The annual Season Premier at Costa Farms in Miami, Fla., is the industry’s very first peek at new varieties for debut the following year, even before the California Spring Trials, heralded widely as the jumping off point for new varieties. This year’s event revealed breeders’ best and brightest new varieties for 2016, shown in field trials, landscape trials and containers at Costa Farms’ tropical trial gardens.
Plant breeders presented their new varieties to buyers and members of Lowe’s grower panel. Growers, brokers and other allied industry members, including Home Depot growers and buyers, were also able to peruse the grounds to see how the new varieties fared in the winter trials. Later this season, the hot and humid conditions at Costa’s summer trials will help identify the true performers.
Some of the highlights were Sakata’s ‘Dragon’s Breath’ celosia, which provides a vast swath of color in the landscape. Party Time coleus also livens up containers and landscape beds.
Ball’s ‘Campfire’ coleus provides instant impact with its colorful foliage that truly emulates a cozy campfire, in the landscape and containers.
Suntory’s BeeDance bidens was a hit with its striking bicolors and manageable growth habit. Painted Red won the innovation award for bedding plants/balcony plants at IPM Essen in Germany last week.
EuroAmerican’s new Soiree vinca and ‘Balsamic Blooms’ basil were favorites, as well….. With double flowers, the catharanthus offers a new edge to vinca varieties, and the large flowers and continuous production after flowering makes the basil double-functional as an attractive, ornamental edible.
Petunia genetics are getting even more exciting with the plethora of interesting colors available, from a variety of breeders.
Costa Farms highlighted several of the health and economic benefits of plants and landscaping on placards throughout the trial grounds, reminding attendees of important ways to market their products.
Retail displays were set up, simulating real-life benches one might see at a big box retailer. A new effort, showcasing benches of material next to display gardens, to provide ideas to consumers and hopefully instant sales for retailers, highlighted The Home Depot’s new “It’s A Cinch” campaign, featuring easy-carry, 3-packs of plants that couldn’t be easier for consumers to take, and make their own gardens.
Driving through the back roads between citrus groves in the warm, tropical climate of Miami, Florida, to visit Costa Farms’ annual Season Premier, is a refreshing way to spend a day in late January. It is especially so for someone who hails from the frozen Midwest, like this editor. Check out the slideshow to see trial highlights.