For those of us fortunate enough to make the annual horticultural Mecca-like journey to the California Spring Trials, this year was as energizing and rewarding as ever. Undoubtedly, every participant walks away from the week with a slightly different take-home message, each tailoring the value of the new introductions toward their respective market and climate.
Residing in Texas, my personal take on the event was viewed through the constant lens of heat tolerance. Narrowing the list of exciting new items to my top 5 was no easy task, and the choices came down to a few factors like ease of production, garden performance and appeal to the consumer. So without further ado, start the drumroll for my top five new introductions for the South.
Do I lose credibility if my top five includes a calibrachoa? I’m still in disbelief that the genus made my list, but the unique flower color of ‘Superbells Lemon Slice’ from Proven Winners is sure to be a hit with retail customers. The bright and cheerful white- and yellow-striped blooms will fly off the retail benches next spring to the point that Lemon Slice is a serious contender for the top spot on this list. But alas, it is still a calibrachoa, so I will have to keep an eye on how it performs in the summer heat of the South.
In 2009, Syngenta Flowers introduced one of the best geraniums for southern climates when it unveiled interspecific ‘Calliope Dark Red.’ Now, Syngenta has added to the Calliope color selection with Burgundy, Hot Pink and Lavender Rose. I liked Burgundy best among the new intros, but with new interspecific pelargonium breeding also being released by Paul Ecke Ranch, Fides Oro, and Dümmen USA, the competition for the best growth habit and heat tolerance is about to take the main stage.
Evolvulus has earned a reputation among southern gardeners for its reliable heat tolerance and sky blue flowers. Until now, not much has changed in the Blue Daze genetics, and although the plant was reliable in the landscape, it was never destined to be the star of the show. That has changed with evolvulus ‘Blue My Mind’ from Proven Winners.
With a more compact growth habit, increased flower count and unparalleled intense blue blooms, ‘Blue My Mind’ will be tough to beat in the South and will thrill in the landscape and containers.
How exciting can a new pansy introduction be? There is never a shortage of new introductions, and this year was no exception. So let’s forget about heat tolerance for a minute and meet one that is sure to be a hit with consumers, if for no other reason than that the name it’s been given.
Riding the tide of Wave Petunias, PanAmerican Seed is introducing Cool Wave Pansies this fall. The color selection and trailing habit will increase hanging basket and 6-inch sales for those who add Cool Wave this year. The upcoming marketing campaign will have your customers asking for it.
After euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ was introduced by Proven Winners, it felt like every breeder in the world came out with a cultivar that was touted as superior in some way yet ultimately lacked significantly recognizable differences. This was especially true for retail customers. For a new euphorbia to have earned the number one spot on my list, you can bet the difference is measurable.
Dümmen USA’s euphorbia ‘Star Dust White Splash’ has roughly twice the flower (bracts, actually) count of the previous varieties with the same great heat tolerance and perhaps the best growth habits among the group.