California Spring Trials 2011: Variety’s Vanguard

California Spring Trials 2011: Variety's Vanguard

Just as growers who serve large retailers are becoming responsible for all live goods categories in the stores, the California Spring Trials have become a one-stop shop, featuring so much more than annuals. Here’s a look at trends and introductions by crop category.

Seed Annuals

Spring Trials has its roots in seed annuals. What would become the California Pack Trials began in 1967 with Glenn Goldsmith inviting customers to come see his new varieties. Friendly competitors in the area joined in later. Now, many of the seed lines that have been on the market for more than 25 years are getting refined and upgraded with modern genetics without losing name recognition. Examples are Syngenta Flowers’ Pinto geraniums becoming Pinto Premium and Accent impatiens becoming Accent Premium. Sakata is doing the same in pansies. PanAmerican is upgrading lines to XP.

Bread-and-butter crops pay for the research to develop niche crops. PanAmerican continues to add interesting seed items to its Fantastic Foliage collection. Two designer additions to large containers are leycesteria ‘Jealousy,’ which grows into a chartreuse bush, and hibiscus ‘Mahogany Splendor,’ a dark upright thriller. PanAmerican also offers affordable seed versions of vegetative items, like its new Akila osteospermums.

Takii introduced two All-America Selections winners. Kale ‘Glamour Red’ is the first kale with a waxless leaf for bedding. Salvia ‘Summer Jewel Red’ is earlier and more compact than other coccinea types and striking in landscapes and containers.

Hem Genetics continues to build its presence in dianthus with ‘Diana Lavender Picotee’ being a striking addition to the chinensis series. Thompson & Morgan introduced more interesting niche crops–high contrast Halo hollyhocks, sterile Polkadot digitalis and a collection of agastaches.

Vegetative Annuals

This category dominates the trials and is most crowded with vegetative companies outnumbering seed three to one. Much of this is due to consolidation in the seed industry and the proliferation of global cuttings production. Although cuttings cost more than seed as an input, plants can be brought to market faster as clones.

Osteospermum continues to be a hot category. The big hit of the trials were the 3D double osteos from Selecta, an industry first. Tufted, button-like blooms stay open and come in Pink, Purple and Silver. 3D is in the running for our Industry’s Choice and Editor’s Choice awards for breeding. (See page 28.) Fides and Dummen introduced compact versions of their leading osteo series, Margarita Nano and Summertime Sweet, respectively.

Most of the excitement in vegetative annuals revolved around new colors. The distinctive calibrachoa ‘Superbells Cherry Star’ from Proven Winners captivated many, along with Grape Punch and Sweet Tart in that series. Dummen introduced some very dark Sweetunia petunias–Black Jack and Bordeaux. Just as Black Jack will take on Ball FloraPlant’s ‘Black Velvet,’ Proven Winners’ lobularia ‘Snow Princess’ will be challenged by Danziger’s ‘Silver Stream.’ Other noteworthy additions include Deep Purple to Green Fuse’s Cathedral salvias and Ice Pink to Sakata’s Supercal Petchoas.

Blooming Potted Plants

We saw a renewed interest in blooming potted plants, especially new spins on old fashioned varieties. Green Fuse showcased Lady Slippers streptocarpus from tissue culture and Helium hydrangeas, which are being sold dormant and prefinished. Ball Seed is offering a line of showy double gloxinias. Syngenta Flowers is breathing new life into pot mums with new colors and forms, including an incurve type, ‘Shanghai Red.’

Paris kalanchoes from GreenEx have larger rose-shaped flowers. ‘Paris,’ which is greenish white, won an award at the IPM show in Essen, Germany, this year. ‘Pink Paris’ is light pink and green.

‘Belonica’ rose lily from Flamingo Holland is the first double oriental on the market that has no pollen and very little scent. It is being used for cut flower production and tested for pots.

Ecke Ranch introduced euphorbia ‘Luv U Pink.’ It’s positioned for sales February through June and will not be called a poinsettia. It works well in floral applications, as a potted plant and mixed with annuals and succulents.

Suntory reinvented bougainvillea with its Sunvilleas, which are compact for pots as small as 4-inch in Rose, Pink and Cream. The Sunvilleas were recognized as one of the best introductions at the Tropical Plant Industry Exposition.

Perennials & Shrubs

Each year, we’re seeing an increase in the importance of perennials and shrubs, which is where the new frontiers in breeding seem to be–making these plants perform like annuals in terms of compactness, flower power and bloom time.

Skagit Gardens makes a splash with high-quality introductions in hellebores, gaillardia and coreopsis. Scabiosa ‘Mariposa Blue’ boasts flowers twice as large as ‘Butterfly Blue’ with sturdier stems. Two new series include Nectar agastaches in five colors and Candy Drops phygelius in four. Both attract hummingbirds.

Pacific Plug & Liner (PP&L) introduced showy double primulas and an innovative creeping phlox series, Paparazzi, in six colors. The interspecific hybrids produce larger flowers and mounds of color.

As a breeding agent, PlantHaven specializes in perennials, shrubs and tropicals, coordinating production with companies like Skagit and PP&L. The complete line of Wetman dianthus was on display.

Greenheart Farms continues to put roses on the map. Drift roses are now getting the Knock Out branding treatment and Home Run roses are now part of Proven Winners, which continues to broaden its lines.

One new Proven Winners partner is perennial powerhouse Walters Gardens. Spring Meadow Nursery continues to lead the designer shrub category and is Proven Winners’ partner for woody ornamentals. Key introductions were the gorgeous, thornless, fruitless Double Take flowering quinces in three colors, Bloom-A-Thon azaleas and hydrangea ‘Little Lime.’

Ball Horticultural Co. continues to build its strength in perennials and shrubs. All perennials from seed are under the Kieft Seeds brand. Darwin Perennials focuses on vegetative introductions. Both offer impressive echinaceas, which are trialed to survive Chicago’s winters. Younique astilbes were a big introduction in seven colors. Ball Ornamentals introduced the compact Flutterby buddleias and’Bombshell’ and ‘Fire and Ice’ hydrangeas.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “California Spring Trials 2011: Variety’s Vanguard

  1. Last year I purchased a phenominal plant called
    Salvia Cathedral Silver Blue from Bodger Botanicals. Can you tell me how I could obtain seeds for this, or where I could get these plants?

  2. You can get the Cathedral salvias from Green Fuse Botanicals. All the Bodger Botanicals lines transferred there. They are sold exclusively through Henry F. MIchell’s, 800-422-4678. A new ‘Cathedral Lavender’ was introduced at Spring Trials this year.

More From Variety Trials...
Cal-Poly fields

May 27, 2015

Cal-Poly Students And Faculty Ask Industry To Help Save Horticulture Facilities

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, has released an update to its Master Plan that indicates that almost all of its orchards, horticulture facilities and field sites could be repurposed for buildings, including residential, and/or recreational space. According to a letter from Scott Steinmaus, the horticulture and crop science department head, the proposed changes directly affect the current orchard plantings and other long term plans for the department. The department is committed to making sure that its facilities remain invaluable teaching environments that enable its students to learn about crop, fruit and horticulture production, food safety and pest protection, in addition to providing sites for externally funded research projects that benefit the industry. Industry members are invited to submit comments to the university. According to Steinmaus, a recent eMail to the Cal-Poly community from the university president indicates that all of the input gathered through the end of May will be studied by the planning […]

Read More
Laura Drotleff

May 27, 2015

Growers Working Hard To Protect Pollinators — And Their Businesses (Opinion)

Editor’s Note: This editorial was written and published just prior to the news coming out about Lowe’s phasing out neonicotinoids by 2019. However, that news doesn’t change the fact that growers have a long history as good stewards of their land and of the environment. As evidenced by the 2015 Top 100 Growers Report, the nation’s largest growers continue to adapt their production practices to be cognizant of environmental factors, worker safety, retailer preferences and consumer concerns. In light of Lowe’s announcement, growers who produce for the retailer are certainly working toward that mandate; but they’re also hopeful that the research currently underway will provide scientific reason for decisions made on production going forward. When the news broke last year that growers would be required to label plants treated with neonicotinoids at The Home Depot, and that other retailers were mandating growers to produce crops without neonics, I sucked in air and […]

Read More

May 27, 2015

Vote For Your Favorite New Annual For The 2015 Readers’ Choice Award

VOTING IS NOW OPEN FOR: ANNUALS It’s time for you, our readers, to decide which variety is picked as the best new introduction in 2015. We’ve expanded our Readers’ Choice program to include a wider variety of plants. Breeders have entered their best varieties by category and the winners will advance as finalists to face off to win the Readers’ Choice Award. Categories are Annuals, Perennials, Edibles and the Best of the Rest. Finalists will be announced in June and the Readers’ Choice winner will be announced July 13 at Greenhouse Grower’s prestigious Evening Of Excellence event at Cultivate’15. Which annual is the most promising introduction? Vote here now! Thanks to our 2015 Medal Of Excellence sponsors, Landmark Plastics and Stockosorb by Evonik. Readers’ Choice Voting Schedule: Annuals – May 22 to May 28 (closes at 12 a.m. EST) Perennials – May 29 to June 4 (closes at 12 a.m. EST) Edibles – […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Gazania hybrid 'Amber Ice' (Cultivaris)

April 17, 2015

The 80/20 Theory Approach To Inventory Selection Is Put…

Tim Runte of Calloway Gardens is a member of Greenhouse Grower's Medal Of Excellence For Industry's Choice Panel. Here, he shares how he determines which plants shown at this year's California Spring Trials will make the cut at his retail stores.

Read More
Dummen_SunStandingseries_Salmon Pink1

April 15, 2015

Dümmen Group Updates Confetti, Debuts New Mixes And Con…

At two separate locations, the Dümmen Group presented its new take on several lines of plant genetics from the many companies under its brand umbrella. For the second year at Edna Valley Vineyards in San Luis Obispo, the Dummen Group presented new varieties of Red Fox plants, along with the HGTV HOME Plant Collection. Meanwhile, Dummen Group held its second trial location about 30 minutes up the road, at BarrelHouse Brewery in Paso Robles. Both locations were beautiful settings, but the vineyard provided especially lovely panoramic views through the tasting room window.

Read More
CAST15_Suntory_Soiree1

April 15, 2015

McHutchison’s Vaughn Fletcher Reviews New Offerin…

Vaughn Fletcher with McHutchison Horticultural Distributors is part of Greenhouse Grower's Medal Of Excellence For Industry's Choice Panel. Fletcher recounted some of the standout varieties he saw while visiting Suntory Flowers and Westhoff during California Spring Trials.

Read More
PAC Elsner_Pelargonium 'Bermuda Pink'

April 15, 2015

Kientzler Makes First Independent Display At Spring Tri…

The Spring Trials exhibit at Windmill Nursery in Buellton is a fairly new location as of 2014, and it continues to evolve, with a number of new suppliers presenting their wares. Kientzler, Terra Nova Nurseries and PAC-Elsner presented new varieties while McConkey, Pelemix and Dramm promoted their products.

Read More
Hort Couture_Asclepias Monarch's Promise

April 15, 2015

Hort Couture Boosts Butterflies With ‘MonarchR…

The new milkweed 'Monarch's Promise' aims to improve butterflies' forage options, and it's already working. Plus, chck out the action from GroLink's 11 displaying companies.

Read More
Costa Farms' Season Premier 2015

February 4, 2015

Costa Farms’ 2015 Season Premier Reveals Newest V…

The annual Season Premier at Costa Farms in Miami, Fla., is the industry's very first peek at new varieties for debut the following year, even before the California Spring Trials, heralded widely as the jumping off point for new varieties. This year's event revealed breeders' best and brightest new varieties for 2016, shown in field trials, landscape trials and containers at Costa Farms tropical trial gardens. Plant breeders presented their new varieties to buyers and members of Lowe’s grower panel. Growers, brokers and other allied industry members, including Home Depot growers and buyers, were also able to peruse the grounds to see how the new varieties fared in the winter trials. Later this season, the hot and humid conditions at Costa’s summer trials will help identify the true performers.

Read More

January 28, 2015

All-America Selections Introduces Additional 2015 Winne…

All-America Selections has announced more 2015 AAS Winners, bringing the grand total of introductions for the 2015 gardening year to 25. The seven winners join the 12 announced last November and six announced last July. This year, AAS has had the most winners in one year since 1939.

Read More

November 24, 2014

Succulents And Miniatures Offer Variety And Easy Growi…

Succulents and miniatures are great starter plants for brown-thumb gardeners. They deliver visual appeal, color and texture without a fuss. Here are some of the newest varieties on the market.

Read More

November 18, 2014

2014 Field Trials Results: Best Of Show Varieties [Slid…

Find out which varieties made Best of Show at the 2014 Field Trials.

Read More

November 14, 2014

University of Florida Poinsettia Trials Will Be Held De…

Poinsettia trials event at the University of Florida will be held on December 9 in Gainesville, Fla.

Read More

November 14, 2014

University Of New Hampshire Hosts 2014 Poinsettia Trial…

The University of New Hampshire will host 2014 Poinsettia Field Trial Open House at its Macfarlane Greenhouses facility on December 4 to 6.

Read More

November 4, 2014

2014 Field Trials Results

Greenhouse Grower asked trial managers to share their top performers this year. See which varieties were true standouts.

Read More

November 4, 2014

2014 Field Trials Results: Welby Gardens (Denver, Colo.…

Check out Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Field Trials Results for Welby Gardens in Denver, Colo.

Read More

November 4, 2014

2014 Field Trials Results: Texas A&M AgriLife Resea…

Check out Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Field Trials results for Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton, Texas.

Read More

November 4, 2014

2014 Field Trials Results: Oklahoma State University (S…

Check out Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Field Trials results for Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla.

Read More

November 4, 2014

2014 Field Trials Results: Colorado State University (F…

Check out Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Field Trials results for Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.

Read More

November 4, 2014

2014 Field Trials Results: University of Tennessee Gard…

Check out Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Field Trials results for the University of Tennessee Gardens in Knoxville and Jackson, Tenn.

Read More

November 4, 2014

Varieties Appearing On 2014 Field Trial Top Performer L…

Greenhouse Grower asked trial managers to share their top performers this year. See which varieties appeared on top performer lists at least twice.

Read More