New at the Pack Trials

July 9, 2002 - 10:55

Two editors, ten days, 21 companies — What we saw at the 2002 California Pack Trials.

With new sites and more companies exhibiting in 2002, the
California Pack Trials keep getting bigger and bigger, and GPN has expanded its
coverage to reflect this growth. This month and last, we present the Pack
Trials from several different perspectives, starting right here with a sampling
of the varieties making their debut at this year’s event.

Last month, the GPN editors picked their favorite new
introductions, and Rick Schoellhorn covered begonia baskets, which were
everywhere at the trials. Not comfortable with highlighting just 20-25
varieties, this month’s articles cover more of the hot new plants that
you will want to trial. These articles, by far, do not cover the entirety of
the Pack Trials. Make sure that you receive catalogues from all the breeding
companies to get a look at the great varieties space excluded from our
coverage.

Antirrhinum.
‘Palette Purple Rose’ (shown) and Purple Eye round out
Takii’s series of improved dwarf snapdragons. Palettes are early-bloomers
with heavy branching and profuse flowering that continues throughout the
season. Vigorous and compact with good uniformity, the series is versatile for
use in large packs, 4-inch pots, hanging baskets and the garden.

Begonias. Bodger
Botanical’s new Gum Drop series features extra-large, fully double
flowers in a range of six colors: Cherry Blossom (shown), Mandarin, Pink, Red,
Rose and White. Perfect as stand-alone or component plants in hanging baskets,
Gum Drops flower size means that blooms will not be lost among the foliage.

A seed-produced, double-flowering begonia with consistently
uniform blooms, Dæhnfeldt’s ‘Queen Pink’, the most
vigorous of the series, produces rose-like flowers that perform well in extreme
weather conditions. Queen begonias flower in 11-13 weeks in the pack, remaining
compact, and are ideal for hanging baskets, patio containers and 4- to 6-inch
pots

Calibrachoa.
Goldsmith Plants’ Callie Calibrachoa series features a well-branched,
mounding habit ideal for 4-inch pots and hanging baskets. ‘Callie Dark
Blue’ (shown) is one of the deepest blues on the market. Selected for
early blooming under short days, Callie’s self-cleaning flowers remain
open 24 hours per day. Callie grows from 6-8 inches in the garden and trails to
20 inches in hanging baskets. Habit is uniform across the 5-color series.

In recent years, Selecta has been gaining recognition for
its MiniFamous Calibrachoa series. This year sees the addition of two new
varieties and four varieties improved for color. Featuring vigorous to medium
growth over the series, MiniFamous Calis have good heat tolerance and early to
very early flowering. The blooms on Peach increase in color intensity closer to
the throat before turning to yellow.

Suntory’s Million Bells Calibrachoa offer
self-cleaning, 1-inch flowers and good disease tolerance. While the habit of
both Cosmos Pink and Red is upright, Trailing Red Purple (shown) is more
prostrate. Million Bells varieties bloom profusely into fall, with their
bell-shaped flowers spilling from baskets and containers.

Chrysanthemums. To
be introduced in October, chrysanthemum ‘Fabienne’ is new to Yoder
Brothers’ line of pot Fleurette varieties. This is the first bi-color
variety of the Fleurettes, with white forming a halo around the daisy eye and
bright pink tips. Fabienne has a uniform, rounded habit, full flower coverage
and medium-green foliage. It has a 7-week response time and is best grown as a
spray.

‘Little Rock’ from Yoder has large, bright
pink-purple flowers that fade into white at the outermost tips for a delicately
painted look. Flowers are large and uniformly distributed over the Á
plant, giving it a full, rounded appearance. Little Rock’s sturdy,
upright, dark green foliage contrasts tastefully with the richly colored
blooms. It has a 9-week response time, and is best grown as ZBR (zero bud
removal) or spray, but can also grow as a disbud with CBR (center bud removal).

Gazanias. One of the
most stunning new varieties we saw, Gazania ‘Kiss Mahogany’ from
Goldsmith Seeds has bronzy pink flowers on a mounded, controlled habit with
upright, medium-green foliage. A brownish ring outlined in black circles the
yellow eye. Mahogany grows to 8-10 inches in the garden and 4-6 inches in
containers.

The unique mix of different-striped colors available in
PanAmerican’s ‘Tiger Mix’ Gazania is a real eye-catcher. A
drought-resistant plant, Tiger Mix features large blooms, compact growth, short
stems, a free-flowering habit and early flowering. The Tiger Mixture contains
strong plants, with good landscape performance, that hold their color well.

Geraniums.
‘Black Magic’ from Fischer capitalizes on the consumer demand for
darker flower colors. Not quite as heat-tolerant as other ivies, Black
Magic’s dark burgundy-purple, semi-double flowers are nonetheless going
to be a big seller either as a stand-alone or in combination with whites or
pastels.

One of four new additions to Selecta’s Sunrise series,
Salmon Pink’s semi-double flowers have a paler margin that adds depth to
the flower head. Dense, zoned foliage is held to a compact habit that mounds
nicely under upright florets. Salmon Pink fits nicely with the series, offering
slightly early flowering and good heat tolerance.

Impatiens, double. Ball
FloraPlant’s first variegated double, ‘Fiesta Olé
Peppermint’ features dark pink to white bi-color blooms over silvery
green and cream foliage. Its controlled, compact habit is good for 4-inch, late
and/or pot-tight production with little or no growth regulators required.
Free-flowering, self branching plants will flower until first frost.

The third bi-color in Oglevee’s Cameo series,
‘Cameo Scarlet Surprise’ has larger-than-average, medium scarlet
and white bicolor flowers with a good color range from white to red. Very
well-proportioned plants have a good mounding habit and medium-green leaves.

Impatiens, New Guinea.
Dark colors like ‘Sonic Purple’ and very pale colors like
‘Sonic Light Lavender’ top the offerings at Fischer. Both varieties
are early- to mid-season bloomers with dark green foliage. Light Lavender is,
however, a little more vigorous with compact to medium growth, as opposed to
Purple’s compact habit.

Oglevee’s new Applause series offers growers a
different format for New Guineas: small containers. All five colors —
Red, Rose, Lavender (shown), Dark Salmon, Purple, Orange Blaze and Light
Lavender — are compact growers perfect for 4-inch- or jumbo
pack-production. Features include large flowers, constant blooming and heat
tolerance.

Pansies/Violas.
Creating a complete color range in their popular Atlas series, Bodger Seeds
offers six new colors for the line: Beaconsfield, Blue with Blotch, Purple
Smile, Red with Blotch, White with Blotch and Yellow with Blotch. A perfect
complement to the other nine colors in the series, the new Atlas colors have
large flowers held high over compact, mounding plants.

PanAmerican adds eight new colors to its popular Sorbet F1
viola series, acquired last year with the purchase of Waller Genetics. New
varieties, including Coconut Swirl, conform with the series, featuring strong
over-wintering performance, heat tolerance, early blooming and intense
flowering.

A rich, purplish rose color with white/cream centers,
‘Ultima Baron Merlot’ (shown) from Sakata has medium-sized,
abundant flowers on a compact plant. This series is ideal for spring and fall
markets, with early flowering potential. The Ultima Baron series offers new
color patterns that will enhance the color opportunities in the landscape and
expand the pansy market.

Perennials. Thriving
in hot, sunny locations, even under drought conditions, Benary’s
Echinacea ‘Primadonna Deep Rose’ is ideal for cut flower or potted
plant production. A deeper shade of pink than most Echinaceas, Primadonna Deep
Rose holds its color well and ages with the characteristic Echinacea
“drooped” petal look. Á

We’ve seen several Guara lindheimii come into
production recently, but EuroAmerican Propagators’ ‘Perky
Pink’ should stand out. Perky Pink features reddish leaves, a compact
habit and an airy look perfect for use in combination plantings. Continuous
blooms cover this plant through the hottest part of the summer. Best for 4-inch
or combination production.

Origami Aquilegias from Goldsmith Seeds offer six great
colors, including Rose & White (shown). Growers can schedule them with
other bedding plants, and they were bred for first-year flowering. Six-inch
containers grow taller, more robust and less leggy than other varieties.
Origami is free-flowering with uniform height and timing.

American Takii’s Tropical series is an extra dwarf,
seed canna that grows to only 24-30 inches in height. ‘Tropical
Yellow’ has vivid, yellow-orange-speckled flowers and upright, dark green
foliage. These cannas will flower approximately 85-120 days after sowing in the
spring and are naturally branching.

Petunias. Introduced
last year, Ball FloraPlant’s Suncatcher series adds three new colors:
Deep Plum, Sapphire (shown) and Pink Vein. Featuring a vigorous, mounded,
trailing habit, these petunias will flower under short days for an early show
of large blooms. Well-branched and good for 4-inch production, this single
flower series is being re-introduced this year.

Blue, Red and Violet are new to Goldsmith’s Storm
series. These grandiflora petunias were selected for strong resistance to
overhead watering and rain, so they are quick to recover after inclement
weather and resist Botrytis. With strong basal branching and a non-stretching
habit, this series stays compact during production and keeps its shape in the
garden.

Sakata Seed added five new colors to its Explorer series
— Blue, Pink, Rose (shown), Magenta and Purple. Rose features vibrant,
rose-colored flowers on a compact, spreading habit with medium-green foliage.
Explorers are early to flower and will continue flowering into fall. Flower
size is 2-3 inches, and petals have a shiny, waxy texture that repels water to
help them recover quickly after a storm.

Potted Crops. A
pure, bright yellow, Calceolaria Pita Petit ‘Yellow’ is a compact
and early-blooming variety for both pack and pot production from S&G.
Producing large, vibrant, pita-shaped flowers, Pita Petit performs well as a
bedding plant, in larger pots and in mixed containers. It also continues to
bloom through the cool, fall months — providing a perfect complement to
late-season sales of pansies and ornamental cabbage and kale.

With 1 1/2- to 2 1/2-inch blooms, Calla ‘Garnet
Glow’ is hot pink with a slight dark eye and has lighter green,
lanceolate foliage. Stems grow to 10-16 inches and plants should be kept cool
for best stem length. This variety has a very uniform, upright habit that is
best in larger pots. Early flowering, it makes a good cut flower. Garnet Glow
is also available in HIPP (High Input Product Availability), a new program
Golden State Bulb Growers has created to tailor its product to producers’
needs. Among this program’s benefits are: the most vigorous,
cleanest-possible stock; a more compact plant requiring less Bonzi; an
exceptionally high number of breaks with more, yet smaller, flowers; and more
plant using a smaller tuber.

Festival ‘Spider Salmon/Red Shades’ was one of
Dæhnfeldt’s new additions to this finely petaled gerbera line. Shades
of pink, rose and red flowers with a predominantly dark eye sit atop sturdy,
medium-green foliage. Plants have an upright habit and share the
characteristics of other Festival varieties, Á including a 95-percent
germination rate, uniform seedlings and a tight flowering window. All Festival
varieties feature Pro Coat seed coating.

Goldsmith Seeds’ ‘Libre White Improved’
features a liberating change for growers, retailers and consumers who suffer
skin irritation from traditional primula varieties, as it was bred to be
primin-free. This variety has large, bright white flowers that sit nicely over
an improved, more compact habit. With a crop time of 16-20 weeks, Libre can be
used for both early- and late-season sales. Recommended for 4- to 6-inch pots, color
bowls and window boxes. Libre is available in nine other colors and a
mixture. 

With a minimum of three flowers to each plant, Revolution
‘Golden Yellow Shades’ gerbera offers a showy mix of yellow to
light orange flowers on a compact habit. Kieft Seed’s Revolution series
offers early-flowering plants that bloom uniformly across the series and can be
sold within two weeks from the start of flowering. Also available in Pastel
Orange/Dark Center, Scarlet-Red/Dark Center, Yellow/Dark Center, Red Shades/Dark
Center, Pastel Pink Shades/Dark Center and Rose Shades. style="mso-spacerun: yes"> 

Vegetative annuals/Component plants. style='font-weight:normal'> If fragrance is a dying plant characteristic, no
one has told Ball FloraPlant because this year saw five new introductions to
their Nemesia Aromatica series. With fragrances ranging from lilac to vanilla,
Aromaticas have a compact, well-branched habit and excellent heat tolerance.
Approaching day-length neutral, plants will continue flowering past frost,
making a great fall crop. New colors include Dark Lavender, Deep Blue (shown),
Lavender, Light Pink and White.

Like many of EuroAmerican Propagator’s offerings,
Arctotis may not be a familiar genera to many growers. Previous forms were
sparse-bloomers with wild growth. ‘Pumpkin Pie’ (shown) and
‘Sun Spots’ have a more compact habit and profuse blooms held above
silver-green leaves. Uses range from 4-inch to mixed container to hanging
basket production.

According to Oro Farms, Nemesia ‘Busy Bee Ice’
is the first nemesia to feature variegated foliage. Dainty, light pink/lavender
flowers with a sweet scent adorn this upright plant that makes an excellent
component plant for mixed containers. Busy Bee Ice is heat- and cold-tolerant
and very floriferous. It should be planted in January-March for spring sales
and requires one pinch after planting and no PGRs.

In the iceplant family, Oro Farms’ ‘Pig Face
Pink’ is a Carpobrotus with small, dark pink, daisy-like flowers and
medium-green, fine, succulent foliage. Cuttings should be planted in
January-March for spring sales; it requires just one pinch and PGRs are not
necessary. This variety will take full sun in all locations and is not
frost-hardy. Growers should consider marketing it not only for its novelty, but
also its drought tolerance.

A great bird attractor that will add interest to any garden,
PanAmerican’s ornamental millet ‘Purple Majesty’ features
purple foliage, stems and flowers; large cattail-like flower plumes; and good
PGR response. Suitable for 4-inch to 1-gallon production, plants remain green
under greenhouse conditions but will color outdoors in full sun.

There were several new Angelonias released the year,
including Proven Winner’s Angelface series and Paul Ecke Ranch’s
Carita series. Starting with three colors, Blue, Blue Bicolor and Violet,
Angelface will make a good addition to late-season schedules. Best for 6-inch
or larger containers, Angelface is responsive to PGRs and heat- and
sunshine-tolerant Carita offers four colors: White, Purple, Lavender (shown)
and Deep Pink (shown). Vigorous, well-branching plants have an upright habit
that adds height to mixed containers. Perfect for a variety of pot sizes, from
4-inch to 10-inch.

S&G Flower’s Laguna Lobelia series features
compact, well-branched plants that are suitable for packs, small pots and
containers. Extremely floriferous, Trailing Pink has softly hued pink flowers
with fine, medium-green foliage, a trailing habit and good heat tolerance.
Laguna’s 1/2-inch blooms provide full coverage for a blanket of color.

Suntory’s Torenia ‘Summer Wave Amethyst’
is being reintroduced for 2002. Intensely floriferous, self-cleaning and
self-branching, Amethyst produces small, purple/white bicolor flowers with a
tiny wishbone shape at the center created by their stamens. It has a nicely
mounded, trailing habit and light green foliage. Summer Wave tolerates both dry
soil and heat, and blooms from April-October in shady beds and hanging baskets.

Verbenas. Proven
Winners’ new Superbena Verbena pedula lives up to its name, featuring
extra-large flowers and a very vigorous habit. Perfect for larger containers,
the seven Superbena colors — Blue Purple, Burgundy, Coral Red, Dark Blue,
Large Lilac Blue, Pink Shades and Purple (shown) — are mildew-resistant
despite their large leaves. This series will eventually replace the Tamari
series.

About The Author

Brandi D. Thomas is associate editor and Bridget White is editor of GPN.

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