20 Annuals Worth Selecting

Allan Armitage

We take great pride in the trial garden at the University of Georgia. We don’t trial for the sake of trialing, to make us look good or to give us something to do. We trial in the steadfast belief that what we do makes a difference.

When we provide real data under real-world conditions, we do so in the belief that someone–breeders, growers, retailers and consumers– will pay attention. That they are, as seen by better plants being put in front of my daughters, speaks to quality of selection and freshness in the marketplace. Quality is not limited to fertility standards and spacing; quality is also what consumers, from landscapers to buyers, see when they have a little money to spend.

So, in the steadfast belief that what we do does make a difference, here are the Classic City Award-winning annuals for 2011–the very best plants in the trial gardens based on year-round performance and eye-clutching beauty. Of the 2,000-plus plants in the garden, being a Classic City Award winner is equivalent to the Oscar and Tony rolled up in one.

Group 1: Short, Relatively Compact Plants Suitable For Fillers In Containers Or Groundcovers In Landscape Beds

1 Alternanthera ‘Little Ruby’ (GroLink). It’s one of the finest new alternantheras in many years and one that every broker should be pushing.

2 Angelonia ‘Carita Purple’ (Syngenta Flowers). Of the two dozen or so angelonias, this one was flagged (we give all visitors flags to mark their favorite plants) more than any other, all the time.

3 Angelonia ‘Serena White’ (Ball Horticultural Co.). Man cannot live by purple alone–and ‘Serena White’ was also constantly flagged. A little slower to show off than ‘Carita Purple,’ but a plant easy to recommend.

4 Heliotropium ‘Scentropia Dark Blue’ (Syngenta). Oh my, what a nice surprise this was! Heliotropes can be like birthday parties, all dressed up one moment but fading away almost the next day. Scentropia looked wonderful from May to November.

5 Ipomoea ‘Sweet Caroline Bewitched’ (Proven Winners). We are well known for our sweet potato trials, and this year was no different. In fact, we constructed a sweet potato wall with about 10 cultivars. ‘Bewitched’ was one of the least aggressive. This, in fact, is a good thing–a sweet potato with fabulous, lustrous purple leaves and a well-behaved countenance.

6 Scaevola ‘Surdiva Light Blue’ (Suntory Flowers). Light Blue has shone all season and has been a particularly good container plant.

Group 2: Upright Plants Suitable For Thrillers In Containers Or Eye Candy In Landscape Beds

7 Argyranthemum ‘Flutterby Yellow’ (Ecke Ranch). The South African daisies have been getting better every year, but it is still difficult to recommend argyranthemums for hot, humid climates. However, I have been looking at this introduction for a couple of years and have been impressed for at least that length of time.

8 Begonia ‘Whopper Red’ (Ball). Wax-type begonias are difficult to distinguish from each other, but the large-leafed, large flower forms have been popular this year. The Whoppers grew well in the trials and flowered in deep
shade all season. This one’s an excellent choice for something a little different in wax begonias.

9 Celosia ‘New Look’ (Benary). This is simply a great plant, bright and flamboyant and easy to grow and maintain. We planted it beside ‘Scentropia Dark Blue,’ and what an extraordinary combination that was.

10 Clerodendrum ‘Starshine’ (GroLink). There is no one who saw the plant in flower that did not flag it. Everyone asked, “What is it, where do I get it?” Without a doubt, it was the most pleasant surprise in the gardens this year.

11SunPatiens ‘Compact Deep Rose’ (Sakata). Why people would not be planting this by the acre is beyond me, assuming bright sun is available. It doesn’t really matter when one views them. They are always incredibly eye-catching. We were struck by the compact habit and the last flowers of this selection.

Group 3: Basket & Container Material

12 Calibrachoa ‘Callie White 11’ (Syngenta). There are so many new calibrachoas it’s hard to tell one from another. But when we look at them all for six months, a few stand out. I have written about some of my favorites in the past, and it is nice to be able to talk about this one. The Callie series consists of many colors but few whites really shine.

13 Capsicum ‘Basket of Fire’ (Floranova). I have no arguments with vegetable gardens but I believe the movement in the marketplace is for many more “vegetables in the garden.” So we have embraced the trialing of patio vegetables and were impressed with some and disappointed with others. This pepper provided excellent multicolored fruit perfectly designed for containers. The fruit, if anyone is crazy enough to taste, is very hot. So be a little careful!

14 Geranium ‘Caliente Orange’ (Syngenta). I guess the rest of the breeders should fire me because I keep coming back to this cultivar when I am recommending basket geraniums. This vibrant hybrid is visible across the garden and has been an all star for the last two years, outperforming the other ivy-type geraniums. No one has yet to come up with something better than this.

15 Hibiscus ‘Haight Ashbury’ (Proven Winners). We have looked at a couple of fantastic foliage-type hibiscus, but this multi-colored form made people stop and stare and stop again. It is a wonderful hippy-type plant, kaleidoscopic and psychedelic in color.

16 Mimulus ‘Buttercup’ (GroLink). For mixed containers, one of the finest plants we trialed was this brilliant yellow mimulus. Mimulus? I never had mimulus live for more than six weeks, so when first planted I was highly skeptical and waiting for it to pass away quietly. However, it flowered all season, never fading and was never attacked by disease or insects. Few of you know this plant. I recommend you try it before everyone else does.

17 Petunia ‘Purple Ray Vein’ (Danziger). We had at least 50 cultivars of petunias, from papaya to black, from bicolor to yellow, from mini to maxi size. There was no shortage of excellent petunias, but this one kept everyone coming back to admire it. ‘Purple Ray Vein’ was stunning in all mixed containers.

Group 4: Vines

18 Jack & The Beanstalk vine. All you have to do is ask any shopper about the boy taking his cow to market and disappointing his mother when all he brought home were big colored beans. If you ask the question in front of containers of Jack’s beanstalk and have a photo of the huge fruit filled with red beans, they would fly off the bench. What great fun and what a way to get kids excited. What are we doing ignoring these weird, wonderful plants?

19 Rex begonia vine. We do dozens of vines and invariably, consumers want to know where to get them. My reply is usually “online,” because no one really grows them in numbers. This is one of the very few vines that tolerate shade–all the more reason for us to start growing more unusual plants and fewer geraniums.

20 Sky flower vine. We all know Black-eyed Susan vine, T. alata, but its cousin is far more spectacular than Susan, to be sure. The dark green leaves are indestructible but the gorgeous, large blue flowers are favorites for all who come across them. They flower on and off in late summer but far more heavily in the fall. It takes your breath away.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “20 Annuals Worth Selecting

More From Greenhouse Grower's GROW...
Seed-Your-Future-feature

November 9, 2017

Dümmen Orange Throws Support Behind Seed Your Future Initiative

Dümmen Orange has announced it will pledge $450,000 over the next three years to Seed Your Future, the non-profit organization whose mission is to promote horticulture in the U.S. and inspire people to pursue careers working with plants.

Read More
Marshall Dirks, Proven Winners

October 28, 2017

5 Rules for Creating a Lifetime of Outdoor Garden Memories

Many customers are time starved. Their most important asset is time, not money, so be realistic about the investment of both when they are buying plants.

Read More
Living Umbrellas

October 25, 2017

Why Living Umbrellas May Have a Bright Future

Sometimes innovation strikes by chance. Such was the case with David Tilley, developer of the “Living Umbrella.”

Read More
Latest Stories
Seed-Your-Future-feature

November 9, 2017

Dümmen Orange Throws Support Behind Seed Your Future In…

Dümmen Orange has announced it will pledge $450,000 over the next three years to Seed Your Future, the non-profit organization whose mission is to promote horticulture in the U.S. and inspire people to pursue careers working with plants.

Read More
Marshall Dirks, Proven Winners

October 28, 2017

5 Rules for Creating a Lifetime of Outdoor Garden Memor…

Many customers are time starved. Their most important asset is time, not money, so be realistic about the investment of both when they are buying plants.

Read More
Living Umbrellas

October 25, 2017

Why Living Umbrellas May Have a Bright Future

Sometimes innovation strikes by chance. Such was the case with David Tilley, developer of the “Living Umbrella.”

Read More
Luxflora Paris Trip

October 20, 2017

Luxflora Paris Trip Offers Insights on Trends Shaping H…

Each year, Luxflora hosts an international trip that allows participants to gain insights on trends and gather inspiration that ultimately will shape and support our industry in many ways. This year’s event took the group to Maison & Objet and Design Week in the City of Lights – Paris, France.

Read More
Steve Garvey, Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

September 23, 2017

Producing Quality Plants in the Greenhouse Starts From …

It's common for growers to make mistakes. What you learn from those mistakes is what sets you apart as a grower and where quality starts.

Read More
Quality in the Greenhouse

September 21, 2017

Two Head Growers and a Retail Live Goods Buyer Talk Bes…

Ultimately, the quality of the plants you grow will be responsible for the success of the consumer, and consumer success will ideally translate to repeat sales. That’s why quality must be a top priority for all growers, according to Brad Julian, a Live Goods Buyer for Lowe’s Home Improvement, and Head Growers Dennis Crum of Four Star Greenhouse and Joe Moore of Lucas Greenhouses.

Read More
Jan Gulley, Gulley Greenhouses

August 25, 2017

Why It’s Important to Educate and Engage the New Hortic…

Young adults entering the workforce have more professional choices than ever before, and many want to work in environments in which their work has a clear purpose for both the organization and society at large.

Read More
Seed Your Future feature

July 26, 2017

Seed Your Future Aims to Inspire Careers in Plants

Who will be the next generation of horticulturists? The answer lies in helping to change the perception of horticulture and using contemporary new language to tell our stories.

Read More
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

July 8, 2017

How You Can Use Lifestyle Marketing to Sell Plants

Should we be trying to educate consumers into loving what we like to produce, or should we allow consumers to educate us into producing what they love?

Read More
Metrolina Make a Wish Greenhouse

July 7, 2017

Metrolina Builds, Decorates Greenhouse for Young Cancer…

When Michael VanWingerden and his wife Courtney heard through their work with the Make-A-Wish foundation that 11-year-old Jason wanted a greenhouse to grow vegetables in, they knew Metrolina Greenhouses could help.

Read More
Metrolina Greenhouses Dig and Swig Event

June 25, 2017

Consumers Revel in Gardening at Metrolina Greenhouses’ …

Metrolina wanted to promote plants, gardening, and creating a sense of community, so it decided to host Dig & Swig events at a local brewery.

Read More

May 23, 2017

6 Simple Ways to Acquire New Customers

Even the most successful brands need new customers if they want to grow their business, or stay profitable.

Read More
Tyler Beasley

May 21, 2017

Final California Spring Trials Thoughts From Allan Armi…

“I went home from California Spring Trials realizing that the students enrolled in our Greenhouse Management program at Spokane Community College need to experience the trials. Attending opened many doors of opportunity for me.”

Read More
Cannabis Adobe Stock feature

May 1, 2017

Why I Turned Down a High-Paying Offer to Grow Cannabis …

Young growers have passion for all aspects of organic and sustainable growing. The key to not losing them to the cannabis industry, according to Kelly Vance, a Technical Consultant for Beneficial Insectary, may be nurturing their interests in these fields by aligning greenhouse production with sustainable growing practices.

Read More
National Collegiate Landscape Competition Feature

April 27, 2017

Hoffman Nursery Cheers On the Next Generation of Hortic…

Hoffman Nursery was a sponsor of the recent 41st National Collegiate Landscape Competition, an event that offers several opportunities for companies in the green industry to meet and recruit the next-generation of horticulturists.

Read More
Kaylee South

April 22, 2017

American Floral Endowment Announces Winners of 2017 Pau…

Four students pursuing careers in horticulture now have scholarships to help them along the way, thanks to the American Floral Endowment.

Read More
Basil Planting feature

March 29, 2017

How You Can Embrace Greenhouse Food Production With Con…

Maintaining balance, learning continuously, and seeking support will help make your transition into producing greenhouse food crops a smooth one.

Read More
If your Wi-Fi is truly secure, your staff can help customers on the sales floor starting today

March 25, 2017

What Marketing Approach Can Attracts the Most Customers…

Inc.com surveyed more than a thousand customers to find out which marketing strategies worked best to entice them to try out a new business

Read More