Trial Manager: Dr. James E. Klett, Professor and Extension Landscape Horticulture Specialist, Colorado State University, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Campus Delivery 1173, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1173, email@example.com
Planting Dates: May 22, 25, and 31, and periodically through June 14.
Number of Entries: Approximately 1,100 varieties from twenty companies
Weather: Extremely hot and dry with days over 90°F in July, August and into September. Little to no rainfall from early July to mid-September. Many days the temperature reached 100°F.
Trial Website: www.flowertrials.colostate.edu
Best of Show: Dahlia ‘XXL Hidalgo’(Dümmen USA) This plant brings a unique class to the garden dahlia category and was a standout without special care. The flowers are relatively large and are noted for having a deep, rich “butter-French” color. Flowering started early and continued strong late into the season, complimented by the dark green foliage. This dahlia will add stature and glamour to the typical garden.
Best New Variety: Lantana ‘Luscious Berry Blend’ (Proven Winners) Besides the prolific flowering, this variety was an eye-catcher due to a beautiful blend of bright flower colors. The plants had great vigor and formed a dense canopy. Another superior feature of this varieties is that it produces virtually no fruit or seeds and saves its energy for a constant show of blooms.
Best Novelty Plant: Tecoma ‘Bells of Fire’ (Plug Connections) Both the foliage and flowers of this plant have a very tropical look. Besides the unique appearance, flowering often begins as a small plant in the greenhouse and continues throughout the summer. The blooms are reminiscent of those on a trumpet vine. The flowers are quite showy and are an attractive blend of orange-red.
Calibrachoa ‘Superbells Lemon Slice’ (Proven Winners)
Pelargonium ‘Caliente Fire’ (zonal geranium) (Syngenta Flowers)
Impatiens‘Impreza White’ (seed) (PanAmerican Seed)
Impatiens ‘Super Sonic Magenta 08’ (New Guinea impatiens) (Syngenta Flowers)
Petunia ‘Whispers Star Rose’ (vegetative spreading) (Syngenta Flowers)
Impatiens‘Sun Harmony Salmon’ (New Guinea impatients) (Danziger)
Verbena ‘Lanai Deep Purple’ (spreading) (Syngenta Flowers)
2012 “Best Of…” Winners
Best Angelonia: Angelonia ‘Carita Purple’ (Syngenta Flowers) This angelonia variety performed well in a container but looked remarkable in the ground. Outstanding features included the many flowers with a deep, rich purple color on an attractive, vigorous plant with good foliage color.
Best Argyranthemum: Argyranthemum ‘Everest’ (Danziger) Attractive blue-green foliage combined well with the large, white, daisy-like flowers. Blooming was strong and continued through the heat of the summer and late into the season. Plants were uniform in growth habit and slightly larger than most other argyranthemums.
Best Begonia boliviensis: Begonia boliviensis ‘Santa Cruz Sunset’ (Benary)
This begonia surprised some since it was grown in full sun during a very hot summer. Evaluators noted that it was “tougher than you think.” Not only did it survive these conditions, it thrived as evidenced by the robust, seed-grown plants and uniform growth habit. Flowering was strong through the season, and the blooms are a wonderful fiery shade of red-orange. Colorado’s higher light exposure makes the leaf become more bronze in color.
Best Begonia xhybrida: Begonia ‘Whopper Rose With Green Leaf’ (Ball Ingenuity) The adjective “whopper” used in the name is definitely not a misnomer. Its impressive overall vigor is immediately noticeable in the large, uniform growth habit as well as the sizeable flowers. Beautiful green leaves compliment the bright, rose-colored flowers. Plant growth excelled in full sun, and it is reported this variety does just as well in shade.
Best Calibrachoa: Calibrachoa ‘Superbells Lemon Slice’ (Proven Winners) The Striking yellow and white bicolor pattern on the flowers is very showy even as a small plant in the greenhouse. Prolific blooming and good vigor made this variety very popular with evaluators, who also ranked it high for consideration for both “Best of Show” and “Best New Variety.”
Best Coleus: Plectranthus ‘Wasabi’ (Ball FloraPlant) Bright chartreuse foliage and a vigorous growth habit make this plant a standout from across the garden. Up close, the ruffled leaf edge adds some textural interest. Its vigor was impressive, and it grew to be a large plant even in full sun.
Best Combo: Kwik Kombos Night in Pompeii (Syngenta Flowers) This combo has excellent balance in all areas, as no one plant dominated the other (lobelia, petunia, verbena). The striking color combination created a mysterious, moody appearance. A nice blend of large and small flowers makes this combo visually interesting as well. The growth habit is very symmetrical, and flowering occurs from the center all the way to the edge throughout the summer.
Best Diascia: Diascia ‘Darla Deep Salmon 11’ (Syngenta Flowers) Prolific blooming gave this variety an impressive canopy of salmon flowers throughout the summer despite the intense heat. Flower color remained steadfast in the full sun, and flowers were relatively large.
Best Ivy Geranium: Pelargonium ‘Grand Idols Purple’ (Fides Oro) Prolific, bright flowers combined nicely with the full plants and uniform growth habit. The unique flower color was more of a rose or neon pink than purple as described in its name.
Best Zonal Geranium: Pelargonium ‘Caliente Fire’ (Syngenta Flowers) Impressive color dominates this plant ― from the rich red flowers to the unusually dark green foliage. The color contrast is striking, but so is the prolific blooming and overall uniformity. It grew well despite a summer of unusually intense heat. The exceptionally good branching habit of this variety brings together its European and American breeding
Best Impatiens (seed): Impatiens ‘Impreza White’ (PanAmerican Seed) The floriferous, clean white flowers on this variety made an impressive display with the dark green foliage. Growth habit and flowering was very consistent on each plant. The variety is also noted for remaining manageable in greenhouse production as well as its ability to hold and not stretch in the pack.
Best Lantana: Lantana ‘Little Lucky Pot of Gold’ (Ball FloraPlant) The plants were dark green and loaded with rich, gold flowers, which created a magnificent contrast. The growth habit was very uniform. This plant was bred for borders and also makes an excellent groundcover.
Best Lobelia: Lobelia ‘Magadi Blue’ (Selecta) Despite two weeks of unexpected temperatures near 100°F in June, flowering remained strong even late into the season on this variety. Blue flowers had a small white eye that shows well with the dark green foliage. Plants had good vigor and no dieback.
Best Marigold: Tagetes ‘Christy Orange Improved’ (Ameriseed) Relatively large orange flowers were noted as being “super double” due to their high petal count. Short, compact plants with dark foliage not only contrasted nicely with the orange flowers but had the added feature of not lodging despite the overhead watering. This created a problem for some other marigold varieties.
Best Osteospermum: Osteospermum ‘Serenity Dark Purple’ (Ball FloraPlant) Rich, dark purple flowers were large and very showy. Blooming continued throughout an exceptionally long, hot summer. These healthy plants were noted for having a nice, tight growth habit.
Best New Guinea Impatiens: Impatiens ‘Super Sonic Magenta 08’ (Syngenta Flowers) Beautiful, rich, red flowers had blue undertones that created a unique shade of magenta. Blooms were huge and very showy. The overall growth of the plants was large but had excellent uniformity.
Best Petunia (veg-mini): Petunia ‘Littletunia Blue Vein’ (Danziger) This plant was characterized by prolific flowers that had attractive dark veins streaking through the petal. The plants were exceptionally vigorous and enveloped the container to create a “ball made of flowers.”
Best Petunia (veg-spreading): Petunia‘Whispers Star Rose’ (Syngenta Flowers) Intense flowering resulted in blooms covering the plant to the point where you could hardly see any foliage. Flowers were a striking combination of white flowers with a rose “star” pattern. The plants were compact early on in the greenhouse but had exceptional vigor and uniformity in outdoor trials.
Best Petunia (seed-spreading): Petunia ‘Trilogy White’ (American Takii) The prolific flowers had a crisp, clean white color making a striking display. The plants did not lodge and maintained a uniform, mounded growth habit. The blooms were relatively large.
Best Purslane/Portulaca: Portulaca ‘Happy Trails Deep Red’ (PanAmerican Seed) The flowers had a very deep red color with double petals. The plants were vigorous, taller than most varieties and had good foliage color.
Best Scaevola: Scaevola ‘Bombay Dark Blue’ (Syngenta Flowers) Dark blue flowers were very numerous throughout the season. Plants liked the unusually hot summer, and the growth habit remained tight and uniform.
Best New Guinea Impatiens For Sun: Impatiens ‘Sun Harmony Salmon’ (Danziger) These plants were specifically bred for high sun tolerance, and many varieties in this category looked good. Despite the strong competition, ‘Sun Harmony Salmon’ was selected as the best for its abundant flowers and vigorous, yet uniform plants. It was impressive when grown either in the ground or in a container.
Best Torenia: Torenia ‘Summer Wave Large Amethyst’ (Suntory) These robust plants had green foliage that was dark and glossy. Abundant flowers were noted for having a deep blue amethyst color that made a nice contrast with the foliage.
Best Spreading Verbena: Verbena ‘Lanai Deep Purple’ (Syngenta Flowers)
Competition for the “Best Of” was quite intense in this category, but the abundant dark purple flowers won the day for this variety. The plants were vigorous, but very uniform and maintained good blooms throughout the season.
Additional Plants Rated as Superior in 2012
Lobularia ‘Lavender Stream’ (Danziger) This variety was a standout for its unique rich purple flower color. It was also chosen for its superior growth habit, which had excellent controlled vigor. Evaluators stated that it “plays well with others” and would not overgrow other plants in a border.
Ornamental Millet ‘Jade Princess’ (Ball Ingenuity) This was one of the most unique and eye-catching plants in the garden due to the large, fuzzy seed head. As the flower inflorescence emerges, the color begins with a rich maroon and chartreuse that matures into a solid dark maroon plume. The large fluffy flower panicle that emerges from the foliage brings to mind the image of a fox sneaking through tall grass. The foliage is a wide, chartreuse-colored leaf blade.