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]

Dümmen outdid themselves this year with new introductions. New varieties of geranium, New Guineas, petunias and, of course, new combination plantings were all showcased at their Spring Trials display. Pictured here is a new Confetti Garden Mix called Beyond the Sea.

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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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