Top Performing Plant Varieties from 2017 Field Trials

Each year, Greenhouse Grower asks field trial managers across the country to share their results with us, including how weather affected their trials, new ideas they tried, and the varieties that made their top performer, best of show, and consumer favorite lists.

This year, wild swings in weather, from heat waves and unseasonably cool weather to gale-force winds and pounding rains, kept field trial managers on their toes, but overall most of the sites came through just fine.

Thirty-five varieties appeared on Top Performer lists more than once this year, with Salvia ‘Mystic Spires Improved’ (Ball FloraPlant) and Alternanthera ‘Purple Prince’ (PanAmerican Seed) appearing at least five times. Petunia ‘ColorRush Pink’ (Ball FloraPlant), and Petunia ‘Supertunia Lovie Dovie’ (Proven Winners) appeared on Best of Show lists four times.

Keep in mind that this is a non-scientific poll, because not every location trialed every variety, and plants listed here are in no particular order, as many of them are not ranked specifically. Also, not all of the top performer varieties are listed.

Trial Managers Trying New Things

Trial managers were more adventurous this year and added several new projects. Oklahoma State University started no-till trials for its in-ground plants. Michigan State University added succulent trials, and The Ohio State University trialed in real time with Virtual Reality. University of Wisconsin’s faculty used its trials to promote special topics, such as ceremonial tobacco for the Ojibe tribe and screening onions for flavor by local chefs.

This slideshow includes some of the varieties featured on field trial gardens top performer lists, and you’ll find plenty more trial information from universities, public gardens, and grower trials across the U.S. under the Varieties tab on

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