Here are three cultivars that caught author Juergen Steininger’s eye:
1 ‘Picasso’–This is Martha Stewart’s favorite bicolor cultivar, which Steininger suggested to be used on the “The Martha Stewart Show.” It was one of the cultivars I bought as a gift in Cincinnati and made such a good impression with my host. Flowers are a satin cream with deeply accented purple throats. The deep green foliage is punctuated with small, silvery white dots.
This cultivar is not a genetic dwarf so some PGR treatment is needed. Medium-sized flowers are carried on strong stems that are perfectly in proportion with the foliage. Flower stem count per tuber is exceptional. They are best grown in small to medium pots. However, they are also suitable for production in mini-sized pots. This cultivar is highly disease resistant and takes about nine to 10 weeks from planting to finish.
2 ‘Mercedes’–This cultivar is perhaps Steininger’s personal favorite. Everything is just right with this cultivar–it has a great cultivar name, a fun bright cantaloupe flower color and a very compact plant habit. Its bright cantaloupe flower is contrasted by deep green foliage. In this case, foliage is plain green with no speckles.
‘Mercedes’ shows best in mini to medium pots. This cultivar is highly disease resistant and under optimal growing conditions a PGR program is minimal or perhaps obsolete. The production cycle is very short with just eight to nine weeks from planting to flower. The tubers produce a reliably high flower count.
3 ‘Black Forrest’–This is a sure show stopper. It is another cultivar Steininger purchased as a gift and was most appreciated by his host. Near perfect black flowers are flawlessly contrasted by dark green foliage speckled with silvery white dots. This cultivar has a more vigorous habit and needs to be kept in line with PGRs. It shows best in medium to large pots. ‘Black Forrest’ is a must in any calla program.
A suggestion for the fall season: Mix pots of ‘Mercedes’ (orange) and ‘Black Forrest’ (black) for a great addition to your Halloween assortment.