Allan Armitage Finds Old Fashioned Plants Are New Again At CAST 2015

Day two of California Spring Trials was packed with breeders and all their new introductions and marketing. Allan Armitage found several varieties he felt were worth a second look.


As always, there was lots of exciting color at PlantHaven this year. The nemesia and diascia programs continue to grow, and amazing colors on exceptionally uniform plants were shown off. If nemesia or diascia are popular items for you, then PlantHaven’s introductions are well worth looking at.

I also was impressed with PlantHaven’s new gaillardia ‘Fanfare Citronella,’ — outstanding colors! The company continues to provide excellent dark-leaf dahlias with bright flower colors. If the work with its new adenophora ‘Fairy Bells’ proves not to be aggressive or thug-like and flowers profusely, this could prove to be an outstanding perennial offering for the industry. Time and trials will tell.


The diversity of plants at Floranova is unlike any other company. Its annual offerings, such as vinca and wallflower, have been mainstays for some time. But the additional colors I saw in the Bossa Nova begonia series really made me look twice, particularly the new white. I also was pleased to see a new seed-propagated alyssum, called ‘North Face.’ It is a tetraploid form with large white flowers on a cascading habit, and is quite fragrant. It should compete well in the alyssum market.



Hort Couture

Hort Couture always provides a display that makes the fashion industry envious. New coleus ‘Under The Sea Fish Net’ and other, unusual foliage items like homalocladium ‘Ribbons and Curls’ and hemizyga ‘Candy Kisses’ would fit well into mixed container programs. The grand introduction was ‘Monarch’s Promise’ asclepias, an annual milkweed with dark, variegated leaves and dark-orange flowers. ‘Monarch Promise’ provides outstanding foliage and flower color, blooms for a long time and is a magnet for butterflies. This has the potential to be an outstanding contribution.

Florist Holland

Florist Holland, as always, knocks people’s socks off with its gerbera display. The Garvineas have always been a favorite of mine, and the new orange-yellow flowers of Sweet Caroline literally glow. Florist continues to surprise everyone with new series, new colors and new ways to use gerbera daisies. The larger-flowered patio form is also gaining new colors, with an experimental variety coming in 2017.


Schoneveld is bringing out a much-needed hardy dwarf Addenda campanula.  It’s going to be very good for northern climates in particular, to have a low-growing, blue-flowered bellflower.


AmeriSeed is a new company displaying this year, bringing in new plants based on its breeding work in Thailand.

Terra Nova Nurseries

Walking into Terra Nova Nurseries is like walking into a pastry shop — all sorts of goodies on every side. Terra Nova’s perennials, such as heucheras and leucanthemum, continue to shine, but the heucherellas and agastache are simply outstanding. While Terra Nova is known for its perennials, its programs in begonias and coleus are very impressive. For growers, the fact that no PGRs are needed on any of Terra Nova’s products is also a bonus.


It’s nice to see Kientzler at the spring trials as its own entity — the company has always been an important part of American horticulture. Kientzler displayed additional colors of its Paradise and Pure Beauty New Guinea impatiens. We shall be hearing much more from Kientzler in the future as it becomes much more visible in the American market. I was pleased to meet Andreas Kientzler, a fourth generation member of the Kientzler family, at the trials.

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