Last month, I gave you a recap of some of the trends and ideas we picked up during the California Spring Trials. This month, I'll be focusing on some of the new variety introductions that grabbed trial visitors' attention.
With hundreds of varieties on display, I picked a few favorites to offer you a glimpse of what's to come next season. Whether they exhibit astounding disease tolerance, stand up to the weather, present a novel appeal or have a striking color display, these new introductions were a big hit and are worth taking into consideration for your upcoming production program.
Ecke Ranch debuted a new series of large, brightly colored begonias. The Arcada series is an excellent choice for hanging baskets, and it will perform well in the shade. The stunning color of 'Arcada Apricot Bicolor' was my personal favorite.
Suntory also introduced a new begonias series, but a boliviensis type. Crackling Fire displays fast, strong colors on naturally compact, upright plants. Available in four colors, these begonias are self cleaning and low maintenance.
Another new begonia boliviensis, Benary's 'Santa Cruz Sunset' has fiery, bright red-orange, bell-shaped flowers. It is a compact variety with an upright habit during production. Drought and rain tolerant, this begonia thrives in full sun and shade.
Kona is a new compact subseries of Dmmen's successful Aloha calibrachoa line. They require less PGRs, and all the colors grow extremely uniformly. Aloha Kona colors are bright and vivid, especially the sassy 'Aloha Kona Mandarin'. It will definitely make an eye-catching hanging basket.
Sakata introduced Calipetite, a compact series of calibrachoa suited for quart and 4-inch production. These calibrachoa will bloom under very short days for early season sales. Plants grow 6 to 8 inches tall and 8 to 12 inches wide.
A totally unique color pattern is presented on Proven Winners' new calibrachoa, 'Superbells Lemon Slice'. It has the same performance and disease resistance as the other Superbells varieties.
Golden State Bulb Growers has been working on breeding a true red calla lily for years, and finally all the work has paid off! 'Callafornia Red' boasts a stunning red color that will command attention at retail.
Last year, Fides Oro had a soft launch of its Mystic Mums program, but this year it is in full effect. One of my favorite introductions in the series is 'Daybreak Appleblossom'. This interesting bicolor variety boasts soft yellow center with light pink outer petals.
Part of the PanAmerican Seed's Fantastic Foliage collection, 'Chocolate Covered Cherry' is a great performer in sun and high humidity. This later-flowering and dwarf-sized coleus is adaptable to premium pack sales and small-space gardens.
The deep, rich copper leaf of Proven Winners' 'Colorblaze Keystone Kopper' adds a new color to the Colorblaze series. It is versatile and easy to grow, and tolerates varying light conditions.
Fides Oro continues to expand its popular Dahlinova Hypnotica collection with new and unique color combinations. 'Dahlinova Hypnotica Tropical Breeze' was definitely one of the most striking with its pink and creamish white bicolor flowers.
Florist Holland has added quite a few new varieties to its gerbera lines, but my favorite has to be 'Garvinea Jasmina'. Besides having an awesome name, it displays lovely medium pink flowers atop very strong stems.
Four years ago, we were introduced to geranium 'Calliope Dark Red', and Syngenta Flowers has finally added more colors to its top-selling series. Calliope has three new vibrant colors, including 'Calliope Lavender Rose'.
Dmmen introduced a new series of heat-tolerant ivy geraniums: Great Balls of Fire. The company has actively selected for heat tolerance over a three-year period with trials in Florida, Texas and North Carolina. Great for hanging baskets, these geraniums have ball-shaped flowers with strong foliage and excellent branching.
At the Hem Genetics stop, we were introduced to the Nano geranium series. Nano has the same genetic compactness as Limbo and Mambo petunias — large flowers on compact, tidy plants.
Ball FloraPlant introduced a unique, tricolor impatiens series, Patchwork. This low-maintenance, grower-friendly series needs no special culture and works well in direct-stick programs. Three colors are currently available, but I think 'Patchwork Cosmic Orange' has the most striking color variation.
'SunPatiens Compact Electric Orange' is a new selection in Sakata's successful SunPatiens line. This dense, well-branched plant can grow 24 to 36 inches tall and wide. Ideal for baskets, window boxes and large containers, this new variety offers large, vibrant blooms while compact.
By now, you're probably familiar with the Sun Parasol mandevillas, but something new this years is the new 4-inch program. This smaller mandevilla, 'Sun Parasol Garden Crimson' is offered with a choice of a branded pot or tag.
One of the biggest introductions at the Ball stop was PanAmerican Seed's Cool Wave pansies. These vigorous speading pansies are said to be "nationally bulletproof" and are even hardy to Zone 5. This branded program is available with POP materials and full marketing support.
Danziger debuted a brand new pericallis series at this year's trials. Spring Touch has a nice compact to medium habit and is suitable for pots, large containers and gardens. It is available in eight colors, including 'Spring Touch Bicolor Purple'.
'Blanket Rose Star' is the first bicolored variety in Green Fuse Botanicals' Blanket series. This trailing petunia, along with the other Blankets, can help reduce input costs as one plant can finish within 14 to 16 weeks in a 10-inch pot.
One of the most unique introductions this year has got to be Hort Couture's 'Glamouflage Grape'. This purple petunia grabbed our attention with its variegated foliage.
Trilogy is a new series of petunias by American Takii. These petunias do not require PGRs; in packs they are compact, but when grown they will spread 30 to 36 inches. At retail, they have a long shelf life.
Athena Brazil continues to focus on unique tropical varieties. Plectranthus 'Brazilian Purple' is an aggressive new introduction with light-purple flowers that contrast well with its dark foliage.
'Popcorn Drift' by Conard Pyle is a mutation of the popular 'Peach Drift' and represents a new color in the series. It starts out yellow and fades to cream white.
At Plug Connection, we were introduced to 'Saucy Red', a new salvia with brilliant red flower spikes on a bushy plant. This salvia is self cleaning with year-round flowering in mild climates.
Green Fuse Botanicals impressed trial visitors with the introduction of its Ladyslippers series last year. This year, the company has added even more striking and unique colors to the collection. 'Ladyslippers Deep Blue Vein' was a favorite with its intense blue flowers.
A brand new companion to Westhoff's Estrella Star series, 'Estrella Pink Star' is loaded with large, bright pink and white flowers. It has wide leaves and a semi-trailing habit.
Another novelty color has been added to Syngenta's Lanai series of premium verbena. 'Lanai Vintage Rose' has a unique color combination of creamy white speckled with patches of rose in the center.