The best new flower introductions have the power to turn a non-believer into a fan. Check out my top picks (in slideshow format, followed by my thoughts) from my visit to Sakata and Floricultura, the latter of which hosted a number of breeders.
Gerbera Majorette Series (Sakata)
For me, this has been the year of the gerbera. Earlier this week, I showered praise on ‘Sweet Caroline’ from Florist (http://www.greenhousegrower.com/varieties/dr-allan-armitage-names-his-top-6-picks-from-grolink-and-windmill-nursery-at-california-spring-trials-2016/) and the Revolution series from Kieft (http://www.greenhousegrower.com/varieties/dr-allan-armitage-6-picks-from-ball-horticultural-co-and-green-fuse-botanicals-during-2016-california-spring-trials/). Yet, here I am again extolling the new Majorette series from Sakata. Every member of the series sports fabulously bright colors that reflect sunshine into any space. Add the excellent branching and floriferousness, and there is no doubt this is destined to become a winner.
Kosmic Kale (Plug Connection)
Oh boy, I am a believer! I can buy a plant to make me healthy, make the containers on my deck beautiful, and have a source for the putrid, ugly kale shakes I am supposed to gag down to get muscles and a strong heart. Rancid shakes aside, this is a beautiful plant. My foodscaping friends are going to go absolutely bananas when they see it, and my health nut friends will think I am pretty smart as well. A great addition for any independent garden center.
Bracteantha Cottage Series (Westhoff)
There has not been a lot of breeding interest in paper flower, but I was pleased not only to see some breeding, but excellent breeding by Westhoff. The series consisted of multiple hues, all nicely uniform and strikingly colorful. My favorite was ‘Cottage Lemon,’ but the white and pink forms also showed up well.
Celosia ‘Kelos Atomic Violet’ (Beekenkamp)
The Kelos series has been around for some time, but the breeding efforts at Beekenkamp to make Atomic Violet were outstanding. The plant is upright and strong, the color is vibrant and eye-catching, and it will do well against other celosias.
Petunia ‘Crazytunia Citrus Twist’ (Westhoff)
I have always been stunned by the beauty of a well-grown petunia, and Westhoff’s Crazytunias keep hitting me over the head. Citrus Twist shows off rose-colored strips along a citrus yellow petal. I can almost guarantee this to standout against 100 other petunias on the market. It will be a traffic stopper.
Argyranthemum Day-Zee series (P.A.C.-Elsner)
I am not, nor ever have been, a fan of the argys. But the Day-Zee series took the argys up a notch or two — as hard as I tried, I could not help but be impressed. P.A.C.-Elsner’s work has brought us a number of low-growing, well-branched plants with dozens of flowers. I like Red the best, but Vanilla is more uniform in flower color. Double White was also very nice.