New Varieties
At the California Spring Trials earlier this year, several new perennial varieties leapt out at me. In particular, I looked for varieties with unusual or extended bloom periods to lengthen their life on the greenhouse bench.
There are few topics that interest the buying public as much as food. At plant trials, open house attendees are always keen to test out the latest hot pepper. Even the hippest young male is bound to feel compelled to show his worthiness by throwing caution to the wind and chomping down on a pepper heedless of warnings.
All-America Selections has announced the first winners from their three-winter Herbaceous Perennial Trial: Echinacea Sombrero Baja Burgundy and Rudbeckia American Gold Rush.
Starter-plant supplier Emerald Coast Growers has released the latest version of its trend-tracking new variety Resource Guide.
The California Spring Trials (CAST) were started by Glenn Goldsmith in 1967 which was for the purpose of educating growers of their breeding programs and their commitment to horticulture, and then other breeders started to join in the event to include almost every horticultural breeder distributor. The name evolved from the ‘California pack trials’ to now ‘California Spring Trials’ since the packs are a very small percentage of the industry.
Photographs can be beautiful, but nothing quite beats the rush of seeing new varieties in real life.
Similar to the All-America Selections Program in the United States, Quebec’s horticultural assessment program, Les Exceptionnelles (the Exceptionals) selects six to ten annual plants each year that have stood out for their performance and ease in growing in the assessment gardens in Canada’s northern climate.
Proven Winners has released its 2019 Trade Collection catalogue for Canadian growers in both print and digital formats. Growers can view the catalog online or request a printed copy from Nordic Nurseries in British Columbia or Ed Sobkowich Greenhouses in Ontario. 
Pre-made mixed planters have been gaining popularity over the past couple of years. But what makes an attractive mix? Researchers at the University of Guelph and Vineland Research and Innovation Centre saw an opportunity to gain a better understanding of consumer preferences for container plants.
With multiple plant breeders and tech suppliers, Windmill Nursery is a must-see stop on the CAST map.
For the first time in Danziger’s CAST history, their trial garden will feature an area exclusively for retailers. This private space will include new and exclusive varieties, as well as retail displays with full-grown individual plants and container combinations. Here are some highlights:
This year’s California Spring Trials are particularly special for Benary – it’s their 175th anniversary. Known for their fun, out-of-the-box activities during CAST, this year is no different. Here's a sample of the new varieties you can look forward to during your visit:
With CAST 2018 on the horizon, Ball’s stop in Santa Paula is ready to tickle the senses with four days of immersive displays. They’ll be showcasing hundreds of products from 10 different brands. Here’s a sample of what you can expect:

Beefsteak Tomato Atlas (Burpee)
The first-ever beefsteak for porches, decks and balconies, allowing customers to pick big, tasty beefsteak flavour right outside their door. The plant's bushy, compact habit easily shoulders bountiful loads of 1lb. tomatoes. Atlas is vigorous but grows neatly in patio containers – modern performance with old-time flavor. The fruit delivers unsurpassed balance of sweetness of acidity.

Calibrachoa MiniFamous® Uno Double Pinktastic (Selecta One)
The MiniFamous Uno series is an early-to-finish, medium-compact calibrachoa with uniform flower timing across the series. They grow well in quart and gallon containers, but also thrive in hanging baskets as part of Trixi® combos. This series has the most diversity on the market, featuring classic core colours, doubles and stars. Pinktastic features heavily contrasted double flowers and a ball-shaped habit that is half trailing. It was a Fleuroselect winner for 2017.

Verbena Firehouse (Ball Flora Plant)
This new series is the perfect medium-mounded basket verbena. It has superior garden performance in the heat – less cycling means more colour in the garden for summer! Firehouse launches with nine colours in the series. They have excellent powdery mildew resistance and make great combo components.

Dianthus Corona (PanAmerican Seed)
Wow 'em with the biggest blooms of any dianthus of this type. Exceptional flower form and a palette of show-stopping colour choices makes Corona a regal choice for cool-season landscapes, gardens and patio planters. It features uniform flowering time and habit. Plant it along with other spring annuals, such as pansies.

Coreopsis Double the Sun (Kieft Seed)
This bright newcomer is 2 to 3 weeks earlier than Early Sunrise and other comparable varieties in the early cool season. In summer, it finishes one to two weeks earlier. Get this favourite perennial class into the store before any other compact, semi-double yellow coreopsis, and listen as those registers ring. The semi-double, clear golden yellow flowers are large. Ideal for quart and 1-gallon production in spring and summer with 13-hour critical daylength.

Spreading Petunia Easy Wave® Red Improved (Wave)
Red gets a big-time upgrade for 2019, which moves six eye-catching mixes to the next level. Always a standout in the petunia market, bold and creative Easy Wave lets you bring in a wide array of decorator colours. Offers many upgrades compared to original Red: improved seed quality, a denser plant with more branching, and shorter peduncles for a more controlled, holdable plant structure. Foliage is dark green and the flowers are a deeper, richer red colour that does not wash out.

Hydrangea Kanmara® (Ball Ingenuity)
Brought to Ball from hydrangea experts at the Hydrangea Breeder Association, Kanmara is supplied from Aldershot Greenhouses, who follow their strict protocol for ideal production, performance, and uniformity. It’s a new generation of hydrangeas with large, majestic blooms in unique shades and elegant foliage. It radiates glamour and is sure to steal the show! Kanmara is ideal for the terrace, doorstep or balcony. The beautiful colours of this pot hydrangea guarantee an unrivaled display until well into late summer or fall.

Salvia Sky Blue Marvel (Darwin Perennials)
Sky Blue is a light-blue addition to the Marvel family, with the same great habit as Blue and Rose Marvel. The Marvel family has the largest flowers of any Salvia nemorosa on the market. Enjoy the stunning display of colour in spring and summer. Little to no maintenance required in the garden. It is hardy in zones 4 thru 9.

Bushel and Berry™ Southern Bluebelle™ (Star® Roses and Plants)

This petite, low-water and low-chill blueberry plant displays bright red foliage that turns emerald green as it matures. Perfect for small-space gardens or patios in warmer climates (zones 6–10). Plant grows 2-3' high with a mounded habit. Offers medium-sized berries in the summer with a mild, sweet flavour.

Ball is accepting appointments from Saturday, April 14 through Tuesday, April 17. Register online at

Contact Spring Trials concierge Janessa Bender with any questions at 630-588-3187, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

With the California Spring Trials (CAST) coming up, Dümmen Orange gave us a small sneak peek of what you can expect at their post.
Just ahead of the California Spring Trials, Proven Winners has announced the debut of its Coral Creations™ Succulents line.
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