Trial Managers: Jimmy Turner, Senior Director of Gardens, 8617 Garland Rd., Dallas, Texas, 75218, [email protected]
Jenny Wegley, Senior Research and Greenhouse Manager, 8617 Garland Rd., Dallas, Texas, 75218 [email protected]
Field Trial location(s): Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, Texas
Date planted: Week 19 (May 7 to May11)
Number Of Entries: More than 3,300 entries for spring and summer trials)
Weather: We caught a break this year compared to our triple-digit heat of last year. We had no record-setting triple digits this year. Overall, our summer was very pleasant and mild. We did hit over 100°F on several occasions, but nothing like the summer of 2011. The one factor that did do damage to some material was our lower humidity at the peak of our summer. This caused burn and stress on several cultivars.
Pest/disease outbreaks: No signs of disease or pests with these trials.
Unusual occurrences: Low percentage of humidity throughout our summer.
1. Catharanthus ‘Cora Cascade Strawberry’ (vinca) (Goldsmith Seed)
This new color in the ‘Cora Cascade’ series adds a wow factor to a series that already stands out. A dark pink flower with a darker center trails about 2.5 feet long. ‘Cora Cascade Strawberry’ is a constant bloomer throughout the summer heat. Plant in a hanging basket to achieve the total affect. This cultivar performs like others in the series with 100 percent germination and less than six weeks to finish in a 4-inch container.
2. Celosia ‘Intenz’ (Ball Ingenuity)
This new celosia has multiple points of interest. Dark green leaves with bright purple blotches compliment electric-pink flower spikes. ‘Intenz’ did take a short break in the extremes of our summer. Once the night temperatures cooled down, it re-bloomed. It was very quick to root from a plug and it filled out a 4-inch or quart container in 3-5 weeks. ‘Intenz’ looked awesome in retail containers, but performed exceptionally well in-ground.
3. Gazania ‘Gazoo’ series (Goldsmith Seed)
There’s nothing like a great gazania to spice up a spring landscape. ‘Gazoo’ is a seed variety with baseball-sized flowers that come in orange, red and yellow with solid center as well as orange, red and yellow with darker-colored bordered centers. This series will last all summer long if you plant in early to mid-spring to allow the roots to establish before the extreme heat starts. Feed on a regular basis so chlorosis does not occur. ‘Gazoo’ has a very high germination percentage, takes less than a month on the mist tables and is five weeks to finish in a 4-inch container.
4. Acalypha ‘Tiki Tropical Tempest’ (Plug Connection)
What a perfect foliage plant for any landscape! Lime- to dark-green large leaves cover this compact 4-foot tall specimen. Plant in full sun in the landscape or in a container. It is very easy to root from a plug and fills out a one-gallon pot in 6 to 8 weeks.
5. Heliotropium ‘Simply Scentsational’ (Proven Winners)
We have had little success with heliotrope in our past trials, but ‘Simply Scentsational’ is what it says — sensational and scented. One plant can reach 2 feet across, and mild blue flower panicles cover this plant all summer long. The hotter it is the better! This is a very easy plug transplant and will finish in a quart in about 3 to 5 weeks.
6. Begonia semperflorens Heat Elite series (Michell’s)
Begonias can be the best or worst-looking plant in your garden. The Heat Elite series will get your early spring landscape off to a fast start. This is a very vigorous seed variety that blooms in early spring. It will continue until the temperatures are constantly above 100°F. This series is available in deep rose, rose, white, pink, red, scarlet or a mix. This is still a B. semperflorens, but it does not have the meatball look often seen with this species. There was some inconstancy in germination percentage and it still takes forever and a day on the mist table, but this series out-performed the competition in the landscape. The fast growth and large size of this series are best showcased in pots larger than 4 inches on the retail shelf.
7. Ageratum ‘Blue Diamond’ (Hem Genetics Seed)
Ageratum does one of two things for us — lives or dies. There are only a few cultivars that have worked well for us in the past; we will now add ‘Blue Diamond’ to this list. ‘Blue Diamond’ has a compact habit that does not lodge in the middle summer. The leaves stay a dark green and do not fade with high temperatures. ‘Blue Diamond’ has a perfect height; at 18 inches tall, it is great for the front or the back of your landscape and is covered in purple-blue button flowers. We had 100 percent germination this season. It was on the seed table for less than a month and finished in a 4-inch pot in less than 5 weeks.
8. Salvia splendens Sizzler series (Floranova)
This is a great plant — a perfect series for early spring color in part sun. ‘Sizzler’ comes in a wide range of colors. Several of the cultivars have bicolor-bracts, which create exciting color contrasts in the landscape. Sizzler had nearly a 100-percent germination with all of its cultivars. It was very quick on the mist table — less than a month, and finished in a 4-inch pot in less than 4 weeks.
9. Pelargonium Tornado series (Goldsmith Seed)
Pelargonium varieties have come a long way regarding heat tolerance. Several years ago, we could not get one to last until mid- June. We are seeing the majority of heat tolerance in the vegetative series. Tornado is a seed series that out-performed most pelargonium series this year in our trials. Tornado is an ivy geranium that comes in a variety of colors. This series had close to 100-percent germination and finished in 6 weeks in a 4-inch container.
10. Hibiscus ‘Mahogany Splendor’ (PanAmerican Seed)
This is another one of those plants that does not need to flower to create a focal point in your landscape. This dark burgundy, 5-foot tall hibiscus is perfect for the landscape or a large pot. The maple-shaped leaves are very attractive and stand out from a distance. ‘Mahogany Splendor’ is a seed-grown variety that is relatively quick on the tables and has a high germination percentage.