Nominees For The 2013 Medal Of Excellence Industry’s Choice And Editor’s Choice Awards

The Welby Gardens Team: (L-R) Al Gerace, John Gerace, Mandy Foster, Marty Gerace

Each year, we ask our panel of industry experts to look for their five favorite new introductions at the California Spring Trials and tell us why they are deserving of the Medal of Excellence Industry’s Choice Award. While some plants were chosen by several panelists, and only one of those can win, this list includes 25 noteworthy introductions.

Plants nominated by Greenhouse Grower Editor Robin Siktberg are denoted as eligible for the Industry’s Choice Award, Editor’s Choice Award or both.

Welby Gardens, Denver, Colo.
Al Gerace, Marty Gerace, John Gerace and Mandy Foster

Petunia ‘Cha-Ching Cherry’ (Ball FloraPlant)
‘Cha-Ching Cherry’ was an eye catcher! We turned the corner and said, “Wow!” The lime-green center with the cherry and white striping was spectacular, not to mention the shape and amount of the flowers on the plant was impressive.

Petunia ‘Sweetunia Johnny Flame’ (Dümmen)
‘Sweetunia Johnny Flame’ has a very unique bloom coloration, with a dark burgundy flame exploding from the center to a striking purple outer edge. The flower size was also impressive; it’s a distinctive eye-catcher.

Pentas Star Cluster Series (Syngenta Flowers)
We liked this pentas series because of its large, showy flower clusters and its potential to do well in our Colorado climate.  We are eager to test its performance in our field trials this summer!

Dahlia ‘Hypnotica Tequila Sunrise’ (Fides Oro)
The Hypnotica series is very impressive due to its large flower size, vigorous plant habit and uniformity. The new ‘Tequila Sunrise’ is a great addition to this extraordinary series. We love its distinctive bi-color blooms and anticipate its performance will be in line with what we have come to expect from the Hypnotica series.

Antirrhinum Candy Showers Series (Sakata)
The Candy Showers series is a new trailing snapdragon. We are excited to add it to our fall production. Its colors are rich and vibrant, and its trailing habit will add endless planting possibilities for fall and early spring in our market

Vaughn Fletcher (McHutchison)

Antirrhinum Candy Showers Series (Sakata)
Very significant breeding, the first-ever trailing snapdragon from seed. Five strong colors with flower development from the center of the plant and along the stems. Multi-purpose plant for mixed containers or a standalone basket, fall and spring.

Gomphrena ‘Pink Zazzle’ (EuroAmerican)
I am excited about this plant for use in mixed sun containers. It has a unique flower structure and color and is durable and drought-tolerant. It’s multi-purpose: containers, cut flower or pot crops.
 
Petunia ‘Surfinia Heavenly Blue’ (Suntory)
The most unique and beautiful new petunia flower. ‘Heavenly Blue is an eye-catcher, great for retail sales. Surfinia petunias have great garden performance and this color is a great addition.                  
 
Gomphrena Pinball Series (Sakata)
This is the first vegetative gomphrena, with a mounded habit. It’s floriferous and heat-tolerant. Great for mixed containers, it adds a new, unique flower.
 
Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame’ (Bred by Thompson & Morgan, presented by Cultivaris)
A majestic, eye-catching plant, ‘Illumination Flame’ features dark green foliage and a beautiful rose flower with an orange throat. Since the plant is sterile, it has non-stop color until fall. Great in mixed containers and landscape beds.

Mast Young Plants, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Brian Weesies, Jim Raterink, Laura Robles

Coleus Kong Jr. Series (PanAmerican Seeds)
Kong Jr. is a more grower-friendly Kong. It will still get large in the landscape for the consumer, but has smaller leaves and is a bit more manageable for growers. It is also less prone to upright growth and then getting top heavy or floppy than the traditional Kong series. It has good basal branching.

Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame’ (Bred by Thompson & Morgan, presented by Cultivaris)
This breeding breakthrough was developed by crossing a digitalis and a digitalis relative native to the Canary Islands called isoplexis. The result is a plant with awesome eye-catching color that blooms non-stop from the primary flower stalk and from the laterals.

Pentas Star Cluster Series (Syngenta Flowers)
This vegetative tetraploid pentas is early to flower and has great summer heat performance for consumers. The flower clusters are large and vibrant and attract hummingbirds and butterflies, which is an added benefit for the consumer.

Petunia ‘Sweetunia Johnny Flame’ (Dümmen)
Sweetunia petunias are a great series for hanging baskets. This stand-out color is a sport of ‘Black Satin’ and is sure to be a hit at retail.  

Coreopsis ‘Highland Blast’ (Danziger)
Highland is the taller of two new early-flowering coreopsis series, and ‘Blast’ is an attractive burgundy-and-yellow bicolor with a well-branched habit. Once blooming initiates, this plant will be in flower all summer long.

Raker & Sons
Susie Raker, Steve Reed

Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame’ (Bred by Thompson & Morgan, presented by Cultivaris)
 This is a sterile hybrid, which allows this plant to bloom continually throughout the growing season. It has a distinct growing habit that is multi-branched with an exotic flower color.  

Gomphrena ‘Pink Zazzle’ (EuroAmerican)
Huge, bright pink flowers, drought-tolerant, multi-use plant (pots, garden, cuts).  We have never seen a gomphrena like this.

Pentas Star Cluster Series (Syngenta Flowers)
For northern growers, seed-grown pentas tend to be an issue because they are very slow. This product will help northern growers have access to this great plant.  It has huge flowers with a great display of color.

Salvia ‘April Night’ (Danziger)
Earlier to flower than Salvia ‘May Night,’ and hopefully will solve some of the production/propagation issues associated with ‘May Night.’

Cuphea Sriracha Series (Syngenta Flowers)
Cuphea has always been propagated vegetatively, but this is seed-grown. Although the habit and color on this series aren’t anything to write home about, it will allow for a lower-cost version of cuphea to be available to the market.  

The Metrolina Team
Abe Van Wingerden, Sim McMurry, Mark Yelanich

Canna ‘South Pacific Scarlet Red’ (American Takii)
Great in our trials and will open up an entirely new market for canna lilies due to its performance and ease of growing.

Gerbera ‘Patio Volcano’ and ‘Grand Canyon’ (Florist Holland)
This company continues to innovate and come up with new bicolors that are showstoppers in the marketplace.

Calibrachoa Calipetite Series (Sakata)
This new series of calibrachoa allows new uses in smaller pots and different formats. Fun to grow, marketers just need to ensure the consumer knows it has a smaller habit.

Sutera (syn. Bacopa) ‘Betty Deep Blue’ (Green Fuse Botanicals)
We have tested hundreds of bacopa over the years, and the Betty series has the superior look and performance in the market right now.

Petunia ‘Cha-Ching Cherry’ (Ball FloraPlant)
Bicolor petunias are not new to the marketplace, but this particular one has a unique pattern and look that our team liked.

Allan Armitage, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.

Pentas Star Cluster Series (Syngenta Flowers)
Pentas has become more mainstream in the last five years, because the demand for plants that are relatively quick off the bench, look good at retail and are tough in heat and humidity keeps growing. This series, particularly the lavender color, is larger than most other retail introductions and somewhat bucks the trend for short and compact plants. Good! The stems are strong, the plants are vigorous and the flowers are large. The four colors in the series give growers and retailers sufficient choice to show off these plants.

Erysimum Winter Series (Cultivaris)
Wallflowers are anything but a mainstream American crop, but they deserve to used more than they are. These plants bear more flowers, stay in flower longer in the landscape, and have more exciting colors than any wallflower I have seen.  They are spectacular in containers and can easily be marketed in all climates to be planted with pansies; in the fall in warm areas, and in early spring in locales with cold winters. If wallflowers are to become mainstream, this is the group that will get them there.

Verbena Enduro Series (Ball FloraPlant)
Verbenas have been around forever, and we have seen some excellent series in years past. At the Spring Trials, I was taken with the colors, particularly the purple and pink, and their apparent vigor. We have not seen a new series introduced in some years that has as many people talking as this one. The number of flowers and the low habit should appeal to landscapers and retailers alike.

Petunia ‘Cha-Ching Cherry’ (Ball FloraPlant)
I could have picked three different petunias, but came up with this one. The breeding frenzy for petunias has not slackened, and many choices were outstanding. This deep burgundy one really caught my eye. Large flowers, eye-catching color, and one that stands out from the hundreds of other petunias out there. That in itself is sufficient reason to put it on the list.

Antirrhinum Candy Showers Series (Sakata)
Snapdragons are always a bit of an iffy plant, in that they have sufficient cold hardiness in warm areas but not in the North, and have sufficient heat tolerance in the North but usually not in the South.  That they are popular is not in doubt, but whether they have sufficient wow power at retail is a concern. Regardless, I loved this series because of the excellent pendulous habit, allowing one more group of plants to slide into the basket and container market, which has become so important. Good colors, compact, yet sufficiently spilling out of containers and a plant well-known and already well established in the marketplace puts this on my list.

Mike Duvall (Home Depot)

Zinnia ‘Profusion Double Hot Cherry’ and ‘Profusion Deep Salmon’ (Sakata)
AAS winners, great color, double flowers, disease resistance with heat tolerance and excellent garden performance.

Begonia boliviensis ‘Unstoppable Big Fire’ (Dümmen)  
Bright orange color, very large flowers and a great-looking habit.

Geranium Pinto Premium Bicolors: ‘Pinto White to Rose,’ ‘Pinto Orange’ and ‘Pinto Rose’ (Syngenta Flowers)
Exciting new colors for Pinto Premium with its outstanding garden performance. ‘White to Rose’ is an AAS winner.

Angelonia ‘Angelface Wedgewood Blue Improved’ (Proven Winners)
Eye-catching bicolor in an outstanding angelonia series.

Verbena Wicked Series (Dümmen)
Three bicolors with a great habit to work well with Confetti combinations.

Robin Siktberg (Greenhouse Grower)

Petunia ‘Cha-Ching Cherry’ (Ball FloraPlant) Industry’s Choice and Editor’s Choice

I had seen hundreds of petunias by the time I saw this plant, and it still grabbed my attention. The color and variable pattern is really unique.

Pentas Star Cluster Series (Syngenta Flowers) Industry’s Choice and Editor’s Choice
I’ve always loved pentas, despite some of its weaknesses. This series puts those weaknesses to rest with its huge flowers, strong stems and tetraploid vigor.

Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame’ (Bred by Thompson & Morgan, presented by Cultivaris) Industry’s Choice and Editor’s Choice
This unique and gorgeous intergeneric hybrid has a lot to offer the consumer: Bushy, attractive deep-green foliage, summer-long blooming and above all, abundant spikes of rosy pink flowers with an orange/yellow throat that are different from anything else out there.

Petunia ‘Surfinia Heavenly Blue’  (Suntory)
Editor’s Choice

The vigor and flower impact of ‘Heavenly Blue’ is amazing. The wavy petals and truly lovely color of the flowers are sure to please consumers.

Begonia ‘Shadow King Green-pink Tips’ (Green Fuse) Editor’s Choice
There’s always a need for outstanding, beautiful shade plants, and this one offers vigor and versatility for combination planting.

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2 comments on “Nominees For The 2013 Medal Of Excellence Industry’s Choice And Editor’s Choice Awards

  1. Lloyd Traven

    Incredibly, year after year, there is absolutely zero representation from small growers and independent retailers. Half the marketplace gets no voice at all. No wonder the choices are always so petunia-heavy, so predictable. Not in any way a reflection on the panelists or their choices—after all, we all have our preferences—but you sure need some new blood or more segments represented, or we'll all start to think the choices have something to do with who advertises in the trade magazines.

  2. Robin Siktberg

    You have a good point, Lloyd, and we will certainly look into including representatives from the smaller grower and independent retailer segment next year. Thank you for bringing that up.