Trial Manager: Alan Michael, Penn State Extension, firstname.lastname@example.org
Trial Location: Southeast Research and Extension Center (a.k.a. Landisville Trial), Penn State University
Planting Dates: 6, 000 pots (1,328 entries) were planted on May 20, 21 and 22, 2008 into 5-gallon containers
Weather Conditions: From third week of May (right after planting) through Mid-June we had unusually hot, bright sunny days, low humidity and below normal rainfall. Geraniums, begonias and impatiens suffered from the heat. Mid-June through July provided excellent grow more than 2.5 inches) in form of rain, fog and severe thunderstorms. Conditions allowed plants to make up any lost growth that occurred in June. August through Mid-September was dry with 2.5″ below normal of rainfall (normal is about 4 inches). Temperatures were in the normal range, with no excessively hot days. Geraniums were outstanding August.
Best In Show: ‘BIG Red with Green Leaf’ begonia from Benary
This is an outstanding plant early as well as late in season. It did well in greenhouse, in containers outdoors and in-ground landscape. It is outstanding in full sun or shade, producing large red flower cluster that contrast nicely against dark green foliage. By August it was 23 inches tall and about the same in width. It can be used in similar situations as Dragon Wing.
Top 5 Overall:
1. Ornamental peppers–PanAmerican introduced two outstanding peppers varieties for 2008 that have great purple foliage making them attractive to consumers in spring that then they produce colorful fruit in summer gardens. ‘Calico’ has variegated purple foliage with 1 inch peppers that turn bright red in July growing about 11 inches high and 25 inches wide in containers. ‘Purple Flash’ is a more vigorous ornamental pepper, has great purple foliage with tiny black fruit growing about to 18 inches high and 30 inches wide.
2. Sweet Potato–Syngenta Flowers introduced new series of ornamental sweet potato and ‘Sidekick Black Heart’ took high honors with its purple/black heart-shaped leaf, compact habit and quickly recovery from Japanese beetle damage. ‘Sidekick Lime’ is a new compact lime green sweet potato that performed well in the Penn State Trials and quick recovery from Japanese beetle damage.
3. Angelonia–’AngelMist Spreading Pink’ from Ball Horticulture rated the Best of Trial.”It is a low dense spreading plant covered in flowers on a plant that grows about 12 inches high spreads about 24 inches wide
4. Zinnia–PanAmerican’s new zinnia series is ‘Zahara Yellow’ and ‘Zahara Scarlet’.
The whole series has disease resistance, is compact and covered with flowers making it great for landscape or large containers.
5. Osteospermum–There has been a vast improvement in the osteospermum being introduced over the past five years especially the yellow and orange flower colors. The best are long-lived, compact, produce excellent flowers, recover quickly from heat and have attractive pest free foliage.
Oro Farms highly rated new variety is ‘Blazing Daisy Moonshine Yellow.’ It is a dense spreading and semi-trailing plant, growing to a height of 10 inches and covered with bright yellow flowers.
Syngenta Flower’s ‘Tradewinds Yellow Bicolor’ has a dense attractive mounded habit, grows to a height of 23 inches and blooms well all summer.
Additional Comments: Two cultivars that I need to mention because of their interest to growers visiting the trials.
– Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ from Proven Winners has been rated as our top variety for the past five years. In 2008 Dummen USA introduced ‘Silver Fog’ and ‘Silver Shadow.’ I rated ‘Silver Fog’ flower power similar ‘Diamond Frost’ except it is smaller and more compact. ‘Silver Shadow’ did not produce as many flowers and had a slightly lower rating that ‘Diamond Frost’ or Silver Fog.’
– The new seed introduction from Pan American is called ‘MayanGold Tecoma’ is a great accent plant for large containers and in landscape growing to about 3 foot tall. A relative of Trumpet Vine it has similar flowers, but they are bright golden yellow. It is heat tolerant, attracts humming birds and pollinating insects. It may be a little difficult to grow in the greenhouse, but its magnificent flower display makes it worthwhile.