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Growing in the Green: Sampling this year’s Spring Trials part Two

July 22, 2013  By Melhem Sawaya

This article picks up where we left off in July. Please refer to last
month’s issue for the introductory notes (pg 12) either in the print
edition or online at

This article picks up where we left off in July. Please refer to last month’s issue for the introductory notes (pg 12) either in the print edition or online at

Featured in these features is only a sampling of the hundreds of varieties on display at the California Spring Trials (that I prefer to call the California Showcase)!

Petunia F1 ‘Orange’ (1)


Petunia F1 ‘Orange’ (1) is the new addition to the Trilogy series. It has a vivid bright orange colour with a trailing habit. It also has a long shipping window since the plant does not split over time. It actually improves, especially when grown cool like other petunias. Grow them in hanging baskets or take advantage of the vivid orange colour to brighten any combination.

Spring Celebrities (Alcea) series (2)


The Spring Celebrities (Alcea) series (2), is a very elegant plant with a pyramid of large double flowers, excellent for early summer sales in gallons.

 Canna lily ‘South Pacific’ (3)


Canna lily ‘South Pacific’ (3) is the first F1 hybrid. It has large scarlet flowers. Keep this canna moist while growing. If fertilized overhead, rinse the fertilizer off the leaves with clear water.

 ‘Mini Blast Rose’ (4) petunia


‘Mini Blast Rose’ (4) petunia has a smaller flower compared to ‘Rose Blast.’ It has an excellent ratio of flowers to foliage, which ensures a long-season plant that will not fall apart. It is excellent in hanging baskets and combinations.

This was a demonstration (5)


This was a demonstration (5) to show that you need only one quarter the number of Sunpatiens (red) compared to traditional impatiens (pink) to cover the same landscape area. Very impressive!

‘Cali-Petite’ (6)


‘Cali-Petite’ (6) is the perfect series for 4” calibrachoa production in the greenhouse. It fits into any shelf space at retail, and is great in landscapes where space is limited, or in rock gardens.

 ‘Pinball Purple’ (7)


‘Pinball Purple’ (7) is the first vegetative gomphrena on the market. It truly stands out with its strong mounding habit and vibrant colour to ensure higher retail sell-through. It has proven performance in the landscape, exceptional heat and drought tolerance, and outstanding presentation at retail. The unique texture, mounding habit and continuous flowering make it an ideal component plant for mixed containers.

 ‘Aloha Kona Soft Pink’ (8)

 Geranium ‘Cumbanita Deep Rose’ (9)

 geranium ‘Serita Sun Star Red’ (10)

 ‘Great Balls of Fire Light Lavender’ (11)

 geranium interspecific ‘Boogaloo’ (14)

 geranium interspecific ‘Double Take Red’ (18)


‘Aloha Kona Soft Pink’ (8) is a more compact subseries of the Aloha calibrachoa series. This saves on growth regulators, especially the first treatment. It’s great for hanging baskets and combinations.

Geranium ‘Cumbanita Deep Rose’ (9), geranium ‘Serita Sun Star Red’ (10), ivy geranium ‘Great Balls of Fire Light Lavender’ (11), geranium interspecific ‘Boogaloo’ (14), and geranium interspecific ‘Double Take Red’ (18) are all excellent varieties due to the cross-breeding between zonal geraniums and ivy geraniums. It has resulted in varieties that are more vigorous and weather tolerant to high heat or cool conditions. Many breeders are coming up with great crosses. However, there is vast difference among the interspecific varieties, so trying the
different cultivars or checking trials is a must to come up with the cultivars that your customers will like.

Peppy ‘Lavender’ (12)


Peppy ‘Lavender’ (12) is a vigorous trailing petunia with striped flowers, which is a characteristic of this series. It has an excellent ratio of leaves to flowers. It is great in large hanging baskets and gives synergy to any combination.

‘Magic Carpet Yellow’ (13


‘Magic Carpet Yellow’ (13) is one of the best genera for garden performance because it flowers from early summer to frost. Mecardonia flowers last a very long time, so much so that you can easily have four stages of flowering and they all look great. This means no deadheading and very low maintenance … just enjoy the masses of yellow flowers!

‘Stained Glassworks Burgundy Wedding Train’ (15)


‘Stained Glassworks Burgundy Wedding Train’ (15) is an old variety, but still one of the few coleuses that has a controlled trailing habit. It is great in large containers and combinations.

‘Solenia Orange’ (16)


‘Solenia Orange’ (16) is one colour in this begonia series that has excellent garden performance. It has vigorous growth, but puts on a fantastic show in any garden presentation or in large hanging baskets.

 ‘Arcada Yellow & Apricot Bicolour’ (17)  

‘Arcada Yellow & Apricot Bicolour’ (17) is part of a fairly new begonia series that was pushed on the market without enough cultural information, in my opinion. However, when grown properly at stock level and in greenhouse production, Arcada is truly a winner with consumers.

‘MiniFamous Double Lemon’ (19)


‘MiniFamous Double Lemon’ (19) is not a new variety, but like others in the series, it puts on a great show when grown to its potential by sales time. Double calibrachoa are much different from regular calibrachoa and attract considerable interest from consumers.

 ‘Cha-Ching Cherry’ (20)


‘Cha-Ching Cherry’ (20) is another petunia with outstanding colour. It will stand the rain and will not fall apart despite having so many flowers.

 The Whopper Series (21)


The Whopper Series (21) is a large fibrous begonia that is quite vigorous. It is perfect for gallon sales or in very large containers. After a half-century of bedding plants, we are finally getting it – plant material does not have to be compact and early flowering to draw consumers. Large flowers work well as long as they are in
the right ratio to the foliage. This series proves it!

 ‘Wave’ (22)


‘Wave’ (22) is a trailing pansy from seed that rivals any vegetative pansy with consistently great performance in the greenhouse and in trials. It is great in hanging baskets for early sales.

 ‘Garvinea Orangina’ (23)


‘Garvinea Orangina’ (23) is great in landscapes. It is a multiflora gerbera that blooms all summer. It is powdery mildew resistant and can take cold weather.

 ‘Surfinia Heavenly Blue’ (24)


‘Surfinia Heavenly Blue’ (24) features stunning flowers on healthy foliage. It has an excellent ratio of flowers to foliage. This petunia works well in large hanging baskets or pots. I’m looking forward to seeing its performance in our garden trials this summer.

Diascia ‘Sundascia Upright Rose Pink’ (25)


Diascia ‘Sundascia Upright Rose Pink’ (25) has been bred to take high summer temperatures. It has a dense cluster of flowers on sturdy stems that will add alot to any combination of different flower  colours and leaf textures.

Crackling Fire (26)


Crackling Fire (26) is one of many new series of begonia boliviensis on the market. It’s important to know the ones that break well and perform strongly throughout the summer. This is an excellent genus when it is grown properly. It has the potential to be among the top three bedding plants. This series in particular has the ingredients to be a great garden performer.

 (27) The ‘New Compact Rose’ Lofos (at right) is a great improvement over ‘Old Wine’ Lofos (at left)


(27) The ‘New Compact Rose’ Lofos (at right) is a great improvement over ‘Old Wine’ Lofos (at left), because it is easier to handle while growing and shipping, and it flowers earlier. It also has a high flower-to-foliage ratio. It has excellent trailing characteristics, and is said to flower the whole summer. We will watch for it this summer at our garden trials.

 Crazytunia (28)


Crazytunia (28) is a new petunia series featuring new and different flower colours. It is early flowering and more upright in habit, which is good for smaller pot sizes. It will put on a great show at retail as long as it is sold on time. Garden performance will be monitored this summer at our trials.

 ‘Trailing Angelos Pink’ (29)


‘Trailing Angelos Pink’ (29) is a good, spreading angelonia that looked great in California. It has thick foliage with lots of flowers. Angelonia is a great summer plant, especially when it is hot.

The Waterfall trailing begonia series (except ‘Apadaria Yellow’) (30)


The Waterfall trailing begonia series (except ‘Apadaria Yellow’) (30) has a similar habit to Illumination, a begonia series that also looks great when viewed from three feet or 30 feet away!

If I have to say which variety at the California showcase was the champion, I’d give the nod to ‘Heavenly Blue’ (24). For me, a plant is a champion only when it has great garden performance and completely meets consumer expectations. This will be a market winner!

Melhem Sawaya of Focus Greenhouse Management is a consultant and research coordinator to the horticultural industry. Comments on this or any other article are always welcome; please e-mail, or visit .

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