font-weight:normal'>. Vegetative begonias are making a comeback. The
red-flowered ‘Elatior Barkos’ bloomed abundantly whether in full
sun or 50 percent shade. There was some slight petal scorch in full sun and
windy conditions, but within a few days new flowers covered the plant in a
handsome mass of red flowers. Another winner is the old standby ‘Red
Dragon Wing’. It has attractive, shiny leaves and an upright habit with a
multitude of red flowers growing to a height of three feet. (Penn State
style='font-weight:normal'> The Flower Fields and Proven Winners diascia in
last year’s trial were vigorous, attractive bloomers, and maintained
their weeping habit all season. The best plants were rain and disease tolerant,
but tended to go out of bloom in the hottest three weeks of the summer.
Fortunately there was a quick rebloom when temperatures dropped in late August.
The best Proven Winners entries, ‘Little Charmer’, ‘Coral
Bells’ and ‘Red Ace’, were supplied by Pleasant Á View
Gardens. The Sunchimes series from the Flower Fields was just as good with
‘Sunchimes Trailing Rose’. The new ‘Sunchimes Peach’
and ‘Sunchimes Trailing Red’, supplied by Paul Ecke Ranch, also
performed well. Diascia, like many of the vigorous vegetative plants, benefits
from the addition of chelated iron, which helps keep new foliage dark green and
healthy. (Penn State University)
style='font-weight:normal'> Ball FloraPlant has an outstanding geranium collection
and continues to upgrade their line. In 2001 we liked the performance of the
new varieties ‘Showcase Red’, ‘Fantasia Coral
Improved’, ‘Designer Rose’, ‘Designer Scarlet’
and ‘Showcase Picotee Salmon’. ‘Colorcade Burgundy Ice’
is an ivy with attractive flowers and dense, dark green foliage.
Fischer’s Rocky Mountain
series has proven to be a champion in the garden. We liked ‘Rocky
Mountain Royal Red’ and ‘Rocky Mountain Light Salmon’ for
their vigor and recovery after rainy weather. ‘Charleston 2001’,
‘Twist 2001’, ‘Bravo Dark Pink’ and ‘Tango
Violet’ all had excellent
flower power. Some of the best ivies were ‘Acapulco Compact
Cascade’, ‘Lila Mini-Cascade’ and ‘Red
It is hard to beat
Goldsmith’s Americana series for garden performance. Last year
‘Americana Coral’, ‘Americana Bright Red’ and
‘Americana Dark Red’ topped our list.
Oglevee geraniums have been
known for their garden performance and the varieties ‘Patriot
Watermelon’, ‘Patriot Red’, ‘Peaches’,
‘Raspberry Ice’, ‘Veronica’ and ‘Evening
Glow’ all had excellent growth and flower power. Add the underutilized,
but outstanding, Florabunda series and we have some of the best
landscape-quality geraniums available today. We also liked the specialty
cultivars ‘Stardom Red’, ‘Fireworks Scarlet’ and
‘Fireworks Cherry Bicolor’, which have excellent foliage and
interesting, star-like flowers.
Dummen USA geraniums are sold
under the Red Fox brand and the best were ‘Summit Dark Red’,
‘Summit Salmon Pink’, ‘Pinnacle Salmon’,
’Pinnacle Orange’ and ‘Summit Pink’. (Penn State
style='font-weight:normal'> These plants grow about one foot tall and work well
in gardens and containers. We were pleasantly surprised at how well the new
varieties held up, blooming profusely from late May through early August
— only the 95° F+ temperatures stopped flowering. The plants quickly
rebounded with an exciting display a few weeks after it cooled down in late
August. The two series that looked good last year were the Flower Fields’
‘Sachet’ and ‘Aromatica’ from Ball FloraPlant. We
especially liked the new ‘Aromatic Rose Pink’ and ‘Lilac
Sachet’. (Penn State University)
New Guinea Impatiens
style='font-weight:normal'>. Fischer introduced two new series called Sonic and
the more vigorous Super Sonic. Flowers tend to be large and showy all season.
The best performers were ‘Sonic Salmon’, ‘Sonic Peach’,
‘Sonic Amethyst’, ‘Sonic Fuchsia’, ‘Sonic Sweet
Cherry’ and ‘Super Sonic Lavender’.
Ball FloraPlant’s new
introductions performed well in the Penn State garden trials. We rated
‘Celebrette Light Lavender’ as best of trial even in summer heat.
We also liked ‘Celebrette Light Coral’, ‘Celebration Neon
Salmon’ and ‘Celebrette Hot Rose’ as excellent in sun and
shade. The new Fanfare series is a vigorous, spreading, semi-weeping New Guinea
Impatiens that produces a multitude of flowers; we rated ‘Fanfare
Lavender’ and ‘Fanfare Fuchsia’ as very good.
Paul Ecke Ranch’s New
Guinea Impatiens continue to perform commendably. We liked the new Painted
series in 50-percent shade, rating ‘Painted Red’, ‘Painted
White’ and ‘Painted Lilac’ as very good performers. We also
liked ‘Pure Beauty Scarlet’, ‘Pure Beauty Rose’,
‘Pure Beauty Salmon Pink’ and ‘Pure Beauty Light Rose’
in either sun or shade. Á
Dummen’s Red Fox New
Guinea Impatiens are marketed as the Petticoat, Riviera and the smaller Sweetie
series. We recommend trying ‘Petticoat Pink Eye’, ‘Petticoat
Orange Star’, ‘Riviera White’, ‘Sweetie Fire’ and
Selecta Klemm was new to our
trials, and we were pleasantly surprised with the superior flowering capability
of their Colorpower series. We saw high performance in both sun and shade from
‘Colorpower Dark Salmon’, ‘Colorpower Lavender’ and
Salmon’, ‘Ovation Bright Pink’ and ‘Ovation Blush
Pink’ performed well. If you have a semi-shade location and want a double
New Guinea Impatiens, try ‘Double Gem White’. (Penn State
style='font-weight:normal'> We liked the vegetative snaps and rated Ball
FloraPlant’s old favorite ‘Luminaire Yellow’ as tops once
more. We also liked the new introductions ‘Luminaire Hot Pink’,
‘Luminaire Deep Yellow’ and ‘Luminaire Candy’ for both
their flower display and attractive, silvery green foliage. (Penn State
style='font-weight:normal'>. Some folks have said we don’t need any more
vegetative petunias because the Waves are so spectacular. Certainly the Waves
are excellent petunias, but if growers are looking for unique flower colors,
shapes and plant habits, then they need to investigate the new vegetative
petunias. The new double petunias are compact and worth trying, although they
tend to bloom a little later than singles. It’s hard to beat the trailing
white flowering petunias for flower power; the small flowering Dreams and Minis
that produce a multitude of attractive flowers on compact plants; and the nice
selection of doubles.
Ball FloraPlant has introduced a
number of very good petunias. We rated the flowering power of ‘Suncatcher
White’, ‘Suncatcher Lavender’ and ‘Suncatcher
Pink’ as excellent. The double-flowering varieties have attractive flowers
and a compact habit. ‘Double Wave White’, ‘Double Wave
Rose’, ‘Ruffle Pink’ and ‘Ruffle Bright Purple’
are rated as very good.
I would suggest trying Proven
Winners’ ‘Supertunia Mini-White’, ‘Supertunia
Mini-Blue’ and ‘Supertunia Mini-Blue Veined’.
Flower Fields entries from Paul
Ecke Ranch that rated well in our trials are: ‘Petitunia Bright
Dream’ and ‘Cascadias Yellow Eye’, as well as the pink double
petunia ‘Marco Polo Odyssey’, which continues to be one of the best
doubles in the trial. (Penn State University)
The authors of the Penn State
University segment wish to thank the breeders, suppliers and local growers for
their support that has allowed the Penn State Variety Trials to grow. The
authors of the University of Florida trials segment extend appreciation to Ball
Seed Company, E. Benary Seed of America, Goldsmith Seeds, PanAmerican Seed and
Sakata Seed America for providing seed and partial funding for this trial, and
to Earthbox, Florikan, SePRO, The Scotts Company and Speedling for supplying
materials used in this test.
Editor’s Note: The use of
specific trade names in this publication does not constitute endorsement of
these products in preference to others containing the same active ingredients.
The use of trade names is solely for the purpose of providing specific
information and does not signify that they are approved to the exclusion of
others. Mention of a product does not constitute a guarantee or warranty of the
product by the author or magazine.