Sunny Skies And Beautiful Varieties At GroLink Provide Inspiration At California Spring Trials

Surfinia Heartbeat (Suntory)

Surfinia Heartbeat (Suntory)

At GroLink in Oxnard, CA, on Sunday, the sun finally came out, after a day of pouring rain on Saturday. So the breeders and growers were happy to be outside, and the mood was positive and sunny, matching the weather.


This is a massive stop with several breeders displaying on site. Here are the highlights of what we saw at each supplier’s display.

Sun-Fire Nurseries

T. Jay Higgins was on hand to talk about the new Mandevilla ‘Sun Parasol Apricot,’ an addition to the popular Sun Parasol line with peachy, creamy flowers. This vigorous grower was presented in traditional pots with trellises, but also in gorgeous hanging baskets. That’s more for the independent retailer, Higgins says, as it’s difficult for big box growers to ship, but it certainly makes for a premium item.

Next up was Suntory, wearing its heart on its sleeve with the newest addition to its petunia collection, ‘Surfinia Heartbeat.’ With a white background, each petal has its own little pink heart, which will be a great addition to any Mother’s Day program, and potentially even as early as Valentine’s Day in some Southern or Western markets.

Suntory has added Glacial Pink to its Sumo series, for a total of four varieties. Glacial Pink and Pink have the best vigor in the series, according to Delilah Onofrey of Flower Power Marketing, which represents Suntory.

Suntory added two new colors to its line of Soiree Kawa-ii catharanthus, a new Double Soiree and a new Ruby Red color to its Senetti Pericallis series. It also reintroduced the Senetti Sparkle line.

The biggest news for Suntory, though, was the addition of combos, which includes the popular BeeDance bidens series. Three combos include Bee Fabulous, Bee Gorgeous, and Bee-utiful. Other combos are available, too, including single-species combos of its double petunias, which would be ideal for holidays like Mother’s Day and Easter.

New breeding in the signature Surdiva scaevola series has provided a more upright series, but Suntory is keeping its original scaevolas on in the Surdiva Classics. Surdiva combos include both forms — upright and the more trailing Classics.

The company is also behind the breeding of the new Grandessa argyranthemum series, marketed by Ball. The intergeneric breakthrough includes a tetraploid argryranthemum, crossed with Ismelia, an old-fashioned annual chrysanthemum called painted daisy, which gives the Grandessas their halo effect.


Plant Haven Collection

Plant Haven Collection


PlantHaven has been busy sourcing new genetics from around the globe, and working with companies to build up supply for its varieties. It’s working with Longwood Gardens on the Canna Longwood Collection, showing us the first intro, ‘Simply Salmon.’ It’s compact in a 4-inch pot, but grows to reach 2 feet tall and wide.

The Dahlia Painter Series is bred by a French breeder, Arnot Delmor. It’s being produced by Dümmen Orange’s Oro Farms, and it’s compatible with Dümmen Orange’s XXL series, but the bright flowers look like they’ve been splashed with paint. They’re large and lovely, with four colors.

Dianthus ‘Pinball Wizard’ is part of the Devon Cottage series, with a unique flower that’s fragrant and ideal in the landscape or as a cut flower. The display was fun, too, as PlantHaven created its own Pinball Wizard game that visitors enjoyed.

Last year’s intro, Adenophora, is catching on in the market, and PlantHaven is working with the Chinese company Siere Hendel to produce tissue culture, which it says provides more vigorous plants than the splits; however, growers can get splits from Dümmen Orange’s Antigua Flowers.

The new Salvia ‘Vibe Ignition Purple’ has an interesting backstory. The breeder, based in Northern California, is a veteran of the computer world in Silicon Valley, who retired from the rat race and started a nursery with his wife. They’re now breeding salvia and are working on a red variety to join this purple.

Abutilon ‘Patio Lantern,’ from University of Sydney breeding, is an adorable introduction that offers large flowers on a shortened stem, so flowers look outwards and don’t get buried in foliage.

Finally, PlantHaven introduced a couple of new concepts in its new Water Savers line, which includes its euphorbia, Celebration gaillardia, and Ignition salvia. It’s also highlighting its proven performers in shrubs in the Icon series, like its new Abelia ‘Radiance,’ which comes from the same breeder as ‘Kaleidoscope,’ and has a compact, round, meatball-like habit. Some color growers are growing these in 35 cells and using them in combos.


MegaBloom Upright Vinca Series

An upright MegaBloom vinca series with distinctive large blooms was the big highlight at Ameriseed.


An upright MegaBloom vinca series with distinctive large blooms was the big highlight at Ameriseed. This upright vinca from seed was bred in Southeast Asia under tropical conditions. For trailing vinca, there is the MegaFlow series. Ameriseed is also venturing into the vegetable market and is starting to introduce a few patio selections; one new cucumber has yet to be named, but promises quick production, just 60 days from sow to fruit.

Vivero Internacional

One of the only independent cuttings producers now, Vivero Internacional is based in Mexico, and it’s licensed to produce Westhoff spring annuals, including Big Deal, a new petunia series that’s being introduced for next year; Angelos Angelonia, a series with both upright and trailing varieties, bred by P.A.C. Elsner; Volmary lantana; Kientzler’s Dipladenia Bella series; P.A.C Elsner geraniums; and Endisch geraniums.

The company is also exclusively producing Garden Genetics’ Geranium ‘Mint Julep’ as an open release to the market. The variety was previously exclusive to Hort Couture for its first year, but it’s now available to any grower.

Vivero also has a collection of older novelty geraniums, which has not been otherwise available, and it’s producing a trailing Thunbergia ‘Arizona Lemon Sunrise’ for Volmary.

Hort Couture

The past few years, Hort Couture — a company dedicated to producing new varieties specifically for the independent garden retailer — has been focusing most of its attention on annuals, and it’s always had an edibles line. But this year, Hort Couture has completely revamped its veggies line with the Culinary Collection, which includes 30 varieties of vegetables and even fruit.

The collection includes herbs, as well, with five varieties of its Basil Pesto line, which are chosen for leaf shape and color. A highlight is ‘Bambino Purple,’ which has greenish purple, serrated leaves for great texture. ‘Avalanche’ rosemary spills out of baskets, working well as a fragrant spiller in combos. ‘Zest Licorice Towers’ fennel is another unique offering that won’t bolt quickly and is large enough to grow in the garden, and Rungia ‘Wild Mushroom’ from Hishtil breeding is great for soups and stews.

Some varieties are from specific breeders, but most are on the open market, making them easy to grow and economical to produce.

Also included is the Tomato Mixology collection, which includes eight varieties of tomatoes, all with drink names like ‘Bloody Mary’ and ‘Gin Bloody Mary.’

All of the culinary collection is compact and manageable for containers. Other offerings include cabbage kale, endive, strawberry, and cucumbers.

The other introductions from Hort Couture are new coleus miniature types, which work well in combinations but also are ideal for the miniature plant market.


Speaking of miniature plants, Schoeneveld has a selection of cyclamen that includes micros that can be used in miniature production. But its cyclamen series ranges from the micro size to Mammoth, the largest. New colors include more picotee types, also called Fuji, likened to the snow on the top of Mt. Fuji.

Schoeneveld offers three series for extended sales throughout the year. Growers can start with Verrano, then grow Carino in fall and finally Mini in the winter.

The new Cream White color is offering better flower life than the traditional Pure White, outperforming it in landscape trials in California within the past year.

Schoeneveld also showed two new colors in its Ranunculus Sprinkles Collection, and it has introduced a new Primula acaulis, which is a later variety for the extended season.


Garvinea Gerbera Sweet Caroline (Florist Holland)

Among the many new intros from Florist Holland, one of the most striking was ‘Sweet Memories’ in the Garvinea line.

Royal Van Zanten

‘Skyfall’ is the new thing happening in mums. It’s a new trailing mum type that does well in hanging baskets and containers, covering the pot and hugging it to produce a true trailing variety. It can also be grown in flower pouches, and it’s available in five colors.

Colorita is a newish series of pot alstroemeria, with a few new varieties in its Eliane and Feline series. The company is providing a new retail concept in this line, showing how to decorate with these to extend the summer garden party outdoors and indoors. It grows and flowers all summer, and it has garden sleeves and attractive tags available for POP. It’s sold through Ball and Gloeckner.

New pot mums are coming out, as well, in two new types — spinner and spoon. Royal Van Zanten is encouraging growers to produce different plant collections for spring/summer and for fall/winter. While the market has been closed due to chrysanthemum white rust, once it opens back up again, there will be more varieties available. The company is also encouraging growers and retailers to help consumers pair mum choices for their own tastes and the functions they need them for, much like food retailers would help consumers choose a wine they like to pair with a meal.

Finally, the Royal aster series includes two different types — a single flower Tiara and a double flower Showmaker. Plants have many small flowers and attractive colors like blue that are unique to the North American market.

Florist Holland

Florist Holland promoted a marketing concept using gerberas in containers. The company is working together with Westhoff to produce combinations, because Westhoff has the varieties that offer the fill and the spill, while Florist Holland has the height in gerberas that gives consumers the thrill.

Another retail concept was point-of-purchase materials giving consumers five reasons to buy, plant, and enjoy Garvinea Sweet gerberas — first true garden gerbera, flowers from spring to hard frost, attracts bees and butterflies, resistance to pests and diseases, and resistance to deer and rabbits.

Among the many new intros from Florist Holland, two of the most striking were ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘Sweet Memories’ in the Garvinea line, and ‘Fundy’ in the Patio line.


A standout at Anthura was Anthurium ‘Vanilla,’ the first yellow variety on the market. Demand for smaller pot sizes in anthuriums is picking up, so Anthura is bringing out an assortment of improved anthurium for 4-inch pots. Other intros in this category include ‘Sweet Dream’ and ‘Solaro.’ The company is also changing up its phalaenopsis program for the North American market, now providing half-grown phalaenopsis, spike initiated at the nursery, ready for sale in 12 weeks. Anthura also believes that the long stem that’s often characteristic of orchids doesn’t offer anything to consumers, so they’re focusing on breeding to shorten the stem so it ships better and offers a tighter, more compact product.

Sturdy Jo Tomatoes (Prudac)

Sturdy Jo Tomatoes (Prudac)


Gediflora is introducing its new mum — ‘Vega Red’ — with an unusual companion. In a cross-marketing effort, the company has developed a full-bodied beer as well, based on extracts from chrysanthemum, which gives it a unique taste. ‘Vega Red’ blooms early in September in the North and mid-September in the South and will size up in large containers. The company has developed point-of-purchase material for its mums that matches the POP on the brand of beer, hoping to encourage a trend toward beer and mum purchases. If we can think of more ways to cross-market flowers with other products that will cause people to automatically think of plants when they purchase their favorite goods — and vice versa — it will go a long way toward increasing the demand for plants.

Flamingo Holland

Flamingo Holland has a new ‘Havanna Blues’ geranium that is good for Southern growers and comparable to ‘Rosanne’ in heat tolerance. Another alstroemeria introduction, ‘Inca Replay,’ blooms over the whole pot instead of in segments as is typical of alstroemeria.

Athena Brazil

Athena Brazil featured some nice displays of Terra Nova Nurseries’ genetics. In a display of tea herbs, the company offered a cross-marketing concept, as well, showing how herbs grown in containers on a deck or patio can not only be used for making tea, but also for decorating outdoor spaces and aromatherapy, too. It’s another way to market plants pairing function with lifestyle.


Venturing out on its own this year, after displaying with Hem Genetics, Prudac was looking for more interaction with growers and feedback on its product, especially from big box growers. It was hard to gauge the interest on the large scale, but the independent garden centers who saw the product have responded positively with a great deal of interest. There were some nice patio varieties of pepper and tomatoes displayed.