Trial Manager: Brian Emerson
Location: Madison, Wisc.
Planting dates: May 24 to June 1
Number of entries: A total of 388 cultivars of annual flowers
Weather conditions: Extreme drought conditions. We started with a deficit of subsoil moisture which took a good amount of time to build up through irrigation. Since April 1, we have received only 12 inches of rain. Our high temperature was 104°F. Perhaps even more trying were the dry winds and clear sky conditions we faced. In June and July, we had 45 clear sunny days with humidity levels often ranging between 29 and 35 percent.
Best in show: Evolvulous ‘Blue My Mind’
8 Favorite plants of 2012:
Celosia ‘Colours Dark Red’ (Grimes) was a sturdy plant that looked good until the very end. The bold, dark-red color stayed true from the beginning of the season until the end of September and we have no doubt it would have continued to withstand the weather into October. This cultivar was given a 5, our top rating, throughout the season.
Osteospermum ‘Voltage Yellow’ (Selecta) was our favorite osteospermum that was in our trials this year. The plants were consistent in size and shape and were all uniform in habit. The sunny yellow flowers stood tall above the uniformly mounded green foliage. Once the temperature began to drop, we recorded a 95 percent flower coverage.
Catharanthus ‘Cora Red’ (vinca) (Syngenta) is a cultivar that withstood drought, heat, sunny skies and even a light frost. All the plants stood erect and had continual solid pink flowers covering the plants the entire season.
Gazania Kiss ‘Frosty Red’ (Syngenta) was a consistent plant whose mounded silvery foliage never wilted. The flower held high above continued to flower over and over again.
Angelonia ‘Archangel Raspberry Improved’ (Ball FloraPlant) held its deep-pink flower stalks erect throughout the season. It had continuous blooms that did not need deadheading as compared to other angelonias in our trial.
Pentas ‘Butterfly Red’ (Proven Winners) is a consistent, uniform plant that provided excellent color and texture throughout the various weather challenges that occurred this season.
Evolvulous ‘Blue my Mind’ (Proven Winners) was our favorite annual in our trials this season. Its unique true-blue flowers persisted with no need of deadheading and complimented the blanket of silvery green foliage.
Begonia ‘Whopper Red Bronze Foliage’ had a unique color combination of shiny bronze and red that stood out from the rest of the begonias. The flowers bloomed consistently throughout the season and the plants were turgid even through drought.