Annual Surprises And Perennial Favorites

The Trial Gardens at the University of Georgia host two open houses each year–one for the commercial industry and another for the gardening public. In my last column, I shared the overall annual favorites of the commercial industry and the gardening public. In this column, I share the annuals the industry and public surprisingly preferred, as well as the perennial favorites of both parties.

The Surprises

Plants that are not necessarily big sellers caught the public eye at the trial gardens this year and, in some cases, the industry’s eye as well. Here are some of the lesser-known varieties, but ones that often finished as top 10 vote getters when flagged by the industry or the public.

Mimulus ‘Curious Orange.’ This Proven Winners variety was the biggest surprise for me, as mimulus historically has done poorly in the South. It broke the public top 10, sporting dozens of flags. The industry doesn’t get it yet, as it was not chosen. Hopefully, the industry will come around in time.

Dahlia ‘Dark Angel Dracula.’ This was another breakthrough here in the South, where dahlias struggle with the heat. This GroLink dahlia was in the top 10 in industry voting, and it was also flagged by the public.

Bulbine ‘Compact Yellow.’ This GroLink variety was quite an eye catcher and ranked sixth overall by the public.

Pentas ‘Stars and Stripes.’ ‘Stars and Stripes,’ from Athens Select, was the talk of the pentas. Its variegated foliage and deep red flowers attracted the most flags by far.

Gomphrena ‘Audray Purple Red.’ This American Takii gomphrena was one of many excellent globe amaranths in the garden. Tough and dependable, this should be a mainstream plant.

Calibrachoas. The biggest surprise is that none was chosen by either group. This is a reflection of numbers–we have more than 75 cultivars–rather than quality. In fact, I believe people simply couldn’t make up their minds. In our minds, the breeding by Selecta First Class and Fides is ahead of the pack.

Begonias. As expected, none of the wax begonias caught the eyes of either group, although the Big series from Benary looks very good to us. However, free-range cultivars like ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Anna Fiele’ garnered significant flags. The popularity of these old mainstays bodes well for begonias like PanAmerican Seed’s ‘Gryphon.’

The others. Hemigraphis (waffle plant), Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’ (variegated tapioca) and a few other oddball plants also garnered significant votes from both groups. Propagation issues dog the latter, but I’m not sure why we don’t see more of the former.

Perennial Favorites

In the summer, the annuals make the biggest splash but they are surrounded by perennials of every ilk in the trial gardens. I don’t think the industry folks paid much attention, but the public certainly did. Only a handful received significant flags, but with perennials, timing is everything.

The overall vote getter with the public was hydrangea ‘Limelight.’ It was in its full glory, and if this is not a wakeup call to be growing a few select woody plants as part of your mix, you have your head in the sand. Other perennial standouts were:

Rudbeckia ‘Henry Eilers.’ This is a relatively new cultivar from Terra Nova Nurseries that looks spectacular here in July and August. It shines later the further north you go. ‘Early Bird Gold’ from Dupont, which did well in the voting, is one of our favorites. Darwin’s ‘Pot of Gold’ was a favorite, too, but both were distant seconds to Henry.

Echinacea. We have more than 20 cultivars here, but the one in full flower when people were in the garden was Terra Nova’s ‘Firebird,’ one of our favorites, and Darwin’s ‘Pure Green Jewel,’ which I predict will quickly become a major player in the coneflower business. Order these now.

Phlox. Lots of phlox were on display but Syngenta Flowers’ ‘Peacock White’ and Darwin’s ‘Peppermint Twist’ were the big winners by the public. Nothing else came close. Neither was in flower when the industry was there.

Roses. The David Austin roses garnered many public votes. This is our first year with the Austins, so we are not yet ready to make any recommendations. However, the public absolutely loved ‘Lady Emma Hamilton.’ ‘Charlotte’ came in a close second.

Belamcanda ‘Hello Yellow.’ This Brent & Becky’s Bulbs blackberry lily has bright yellow flowers and, when in bloom, always catches the eye. It certainly did for the people in the garden.

Crinum ‘Bradley.’ This was hidden behind some larger plants but the public found it anyway. ‘Bradley’ has handsome pink flowers, is an easy grower and a variety gardeners will eat up.

Many more plants received flags, and if the events were held at a different time, I am sure different plants would have received more (or fewer) votes. There were very few “dogs” in the trials, but there is no doubt some plants are simply better than others in the heat and humidity of the UGA Trial Gardens. These are real data from real people under real landscape conditions. I hope they prove useful to you real growers and retailers.

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Dr Allan Armitage

June 25, 2016

Three Types Of Plant Consumers To Watch

There are three emerging groups of plant consumers that you should be targeting for plant sales in the future, according to Allan Armitage.

Read More
FleuroStar Award Ceremony

June 20, 2016

Begonia Hybrid ‘Miss Malibu’ Takes Home FleuroStar Award

The award from Fleuroselect was announced at the Green Inspiration Event in Amsterdam.

Read More
Caryopteris 'Beyond Midnight Bluebeard'

June 20, 2016

Keep The Sales Coming With 16 New Blooming Varieties For Fall

Plants that put on a show from first frost long into fall and offer the color options consumers want for their gardens go a long way toward extending sales further into the season and can help maintain your sales momentum going strong. Check out these 16 new blooming varieties, both traditional favorites and new alternatives, for your fall crop selection.

Read More
Latest Stories
Dr Allan Armitage

June 25, 2016

Three Types Of Plant Consumers To Watch

There are three emerging groups of plant consumers that you should be targeting for plant sales in the future, according to Allan Armitage.

Read More
FleuroStar Award Ceremony

June 20, 2016

Begonia Hybrid ‘Miss Malibu’ Takes Home FleuroStar Awar…

The award from Fleuroselect was announced at the Green Inspiration Event in Amsterdam.

Read More
Caryopteris 'Beyond Midnight Bluebeard'

June 20, 2016

Keep The Sales Coming With 16 New Blooming Varieties Fo…

Plants that put on a show from first frost long into fall and offer the color options consumers want for their gardens go a long way toward extending sales further into the season and can help maintain your sales momentum going strong. Check out these 16 new blooming varieties, both traditional favorites and new alternatives, for your fall crop selection.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 18, 2016

Mark Your Calendar For Sakata Seed Trials In August

Sakata has set two dates for its California-based trials: Aug. 15-17 in Salinas, and Aug. 17-19 in Woodland.

Read More
Tomato Congress Logo

June 15, 2016

International Tomato Congress In Mexico Will Focus On G…

The event, which takes place in San Luis Potosi from July 20-22, will feature discussions on production strategies, cost management in protected structures, and optimizing your greenhouse environment.

Read More
Nir Nursery Wax Flower Pot Plant

June 14, 2016

Danziger Reaches Deal To Distribute Nir Nursery Varieti…

With the agreement, Danziger becomes the exclusive distributor of Nir’s product line, which includes cut flowers, foliage, pot, and garden plants.

Read More

June 14, 2016

Dümmen Orange Expands Its Succulent Offerings Through N…

According to Dümmen Operations Director Kate Santos, succulents are an attractive growth category because of their ease of use, shelf life in stores, drought tolerance, and versatility in application.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 14, 2016

New Cool Season, Vegetable, And Foliage Crops For Fall …

Whether you’re providing pansies and violas to the garden center for fall color or decorative edibles to grace patio containers, consider these 16 varieties for fall crop sales, newly introduced for 2016 and hitting retail in 2017.

Read More
Calibrachoa Chameleon Sunshine Berry (Westflowers) - Feature

June 9, 2016

Fall Crop Alternatives That Can Increase Your Sales

There’s a lot of competition for grabbing your share of fall mum sales. Give your program a boost with new varieties that complement traditional fall crops.

Read More

June 7, 2016

It’s Time To Rethink The Value And Timing Of Cali…

Fourteen years ago, Greenhouse Grower saw an opportunity to bring next-day coverage of California Pack Trials (now California Spring Trials or CAST) to your inbox. The objective was to be your eyes and ears on location, to report the debut of the newest varieties and marketing programs, and report major breeder announcements, especially for those not attending. We continued to develop new story-telling tools with video capabilities, slideshows, and more. And once social media took hold, everyone attending CAST became reporters of their favorite varieties and displays at trials. So we’re left with the question — how should we continue to evolve our coverage, to bring the most value for you? It’s easy to fall into a certain pattern, to stick with what works — or seems to work. And just because you’re working really hard at something that you’ve had success with in the past, it doesn’t mean it’s […]

Read More
Carex 'Eversheen' (Hoffman Nursery)

June 7, 2016

Hoffman Nursery Has A New 30-Year Anniversary Look!

The new redesign of the Hoffman Nursery website packs in more content than ever with updated resources and 30 years of experience growing grasses.

Read More
GG June Cover image

June 6, 2016

The State Of Plant Breeding In 2016

Breeding companies look to strengthen their competitive advantage, easing the way for growers to procure new plant varieties and for consumers to grow with confidence.

Read More
Petunia Queen of Hearts

June 1, 2016

Danziger Introducing New Petunia Amore Series, And More…

Danziger “Dan” Flower Farm is planning to introduce 60 new varieties from its 2016-17 collection at the annual event, including petunias, bidens, and calibrachoa.

Read More
Nathan Lamkey Chuck Pavlich Allan Armitage talk about muckgenia

May 31, 2016

Allan Armitage: Three Trends (Good And Bad) That Caught…

We need to put the same energies we invest into California Spring Trials to get plants into consumers’ hands and encourage young people in the industry to attend.

Read More
National Garden Bureau California Vegetable Summer Trials

May 26, 2016

California Summer Vegetable Trials In August Will Cover…

The National Garden Bureau is once again organizing summer vegetables trials this August in California, giving attendees the opportunity to visit with several breeding companies.

Read More
Eason 2017 Perennials Guide

May 25, 2016

Eason Horticultural Resources Releases New Perennials G…

The two guides are available in digital and print versions and offer information from several breeders.

Read More
Echinacea ‘Butterfly Rainbow Marcella’

May 25, 2016

15 New Perennials For Bees, Butterflies, And Other Poll…

These 15 new perennials, available for retail in 2016 and 2017, will produce colorful flowers and foliage year after year, providing habitat and food for bees, butterflies, birds, moths, and other pollinators.

Read More
P.Allen Smith Cut Flowers

May 25, 2016

Sakata Seed America And P. Allen Smith Extend Partnersh…

Sakata is taking its partnership with plantsman P. Allen Smith a step further to create the P. Allen Smith Home Grown Cut Flowers Collection, a selection of premium cut flower seed hand-picked by Smith and bred exclusively by Sakata.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]