Dr. Allan Armitage’s Top Picks From Ball and GroLink At California Spring Trials 2017

Here are Dr. Allan Armitage’s top five picks from on Day 5 of CAST 2017.

Armeria Dreamaria Sweet Dreams (Darwin Perennials)


Most armerias on the market today have a certain fascination to perennial gardeners, but not too many others. In fact, they have little market in this country. However, ‘Sweet Dreams’ could open up the market significantly. The large flowers on strong stems really catch the eye. Armeria is an excellent plant for drought tolerance and for coastal markets, as they are highly salt tolerant.

Calibrachoa ‘CanCan Bumblebee Pink’ (Ball FloraPlant)

I have seen hundreds of callibrachoas this trip, and many have been quite handsome, yet this is the first calibrachoa on my must-have list. The plant is all things good callies are: colorful, branching, and with a beautiful mounding habit. However, the color and the internal bumblebee floral markings have made it stand out for me. Really cool.

Ornamental Pepper (PanAmerican Seed)

Ornamental peppers come and go, but they are always in the background somewhere, refusing to be shut out of the plant conversation. ‘Zamora Yellow’ is one of the many peppers PanAmerican displayed with handsome fruit and excellent habit. I am not sure why these colors caught my eye, but they likely match some school colors somewhere.

Dianthus ‘Rockin Red’ (Kieft Seed)

I enjoy bright colors and I really love to see plants with strong stems. This color knocks your socks off, and I think it could walk away on its own, its legs are so strong. An excellent plant for the landscaper and, I believe it would be an excellent cut flower, as well.

Catharanthus Mega Bloom Series (AmeriSeed)

Some years we have a lot of vinca on display; other years not so much. It really does not matter if you can see a series like the Mega Bloom series. Extra-large flowers and beautiful colors on sturdy plants have resulted in outstanding plants for the landscaper and gardener. The sleeper of the show.

Hort Couture and Its Magic Table of Delights

We are sometimes so serious about the plant business we forget that all those consumers and gardeners who buy our products are not serious at all. They want to experience our plants and simply have a little fun playing in the dirt. The Magic Table of Delights at Hort Couture put this business in perspective. At each setting was one of the plants it sells, new or not so new, and people were able to sit around and chat about them. Add a little wine and the reason why we are all in this business became obvious. Thank you to the folks at Hort Couture for helping us appreciate each other again.