Last month, we gave you an overview of some of the consumer trends and merchandising ideas we picked up in California during Pack Trials. This month, we’re focusing on the new variety introductions. With so many on display, we picked a few favorites to offer you a brief glimpse of what’s on the way.
GroLink put a great effort into its Belgian mum display this year, and we were impressed with all the bold color and their tidy ball shape in containers. ‘Ourasi Yellow’ was definitely a standout with its abundance of bright yellow blooms.
Selecta First Class brought to market the first double calibrachoa, and this year they introduced the next generation, including the attractive ‘MiniFamous Double Yellow’. General Manger Stefan Reiner told us Selecta had been concentrating on revamping the whole MiniFamous series, and that hard work is paying off. The new varieties showed great color and should do well in mixed baskets.
Touring the Speedling site in San Juan Bautista, we were surrounded by beautiful cyclamen varieties offered by the various breeder companies. Hem Genetics has been focusing on bringing superior genetics to the market over the last few years, and we caught a glimpse of the company’s hard work through the various-sized cyclamen varieties introduced this year. ‘Jardina Purple’ shows off bright, intense color and a nice compact habit.
With a wonderful collection of euphorbia at the PlantHaven stop, it was hard to choose a favorite. They had a couple of interesting new introductions, including ‘Ascot Rainbow’, which was also an American Nurseryman New Plants for 2009 selection. This variety will fit well in modern gardens and in the landscape.
Stand-Up is a new series offered by Oro Farms. While visiting their site at Danziger’s Gilroy location, Sales Manager Mike Fernandez told us there has been a large amount of interest in these semi-upright varieties. No pinch or plant growth regulation is needed, and they grow best with two cuttings per pot.
While touring the Shoppes on Main at the Ball site in Santa Paula, we were finally able to see ‘Mesa Yellow’ up close. As a 2010 All-America Selections winner and the recipient of the 2010 Fleuroselect Gold Medal, this beauty appeared in multiple news releases, and it was just as eye-catching in person. This variety is bred to deliver a uniform habit with more flowers than other varieties. It shows intense, nonfading color all season on upright, well-branched plants that perform well in landscapes and mixed containers.
One variety we couldn’t stop talking about is Goldsmith Seeds’ ‘Big Kiss Yellow Flame’. It shows large 41/2-inch blooms that will definitely pop at retail. Suitable for 4-inch and larger containers, this variety will reach 8-10 inches tall and wide. It doesn’t need any growth regulators and loves the heat.
While walking through Ecke’s Pack Trial site in Encinitas it was hard to keep our eyes off the breathtaking new geranium ‘Elegance Purple Majesty’. This regal geranium boasts huge flowers and gorgeous color. And as part of the already-established Elegance series, we’re sure it will deliver uniform habit and flower response timing just like its siblings.
This year, Kieft Seeds introduced a range of new gerbera varieties in varying sizes. Each series is bred with a different height and flower size. The Mega Revolution series may be the most uniform and is specifically developed for larger container sizes. Flowers are about 20 percent larger than the standard Revolution series.
Sakata put a big emphasis on its SunPatiens series this year. SunPatiens thrive in full sun and have excellent garden vigor. We were most impressed with ‘SunPatiens Spreading White Variegated Leaf’, which appears like a New Guinea type. It is a tough, wide-spreading variety that will draw attention in landscape beds.
We’re always amazed with Fides’ kalanchoe introductions, and this year was no different. General Manager Mark Schermer informed us during our tour that they are focusing greatly on getting larger flowers on kalanchoe. Their hard work does not go unnoticed. The Calandiva kalanchoes boast bright double flowers and a strong color range, as well as hard-to-forget names like ‘Jolie’, ‘Tylo’ and ‘Leonardo’.
Walking through Syngenta Flowers’ trial site at Goldsmith’s headquarters in Gilroy, the new Bandana varieties grabbed our attention with their large flower size and mounding habit. ‘Bandana Lemon Zest’ boasted striking color and numerous flower clusters.
A definite show stopper at Pack Trials this year was Proven Winners’ hybrid ‘Snow Princess’, which creates a magnificent hanging basket. This fragrant and aggressive variety needs to be in a large container or in the landscape where it can spread. It is a strong compact grower that can tolerate the heat.
This year, Sun-Fire Nurseries exhibited at the Suntory location in Somis and introduced the Sun Parasol collection. Danny Takao of Takao Nursery gave us a tour through these luxurious new varieties, which can be produced in large containers with a stake, 6-inch containers with a trellis or even a small container with no trellis.
One of the biggest introductions at the Goldsmith stop this year was the new Mammoth series of extra large-flowered pansies. Available in 11 bold colors and two mixes, the series is extremely uniform. And with names like ‘Blue-ti-ful’ and ‘Glamarama White,’ this F1 pansy will be fun to market at the retail level.
New to Bodger Botanicals’ Solstice series is ‘Solstice Pink Azalea’. This eye-catching beauty will add flare to any garden arrangement with its rose, pink and white tones. It looked gorgeous in all the container displays at Bodger’s Lompoc site. This new Solstice and all other new Bodger varieties will be introduced by the newly formed Green Fuse Botanicals.
A new series that caught our eye at Dümmen’s site at Greenheart Farms was Phloxy Lady. Four colors make up the series so far: Cherry Red, White, Burgundy and Pink. Excellent for outdoor production, these varieties are bred for cold tolerance. They are early flowering and show a compact and round habit.
Danziger introduced five new colors to the Littletunia series this year. During our tour, product support specialist Reese Kiikka let us know they are hard at work on this series because of the increasing demand for smaller types. Ideal for small pots and hanging baskets, these petunias boast an abundance of miniature flowers and a trailing habit.
One petunia breakthrough this year came from Proven Winners in the form of ‘Pretty Much Picasso’, a unique bicolor variety that features a purple center accented by a green picotee. It will be interesting to see how this novel petunia performs at retail.
Benary’s ‘Denver Daisy’ impressed Pack Trials attendees with its bright color and flower power. It’s ideal for gallon production or large landscape plantings. Its strong, dense stems ensure it will not flop or fall over in adverse weather conditions.
The Sweet ‘n’ Neat series is Floranova’s most popular line in the new Vegetalis brand, and with good reason. These tomato plants are ideal for pot sales and are available in three eye-catching colors. ‘Sweet ‘n’ Neat Scarlet’ was our personal favorite, and we’re sure it is as tasty as it is attractive.
Cohen Nurseries introduced two new varieties in its Corsage series, the first double-flowered verbena on the market. ‘Corsage Light Pink’ boasted a subtle, soft color with an abundance of blooms. It also features a compact, half-hanging growth habit.
American Takii introduced Heavenly Blue to its Gem series this year. This new variety is another landscape star. Takii continues to improve this series for uniformity and flower power.
Another award-winning variety at Ball was the bicolored ‘Starlight Rose’. Part of the Hot Summer Survivors series, this unique zinnia has low water needs and performs well in sunny, hot and dry conditions. The color pattern varies by environment, with the best from high light, good fertilization and cool nights.
While we were at Goldsmith Seeds’ headquarters in Gilroy, Jason Jandrew, one of the breeders at Goldsmith, gave us a unique perspective on breeding violas.
Jandrew says versatility was one of the goals for breeding Goldsmith’s Penny violas. The crops work well in spring or fall, in containers or the landscape, are available in many different colors including bi- and tricolors, “and play well with other flowers.”
The new ‘Penny Marlies’ is named after a young Dutch woman who died of cancer last year, Jandrew says. Goldsmith is donating a portion of the sales to the Kika Foundation (www.kika.nl ) for cancer research.
For more information on Goldsmith breeding, visit www.goldsmith  seeds.com.