California Spring Trials 2016 visitors to Syngenta Flowers found the breeder company and its employees happy and excited for the future, in the wake of the announcement of its acquisition by ChemChina. Now Syngenta Flowers is ready to move forward with its breeding efforts in geraniums, pentas, and other crops, and it is opening its perennials offerings to the whole supply chain for a better chance to get those plants to retail.
Syngenta Wants To Revolutionize Geranium Breeding
The big news in this year’s trial, says Karl Trellinger, Technical Services Representative at Syngenta, is the change in Syngenta’s breeding efforts in geraniums and pentas.
The Calliope geranium series, long considered a premium line in the market, is getting a makeover. Growers have told the breeder that they love the colors available in the Calliope series, but the plants are just too vigorous for smaller containers and combinations. As a result, the original line is being renamed the Calliope Large series, with four colors including the new Large Pink, and more colors on the way, including a Coral Salmon.
Additional breeding efforts have produced a geranium series with less vigor and a smaller habit, in all the same colors growers like in the Calliope series. This new offering will be called the Calliope Medium series, with six colors including the new Medium Dark Red, Medium Pink Flame, and Medium Scarlet, and more colors coming, Trellinger says. These medium Calliope varieties are ideal for combinations, including geranium custom combos, also highlighted at the trial.
Syngenta is also putting resources into breeding new varieties in the Caliente series. One hot new color this year is Coral Salmon, and more colors are on the way.
“We are about to change the future of geranium breeding,” Trellinger says.
Three New Pentas Series Add To Syngenta’s Portfolio
One of the biggest things people were talking about at Syngenta’s trials was the addition of three new pentas series, including the compact Bee Bright series from seed in four colors (Lipstick, Pink, Red, and White) and a mix, the medium-vigor series from seed in the HoneyCluster series with four colors (Deep Rose, Pink, Red, White) and a mix and, most importantly, the breeding breakthrough trailing pentas in the vegetative Falling Star series, with three colors (Pink Bicolor, Rose, and White) and a red variety on the way. These three series add to the vegetative Starcluster series, which won Greenhouse Grower’s Medal Of Excellence Industry’s Choice Award in 2013.
Pentas is not only a heatlover and drought tolerant, but it’s also a pollinator-attracting plant, making it ideal for spring and summer combinations and the landscape. With the new trailing habit in the Falling Star series, pentas could be a replacement for other trailing plants in combinations, to withstand summer heat.
Syngenta Revamps Perennials Program
Syngenta Flowers has relaunched its perennial program with more than 20 new and improved varieties. The expanded portfolio includes a wide range of seed and vegetative perennials for all seasons, providing growers a one-stop shop for all their perennial needs.
The perennials line is now open to the full market, which should aid growers and retailers in gaining access from the broker of their choice.
“Perennials have become increasingly popular due to their incredible reliability in the garden,” says Kent Carrell, market manager, Syngenta Flowers. “We strive to continually breed strong, unique genetics that growers can rely on. With more than 50 varieties, our perennial program is more robust and more diverse than ever before to meet the needs of this growing market.”
The enhanced portfolio includes several varieties for the spring and summer blooming seasons, as well as some that will be ideal for fall. Many of the perennials offer first-year flowering and require no vernalization period. Highlights from the new program include:
• Clockwise Campanula – The first F1 hybrid Campanula portenschlagiana offers fast, uniform production and first-year flowering.
• Prairie Splendor Rose Compact Echinacea – This new addition to the award-winning series has an upright habit, reducing the need for plant growth regulator applications.
• Snowsurfer Forte Iberis – A floriferous, drought tolerant perennial, this new variety’s bright white color shines against the dark green, well-branched leaves.
Other Notable Syngenta Introductions And News
Syngenta’s Snaptastic snapdragon series in five colors (Magenta, Orange Flame, Pink, Red, and Yellow) and a mix has received a ton of feedback from growers, performing well at both the Costa Farms Season Premier and the EuroAmerican Propagators in-ground trial. The series is compact, uniform, and highly floriferous, producing tons of blooms all season.
New combinations in the Kwik Kombos line promote both tone-on-tone combos, which are highly popular with consumers, as well as complementary colors. Kwik Kombos are a good crop for extending sales into the shoulder seasons, and growers and retailers alike are starting to see that potential, Syngenta representatives told us.
Syngenta also released three new colors in its popular Sanguna Patio petunia series, including Blue, Blue Morn, and Blue Vein.
New varieties in Syngenta vegetables include a new pink tomato, called ‘Pinkalicious,’ which is great for salsa, says Jeannine Bogard. And for the first time, All-America Selections has given one of its prestigious awards to a kale variety, and it happens to be Syngenta’s Kale ‘Prizm,’ which is great as both an ornamental and a veggie, with its interesting foliage.
Bogard continues her vegetable trials in containers and raised beds, and is finding that veggie varieties’ vigor is pliable to container size. With the new ownership of Syngenta, Bogard says she’s happy to continue to work in vegetables, and will also be representing the majority of the seed annuals line for Syngenta.