Greenhouse Canada

Touring the California Spring Trials (Part 4)

April 15, 2016  By Brad McMillan JVK

April 15, 2016 – This is my fourth California Spring Trials online report for Greenhouse Canada this week. Check the archives for earlier stories of what caught my eye.

PAC has added a beautiful new peach colour to the underrated Two-In-One Series of interspecific geraniums. This series works well in baskets as well as in pots and in landscapes. This new peach colour really caught the attention of everyone on the tour‎. The Two-In-One Series has really come a long way from its humble beginnings, and ‘Peach’ is a great new addition for 2017.

Quicksilver Artemesia, new for 2017, is a hu-u-u-ge plant. It’s absolutely massive when mature, and very fast to get there. It grows to 6-10” in height, 12-30” in spread, or possibly more. The basket that PW had this plant in was a massive, whopper of a silver mound. It’s not recommended for less than gallon production, and would have to be in a larger planter or basket to work in a combo. I think Quicksilver would astound people if it were to be planted in a landscape, the same way that Proven Winner’s Vertigo Grass, or perhaps King Tut Cyperus did, when they were new. Definitely a “Wow!” factor here.

The Caliente Series is one of the top-selling interspecific geraniums on the market, and Syngenta has continued to make efforts to improve and add to this terrific plant. ‘Lavender Improved’ has a very vivid colour, more flowers, and a better habit than previous generations of this series.


Toucan Series Canna, from seed, offers a virus-free plant that awed everyone walking by the Proven Winners display. Four colours – ‘Red,’ ‘Rose,’ ‘Scarlet’ and ‘Yellow’ – make up the palette for this new addition to the company’s ever-expanding collection of plants. ‘Scarlet’ features bronze foliage, and the other colours have green. It is highly heat and disease tolerant. The average height is 48″ or more, and the spread is 18-24″. The Toucan Series is a vigorous grower, filling in containers and landscapes quickly.

Danziger has recorded a hole-in-one here with its new ‘Craspedia Golf Beauty.’ From a distance, I mistook this plant for some new gomphrena, but no – it’s Craspedia. The golden yellow and very firm, ball-shaped flowers sit atop tall stems. This plant not only makes a great new unique solo or combo plant, it also makes a good cut or drying flower. Danziger breeders say it will grow to 12-14″ in height on average, with tight, dense, sterile growth and early flowering that will go all season.

‘Magic Wand Salvia’ is a new hybrid cross with a wild salvia. It has long spikes of dark blue flowers on a full, dense plant that blooms from spring through autumn. Danziger suggests it can be used in pots, containers and landscapes, but wherever it ends up, it looks to me like this plant should be given room to grow and bulk up. This is a very unique new salvia, to be sure. It will grow to 18-24″ in height.

Cultivaris had many new varieties on display. The new ‘Zany Zinnia Scarlet’ was one of the most impressive and unique. The flowers are recognizable as zinnia but just slightly “zany” looking. Also, the habit of this plant is a bit less predictable than other conventional zinnia – it is also taller and bulkier. ‘Zany’ definitely received a lot of attention and would make a unique specimen plant in a large container or in the landscape.

Syngenta has added a beautiful rich, red colour to the highly mildew resistant Grandalia Series of dahlias. It boasts beautiful, large, pure red flowers on a strong, sturdy plant with dark green foliage. Dahlias have been making a strong comeback the last few years, partially due to the dramatic improvement of a few new series from various breeders, and Grandalia Series is one of them. This is a very dramatic plant for large containers or the landscape. I should mention that Syngenta Flowers has also printed a new catalogue for 2017.

Click here for Part Three in this series.

Click here for Part Two in this series.

Click here for Part One in this series.

Brad McMillan is the territory manager of North, Central and Eastern‎ Ontario‎ for JVK, one of Canada’s leading suppliers to the horticulture industry. JVK is based in St. Catharines, Ontario, but provides sales, customer care‎, and logistics services across all of Canada. The corporate web site and webstore is at

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