November 22, 2013

Best Of Show: 2013 Field Trial Results

Greenhouse Grower asked trial managers to share which of the varieties they evaluated performed best, along with details about the weather conditions at their location. Seventeen trial managers responded, providing their best performers from hundreds of new (or recently new) varieties. This is a non-scientific poll, because not every location trialed every variety. However, there were a number of cultivars that appeared on the top performer list several times. Two varieties, Ball FloraPlant’s Angelonia ‘AngelMist Spreading Dark Purple’ and several cultivars of PanAmerican’s Zinnia Zahara series earned the most accolades. Varieties Appearing On Top Performer Lists At Least Twice: Begonia ‘Breezy Pink’ (Ball FloraPlant) Begonia ‘Dragone Dusty Rose’ (Dümmen) Catharanthus ‘Cora Cascade Strawberry’ (vinca) (Syngenta-Goldsmith) Catharanthus ‘Titan Burgundy Improved’ (vinca) (Ball FloraPlant) – not pictured Celosia Fresh Look Series (Benary) Gerbera ‘Garvinea Orangina’ (Florist Holland) Lobularia ‘White Knight’ (Proven Winners) Pennisetum ‘Vertigo’ (Graceful Grasses) (Proven Winners) Scaevola Fairy Series (Selecta) Verbena ‘Superbena Violet Ice’ (Proven Winners) Zinnia […]

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November 18, 2013

MSU’s Horticulture Gardens Celebrate 20 Years

Michigan State University marks the 20-year Anniversary for its Horticulture Gardens. The Trial Gardens help growers and gardeners choose the right plants, part of a gardening tradition that spans more than 150 years of history.

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October 18, 2013

Welby Gardens Finds Many Benefits In Having Its Own Trial Gardens

Running trial gardens used to be the primary responsibility of university horticulture departments and breeders. But the number of growers who are maintaining their own trials is increasing. Greenhouse Grower talked to Al Gerace, owner of Welby Gardens in Denver, Colo., about why he thinks it is worth the time and effort to have his own trial garden.

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May 13, 2013

Is Spring Trials The Best Way To Introduce New Genetics? [opinion]

Darth Gardener is the screen name of a greenhouse grower who comments on the industry on Twitter. This industry veteran grew up in a greenhouse and now works at an 80-person operation.  He shared some thoughts with us on the state of the industry, breeding and California Spring Trials.  GG: This spring on Twitter, you questioned the value of Spring Trials to the average grower. Why do you think Spring Trials might not be the best solution for marketing new varieties to growers? DG: It would be the best solution for marketing if I were flown to California first class, put up in the best hotels and chauffeured around in a limo the way I should be. Since that didn’t happen, it just struck me as funny that all this money was being spent by the breeders and the suppliers and distributors and people traveling to the Spring Trials; and, […]

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April 16, 2013

Ball Introduces Tough New Verbena Enduro And Geranium Double Take Series

A new verbena series named for its endurance and a geranium bred for its toughness are among the standouts at this year’s Ball Horticultural Spring Trials stop.  Geranium Double Take Series (Selecta) Double Take is a brand-new series from Selecta and is named for its double flowers that don’t shatter. To make the point at this year’s Spring Trials, Selecta had a large, blooming plant on a mechanical-bull-type rotating structure that shook the plant all day long. The flowers seemed to hold on tight. This series now includes four colors: Red, Pink, Scarlet and White. It has the heat tolerance of an interspecific hybrid and the shelf life of a zonal. The finished size is 12 to 14 inches tall and wide. Verbena Enduro Series (Ball FloraPlant) The Enduro series has the hardiness of Verbena ‘Homestead Purple’ with the additional benefit that it flowers steadily throughout the summer instead of […]

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April 12, 2013

Armitage’s Favorites at Green Fuse, Fides/Oro, Suntory, Westhoff, PAC And Cultivaris

Green Fuse Seeing Randy Uhl and Steve Jones at Green Fuse is always a pleasure. They are good people, honest as the day is long, and have worked very hard at making Green Fuse a mainstream breeding firm. Their Rex Begonia program is second to none, and they have added additional spectacular colors to their Shadow King line. I can’t see the market not reaching out for such beauty on the deck and patio. This is a great program – head and shoulders better than any similar programs we saw, and it just keeps getting better. Their First light program for perennials has great advantages to the grower in that their selections allow annualization (i.e. no cold necessary) for the greenhouse producer, but with plants that still perennialize in the landscape.  I believe with a little tweaking, this program will appeal to many growers. Fides/Oro Dahlias have always been a […]

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April 12, 2013

Our Ten Fabulous Favorites From Spring Trials

Begonia Shadow King Collection (Green Fuse Botanicals) This outstanding collection of begonias is designed for containers and baskets. There are several beautiful colors. My favorites are ‘Cool White,’ which has a bright silvery leaf with a bronze underside, and ‘Cherry Mint.’ Helenium ‘Short ‘n Sassy’ (Skagit Gardens) This was a chance seedling in a display garden that has the potential to become a popular perennial. It grows to just 12 to 18 inches tall and produces orange-bronze flowers with a dark center from June to frost. It’s heat and drought-tolerant and combines well with grasses and other summer perennials. Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame Pink’ (Thompson & Morgan, Cultivaris, Pacific Plug & Liner Bred by Thompson & Morgan, this gorgeous plant is an intergeneric cross between digitalis and isoplexis. It has beautiful dark green digitalis foliage and gets the yellow and red flower from isoplexis. April Herring of PP&L called it a […]

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April 11, 2013

Allan Armitage On His Favorites At Florist Holland, Hort Couture, PlantHaven, Flamingo Holland and Ball

Florist Having visited Florist in years past, I was looking forward to seeing some gerbera daisies, and I was certainly not disappointed. I am not sure how many of you grow gerberas, but those that do must check out their innovative selections. Some of the biggest flowers in the most outrageous colors can be found in their Patio series, as seen in the Volcano and Everglade. However, my choice for my daughters’ gardens is the Garvinea series, a group of landscape gerberas with an especially long flowering period. I looked at all of them (and there are a lot!), but my eyes always went back to the iridescent ‘Orangina.’ I have a feeling that most women would not make this their first choice, but it was impossible not to admire. I will be trialing these again and I will keep you posted — in the meantime, try a few Garvineas, […]

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April 10, 2013

California Spring Trials 2013: Allan Armitage On His Favorites At Dümmen, Floranova and Skagit Gardens

DümmenAs always at Dümmen, a spectacular sight greeted my eyes. The plant material at Dümmen literally shone as if polished. One of the many things Dümmen is known for are their combination plantings.  We have seen examples of excellent combos at other stops but Dümmen keeps expanding the choices, leaving no rock uncolored. Starting with the Confetti series, they have expanded into the Garden Party and the Hot Spot combos. The first is a group of plants designed for larger planters on patios and decks, with vigorous, yet well-behaved plants. This will stand out. The Hot Spot group is a series of combos for hot weather and should serve an ever-expanding warmer America. I am impressed with the care taken in plant selection and the diversity offered to growers. Well done.  Floranova/VegetalisWhen I was met at the door by Jeff Colgrave and Amy Gard’ner, I immediately left Jeff behind. Amy […]

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April 10, 2013

Our Favorite New Geraniums, Petunias And New Guineas From Dümmen, Plus Dümmen’s First Coleus [Photos]

Solenostemon (Coleus) ‘Main Street Wall Street’ Dümmen is offering coleus for the first time, under the collection name Main Street. ‘Wall Street’ is an attractive copper-foliaged cultivar with deep bronze veination.

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April 10, 2013

California Spring Trials 2013: Weird Petunia Colors

Multiple colors are hot. It’s a theme we’re really noticing this year at just about every California Spring Trials stop. Clean, solid colors are great, but more and more, the breeders seem to be responding to the fact that consumers want a little variety in their blooms. We heard at Proven Winners that their surveys are showing “bicolor” to be one of the most popular color options for consumers. It’s one of the reasons they’re so enthusiastic about their new Superbells Pomegranate Punch calibrachoa, with its striking deep-red blooms with black centers. An odd mini-trend we’ve seen this week is an extension of this multiple colors idea, and one most growers might shy away from at first: Varieties with unstable flower colors and patterns. We saw something like this at Westhoff’s trials last spring, and now we’re seeing it again at Danziger with its ‘Indian Summer’ petunia, Cohen with its […]

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April 9, 2013

California Spring Trials 2013: Allan Armitage On Up-And-Coming Crops

GreenexAlthough the market for kalanchoes is challenging, it is good to know that for those who wish to grow them, there are some excellent choices.  I was blown away with the diversity of flower size and color of the kalanchoes at Greenex. I especially loved the double flowered series (RoseFlowers), and especially fell in love with the iridescent orange ‘Phoebe.’ All the kalanchoes were superb, but some will just walk off the bench. If you are looking for kalanchoes, I believe we found the right source. We have been seeing a lot of vegetables in our travels this spring, and vegetables will always be an important part of gardening. It is always good to see edible vegetables combined with ornamental value as seen in the selection of banana peppers, both hot and sweet flavors. Three cultivars, ‘Hot Banana,’ ‘Hot Burrito’ and ‘Snack Pepper Orange’ have large fruit, good taste and […]

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April 9, 2013

California Spring Trials: New POP Messages And Unique Plants

Now that we are halfway through Spring Trials week, it’s apparent that some trends are emerging. And one of the main ones I’m seeing, and a very welcome and necessary one, is making things simple for the consumer. Breeders have gotten the message that the average consumer thinks they have a black thumb and need suggestions that will inspire confidence in their plant purchases. This is expressed in a number of ways. Both Benary’s One Touch Combos and Syngenta’s Kwik Kombos make decisions easier for both growers and consumers. The idea behind both is to reduce decision-making. Growers can be certain that the pre-selected combinations will require the same cultural conditions and will time correctly, and consumers can purchase a beautiful basket or container combination without having to figure out which plants work well together — an intimidating decision that will put off many novice gardeners. I know first-hand how […]

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April 8, 2013

Proven Winners’ New Superbells, Syngenta’s Improving Kwik Kombos And More

Allan Armitage, who is traveling with the Greenhouse Grower team, sees plants through different eyes than most other visitors at Trials. Each day he’ll tell us what catches his attention and why. It may be a plant with great promise for consumers, or it may be a program that makes life easier for growers. Keep up to date with what’s happening this week in California with Dr. A. Today he shares his favorites from Proven Winners and Syngenta Flowers. Proven Winners:I can’t wait to see the landscape performance of Lobularia ‘White Knight,’ a new introduction from Proven Winners. ‘Snow Princess’ “made” the alyssum market what it is today, but many growers and retailers found that it was too aggressive to put in a mixed container.  The color is good, the habit appears much improved, and if it plays better with others, we have a winner. There’s only so much space […]

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April 8, 2013

Syngenta Introduces A New Guinea From Seed And Bioline Biologicals

During my visit to Syngenta on Sunday, there were a number of highlights, including the Starcluster pentas series and the new Kwik Kombo colors that Allan Armitage talks about here. I have to say, I looked at the pentas, especially, and just said, “Wow.” I’ll let Allan tell you why. But that wasn’t all. The new Florific New Guinea impatiens series is important because it is from seed and grows well in the shade. We’re all looking for plants to fill the gaping hole once occupied by Impatiens walleriana, and the Florific New Guineas might be one of them. David Jewell, marketing manager for seed-grown plants at Syngenta, says production is very uniform and they can be grown in packs all the way up to gallons. The blooms sit right on top of the foliage, which is important for consumers. There are four colors: white, violet, red and lavender. Jewell […]

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April 6, 2013

New One Touch Container Combos From Benary Simplify Planning And Planting

Making life easier for growers is the main goal behind Benary’s new One Touch container program, and for that reason in particular, I liked this product. Designed to literally be touched just one time at planting, these combinations require no PGRs and no pinching. Plugs (128s) are planted into finished containers according to a schematic diagram, and after six weeks on the bench, they are ready for sale. “Plant once, touch once. That’s it,” says Jennifer Calhoun, product support specialist at Benary. “We want to make it easy to be successful.” “We know mixed containers are one of the best SKUs at retail. The challenge is to find good, workable combinations,” Calhoun says. There are nearly 50 pre-designed combinations, or templates, in the One Touch program. Most are designed to be planted with 128-sized plugs, although some are for 288s. They are all designed to time together and have compatible […]

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February 4, 2013

The National Plant Trialing Program Puts All The Plants In One Basket

How many times have you discussed great ideas — ideas that make sense, ideas that would benefit your company or others — but don’t quite get around to using them? Time, money and distractions all conspire to derail idea implementation until finally, with sufficient prodding and poking, the idea begins to take shape. The idea, here, is the National Plant Trialing Program, a simple commonsense approach to trialing plants that should have been implemented years ago.  And like the little engine that could, the idea is starting to build steam. The concept is simple. New plants from all the world’s breeders are trialed in numerous locations around the U.S. and Canada. Many (but not all) of the trialing sites report their data on websites, blogs or in print. It is difficult — if not impossible — however, for breeders and others to gather all the data together and assess and […]

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November 9, 2012

2012 Field Trials Reports: Cornell University

Trial Manager: Melissa Kitchen: mjb239@cornell.edu Trial Location: Ithaca, New York Weather Conditions: April started out fairly normal, but the heat wave began in May. Temperatures kept creeping up all summer, ending with higher than normal temperature for June, July and August. In addition to the heat wave, we didn’t get much rain and we had drought conditions in June and July. The weather started to return to normal in August, and the plants really began to thrive. Average temperatures were 65.3°F, 72.3°F and 68.8°F respectively, for the months of June, July and August. Rain amounts were 1.84″, 1.59″ and 3.58″ respectively, for the months of June, July and August. See graphs below. For full trial results, visit http://www.hort.cornell.edu/bglannuals/index.html Top Performers 1. Hibiscus ‘Mahogany Splendor’ (Proven Winners)2. Pennisetum glaucum ‘Jade Princess’ (Ball Ingenuity)3. Plectranthus ‘Colorblaze Marooned’  (coleus) (Proven Winners) 4. Plectranthus ‘Spumoni’ (coleus) (Proven Winners)5. Cleome ‘Senorita Rosalita’ (Proven Winners)6. Petunia […]

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November 9, 2012

Field Trials Reports: University of Illinois

Trial Manager: C. Diane Anderson, Research and Education Specialist in Landscape Horticulture, cdianea@illinois.edu  Trial Location: Urbana, Illinois Planting Dates: May16 to May 30, 2012 Number And Types Of Entries: 1,071 varieties trialed in 14-inch single-variety containers, 6-foot mixed species containers, rows, and display beds. Both full sun and lath-house trials were conducted. All winners reported below were in full sun. Weather: Extremely hot and dry – longest prolonged drought and excessive heat since 1988 Best In Show Salvia farinacea ‘Sallyfun Blue Emotion’ (display bed) Top Performers Catharanthus roseus ‘Victory Pure White’ (row) Zinnia ×hybrida ‘Profusion Knee-High Red’ (row) Zinnia ×hybrida ‘Profusion Coral Pink’ (row) Zinnia ×hybrida ‘Profusion Yellow’ (display bed)Zinnia marylandica ‘Uptown Pink Champagne’ (row) Salvia farinacea ‘Sallyfun Snow White’ (display bed) Petunia ×hybrida ‘Whispers Star Rose’ (row) Petunia ×hybrida ‘Famous Violet Picotee’ (display bed)Pelargonium interspecific Caliente series (row and 14-inch containers)Torenia fournieri Kauai series (row in full sun)

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