2001 Bedding Plant Trials
As we have seen in the last couple of years, growers andgardeners alike were far more interested in the many new vegetative cultivarsintroduced than they were in new seed cultivars. This trend seems likely tocontinue for the foreseeable future; however, seed producers are making greatstrides in breeding some of these new plants and it is very likely thatseed-propagated cultivars, like Wave petunias, will very soon be available tocompete with some of the vegetative materials. Here, in GPN’s firstannual bedding plant trial report, the University of Florida reveals thefindings of its specialized, seed-propagated pansy and viola trial, while PennState University unveils the best of its multitudinous seed- and vegetativelypropagated cultivars.
Trials and Methods
University of Florida. Each cultivar was randomly planted in four separateplots, with each plot containing 6 plants. Cultivars were each planted in afield that was scouted for pests and sprayed as needed to simulate commercialconditions, 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 48plants of each cultivar being evaluated in a total of 8 plots.
Today’s trialing schemeorganizes the cultivars into classes based on species, growth habit and plantsize, as well as flower form, color pattern and flower color. In the latewinter and spring of 2000-2001, 105 cultivars of Viola cornuta L. (hornedviola, viola, miniature pansy or Johnny jump-up) and Viola x Wittrockiana Gams.(Pansy, Garden P., Ladies-Delight, Heartsease, Stepmother’s Flower) wereevaluated 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 ascreen-sided, fiberglass-covered greenhouse for plug production. Mature plugswere 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 plantat 2 tsp. per plant, or approximately 2,017 lbs. per bed acre (262 lbs.nitrogen per bed acre). Beds were fumigated approximately 14 days beforeplanting with a mixture of 66 percent methyl bromide and 33 percentchloropicrin at 350 lbs. per acre and covered with white-on-black polyethylenefilm. Subsurface seepage irrigation water was supplied from lateral ditchesspaced 42 feet apart.
In the winter of 2000-2001,Florida was in the midst of a record drought. Rainfall fell below the normalaverage prior to March; however, 8.7 inches fell in two days at the end of themonth. The highest temperature was 88º F, while the lowest was 33º F.Selections for heat tolerance were made as observations (not ratings) whilewalking through the field in early May after the trial was completed todetermine if any attractive cultivars appeared to be strikingly better thanothers in a class. The average maximum temperature between early April andearly 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 overthe entire season, and is the sum of the average foliage, flower and pestratings. Flower diameters are also presented since this has become an importantmarketing consideration. We consider cultivars with a combined rating of 5 orhigher as outstanding, 4-4.9 as fair to good performers, and 3.9 or lower asfair to poor.
Penn State University. The vegetative trials at Landisville are part ofthe overall Variety Trials conducted by Penn State University. This trial islocated at The Southeast Research and Extension Center in Landisville, LancasterCounty, Pa., because the climate is typical of the hot, humid conditions foundin the Mid-Atlantic States and results are applicable to Eastern urban areasfrom New York to Virginia.
We had 930 cultivars enteredthis year, a 23-percent increase over last year. Plants were received as rootedcuttings in late March or early April and transplanted outdoors in late Mayinto 4-gallon pots containing Scott’s coir soilless media. Osmocote15-9-12 was surface-applied and additional liquid feed plus micronutrients wereapplied based on soil testing. Plants were irrigated as needed using dripemitters.
The weather in 2001 started outslightly cooler and dryer than normal, but by early August it turned hot andremained dry. August temperatures reached the high 90s with three days above100° F. These hot and dry conditions provided stresses that allowedevaluation of all cultivars for summer heat and mite tolerance.
The Penn State seed-propagatedflower cultivar trials are conducted at Á University Park, Pa. Theclimate is more moderate than Landisville with fewer hot days and lowerhumidity, particularly at night. Last season the weather was quite variable. Itwarmed up fast, but there were several late frosts (late May). The overalltemperature was cooler than normal and mildew and Botrytis were common.Rainfall was erratic and supplemental irrigation was needed. Seeds werereceived in December through March, grown in a greenhouse until late May andthen transplanted into tilled, fertilized ground beds.
Outstanding Seed Cultivars
Dianthus. There were some outstanding tall dianthus cultivarsthat would be suitable for cutting or bedding in the 2001 trials. ‘MelodyPink’ from Sakata had good vigor and many nice flowers. ‘KawaraWhite’ and ‘Kawara Pink’ also produced tall plants with goodvigor and very attractive flowers. (Penn State University)
Impatiens. Disease pressures were quite evident this season inthe impatiens. The most vigorous cultivars were the best performers. Some ofthe best in last year’s trials included: the double-flowered’Fanciful Orchid Rose’ and ‘Fanciful Salmon’, and thesingle-flowered ‘Dazzler Blue Pearl’ from Ball Seed; ‘AccentOrange’ from Goldsmith; ‘Balance Rose’ from Hem Zaden;’Tempo Cinnamon’ from Bodger; and ‘Carnival Deep Pink’from Daehnfeldt. (Penn State University)
Pansy. Flower size was normal to huge. The only pestproblems observed in the unsprayed field during this trial were thrips(Frankiniella bispinosa) and gray mold (Botrytis sp.). Thrips feeding onflowers caused severe scarring to the darker shades of blue and purple, and toreds, roses and yellows. However, the whites and whites with dark colorexpressed little or no scarring. Also, blacks did not express these symptomsunless they had purple color breaks. Disease ratings showed little effect bygray mold for the season with the exception of three pansy cultivars ratingbelow 4.8: ‘Bingo Yellow Clear’, ‘Dynamite Ocean’ and’Majestic Giant Supreme Rose W/Blotch’. (University of Florida)
The outstanding pansy performersin each class were:
Black. ‘Accord/Banner Black’ edged out’Halloween’ in better performance and larger flower size. Halloweenhad some color instability with purple showing through on flowers of someplants. Accord/Banner Black had the best heat tolerance in this class.
Blue.‘Baby Bingo Sky Blue’ led this class inoutstanding performance, followed by ‘Scala Blue’. Flower diameterwas smaller for Baby Bingo Sky Blue than for ‘Bingo Azure Clear’.’Baby Bingo Blue Blotch’ had the best heat tolerance in this class.
Blue/dark eye. ‘Baby Bingo Exp Marina Shades’ was astep above the competition, while ‘Baby Bingo Blue Blotch’ and’Scala Blue W/Blotch’ were equally outstanding. Baby Bingo ExpMarina Shades had the smallest flower in this class and ‘Majestic GiantSupreme Mid Blue W/Blotch’ reined supreme with the largest flower. BabyBingo Exp Marina Shades had the best heat tolerance in this class.
Dark Purple. ‘Accord/Banner Purple’ and’Dynamite Purple’ were equally good. Unfortunately, ‘FamaPurple’ had poor germination, limiting the surviving plants to trialingin 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 wassmallest for Fama Purple and largest for Dynamite Purple. Accord/Banner Purplehad 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. >
Purple/dark eye. This class exhibited performance that ranged on thelow end for ‘Bingo Deep Purple’ to ‘Baby Bingo ExpDenim’ on the high end. Á ‘Baby Bingo Purple W/Face’produced the smallest flowers while ‘Majestic Giant Supreme PurpleW/Blotch’ was the largest flower measured in this class.’Midnight’ had the best heat tolerance in this class.
Purple/light eye. ‘Baby Bingo Lavender Blue’ wassignificantly better and had the best heat tolerance in this class, although’Purple Rain’ and ‘Purple Jester’ were still near thetop. Baby Bingo Lavender Blue yielded the smallest flower and Purple Jesterproduced the largest flower.
Purple/white. ‘Baby Bingo Beacons Field’ was asplendid plant with a significantly higher rating than ‘Accord PurplePicotee’ and ‘Dynamite Purple Rose White’. Baby Bingo BeaconsField was the smallest-flowered plant; the other cultivars were equally thelargest. Though the deep purple color contrasting the white on Baby BingoBeacons Field is usually by itself a tempting target for thrips, this cultivarwas unusually free from feeding scars.
Reds. They had a difficult time in this trial.’Dynamite Scarlet’ and ‘Scala Scarlet’ both had variableplots, while the latter had a color break, which is fairly common in reds.Flower diameter was the same for both cultivars.
Red/dark eye. The sad saga continued for this red class havingthe same color breaks and plant variability. The ratings ranged lowest for’Majestic Giant Supreme Red W/Blotch’ and highest for ‘KarmaRed Blotch’. ‘Baby Bingo Fire’ had the smallest flower andMajestic Giant Supreme Red W/Blotch had the largest flower. We will wait andwatch for a few good reds in the future. ‘Bingo Red Blotch’ had thebest heat tolerance in this class.
Rose/blotch. This class followsthe same problem-plagued pattern experienced with the reds, ranging from a lowrating for Majestic Giant Supreme Rose W/Blotch to a high rating for’Bingo Rose Frost’. The flower diameter was smaller for cultivarslike ‘Baby Bingo Rose Wing’ and ‘Dynamite RoseW/Blotch’ and larger for ‘Bingo Rose Light Blotch’.’Bingo Rose Blotch’ had the best heat tolerance in this class.
White. ‘Scala White’ was a cut above the rest.Thrips scarring did not surface in this class, helping its performance. Flowerdiameter ranged on the small end for ‘Scala White’ to ‘ScalaCream’ on the larger end. Scala White had the best heat tolerance in thisclass.
White/dark eye. ‘Scala White W/Blotch’ wassignificantly better and had the best heat tolerance in this class. Flowerdiameter ranged from the large-flowered ‘Fama Spanish Eyes’ to thesmaller-flowered ‘Majestic Giant Supreme White W/Blotch’. Onceagain, 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 lowlevels of scarring.
Yellow. Ratings ranged dramatically from ‘BingoClear Yellow’ to ‘Baby Bingo Yellow’. Flower diameter wassmallest for ‘Baby Bingo Yellow’, while ‘Bingo ClearYellow’ was a larger-flowered plant in this category. ‘ScalaYellow’ had the best heat tolerance in this class.
Yellow/blotch. Class ratings were lowest for ‘Majestic GiantSupreme Yellow W/Blotch’ and highest for ‘Bingo Red Yellow’,which also had the best heat tolerance in this class. Flower diameter wassmallest for ‘Baby Bingo Red Yellow’ and largest for’Majestic Giant Supreme Yellow W/Blotch’.
Pentas. Several of the newer pentas cultivars have beenconsistently outstanding in the garden. Ball Seed’s ‘ButterflyCherry Red’ and ‘Blush’ both had excellent flower productionand vigor. (Penn State University)
Petunia. Many of the new seed-propagated cultivars performas well as or better than their vegetative rivals. Some of the best newseed-propagated cultivars include ‘Tidal Wave Cherry’ and TidalWave Hot Pink’ from PanAmerican. These plants displayed their outstandingvigor once again last season. Although they were a bit shorter than in previousseasons, they filled the bed early with a thick mat of foliage covered withflowers. The Wave petunias were all outstanding, with ‘LavenderWave’ 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 flowercolor, good vigor and flower number. It filled the bed early with a mix ofupright and prostrate growth. (Penn State University)
Rudbeckia. One of the most spectacular new plants in thegarden this year was ‘Cherokee Sunset’, an AAS winner. Thiscultivar was very vigorous with large orange, red and yellow flowers similar to’Indian Summer’ in size. Some of the flowers were double and somesingle, providing a very interesting visual mix in a mass bed. (Penn State University)
Salvia. ‘Sangria’from American Takii had above-average vigor, and an interesting red flower withlarge white bracts. (Penn State University)
Seed Geranium. The most interesting new seed geranium was’Black Magic Rose’, an AAS winner. These plants had dark foliagewith a nice green fringe and bright pink flowers with a bit of white. Thecombination was very eye-catching and a favorite of garden visitors. (PennState University)
Snapdragon. The best snapdragon in the garden in 2001 was’Liberty Classic Rose Pink’ from Goldsmith. This cultivar had verygood vigor and flower production into October. ‘Coronette Orchid’from Syngenta was also outstanding last year. (Penn State University)
Sunflower. ‘Sundown’from Ball Seed produced 10 or more 6-inch flowers per plant. The attractivebicolor flowers were burnt orange and yellow. (Penn State University)
Vinca. ‘Victory Red’ from Sakata was the bestin the trial last season. These plants had better than average growth and nice,big, red flowers. (Penn State University)
Viola. Nearly all the violas (miniature pansies) rose tothe top as outstanding performers in this trial with the exception of’Princess Blue’ and ‘Princess Yellow’, which hadproblems with plant variability, plant death (more noticeable in PrincessYellow) and flower thrips (Princess Blue). ‘Penny Orange’,’Princess Purple & Gold’, ‘Princess LavenderYellow’ and ‘Penny Deep Blue’ were rated 7.0, indicating novisible signs of gray mold. Viola ‘Princess Cream’ exhibitedexcellent heat tolerance, observed to maintain an attractive display of foliageand flowers through early May. (University of Florida)
Outstanding Vegetative Cultivars
Argyranthemum. The newly introduced, light yellow’Courtyard Daisy Primrose Petite’ from Proven Winners isfree-flowering and has a low-spreading, compact habit with silvery greenfoliage. We also like Flower Fields’ ‘Comet Pink’, whichperformed nicely all season, and Danziger’s white daisy’Neptune’, which did well early. (Penn State University)
Bacopa (Sutera). We think that if growers are willing to providesufficient fertilizer and additional chelated iron, any of the new varietieswill do well. We especially like Flower Fields’ ‘Penny CandyViolet’, ‘Bridal Shower’ and ‘Blue Shower’.Proven Winners has the compact-growing ‘Cabana’ and Ball FloraPlanthas introduced their new ‘Abunda Lavender’. (Penn State University)
Begonia. Vegetative begonias are making a comeback. Thered-flowered ‘Elatior Barkos’ bloomed abundantly whether in fullsun or 50 percent shade. There was some slight petal scorch in full sun andwindy conditions, but within a few days new flowers covered the plant in ahandsome mass of red flowers. Another winner is the old standby ‘RedDragon Wing’. It has attractive, shiny leaves and an upright habit with amultitude of red flowers growing to a height of three feet. (Penn StateUniversity)
Diascia. The Flower Fields and Proven Winners diascia inlast year’s trial were vigorous, attractive bloomers, and maintainedtheir 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’, ‘CoralBells’ and ‘Red Ace’, were supplied by Pleasant Á ViewGardens. 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, alsoperformed well. Diascia, like many of the vigorous vegetative plants, benefitsfrom the addition of chelated iron, which helps keep new foliage dark green andhealthy. (Penn State University)
Geraniums. Ball FloraPlant has an outstanding geranium collectionand continues to upgrade their line. In 2001 we liked the performance of thenew varieties ‘Showcase Red’, ‘Fantasia CoralImproved’, ‘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 Mountainseries has proven to be a champion in the garden. We liked ‘RockyMountain Royal Red’ and ‘Rocky Mountain Light Salmon’ fortheir vigor and recovery after rainy weather. ‘Charleston 2001′,’Twist 2001’, ‘Bravo Dark Pink’ and ‘TangoViolet’ all had excellentflower power. Some of the best ivies were ‘Acapulco CompactCascade’, ‘Lila Mini-Cascade’ and ‘RedMini-Cascade’.
It is hard to beatGoldsmith’s Americana series for garden performance. Last year’Americana Coral’, ‘Americana Bright Red’ and’Americana Dark Red’ topped our list.
Oglevee geraniums have beenknown for their garden performance and the varieties ‘PatriotWatermelon’, ‘Patriot Red’, ‘Peaches’,’Raspberry Ice’, ‘Veronica’ and ‘EveningGlow’ all had excellent growth and flower power. Add the underutilized,but outstanding, Florabunda series and we have some of the bestlandscape-quality geraniums available today. We also liked the specialtycultivars ‘Stardom Red’, ‘Fireworks Scarlet’ and’Fireworks Cherry Bicolor’, which have excellent foliage andinteresting, star-like flowers.
Dummen USA geraniums are soldunder the Red Fox brand and the best were ‘Summit Dark Red’,’Summit Salmon Pink’, ‘Pinnacle Salmon’,’Pinnacle Orange’ and ‘Summit Pink’. (Penn StateUniversity)
Nemesia. These plants grow about one foot tall and work wellin gardens and containers. We were pleasantly surprised at how well the newvarieties held up, blooming profusely from late May through early August only the 95° F+ temperatures stopped flowering. The plants quicklyrebounded with an exciting display a few weeks after it cooled down in lateAugust. The two series that looked good last year were the Flower Fields”Sachet’ and ‘Aromatica’ from Ball FloraPlant. Weespecially liked the new ‘Aromatic Rose Pink’ and ‘LilacSachet’. (Penn State University)
New Guinea Impatiens. Fischer introduced two new series called Sonic andthe 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 SweetCherry’ and ‘Super Sonic Lavender’.
Ball FloraPlant’s newintroductions 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 NeonSalmon’ and ‘Celebrette Hot Rose’ as excellent in sun andshade. The new Fanfare series is a vigorous, spreading, semi-weeping New GuineaImpatiens that produces a multitude of flowers; we rated ‘FanfareLavender’ and ‘Fanfare Fuchsia’ as very good.
Paul Ecke Ranch’s NewGuinea Impatiens continue to perform commendably. We liked the new Paintedseries in 50-percent shade, rating ‘Painted Red’, ‘PaintedWhite’ and ‘Painted Lilac’ as very good performers. We alsoliked ‘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 NewGuinea Impatiens are marketed as the Petticoat, Riviera and the smaller Sweetieseries. We recommend trying ‘Petticoat Pink Eye’, ‘PetticoatOrange Star’, ‘Riviera White’, ‘Sweetie Fire’ and’Sweetie Lavender’.
Selecta Klemm was new to ourtrials, and we were pleasantly surprised with the superior flowering capabilityof their Colorpower series. We saw high performance in both sun and shade from’Colorpower Dark Salmon’, ‘Colorpower Lavender’ and’Colorpower Red’.
Oglevee’s ‘OvationSalmon’, ‘Ovation Bright Pink’ and ‘Ovation BlushPink’ performed well. If you have a semi-shade location and want a doubleNew Guinea Impatiens, try ‘Double Gem White’. (Penn StateUniversity)
Snapdragons. We liked the vegetative snaps and rated BallFloraPlant’s old favorite ‘Luminaire Yellow’ as tops oncemore. We also liked the new introductions ‘Luminaire Hot Pink’,’Luminaire Deep Yellow’ and ‘Luminaire Candy’ for boththeir flower display and attractive, silvery green foliage. (Penn StateUniversity)
Trailing Petunias. Some folks have said we don’t need any morevegetative petunias because the Waves are so spectacular. Certainly the Wavesare excellent petunias, but if growers are looking for unique flower colors,shapes and plant habits, then they need to investigate the new vegetativepetunias. The new double petunias are compact and worth trying, although theytend to bloom a little later than singles. It’s hard to beat the trailingwhite flowering petunias for flower power; the small flowering Dreams and Ministhat produce a multitude of attractive flowers on compact plants; and the niceselection of doubles.
Ball FloraPlant has introduced anumber of very good petunias. We rated the flowering power of ‘SuncatcherWhite’, ‘Suncatcher Lavender’ and ‘SuncatcherPink’ as excellent. The double-flowering varieties have attractive flowersand a compact habit. ‘Double Wave White’, ‘Double WaveRose’, ‘Ruffle Pink’ and ‘Ruffle Bright Purple’are rated as very good.
I would suggest trying ProvenWinners’ ‘Supertunia Mini-White’, ‘SupertuniaMini-Blue’ and ‘Supertunia Mini-Blue Veined’.
Flower Fields entries from PaulEcke Ranch that rated well in our trials are: ‘Petitunia BrightDream’ and ‘Cascadias Yellow Eye’, as well as the pink doublepetunia ‘Marco Polo Odyssey’, which continues to be one of the bestdoubles in the trial. (Penn State University)
The authors of the Penn StateUniversity segment wish to thank the breeders, suppliers and local growers fortheir support that has allowed the Penn State Variety Trials to grow. Theauthors of the University of Florida trials segment extend appreciation to BallSeed Company, E. Benary Seed of America, Goldsmith Seeds, PanAmerican Seed andSakata Seed America for providing seed and partial funding for this trial, andto Earthbox, Florikan, SePRO, The Scotts Company and Speedling for supplyingmaterials used in this test.
Editor’s Note: The use ofspecific trade names in this publication does not constitute endorsement ofthese products in preference to others containing the same active ingredients.The use of trade names is solely for the purpose of providing specificinformation and does not signify that they are approved to the exclusion ofothers. Mention of a product does not constitute a guarantee or warranty of theproduct by the author or magazine.