California Pack Trials 2007

California Pack Trials 2007

American Takii

This was a big year for petunias at American Takii with seven additions to its Opera Supreme spreading petunias and three new Symphony multifloras. Last year, ‘Opera Supreme Pink Morn’ became an All-America Selections 2007 winner. Seven new colors include: Blue, Lilac Ice, Lavender, Coral, Salmon, Purple and White. The three new Symphonies are Chiffon, Lavender Pink and Burgundy Star.

Next year, watch for the Soprano petunia, which will grow taller than the low-growing Opera Supremes. Grower Bud Lopez created this year’s spectacular display. The theme was "Music For Your Eyes."

Two new colors joined the Nature pansy series: Pink Antique and Carmine Shades with Blotch. New Gem violas include Sapphire and Plum Antique.

In cut flowers, the Cannes consolida (larkspur) series offers tall stems, double flowers and more disease tolerance in six colors.


• Cannes larkspur series, six colors
• Cut flower kale ‘Pink Crane’
• Delphinium ‘Aurora White’
• Flower kale ‘Pink Kamome’
• Gem violas, two new colors
• Nature pansies, two new colors
• Opera petunias, seven new colors
• Snapdragon ‘Chantilly Deep Orange’
• Symphony petunias, three new colors

Ball FloraPlant/Ball Seed

Ball FloraPlant’s displays were organized for easy access to what attendees were looking for: heat-loving plants, striking foliage, blankets of color in the garden, the best from Ball, marketing programs and new varieties.

Our tour guide Jen Calhoun said the top five introductions were:

• Iresine ‘Blazin’ Lime’ with very striking variegated foliage.

• Bacopas ‘Abunda Colossal Purple’ and ‘Abunda Colossal White’ with large flowers.

• Calibrachoa ‘Cabaret Yellow’

• Verbena ‘Aztec Dark Red’

• Gallardia ‘Fanfare’

There were also five additions to the Madeira argyranthemums in striking reds and pinks.

New packaging was rolled out for Fiesta double impatiens and Fanfare impatiens, to promote Fanfare’s sun-tolerance benefits.


• Abunda bacopa, two Colossal types
• Alternanthera, two varieties
• AngelMist Angelonia, two new colors
• Cabaret calibrachoa, three new colors
• Coleus ‘Electric Lime’
• Colocasia, six varieties
• Iresine ‘Blazin’ Lime’
• Kangaroo Paw anigozanthus, nine colors
• Madeira argyranthemum, five new colors
• Mini-Me petunias, nine colors
• Musa ‘Little Prince’
• Supercal petunias, four colors

Plus many more


Benary was an especially fun stop because visitors got to express themselves by spraypainting a slab of concrete that promoted the Graffiti pentas series. This is a clever idea that could work in promotions at retail or on the tradeshow floor. People delight in releasing their inner vandal in an artistic fashion.

New to the Graffiti series is Lipstick. Benary introduced another breakthrough in pentas, ‘Northern Lights Lavender.’ It can grow in cooler temperatures, down to the 50s, and performs well in Northern climates, as well as the hot and humid South. This variety is also less pH sensitive than other cultivars, down to a pH of 6.2. It lends itself to landscapes and containers and grows taller than Benary’s Kaleidoscope pentas.

We were excited to see a new color, Pink Shades, in the Nonstop Mocca begonias, which won our Medal of Excellence award last year. Delphinium ‘Summer Morning’ is also a breakthrough in pink. It’s naturally compact and matches the Summer series.


• Antirrhinum ‘Animation Cognac’
• Begonia ‘Nightlife Pink’
• Begonia ‘Illumination Scarlet’
• Celosia ‘Smart Look Red’ and two celosia mixes
• Cosmos ‘Limara Lemon’
• Delphinium ‘Summer Morning’
• Fama X pansies, four new colors
• First Kiss vinca, two new colors
• Lavandula ‘Vicenza Blue’
• Nonstop begonias, five new colors
• Pentas ‘Northern Lights Lavender’ and ‘Graffiti Lipstick’
• Salvia ‘Fairy Queen’

Bodger Seeds/Botanicals

On the Botanicals side, Bodger did a great job of showing how its Blanket petunias can be used. The small-flowering Blankets aggressively fill out landscapes and containers. Bodger created a mock front yard that showed Blankets fill out the lawn, baskets and spill over a ledge. New colors include Rose, Zinfandel and a Double White. Petunia ‘Tiny Tunia Cabernet’ was another nice addition and looked classy in combination baskets with the new bacopas (suteras) ‘Giga’ with large flowers and ‘Nano’ with traditional-sized flowers. Cathedral Salvia farinacea also captured attention in three distinct colors: Deep Blue, Sky BLue and White.

On the seed side, the big introduction was Distance zinnias.


• Blanket petunias, two singles and a double
• Bracteantha ‘Brilliance White’
• Cathedral salvia, three colors
• Distance zinnias
• Envoy impatiens, star patterns
• Melody Sweet Peas, seven colors and a mix
• Petunia ‘Tiny Tunia Cabernet’
• Suteras ‘Giga’ and ‘Nano’

Plus many more



Danziger/Oro Farms

When we visited Danziger and Oro Farms at Headstart Nursery in Gilroy, they were still recovering from a fluke tornado the day before, which destroyed the main display tent in seconds. No one was hurt and most of the plants survived.

New introductions from Danziger included a compact bidens, ‘Yellow Wonder,’ Littletunia petunias in five colors and three new salvia series in the greggii, farinacea and coccinea species. Copia bacopas have been renamed Scopia and Great Pink Ring is the new addition.

Oro Farms continues to add lines from Westhoff, Kieft and Florensis, as well as Danziger. Two hot series are Balloon dahlias and Glow petunias.


• Alonia angelonia, four colors
• Bacopa ‘Scopia Great Pink Ring’
• Balloon dahlias, four colors
• Bidens ‘Yellow Wonder’
• Britney bacopas, three new colors
• Glow petunias, two new colors and a double
• Littletunia petunias, five colors
• Salvia, three new series

Plus many more

Fides North America

Normally known for being grower or production centric, Fides delighted visitors with European marketing programs and lifestyle vignettes that captured consumer interest in health and wellness. These included outdoor living and sports themes and convenience by placing plants in Chinese take-out containers and Starbucks-like décor. England’s Diva At Home and Diva At the Spa lines add cosmetics and candles to a pot plant and retail for 25 pounds or $50.

Although kalanchoe has been Fides’ signature crop for 25 years, breeding lines are expanding and well received. Adalberto Rodriguez told us orders for Angelart nemesia were three times what was originally projected — 3 million cuttings versus 1 million.


• Amalia snapdragons, three new colors
• Barkos begonias, nine colors
• Betulia begonias, eight colors
• Calandiva kalanchoes, eight new colors
• Landscape kalanchoes, six new colors
• Summer Idols geraniums, two new colors
• Sunflor carnations, 18 colors

 Plus many more



Bill Wilson, who directs U.K. breeder Floranova’s efforts in the United States, couldn’t say enough about the good that has come from the company being purchased by Jeff Colegrave last year. Investments include new online systems, new people and more than doubling the number of breeders from three to seven. Floranova also is carrying seed inventory in the United States for the first time.

In recent years, the company hs become the most competitive in vinca, as the first to introduce F1 hybrid Cobra, Viper and Vitesse series and now an F1 hybrid trailing type called Boa. Broker Henry F. Michell has championed these lines under the Sun Devil name. The new Boa is called Serpentine.


• Athena semidouble impatiens, six colors
• Boa (Serpentine) vinca
• Cobra vinca, 11 colors
• Horizon and Prism petunias, eight new colors
• Salvia ‘Mojave’ and ‘Oasis’
• Velocity violas
• Viper vinca, four new colors
• Vitesse vinca, six new colors

 Plus many more


Goldsmith Seeds/Fischer

The introduction Goldsmith Seeds is most proud of this year is the Cora vinca series named after Cora Van Wingerden, the matriarch of the Van Wingerden family of bedding plant operations throughout the United States. This series incorporates the same disease resistance the Nirvana vegetative series has against phytophthora, the bane of vinca in landscapes. This series is 18 years in the works and Goldsmith is pursuing a utility patent on this gene for genetic resistance. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Double Harvest, a charity founded by Art and Cora Van Wingerden.

Goldsmith also presented concepts to raise the value of seed-based annuals and simplify gardening for consumers. The EZ Combos program features special tags and point-of-purchase signage that can be adapted to benches or carts. The idea is to pair two plants that are compatible and will look good through the season and display them together.

Another display created a floral department within a garden center, to raise ticket prices through upscale packaging ideas you’d see with florist-grade merchandise.

Fischer USA also took a new approach in its display area by creating a room full of simple, but effective retail displays that could be implemented anywhere. Another display wing featured many of 300 container recipes Fischer has developed for its Goldfisch vegetative annuals.

Together, Goldsmith and Fischer are working on exciting vegetative crops while refining the ones they have, like the Callie calibrachoa series. One with a lot of potential is cuphea, which debuted in ‘Rico Red’ with more colors to come. Growers and retailers also expressed great interest in a compact dipladenia (mandevilla) line that is pot-friendly and will not require staking.


• Asti osteospermums
• Bacopa ‘Calypso Jumbo White’
• Bada Boom and Bada Bing begonias
• Bidens ‘Mexican Gold’
• Bracteantha ‘Strawburst Yellow’
• Cora vinca series, six colors and a mix
• Coreopsis ‘Corey Yellow’
• Cuphea ‘Rico Red’
• Dulce and Fandango dianthus series
• Goldalia dahlias, three colors
• Orion primula, nine colors and a mix
• Starla pentas, five colors and a mix
• Tuscany verbena, six colors and a mix

Plus many more


Greenheart Farms/Dümmen/Sahin 

Greenheart Farms in Arroyo Grande was the most talked about destination at the California Pack Trials. The growing operation specializes in rose liners and vegetable transplants, but what really made it exciting was integrating four new exhibitors: The John Henry Co. in packaging and merchandising, ITML in pots, German breeder Dümmen USA in cuttings lines and Dutch breeder Sahin in innovative seed lines.

Our tour began with Brenda Vaughn from John Henry taking us through a fabulous corridor of merchandising concepts integrating the product lines of the exhibiting companies. The retail vignettes were directly across from greenhouse benches featuring new varieties. John Henry has been designing concepts for specific varieties, but also broader concepts that can be more encompassing and more cost effective to order pots and tags without large minimums of specific varieties.

Renewal, with a tagline of Renew, Refresh, Rejuvenate, is a marketing line for early spring plants, with cool, pastel designs for tags, pots and posters. The Bellissimo line has a sophisticated look with black and white, high fashion imagery with a script font. Party tips are printed on the back of the tags. The Savor Life program for vegetables has recipes on the backs of tags. Garden Centers can add their logo to the design.

In varieties, one big introduction for Dümmen was the Aloha calibrachoa series. Bred for combination plantings, the nine striking tropical colors have a semi upright habit. Bright turquoise tags stand out. Dümmen also introduced a vigorous geranium series called Savannah in a full range of 10 colors. Attributes include sturdy, dark foliage and big flower heads.

Sahin’s plants were presented in a Tough As Nails vignette with a home improvement feel that would be a natural for a home improvement or hardware store. A planted tool box would make a great Father’s Day gift. Sahin offers a variety of niche annuals and grasses and this was the company’s debut at the California Pack Trials. Its vegetative lines have been offered by other companies, including Paul Ecke Ranch.


• Aloha calibrachoa, nine colors
• BBA begonias ‘Dragona’ and ‘Olympic Red’
• Benardella roses, five colors
• Floral Power violas, nine colors
• Helleborus ‘Sterling Silver’
• Pelargonium ‘Black Velvet Coral’
• Natural Look grasses, two new varieties
• Savannah geraniums, 10 colors
• Speedy cyclamen, four colors
• Summertime osteospermums, two new colors

Plus many more



GroLink continues to build its Specialties division, which is becoming larger than its chrysanthemum business. More than 500 varieties ranging from abutilon and vinca were on display and visitors got acquainted with GroLink’s sister production company in Brazil, Athena Mudas, and received Brazilian coffee as a souvenir.

New this year is GroLink’s Landscape Elite program, which brands 95 varieties as best for landscapes. Portrait tags, benchcards, posters and rack side panels designed by John Henry are available.

Lantana has become the best seller for GroLink with coleus following at number two. The company carries 30 varieties of lantana and 100 full sun and part shade varieties of coleus.


• Athena pachystachys
• Belgian mums, 11 new varieties
• Coleus, seven new varieties
• Dahlias, 11 new varieties
• Del Mar dianthus, eight colors
• Double Vision petunias
• Fantasy fuchsias
• Kaliber kalanchoes, six colors
• Lobelia, five new varieties
• Pot mums, 14 new varieties
• Son lantanas, four colors

 Plus many more



Henry F. Michell Co.

The Speedling facility in San Juan Bautista has become the most international destination at Pack Trials. In just a few quonsets you can see the latest flower genetics from Denmark, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, along with creative new display concepts from Master Tag. Broker Henry F. Michell is the one who organized this presence three years ago and it has become one of the more vibrant Pack Trials locations in a short time.

New exhibitors included Schoneveld Twello of Holland, kalanchoe breeder Knud Jepsen and U.K. seed packet leader Thompson & Morgan. Others included Hem Genetics, Northern Innovators, Murakami Seed, GGG Gruenewald, Global Flowers and Farmen.


• Bacopa ‘Copa Double White’
• Dahlia ‘Fireworks’
• Landscape gerberas
• Giggles nemesias, six colors
• Queen kalanchoes, 12 colors
• Reddy salvias, six colors
• Summerdaisy’s osteospermums, five new colors
• Sunny Succies succulents
• Super cyclamen
• Twilly primulas

Plus many more


Kieft Seeds

Kieft continues to expand its Skippy viola lines with high-quality introductions. Lilac Ice is the new favorite in the regular Skippies. New to the XL Skippies is Plum-Gold, an All-America Selections winner. In pansies, new colors in the ruffled hybrid Frizzle Sizzle series are Burgundy and Yellow/Blue Swirl. Warm colors and mixes grace the Promise pansy series, including Outback Fire, Indian Summer and Sunset.

For catching the eye at retail, Kieft now offers point-of-purchase materials for the Color Grass collection and Revolution gerberas designed by John Henry. The packages include portrait tags, bench cards, bench wrap, merchandising rack shelf strips and side panels.


• Anemanthele ‘Buffalo’s Gold’
• Celosia ‘Spiky Purple’
• Frizzle Sizzle pansies, two colors
• Helianthus ‘Choco Sun’
• Heritage primula, three colors
• Monarda ‘Bergamo’
• Perovskia ‘Taiga’
• Promise pansies, four colors
• Tiarella ‘Silverado’
• Tristar isotomas, three colors
• Violas ‘Pierrot’ and ‘Skippy Lilac Ice’ (pictured)


Pacific Plug & Liner

Each year, Pacific Plug & Liner in Watsonville selects a different vegetative crop to conduct an independent comparison trial. This year it was argyranthemum with two full benches of like types and colors.

The Agrexco companies from Israel represent the majority of the displays. These breeders and cuttings producers include Hishtil, an herb and perennial specialist; Cohen, the most prominent with a focus on annuals; Jaldety, with herbs and perennial groundcovers; and Schwartz with geraniums.

Hishtil’s combination herb garden beds were the big hit of the trials. The company has seen a 30 percent increase in demand for herbs.


• Anigozanthus ‘Cape Magenta’
• Angeleyes geraniums
• Angelonia ‘Zebra’
• Balloon pentas
• Duranta ‘Lime’
• Iresine ‘Cherry’
• Lobelia ‘Purple Star’
• Mini-Me petunias
• Scaevola ‘Topaz Pink’
• Sedum ‘Mini Joy’
• Torenia ‘Lovely Yellow’
• Trend geraniums, six colors
• Vigna caracalla


PanAmerican Seed 

PanAmerican Seed continues to distinguish itself from other seed-oriented flower breeders by offering cutting-edge vegetative items in a seed form through its Fantastic programs. The latest additions to Fantastic Flowers are two bacopas – ‘Blutopia Blue’ and ‘Snowtopia White’ – and a stand-alone petunia introduction, ‘Baby Duck Yellow,’ a vigorous variety full of small yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers.

New Fantastic Foliage varieties include: alternanthera ‘Royal Tapestry,’ coleus ‘Chocolate Mint,’ plectranthus ‘Emerald Lace’ and talinum ‘Limon,’ an unusual variety with chartreuse foliage and heuchera-like flowers.

Five new grasses join the Grasses of Fantastic Foliage: juncus ‘Blue Arrows’ and ‘Javelin,’ koeleria ‘Blue Sprite,’ and stipas ‘Capriccio’ and ‘Sirocco.’ PanAmerican is selecting them to be sown, grown and sold together. The grasses can be grown at the same temperature with the same transplant and finish dates. Minimum germination standard is 90 percent.

The biggest new series PanAmerican introduced is the Shock Wave petunias in the Wave family. Touted as the easiest spreading petunia to manage in the greenhouse, they are well-suited to packs, flats, pots, containers and baskets. They can be grown alongside Easy Wave, but bloom up to five days earlier. Flowers are smaller and more numerous than the Waves. Colors include Ivory, Pink Shades, Pink Vein, Purple, Rose, Buzz Mixture and Electric Mixture.

PanAmerican is promoting Waves this spring in a sponsorship deal with HGTV and DIY. The Wave message will reach one million customers through the networks’ e-newsletters. A recent contest to win free Waves drove membership on the Wave site ( from 1,400 people to 10,000 people instantly.

PanAmerican also is exploring indoor uses for outdoor plants and screening them for indoor performance. To meet the WOW 212 criteria, plants must perform at least 21 days indoors after shipping and be able to be produced by growers in 12 weeks.

In mainstream bedding classes, PanAmerican has created high performing XP series within Super Elfin impatiens and Quartz verbenas.


• Alternanthera ‘Royal Tapestry’
• Bacopas ‘Blutopia Blue’ and ‘Snowtopia White’
• Coleus ‘Chocolate Mint’
• Grasses of Fantastic Foliage, five new varieties
• Hot Cakes matthiola, four colors
• Myosotis ‘Mon Amie Blue’
• Pansy ‘Matrix Morpheus’
• Petunia ‘Baby Duck Yellow’
• Plectranthus ‘Emerald Lace’
• Quartz XP verbena series
• Shock Wave petunias
• Talinum ‘Limon’
• Zinnia maritima ‘Solcito’

Plus many more


Paul Ecke Ranch

With all the new bedding plant varieties gained in its acquisition of Oglevee, Paul Ecke III told us his company is focusing on the best of the best in each category and analyzing all of its varieties. A few surprises have come out of the acquisition, including full lines of New Guinea impatiens, Solenia begonias (bred by Benary) and Velocity violas (bred by Floranova), a renewed interest in Regal geraniums and all the new Oglevee poinsettia varieties that are now part of Ecke’s collection.

During the trials, Ecke Ranch filled one of the greenhouses with Oglevee’s complete line of zonal geraniums and compared them against competing lines to better understand this crop, which is new to Ecke Ranch.

In osteospermums, Ecke Ranch has brought its Ultra Solutions science-based crop program to osteospermums along with two new colors in the Sunscape Daisy Side Show line, Copper Yellow and Golden Yellow. With the Ultra system, growers can program production by measuring bud size and adjusting temperatures accordingly. Ultra was rolled out in New Guinea impatiens last year. The goal is to help growers take the risk out of production.

One kookier introduction was a fun coleus called ‘Witch Doctor’ in the Stained Glassworks collection. It has a thinner habit and features funky leaves in shades of green and purple.

One different concept presented was miniature combination plantings in 4-inch containers, which would be great as party favors. Each combo had three components: a seed variety, a trailing vegetative component and one premium vegetative annual. Production time is six weeks. The idea is to incorporate the same tall, filler and spiller components as large combos with space benefits of 4-inch production and raise the value of each pot.

In poinsettias and Ecke’s biggest product launch ever, ‘Prestige Early Red’ has already sold out this summer. It has the same characteristics as ‘Prestige Red’ but blooms two weeks earlier. Growers and retailers are hungry for the early poinsettia market.

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of Ecke’s facility in Guatemala and the company will celebrate with a big party down at the facility.


• Applause and Ovation New Guinea impatiens, 27 colors
• Cameo double impatiens, 15 colors
• Coleus ‘Stained Glassworks Witch Doctor’
• Doublet double begonias, four colors
• Mystic petunias, two colors
• Gem semidouble New Guinea impatiens, 12 colors
• Sunscape Daisy Side Show osteospermums, Copper Yellow and Golden Yellow
• Sunscape Daisy Cape Daisy osteospermums, Nasinga White
• Sunbathers gazanias, two colors

Plus many more



As an agency, PlantHaven helps breeders take their plants to market. The firm is owned and run by Geoff and Maureen Needham, who emigrated to California from England. "Sometimes we get plants in and wonder what the heck it is," Maureen says, adding that colorful shrubs are a hot new area.

Sometimes the distribution strategy is obvious and sometimes it isn’t, Geoff adds. "There is an enormous amount of brainstorming that goes on to direct the variety into the right hands," he says.

Many breeding lines hail from the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, but 70 percent of the breeders are American. "If plants do well here, they will do well in the rest of the world," Geoff says.


• Brugmansia ‘Miner’s Claim’
• Ceratostigma ‘My Love’
• Euphorbia ‘Glacier Blue’
• Gaura ‘Passionate Rainbow’
• Helianthus ‘Table Mountain’
• Heliopsis ‘Tuscan Sun’
• Musa ‘Little Prince’
• Mystic dahlias
• Prunella ‘Summer Daze’
• Rosmarinus ‘Roman Beauty’
• Solidago ‘Little Lemon’
• Violas ‘Starry Night’


Plug Connection

Back by popular demand, Plug Connection in Vista included vegetative material in its independent comparison trials. Last year it was seed versus vegetative in key crops like angelonia, diascia and nemesia. This year, a vegetative versus vegetative trial was conducted in four key crops: lantana, nemesia, New Guinea impatiens and verbena.

Plug Connection continued its seed comparison trials of new varieties by genus and by breeder. It also was a great opportunity for Plug Connection to showcase its programs. One of the best parts was the relaxing patio set up for people to relax or check email. We ran to our car to get our laptops and enjoyed the soothing fountains.


• Annual and perennial plugs
• Certified organic herbs and vegetables
• Chrysanthemums from Yoder
• Drought tolerant collection
• Ornamental grasses
• Poinsettias from Fischer and Selecta
• Pot crops
• Vegetative annuals, herbs and perennial liners

Proven Winners

Proven Winners isn’t just for containers anymore. The company’s pack trials display opened onto a beautifully landscaped scene filled with plants you may not think of for in-ground plantings. How about a little sutera (bacopa) along with your petunias? Consumers recognize Proven Winners products as container plants, but this display was designed to show how they also work in the ground.

Oenothera ‘Lemon Drop’ and chrysocephalum ‘Flambe Yellow’ were reemphasized in the plantings, as were the new cuphea ‘Totally Tempted’ and an improved ageratum ‘Artist Rose.’

In addition to the outside landscape displays, new varieties were set off in sheltered art galleries. Gaydos had his daughter and fellow art students paint abstract paintings inspired by the varieties. Each plant was set on a shelf and in a frame next to the painting.

The Proven Winner partners each had their own galleries for Proven Selections varieties produced by EuroAmerican Propagators, Four Star Greenhouse and Pleasant View Gardens. Spring Meadow Nursery also had a wing for its Color Choice perennials and shrubs.

During its series of road shows, Proven Winners has learned smaller growing operations are having a difficult time fertilizing crops. While large operations tend to have a handle on fertility and water quality, smaller operations don’t have someone dedicated to analyzing water quality and fertilizer, Gaydos says. To help, Proven Winners has developed water soluble fertilizer for growers but will not select the product until after conducting a free water test for the grower. The right fertilizer is then matched to the water. Gaydos says Proven Winners doesn’t want to be in the fertilizer distribution business and is looking for partners to deliver this program to growers.

Proven Winners also developed a kit for consumers to water their plants and containers through a drip system with tubing for 10 to 15 plants. It will be marketed online to consumers. "If you have 5 gallons worth of concentrate and a timer, you could go on vacation for a month and not worry about your plants," he says. "I’m a firm believer in fertilizing every time you water or at least every other time."


• Angelonia ‘Angelface Dark Violet’
• Argyranthemum ‘Molimba Pink’
• Genista lydia ‘Bangle’
• Heucheras ‘Canyon Duet’ and ‘Dolce Blackcurrant’
• Hibiscus syriacus ‘Lil’ Kim’
• Hydrangeas ‘Pink Shira’ and ‘Pinky Winky’
• Luscious lantanas, two colors
• Oso Easy roses
• Rockapulco double impatiens, seven new colors
• Superbell calibrachoas, seven new colors
• Supertunia ‘Bermuda Beach’
• Torenia ‘Catalina White Linen’
• Weigela ‘Eyecatcher’


S&G Flowers

On the seed side, S&G Flowers is upgrading its series in the primary annuals classes, many of which were introduced in the 1990s and are ready for new genetics. In Delta pansies, 18 colors are now Delta Premiums and offer less stretching and a tighter, fuller habit. S&G also is starting to introduce novelties that may not fit a series but would captivate consumers. The first is ‘Midnight Sun,’ a new pansy in shades of navy, purple and yellow. Jambalaya impatiens will soon replace the Cajuns and the Shimmer series will replace Impulse impatiens.

In both seed and cuttings, S&G is focused on making perennials perform as attractive potted plants. "Perennials are often nice in the garden but ugly in the pot," S&G’s Jeanne Svob says.

Marketing programs continue to be a fun part of S&G’s displays. The patriotic Show Your Spirit program features trivia about American history. Bulbs In The Bottom combines bulbs with pansies in a biodegradable pots for quick fall planting for lots of spring color.


• Audrey and Axcent aubrietas
• Artist Bell and Big Ben penstemons, eight colors
• Fidelity geraniums, six colors
• Jambalaya impatiens, 16 colors
• Kokomo New Guinea impatiens, seven new colors
• Pansy ‘Midnight Sun’
• Patina ageratums, four new colors
• Peacock phlox, six colors
• Shere argyranthemums, four new colors
• Shimmer impatiens, 16 colors
• Sunburst gaillardias, five colors
• Touran saxifraga, four colors
• Virtuoso digitalis, four colors

Plus many more


Sakata Seed America

This was the first time Sakata devoted one of its greenhouses to showcase all of its vegetative breeding achievements. While Sakata has always been more focused on varieties from seed, it continues to supply some of the best vegetatively propagated genetics to key marketers and producers, like Ball FloraPlant/Ball Seed, Proven Winners and Paul Ecke Ranch. The big introduction this year is the Supercal series of petunias, which are like large calibrachoas with petunia performance. Spreading Salmon also joined the Sunpatiens line.

Production guidelines and vignettes were sprinkled throughout the trials with key crops. David Jewell, who represents Sakata in the Southeast, says Salinas is "super pansyland" with its high light and cool temperatures, which produce very large flowers. Southeastern growers struggle with propagating pansies in high temperatures for fall programs. Sakata conducted a plug age study to determine if transplanting sooner would result in better performance. While 21 days is too soon because roots are not established, 28 days has been ideal.



• Bok Choy ‘Toy Choy’
• Candle delphiniums
• Festival gerberas, Speedy Mix
• Impatiens ‘Sunpatiens Spreading Salmon’
• Knee High Profusion zinnias
• Supercal petunias in Velvet, Purple, Neon Rose and Terra cotta
• Supernova primulas
• Ultima Radiance pansies in Red, Blue, Pink and Deep Blue
• Venus violas in Yellow and Autumn Flare


Selecta First Class

Selecta focused on production strategies with trials based on its high density (HD) concept and no-pinch lines. HD varieties include MiniFamous Compact calibrachoa and Fame and Charming petunias. Selecta also demonstrated how these plants look better for consumers on shipping racks and carts by inviting Innocraft to display its Slide Show carts. Other trials looked at commercial soils versus grower-mixed soils and different plant growth regulator volumes on calibrachoas, osteospermums, petunias and verbenas.

It was another banner year for introductions, with 60 new varieties. The crops that account for the most volume are calibrachoa, osteospermum, verbena, geranium and petunia.


• Begonia ‘Bellfire’
• Bidens ‘Namid’
• Charming petunias, six colors
• Lascar verbenas, Red Surprise and Purple with Eye
• Magadi lobelias, three colors
• Marino heliotrope, three colors
• MiniFamous calibrachoas, 12 colors
• Moonlight geraniums, Violet and Strawberry Blush

Plus many more


Suntory/Jackson & Perkins

The big introduction for Suntory this year is the Surdiva scaevolas bred through its Bonza Botanicals partnership with Oasis in Australia. Surdivas are a substantial improvement over traditional scaevolas, which branch laterally, grow into each other and get tangled in transportation. In three distinctive colors — Blue, Light Blue and White — they have shorter stems and a fuller habit. They do not require pinching or plant growth regulators.

‘Million Bells Cherry Pink’ has been improved with a more compact habit, darker foliage and higher pH tolerance of 7.0. Suntory will be transitioning all colors to this tolerance. The combination plantings mixing colors of calibrachoa were especially eyecatching this year.


• Million Bells calibrachoa, two colors
• Phlox ‘Astoria Lilac’
• Scoparia ‘Illumina Powder Blue’
• Surdiva scaevolas, three colors
• Summer Wave torenia, Violet Ice and Amethyst Ice
• Surfinia petunias, four colors




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Petunia 'Moonstruck' (2015 Welby Gardens Field Trials)

August 9, 2016

Welby Gardens Names Top Selections From Its Trial Gardens

Welby Gardens, an exclusive grower of Hardy Boy Plants, tested more than 900 varieties this year in its field and container trials. Find out which varieties were the cream of the crop.

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OSU 2016 In-Ground trials

August 2, 2016

Ohio State University 2016 Plant Trials Offer Real-Time Evaluations

The Ohio State University (OSU) displayed more than 500 cultivars for evaluation this year at the Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens in Columbus, OH. Several Cultivate'16 attendees took the opportunity to wander the trial grounds and evaluate in-ground entries and those in sun and shade containers and hanging baskets.

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June 7, 2016

It’s Time To Rethink The Value And Timing Of California Spring Trials [Opinion]

Fourteen years ago, Greenhouse Grower saw an opportunity to bring next-day coverage of California Pack Trials (now California Spring Trials or CAST) to your inbox. The objective was to be your eyes and ears on location, to report the debut of the newest varieties and marketing programs, and report major breeder announcements, especially for those not attending. We continued to develop new story-telling tools with video capabilities, slideshows, and more. And once social media took hold, everyone attending CAST became reporters of their favorite varieties and displays at trials. So we’re left with the question — how should we continue to evolve our coverage, to bring the most value for you? It’s easy to fall into a certain pattern, to stick with what works — or seems to work. And just because you’re working really hard at something that you’ve had success with in the past, it doesn’t mean it’s […]

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Petunia 'Moonstruck' (2015 Welby Gardens Field Trials)

August 9, 2016

Welby Gardens Names Top Selections From Its Trial Garde…

Welby Gardens, an exclusive grower of Hardy Boy Plants, tested more than 900 varieties this year in its field and container trials. Find out which varieties were the cream of the crop.

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OSU 2016 In-Ground trials

August 2, 2016

Ohio State University 2016 Plant Trials Offer Real-Time…

The Ohio State University (OSU) displayed more than 500 cultivars for evaluation this year at the Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens in Columbus, OH. Several Cultivate'16 attendees took the opportunity to wander the trial grounds and evaluate in-ground entries and those in sun and shade containers and hanging baskets.

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June 7, 2016

It’s Time To Rethink The Value And Timing Of Cali…

Fourteen years ago, Greenhouse Grower saw an opportunity to bring next-day coverage of California Pack Trials (now California Spring Trials or CAST) to your inbox. The objective was to be your eyes and ears on location, to report the debut of the newest varieties and marketing programs, and report major breeder announcements, especially for those not attending. We continued to develop new story-telling tools with video capabilities, slideshows, and more. And once social media took hold, everyone attending CAST became reporters of their favorite varieties and displays at trials. So we’re left with the question — how should we continue to evolve our coverage, to bring the most value for you? It’s easy to fall into a certain pattern, to stick with what works — or seems to work. And just because you’re working really hard at something that you’ve had success with in the past, it doesn’t mean it’s […]

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National Garden Bureau CAST 2016 Bloggers

May 3, 2016

5 Things Gardens Bloggers And Writers Learned At Califo…

For the second year in a row, the National Garden Bureau hosted five popular garden bloggers and writers on a trip to California Spring Trials. Here’s what each of them had to say about their experience.

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Syngenta Pentas

April 20, 2016

Syngenta Flowers Opens Its Perennial Genetics To The Ma…

California Spring Trials 2016 visitors to Syngenta Flowers found the breeder company and its employees happy and excited for the future, in the wake of the announcement of its acquisition by ChemChina. Now Syngenta Flowers is ready to move forward with its breeding efforts in geraniums, pentas, and other crops, and it is opening its perennials offerings to the whole supply chain for a better chance to get those plants to retail.     Syngenta Wants To Revolutionize Geranium Breeding The big news in this year’s trial, says Karl Trellinger, Technical Services Representative at Syngenta, is the change in Syngenta’s breeding efforts in geraniums and pentas. The Calliope geranium series, long considered a premium line in the market, is getting a makeover. Growers have told the breeder that they love the colors available in the Calliope series, but the plants are just too vigorous for smaller containers and combinations. As […]

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Petunia Vista Bubblegum (Proven Winners)

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Proven Winners Funds Gardening “It Couple,” Names Plant…

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CallaFornia Red

April 19, 2016

Golden State Bulb Company Shows Off New Concepts In Cal…

There’s no question that Golden State Bulb Company’s specialty is in breeding virtually any color of Calla Lily, available in about any habit — cut flower, bouquet pot, upright pot type — the list goes on. But now, the bulb specialist is focusing on making calla lilies more accessible to the masses, for use in combination planters and the landscape, with calla six-packs. Calla breeder Peter Beckman showed us the shrunken-down version of these beauties, and they’re certainly perfect for patio pots, planting along paths or at the front of the garden, or en masse for an elegant statement. This presentation makes it easy for consumers to pick up and use callas, without the intimidation they might feel from a bulb crop, says Dr. Allan Armitage.   They’re also versatile for growers to plant in early to mid-February to add to finished containers in the spring, or to sell in […]

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Mark Your Calendars For Florida Flower Trials In May

The two-day event, which takes place in Orlando, is held in conjunction with the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival and offers educational seminars, tours, and open houses.

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April 15, 2016

Pacific Plug & Liner Features Plenty Of New Varieti…

One of the best-merchandised spots on the California Spring Trials is always Pacific Plug & Liner (PP&L), where the greenhouse is stocked with beautiful plants and displays, and the people are dressed to the nines and graciously ready to help in any way.

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April 15, 2016

American Takii Commemorates 180 Years Of Industry Commi…

American Takii, Hilverdakooij, and newcomer HMA Plants show off zombie-zone celosia, new dianthus, and hip succulents.

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April 15, 2016

Ernst Benary of America Takes Plant Fashion Week To The…

Ernst Benary of America gave growers a taste of the fashion world during the new variety promenade held during California Spring Trials 2016.

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April 14, 2016

ABZ Seeds’ Delizz Strawberry Makes Mouths Water At Spee…

Speedling, Inc. hosted Hem Genetics, Thompson & Morgan, ABZ Seeds, Plant Source International, and Vista Farms For California Spring Trials 2016. Here are some of the highlights of the trial.

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Begonia Evi Pink and Evi Bright Pink

April 14, 2016

Westhoff, Beekenkamp, PAC-Elsner And Plug Connection Pr…

Floricultura-Pacifica in Salinas opened its doors to invite California Spring Trials visitors to experience new offerings from European breeders including Westhoff Flowers, Beekenkamp, and PAC-Elsner, as well as California native The Plug Connection. While there, it was interesting to witness the ongoing and highly automated production of orchids, as well as construction of more greenhouse space happening simultaneously. As is tradition, Westhoff Flowers invited its visitors to flag their favorite combos at the entrance, and showed off its unique assortment of annuals, as well as a few concepts. The breeder is working loosely with Florist Holland to show mixes used with Westhoff Flowers — or Westflowers — annuals and Florist gerberas in the center. The combinations are bright and cheerful, and spur a happy reaction in those who have seen them, so it will be interesting to see what happens with this concept going forward. Another new idea is putting together […]

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April 14, 2016

Sakata Ornamentals’ 2016 California Spring Trials…

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Danziger “Dan” Flower Farm Breeding Focuses On Market A…

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April 13, 2016

Hort Couture Builds Relationships With Independent Bree…

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April 13, 2016

Dümmen Orange Succulent Combos Stole The Show At Barrel…

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Dr. Allan Armitage Highlights His Favorite Varieties Fr…

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