New Annual highlights for 2021/2022
With so many gorgeous new varieties, options can become overwhelming. Here, breeders narrow it down to their favourite annuals.
By Greta Chiu
Greenhouse Canada once again asked breeders to choose their top new annuals for the Canadian market. Here’s what they chose, based on performance in trials and in their own gardens. Note: Varieties are not presented in any particular order.
Ball FloraPlant, PanAmerican Seed, Selecta One
Duayne Friesen, Ball Seed Sales representative, shares his top picks from Manitoba where plants tend to see low humidity, long days and intense sun. Like many parts of the Prairies, they’ve had an extremely hot and dry summer this year, with stretches of 33 to 35 °C. “It’s a different adventure for plants out in the Prairies. They love the lights, but the [low] humidity can sometimes be difficult to deal with,” he says. Shamrock Lantana Series (Ball Floraplant): Pictured above, the new Shamrock lantana series offers a controlled habit, but it’s not by any means small, says Friesen. Well-branched with medium vigour, it spreads magnificently and is one of the best he’s seen for filling out containers without overwhelming the other plants. “And because of their size, they’re going to work really well in any sized patio container or any hanging basket.” He has Orange Flame in his garden and, unlike other lantanas, it hasn’t stopped flowering. “This year has been extremely dry and these lantanas have just been amazingly good from day one.” Available in four colours: White, Peach, Orange Flame, and Rose.
 Cannonball Petunia series (Ball FloraPlant): This new Cannonball series replaces the older Sun Spun line of compact petunias, delivering a refreshed look as well as better uniformity in habit and timing across colours. Its compact, tightly mounding form stands out in the garden and in 4 to 4.5” pots – a key advantage at retail. “What I really like on this Cannonball is the fact that the flowers are all very, very large. They really pop compared to the other varieties around them,” says Friesen. He’s planted them in 24” planters for his neighbourhood adopt-a-pot program and received many compliments. “It’s a windy location, and the compact size keeps them nice and tight, so they’re not blown around in the wind.” Even in challenging conditions, the uniformity through all the colours is amazing, he says. Available in seven colours: Blue, Burgundy, Pink, Red, Rose Vein, White, and Yellow
 Starlet Midnight Sky Petunia (Selecta One): Midnight Sky adds rich, deep purple and the eye-catching white markings of a Sky plant to the Starlet collection. The colour emotes such depth that Friesen says it’s been described as a “goth” plant. Earlier Sky-patterned varieties saw more variability in the tags as they depend on nighttime temperatures, which can drop drastically in early spring, even in greenhouses. Newer varieties like Midnight Sky are much more stable, particularly in areas with smaller differences in temperature, such as Ontario. The variety is said to be well-matched in timing, vigour and habit to the series, growing compact and controlled. Early to flower and fast to finish.
 Coleus Copperhead (Ball FloraPlant): Coleus tends to be an easy, low maintenance choice for new gardeners. Plus, they transition well though the season. “They look just as impressive in the spring or in the summer as they do in the fall,” he says. Amid the new introductions, Copperhead is one that stands out for its colour and patterning. “The colour is very copper-ish with a lighter yellow-gold edge to it.” Its compact form makes it versatile, whether in planters or in ground. What’s significant is how it’s maintained colouring even in full sun and dry temperatures, says Friesen.
 Coleus Spitfire (Ball FloraPlant): Spitfire is another new addition that stands out for its stunning colours and patterns. The long feathery leaves boast a unique hot pink centre bordered by lime green and maroon. “You’re going to be able to add colour to a container you haven’t had before with this coleus,” says Friesen. A versatile compact introduction for container and landscape, Friesen sees it filling a gap in small containers as well. Measuring around 8”, it’s almost half the size of the Flamethrower series which averages at 15 to 16”. The variety performs best in the shade, particularly for low humidity areas, but it can tolerate more sun with higher humidity.
 Petunia E3 Wave (PanAmerican Seed): New to the Wave family, the E3 series has received much press this year. It flowers on short days, at or under 10 hours of daylength. “If you‘ve got an early spring, they will be early to flower, which is an advantage over other series of petunias,” says Friesen. Where it really shines for him is performance in the landscape. “Having seen how they grow in the ground, they really are quite something,” says Friesen. Though they have a natural compact-type form, they’ve easily reached 20” across his garden and are covered in blooms, even amid the heat and drought. Available in seven colours: Coral, Pink Cosmo, Pink, Sky Blue, Blue, White and Red
From Syngenta Flowers, Canadian business manager Terry Talsma shares five new favourites, drawing on the performance he’s seen in trials across North America.
 Spectra Interspecific New Guinea Impatiens: The new Spectra series of interspecific New Guinea Impatiens thrives in every application – from full shade all the way to full sun, says Talsma. “So the message is simple, plant it anywhere!” Blooms are typically 20 per cent larger than competitive varieties and flower 10 to 14 days faster. Because the flowers open on top of the plant, it’s destined for a full show from the start, he says. Excellent branching and uniform habit make it a versatile option in all pot sizes, both in sun and in shade. Royalties are also lower compared to existing options. Available in five colours: Bright Red, Magenta, Orange, Pink, and White.
 Itsy White Petunia: “Small but mighty, tough and tiny!” is the official tagline for this new Itsy White petunia. “[An] amazing follow-up to the introduction of Itsy Magenta in 2020,” says Talsma. He points to its exceptional spreading landscape vigour, where exceptional branching and large volumes of small flowers result in blankets of colour. In trials, they’ve performed well in the heat and stood up to the rain. The smaller flowers also make for ideal combinations, says Talsma, “a great alternative to bacopa which tends to discolour and not tolerate the heat.”
 Mojo Interspecific Geranium – Dark Pink and Hot Cherry (pictured): Syngenta adds two new colours to the Mojo series, bringing the total to seven. “[It’s] the only dark leaf geranium series on the market,” says Talsma. Set against the dark green foliage, the bright palette of colour offered by these two additions creates a striking combination for their big blooms. Their medium vigour and well-branched, upright habit makes them ideal for containers across a range of sizes. From performance in trials, Talsma has seen them thrive in hot, dry conditions typical of difficult landscape environments.
 Fun House Potpourri Petunia: As the name suggests, Fun House Potpourri delivers a unique flower and colour pattern that captures attention at retail. It’s the first entry in a new series featuring very unique flower patterns, Talsma explains. Its medium vigour and mounded habit makes it an ideal addition to hanging baskets and patio containers.
 Callie Calibrachoa – Rose Dark Center (pictured) and Lavender: The Callie series welcomes two new colour additions – Lavender and Rose Dark Center. “Continuing the great upgrades and unique colour additions to Callie, these two intros feature an attractive ring of third colour in the center,” says Talsma. Vigorous and bold, the series blooms continuously from spring to fall and is said to be a great choice for premium hanging baskets and mixed combos.
Kerry Meyer, program manager at Proven Winners, introduced almost 33 new annuals from Proven Winners. To help narrow down the selection, Glenn Andersen of Nordic Nurseries, B.C. handpicked a few of his favourites for the Canadian market with notes below from Meyer.
 Superbells Double Twilight Calibrachoa: This double-flowered calibrachoa offers a pale lilac colour and with dark purple centres that extend to darker veins and netting on the lighter petal surface, says Meyer. “This may be my favourite colour.” The gorgeous spring hues will mix well with combinations. “As with all calibrachoa, it doesn’t like wet root systems,” she adds, recommending containers to manage moisture. “We are trialling it for better root characteristics.”
 Ladybird Calylophus – Lemonade (pictured) and Sunglow: This new two-variety Texas primrose series offers two slightly different hues of a soft, warm yellow. But they’re not just for the southern U.S. climate. Proven Winners has trialled them in New Hampshire and Michigan, where their production facilities are located, as well as select trials in Canada. “Great for hot, dry sunny spots. They’re really tough plants,” says Meyer, including for landscape.
 Augusta lavender heliotropium: Differing from the classic Heliotropium, this Augusta lavender doesn’t produce big flowers with sparse foliage. “People will hear heliotrope and think one thing but see another,” says Meyer. “The flowers are in much smaller clusters. Each individual floret will look like a heliotrope.” Another Texan native, it’s very heat- and humidity-tolerant. While it can be quite fragrant, this isn’t a consistent quality. “Consider fragrance a bonus for the times it is present,” she adds. “A thriller or filler… It’ll be great in landscape for mounds of colour.” For combinations, growers may need other vigorous components, but it also does well on its own. Grow together from the liner stage for best results in combos. Reaches up to two feet in height.
 Safari Jamesbrittenia – Dawn (pictured) and Sky: While the genus has been around for a while, Jamesbrittenia have generally been difficult to grow, says Meyer. The South African native has more interesting colours than bacopa, and can be used as a substitution in combos. “They’re really good landscape plants, too.” A new genus for Proven Winners, the series debuts in two colours, Dawn with its yellow centre and pink to lavender hues, and Sky with its lavender to white centres. Both offer good resistance to downy mildew and powdery mildew. Ideal for smaller container sizes.
 Supertunia Vista Jazzberry: This electric magenta purple of Jazzberry broadens the range of offerings in the Supertunia Vista series. It’s closer to purple than they have been in the past, says Meyer. Expanding the colour range has been particularly difficult because Proven Winners is not willing to compromise on the performance of the Vista name. Vigour is said to match Bubblegum and others in the rest of the series with their large, upright mounded plants and self-cleaning flowers all season-long.
Danziger has released a number of unique, new varieties for 2022. Marketing manager for North America, Lisa Heredia shares some of the highlights along with several shots taken from trials this year.
 Lollies Argyranthemum: A new series of Argyranthemum frutescens, Lollies features a naturally compact, mounded habit. The early blooming series offers five colours with uniform performance, all thoughtfully named according to this delicious confectionary theme. When trialed in Israel, the series bloomed just 10 weeks after planting. Recommended for gallons, pots and landscape. Available in five colours: Berry Gummy, Pink Pez, Buttermint, White Chocolate, and Marshmallow.
 Eyeconic Peach Calibrachoa: The Eyeconic Calibrachoa hybrida line adds new Peach for a total of five colours. True to its name, the darker eye offers striking contrast, and the large flowers are said to bloom early enough for any market. “They’re selected for larger pots,” says Heredia, who adds that the controlled semi-trailing habit is ideal for combos and hanging baskets.
 Craspedia Golf Beauty Improved: Danziger introduced an improved version of Craspedia Golf Beauty this year. As Heredia explains, the previous version didn’t do quite as well in low-light conditions and as a result, was more of a southern crop. This new and improved variety is said to be well-branched and fast blooming. Plus, it roots 30 per cent faster than the former version. “We bred it for landscape and potted crops,” she says, adding that its fun Dr. Seuss-like quality makes for an excellent combo item.
 Osticade Daybreak Osteospermum: After launching Osticade Yellow last year, Danziger adds new Daybreak to this series of Osteospermum ecklonis. The variety offers elegant shades of pink and yellow amid a controlled semi-trailing mounding habit ideal for baskets. “They don’t have to be grown in a cool greenhouse,” says Heredia, explaining that there’s no need for cold treatment. Unlike some other Osteospermum that have to be separated from other crops, this one can be grown in a warm greenhouse along with other annuals.
 Hello Yellow Capella Petunia: Hello Yellow is one of three new varieties in the Capella series. With bright colour that goes straight to the edge of the bloom, it’s a striking new addition. As Heredia describes it, the variety is well-mannered and easy to take care of in the greenhouse, performing well in propagation and naturally compact in the greenhouse with minimal PGRs. An early bloomer, it continues to grow and gain size in the garden. Though it was selected for quarts, this petunia has no trouble filling baskets.
Green Fuse Botanicals
From Green Fuse Botanicals, CEO Jim Devereux shares thoughts on his top new annual introductions, highlighted at the California Summer Trials this year.
 Portulaca 24/7: New breeding in portulaca brings this new series to the market. Said to stay open all day and night like the local 24/7 convenience store, this portulaca not only produces large, fully double flowers measuring two to three inches, but is also day length neutral. Perfect in quarts through basket production.
Available in five colours: fuchsia, orange, red, white, and yellow.
 Begonia Rex Bewitched Night Owl: The crisp colour contrast of this new Begonia Rex Bewitched Night Owl is a fitting addition to the Bewitched series. Best out of the sun, this variety is ideal for a shady spot on the porch or indoors year-round.
 Petunia Blanket Silver Surprise: Silver Surprise joins the Blanket petunia series, and a surprise it is. The new addition offers blossoms that open in silver, purple, lavender and half and half. This display of mixed colour will be an attention-grabber in the garden. “Every garden needs a blanket!” shares Devereux. One plant can easily fill a hanging basket or the landscape with a mature size of 8’x8’.
All photos courtesy of the respective seed breeder, supplier or representative.