So many new varieties made their debut at this year’s California Pack Trials that we are again splitting our coverage into two parts. In this issue we showcase primarily (but not exclusively) a selection of the noteworthy spring flowering bedding plant introductions. Next month we will follow up with a selection of the noteworthy vegetative and specialty crop introductions.
One note: Although Floranova had to pull out of the California Pack Trials due to unforeseen circumstances, the breeder has introduced numerous varieties into the market, including ‘Avalon Pink’ nicotiana, an award winner in both the All-America Selections and Fleuroselect flower trials (see pg. 60 of this issue).
For more information about the varieties listed on the following pages or other new products introduced at the California Pack Trials please contact the individual seed companies.
Next month’s coverage will focus primarily on vegetative and specialty crops. The companies which will be featured are Bear Creek Gardens, Ball FloraPlant, Bodger Botanicals, EuroAmerican Propagators, The Flower Fields, Golden State Bulb Growers, Goldsmith Plants, GroLink, Oglevee, Proven Winners, and Yoder Brothers.
Ball Seed Co.
Sakata Seed America
A new series of creeping petunia joins American Takii’s lineup. Naturally flowing Opera boasts two distinct colors: light purple (shown) and dark purple. Opera’s flowers grow to 2.5 inches in diameter. Because of its trailing habit and mass coverage, Opera has diverse uses in the garden. It’s a knockout in hanging baskets or containers.
Also new to Takii this year is the Nature pansy series. Free flowering like a viola but with larger flowers, Nature performs well in the pot or pack and is durable enough for any landscape setting. Excellent for fall and spring flowering, the Nature series has seven colors: beacon, blue, ocean, pink shades, rose, white, and yellow. Also available in a mix. All seven colors are shown at left.
The Antirrhinum Palette mix (shown) blooms early and continues to flower all season long. This hybrid is a vigorous and compact dwarf strain with good uniformity. Plants have excellent branching with flower spikes that rise up above the foliage for maximum color. Palette performs well in packs, pots and in the garden. Colors in the mix include lavender eye, red, rose, orange, yellow, purple, bronze, carmine, white and rose eye.
For early season color, ‘Spring Flash’ (not pictured) dimorphotheca (cape marigold) thrives in cooler temperatures, commanding attention in containers or in the landscape with its vibrant hues of yellow and orange. It flowers at 10 to 12 inches tall.
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New to Ball Seed’s Showstopper series of large-flowered (2 in. dia.) impatiens are Deep Orange, Peach Flair, Tropical Flair, and Buttercream (shown). The series also has two mixes: Cotton Candy Designer Blend (Buttercream, Pink, Picotee and Rose) and Tropical Flair, which combines vibrant Tropical Punch (bright salmon-orange) and Cherry Flair (creamy white with carmine-rose streaks).
‘Double Madness Rose and White’ (shown) enhances Ball’s double floribunda petunia series with a more compact, better-branching habit and more flowers showing improved semi- to fully-double blooms. The series, which now has eight colors and two mixes, share with its single-bloomed Madness counterparts the resiliency to bounce back within hours of a rainstorm.
Early-blooming, vigorous Gemini violas display eye-catching flowers slightly larger than those of most violas. Purple and White, and Purple and Yellow (shown) bloom heavily under short-day conditions, an asset for spring and fall programs.
Well matched to the popular Butterfly pentas series, new ‘Butterfly Red’ (shown) produces white-eyed flowers in a truer, deeper red than Cherry Red. Ball touts the series as the first F1 hybrid pentas on the market, offering an "outstanding opportunity" for northern growers and gardeners.
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Characterizing the flower form of ‘Crazy Daisy’ (shown) as "fluffy," Benary touts its new Leucanthemum x superbum cultivar as the first medium-tall (24 to 28 in.) leucanthemum with a high percentage of fully double flowers (about 2.5 in. dia.). The "quill-type" petals on many of the flowers are what lend them a fluffy appearance. Crazy Daisy is perennial in Zones 5-8.
‘New Look White’ (shown) joins the New Look pentas series. Its pure, white flowers and habit match very well with the rest of the series, which includes pink, red, rose, violet and a mix. Plants reach a height of eight to 10 inches.
Begonia ‘Charisma Deep Rose’ (shown) has slightly larger flowers and an even more pendulous habit than do the other colors in the Charisma series of F1 elatior hybrids. Benary recommends it for baskets and window boxes. Charisma can be grown just like tuberous begonias in four-inch-pot production. Other colors include pink, salmon orange, and scarlet.
Joining the 17 colors in the Fama pansy series is ‘Fama Spanish Eyes’ (shown), which presents a stunning contrast between its bright white bloom and deep-purple eye. The white will blush to a soft shade of purple in cool weather.
Fama also is available in Clear-Face, Dark-Eye, Love Song (designer mix of five colors), and a 17-color mix.
Sunflower ‘Ring of Fire’ is an All-America Selections flower medal winner for 2001 (see pg. 62 for photo). Ring of Fire reaches a mature height of 4.5 feet, which makes its stems excellent for cuts. Although somewhat long to flower from seed (120 days), Ring of Fire will sell well as young plants because it will be extensively promoted by consumer gardening magazines.
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New to the ‘Hawaii’ series, which Bodger touts as the largest-selling ageratum series in the world, is ‘Hawaii Shell Pink’ (shown), which features soft-pastel pink flowers. The uniformity of these pink flowers matches that of the series, which is also uniform in habit. The other two colors are blue and white; Bodger also offers a mix of the four colors.
Bodger will continue to offer its most compact ageratum (formerly Royal Hawaii) under the name, ‘Royal Florida’ (shown). Remaining compact (4 inches) under the warmest conditions, is Royal Florida features violet powder-puff flowers.
Pronouncing ‘Avalanche’ an "entirely new look" in multiflora petunias, Bodger characterizes the series as spreading petunias with a tighter habit that hold up better in wet weather than do other spreading petunias. The company also notes that Avalanche varieties flower later than Celebrity varieties but far ahead of other spreading petunia series. New colors are pink, red and lilac (shown).
The only clear pansies that can match Majestic Giants for size, the ‘Atlas’ series now has an improved Blue Splash (more uniformity in color and habit), new Black (with unusually large flowers) and the new Jack-O’-Lantern Mix (shown), which combines Orange and Black.
Bodger touts its ‘Atlantis’ series of African marigolds as "the best mid-height hybrid marigolds on the market." Flower diameter across the series is 3.5 inches and garden height is 14 to 18 inches. New to the series is ‘Atlantis Gold’ and ‘Atlantis Primrose.'
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Daehnfeldt’s gerberas have undergone a lot of changes this year. First, the company announced a variety name change. The brand name Festival gerbera daisy now encompasses the three Daehnfeldt gerbera series formerly known as Festival, Mardi Gras and Masquerade. The company is also offering for the first time a gerbera seed guarantee to all growers. Any participating grower is assured delivery of Daehnfeldt’s gerbera seed. All Festival varieties have the same uniform growth habit, a germination rate of 90 percent or better, and a narrow flowering window. The Festival series features three new dark-eyed varieties, including ‘Neon Rose with Eye’ (shown), a new semi-double, a mini, and a Spider variety mix, salmon-red shades (shown).
Two new colors join Daehnfeldt’s lineup of Fortune tuberous begonias. Apricot-Orange Shades and Golden Shades (shown) feature a compact habit and superior branching to reduce the likelihood of breakage. Fortune buds quickly to fill in pots and baskets and is an excellent addition to color bowls. Strong, short stems and a large number of flower heads combine for instant sales appeal on the shelf.
Daehnfeldt’s Carnival impatiens series has three new colors: blush (shown), cranberry and violet. Plants are selected for a germination rate of 95 percent or higher, excellent seedling vigor, and uniformity. Large flowers are carried above compact plants with an excellent branching habit. With a bright color palette, proven heat tolerance and extreme resistance to stretching, Carnivals promise home gardeners a reliable, high-performance garden display.
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Goldsmith’s new series of hybrid dianthus, Super Parfait, improves upon and replaces the Parfait series. Super Parfait boasts stronger plants with improved garden performance. Plants are vigorous and perform well in packs. Super Parfait is very early with a compact habit. Series colors are strawberry, a scarlet flower with eye; and raspberry, a crimson flower with eye (shown).
A mound of large, uniquely colored blooms characterizes Goldsmith’s Penny hybrid viola series. With uniform, transplantable seedlings adaptable to a range of pack sizes, Penny violas are versatile, all-season performers. Plants are cold hardy and heat tolerant. New colors joining the series are Penny Porcelain (shown), a soft lavender-blue with a white center; and Penny Yellow Jump-Up with burgundy upper petals and yellow lower petals. With these additions the series is now available in 10 colors and a mix.
Bred for superior pack performance, the Saratoga nicotiana series also offers 90-percent germination, and a wide range of colors with uniformity in both timing and habit. Saratoga’s fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers are a standout in sun or shade. Dwarf, bushy plants are available in seven colors and a mix. Two new colors are rose (shown) and appleblossom.
Joining Goldsmith’s Mosaic impatiens series is ‘Mosaic Coral’ (shown). This is a compact plant that veritably explodes with colorful flowers throughout the season. The unique, textured flower pattern of Mosaic is an eye-catching addition to semi-shady garden beds and containers. With the addition of Coral, Mosaic is now available in four colors and a mix.
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Novartis promotes its new Colossus pansy series as the "complete package" for the grower, retailer and home gardener. Colossus has been bred for production ease and efficiency, while its specially designed logo and plant tag, and supporting P.O.P. materials are sure to please retailers and consumers. Colossus flowers measure 3.5 to 4 inches across on plants with less stretch than other extra-large-flowered varieties. Plant habit is tight and mounded with shorter internodes and small leaves for easy shipping. The series features five colors and a mix. Shown is blue with blotch.
Two new additions to the Delta pansy series bring the range of colors to 28, with three mixes. Combining large flowers that bloom very early with outstanding garden performance, Delta pansies have become a standard by which others are measured. Plants show good heat tolerance and lasting color in the landscape, and are ideal for fall or spring planting. Orange with blotch and Fire (shown), a mixture of red, scarlet and yellow with red faces, wings and blotches, are the new colors for 2000.
In the Novartis tradition, the Montego dwarf snapdragon series also combines ease of production with excellent garden performance. Plants have excellent basal branching and quick secondary color for fuller packs and pots. Reaching a garden height of eight to 10 inches, Montego thrives in any flat size. Four new colors join the series: burgundy bicolor (shown), red, scarlet and violet.
Introduced in 1999, Obsession verbena is the first series to combine 85-percent germination with outstanding pack and field performance. Plants are low growing with a compact, branching habit and continuous flowering. New colors are red with eye (shown), and blue with eye.
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PanAmerican touts ‘Bouquet Purple’ dianthus (shown) as a double-duty addition to both bedding and cutflower programs. Fast from plugs, the plant has high-appeal lavender coloring and a slight fragrance. Strong-stemmed plants do not need staking.
Termed "superflora" pansies for the amount and duration of their blooms, the Baby Bingo series now has eight colors with the addition of Fire (deep, mahogany red with a small yellow flame in the face) and Yellow with Red Cap and Blotch. The new ‘Baby Bingo Autumn Blaze Mix’ (shown) combines both fiery newcomers with ‘Baby Bingo Yellow’.
Pan American trumpets Gazania ‘Daybreak Rose Stripe’ (shown) as the "dawning of a new day in gazanias." The unique color (magenta-rose stripes against a creamy-white background) should prove as popular as its companion Red Stripe. Likewise, Rose Stripe is well matched in habit and garden performance to the Daybreak F1 series, which now has six colors, the Pink Shades Mix, and a formula mix.
Also of note from PanAmerican is ‘Forever Blue’ lisianthus, a 2001 All-America Selections winner (see photo on p.60). Forever Blue performs exceptionally well under low-light conditions, making it well-suited to northern production as well as to southern winter production. Plants also show true basal branching, which starts right at the bottom during the plug stage of production. PanAmerican Seed asserts that only one single-sown plug is needed in each six-inch (or smaller) pot.
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Helping to maintain Sakata’s role as a market leader in pansy breeding is this year’s Dynamite pansy series. The large-flowered series will bloom continuously and maintain a compact habit from fall through early spring. Dynamite was bred as a true annual flowering-type pansy, so plants don’t need cool temperatures to initiate flower buds and flowers will bloom under both long and short days. In the past Sakata has separated its blotched and clear colors into different series. To minimize grower confusion with Dynamite, the series contains both blotched and clear varieties (nine blotched colors, six clear colors and two mixes). Shown is light blue.
Receiving rave reviews at last summer’s university trials is another Sakata introduction: the Victory vinca series. Victory boasts round, overlapping flower petals and excellent basal branching. Its vibrant, rich colors will not fade under bright light. Victory performs well in packs, pots, and in the garden. The series is available in seven colors, including cranberry (shown) and a mix.
Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, zinnia ‘Profusion’ Cherry, this year’s introduction, ‘Profusion White’, is a Fleuroselect 2001 Gold Medal winner and an AAS 2001 Gold Medal winner. This vigorous zinnia offers a compact, uniform habit and excellent pest and disease resistance. Profusion White performs well in both warm and cool conditions, and is tolerant of high humidity. Likewise, it is heat-tolerant, making it an excellent choice for landscaping in dry regions. With a flower canopy that continuously self-cleans, Profusion White is a strong pot, bedding or patio plant performer. Also in the series is Profusion Orange, another previous AAS Gold Medal winner.
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The Sorbet viola series, very popular for the spring and fall markets, has gained two new colors: Beaconsfield and Lilac Ice (shown). Well known for flower power and compact habit, the Sorbets feature early and uniform flowering, F1 hybrid vigor, excellent garden performance (remaining compact in warm conditions), extensive color range, and reliability as a return bloomer in temperate climates.
Waller also welcomes two new colors to the Babyface series (the first F1 hybrid blotched viola series): Light Blue and White, and Ruby and Gold (shown). The Babyface series shares the same traits of early flowering, uniformity and garden vigor as do the Sorbets.
The rising popularity of the Vintage stock series underscores the trend among gardeners for "old-fashioned" cottage garden staples that bring fragrance and height to contemporary beds and borders. In cool-winter areas, Vintage Stocks can easily be in flower for fall and winter sales. New colors are Burgundy, Red, Yellow, Peach and Lavender Improved (shown).
Waller’s Ageratum F1 Pearl series features Silver and Azure (shown). The Pearls are compact, well-branched, mounding plants (height and spread of 12 inches) that bloom early and produce profusely throughout the season. Waller also notes that the Pearls require less Cycocel than do other ageratum types.
Portulaca ‘Margarita Rosita’, a 2001 AAS bedding plant award winner, features a compact, mounded habit perfect for bedding plant production (see photo on pg. 62). Plants remain compact, so they are shippable without damage and have an extended shelf-life at the garden center. The improved habit of Margerita Rosita also encourages impulse sales at retail.