The 2015 California Spring Trials (CAST) highlighted groundbreaking plant genetics and showcased breeders marketing prowess. Several trends in colors, themes and crops become apparent based on all the new introductions highlighted at the CAST.
Orange – Whether in petunias, begonias, nemesia or coleus, orange seemed to be the signature color of 2015. In addition to inspiring adventure, communication, warmth and happiness, blooms in bright colors like orange are highly attractive to pollinators like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
Marsala – Pantone’s 2015 color of the year was emulated in combinations, potted plants and more. Breeders are tuned in to this hot color, and ready to offer growers and retailers many new selections.
Citron – Bright chartreuse provided an almost shocking pop of color in some landscapes, like ‘Lemon Coral’ sedum at Proven Winners, and in combos, like pelargonium ‘Caroline’s Citrine’ from Cultivaris.
Yellow – What’s happier than yellow? The color is uplifting and illuminating, inspiring original thought and inquisitiveness. ‘Nonstop Joy Yellow’ and ‘Champagne Yellow’ begonias, helianthus ‘Double Whammy’ and new yellows in Easy Wave and Shock Wave petunias are just a few of our yellow-hued faves.
Drought-Tolerant – There was no denying that drought was top of mind at most breeder locations, especially considering the devastating drought on location in California. We passed over many a dried up river during Spring Trials. Turn to page 80 to see some of the newest drought-tolerant varieties on the market.
Pollinator-Attracting – Concern over pollinator health is another resounding theme, and bees and hummingbirds were loving all the new introductions. Some of their favorites included bidens (Suntory), digitalis (Cultivaris and Darwin), lavender (Kieft), salvia (Green Fuse) and more.
Annuals – It seemed everywhere we looked, someone had a new marigold series. From large, pom-pom African types to French marigolds to your standard seed varieties, new intros abounded including Hot Pak (Ball), Proud Mari (Sakata), Chica (Hem Genetics) and Savannah (Thompson & Morgan).
Bidens was another big crop this year. These bright, cheery flowers do their best work in combos. BeeDance (Suntory Flowers), ‘Campfire Fireburst’ (Proven Winners) and ‘Gold Jingle’ (Danziger) were some highlights.
Perennials – Perovskia was prevalent this year, with introductions like ‘Caspian Blue’ (Green Fuse Botanicals) and ‘Denim ‘N Lace’ (Proven Winners Perennials). Russian sage is a staple in the landscape and these new varieties are improved selections that will be easier for growers to produce.
Combos – Everyone has combos now, in vegetative and seed selections for annuals, as well as perennials. New combination offerings include Syngenta’s new SeedSations and custom mixes that allow growers to use both vegetative and seed inputs to grow, as well as its Kwik Kombos. Ball’s offerings include MixMasters from Ball FloraPlant and Trixi from Selecta. Green Fuse is offering its Programmable Perennials, and of course, Dümmen Orange, the originator of the multi- liner combo, has 29 new Confetti Gardens including experimentals and make-your-own.
Edibles – Once thought of as a trend, edibles have been so strong over the last few years that it’s clear this category will only continue to grow. Some standouts include ‘Masterpiece’ pea (Burpee), ‘Ruby Ann’ strawberry (ABZ Seeds) and ‘Ketchup & Fries’ (Thompson & Morgan).