Floricultura-Pacifica in Salinas opened its doors to invite California Spring Trials visitors to experience new offerings from European breeders including Westhoff Flowers, Beekenkamp, and PAC-Elsner, as well as California native The Plug Connection. While there, it was interesting to witness the ongoing and highly automated production of orchids, as well as construction of more greenhouse space happening simultaneously.
As is tradition, Westhoff Flowers invited its visitors to flag their favorite combos at the entrance, and showed off its unique assortment of annuals, as well as a few concepts. The breeder is working loosely with Florist Holland to show mixes used with Westhoff Flowers — or Westflowers — annuals and Florist gerberas in the center. The combinations are bright and cheerful, and spur a happy reaction in those who have seen them, so it will be interesting to see what happens with this concept going forward.
Another new idea is putting together varieties from Westhoff’s bracteantha Cottage series into mixes, to be sold alongside mums. The strawflower combos are easier to produce and last longer than mums, plus they have the textural interest of the flowers that’s sure to bring in consumers. Combos include an Autumn Mix and Pink Mix. A few new colors were added to the series for a total of seven.
Westhoff has gained acclaim in the U.S. for its Crazytunia series and Hot Lobelia series. In Crazytunias, it has a few new colors, including Pink Frills, and some new combinations. Black Mamba continues to be deemed the best black petunia on the market, and Moonstruck was the second most-liked variety at Welby Gardens’ trials in Colorado last summer out of 800 varieties. Westhoff reminds growers that Crazytunia is a collection, not a series, because of the different habits of some of the varieties.
The Big Deal petunia series is new, with large flowers and a vigorous growth habit that received attention in the in-ground trials at EuroAmerican Propagators. In the neon Hells Petunias, Hells Fury Mix combines two colors and is expected to get some shelf space at big boxes this year.
A heat-tolerant, bright-colored offering — the portulaca ColorBlast series shown at Dümmen Orange — offers both double flower forms and bicolors, with succulent-like foliage that provides interest in its coloring, as well. Bidens ‘Giant Sun Louis’ is another eyecatcher with its vigorous habit and huge flowers.
Westhoff hosted the “Battle of the Brokers” this year, testing and awarding points to visiting broker representatives on who knew the most about Westhoff genetics. Most of them tied, but the competition was heated, and it’s likely the reps will study up to gain bragging rights next year.
Last year the Kelos series of celosia got people talking, and this year it’s the Kelos Fire series and the Kelos Atomic series. Both are day-length neutral and have a wide range of colors. In the Atomics, Violet is the current favorite among growers.
Beekenkamp’s LaBella Grande dahlias have gotten some attention, especially the Orange Bicolor. These large-flowered, compact varieties are well-positioned for advancement in the marketplace. Begonia ‘Evi Pink’ and ‘Evi Bright Pink’ are also getting attention for their heat tolerance and bloom power.
Last year we glimpsed the new argyranthemum Day-zee series, but this year it was rolling out to the U.S. as an official introduction. The Red variety was throwing off a mix of colors that visitors liked. P.A.C-Elsner is also introducing a Two-in-One geranium with two colors, and has a lovely new experimental in ‘Sweetheart.’ Its Angelos angelonia series offers both upright and trailing flower types, and it has some new colors in the Darko geranium series.
The Southern California young plant grower’s organic herb line continues to grow, and it has added two new varieties to its Mighty Mato grafted tomato program. The Ketchup ‘n Fries tomato, which was introduced last year, has been improved with a larger potato variety, and the tomato was so sweet that that variety was added to Mighty Mato. Pixie grapes for the patio will be marketed more heavily this year, as well.