Each year, plant breeding companies wow attendees at the California Spring Trials with interesting new varieties, innovative technology and inspirational displays. This year was no different, and editors from Garden Center and Greenhouse Management magazines traveled from Oxnard to Gilroy, Calif., in April to spotlight some of the new varieties and more from the event. Stay tuned for the second part of our coverage in the July issue, when we will share more highlights, and make sure to check out our video coverage at the links included throughout the article.
This year, we learned more about a few of the companies behind the plants, as well as new business endeavors for them.
Benary celebrated its 175th anniversary with a living timeline, showcasing key moments in its history as well as new varieties. One of the most important dates for the company was 1946, when the Benary family left their home and company behind in East Germany the aftermath of WWII. Fritz Benary landed in West Germany and rode his bike throughout Europe, collecting seeds from customers to help restart the company. The company is honoring Fritz Benary’s ride and work in many ways, including tying his story to the introduction of Super Hero marigolds, an improvement on the Hero series. Spry, a 2018 National All-America Selections winner, is compact like the others in the Super Hero series and features maroon and gold flowers. Learn more from Jen Calhoun, marketing specialist for Benary North America, in this video interview: bit.ly/2HeJJpx
We’re always interested in learning about emerging technology that will lighten growers’ and grower-retailers’ loads. Perry Wismans, Global Head of Floriculture Innovation at Dümmen Orange, gave us the details on Basewell, a new plant product form that falls between a callused cutting and a rooted liner. These rooted cuttings are housed in an Autostix strip, but can be shipped either in an intact strip, or separated for those growers who don’t have the required machinery. So far, they’ve trialed 15 species with customers, and have plans for more soon. You can watch our interview with Wismans, where he explains more about the technology and benefits, and shows examples of Basewell cuttings at bit.ly/2qNHMVO
There was a lot to discover and celebrate at Hem Genetics this year. Hem Zaden celebrated 100 years in business, Hem Genetics 20 years, and this year the company introduced Hem Technologies. Through Hem Technologies, a new business venture, the company brought its petunia seed pelleting in-house at a new seed facility. Joe Messer, manager for North America, told us that the company was also working to demonstrate the possibilities of its seeds with the combination planters displayed at Spring Trials. Learn more in this video: bit.ly/2JhE6qN
Sense of discovery
These new varieties and collections were discovered and developed after many years of hard work on the part of breeders.
Well-known rosarian Ping Lim (pictured), director of ornamental plant research at Altman Plants, told attendees at the Floricultura stop about True Bloom, a collection of six “hybrid tea shrub” roses that took several years of breeding work to develop. With a 25-petal requirement, they have the look of a tea rose but the disease resistance of a shrub. They each have their own unique quality, as well, whether it be a powerful fragrance (True Gratitude) or an average 45 to 50 petal count per bloom (True Inspiration, pictured). All True Bloom roses are also compact and low-maintenance.
Sakata Seed America took selections from its Verano and Picasso mini cyclamen to create Veranda (pictured), another mini series of cyclamen specifically tested for outdoor performance. Greg Gabrels, ornamentals key account manager for Sakata Seed America, says mini cyclamen are the most weather tolerant, which is why they were selected for the landscape. Watch the video interview with him here: bit.ly/2rUEQYY
After hearing murmurings about this variety for a couple of years, it was exciting to finally see ‘Canary Wings’ begonia (pictured) in person. Bred by Jared Hughes and brought to market by Ball Ingenuity, this begonia’s unique yellow to bright chartreuse foliage sets it apart from other dragon wing type begonias.
Bailey Nurseries introduced Spring Trials attendees to the newest family member of the Endless Summer Collection, Summer Crush (pictured), a naturally compact Hydrangea macrophylla that features giant raspberry-colored blooms atop strong stems with shiny, waxy leaves. It grows 18 to 36 inches tall and is hardy to zone 4. Natalia Hamill, brand and business development manager at Bailey, shares more details in this video: bit.ly/2ka8Vzq
Spring Meadow Nursery has introduced a new evergreen shrub with its Proven Winners Juke Box Pyracomeles (pictured), which is a cross between a Pyracantha and Osteomeles but has no thorns, doesn’t flower and is fully branched to the ground. Juke Box has the look of a boxwood but is not susceptible to blight.
We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw ‘SunBelievable Brown Eyed Girl’ (pictured). This new sterile sunflower is the fruit of Thompson & Morgan breeding and is being sold in a Monrovia pot in the U.S. Brown Eyed Girl doesn’t require PGRs and blooms for six months, producing a whopping 1,000-plus flowers per plant. Learn more here: bit.ly/2syac7o
Sense of style
These fashionable breeders showed off their style at their stops with fancy flowers, haute couture displays and more.
The red carpet was rolled out for Leading Lady, Runway Beauty and the other “personalities” that comprise the Hollywood Hibiscus collection of disease-resistant, prolific hibiscus from J. Berry Nursery . The Texas-based grower and breeder also added a brand new genus to its lineup — begonias — with the new Crown Jewel series of four heat-tolerant, compact begonias with enduring color. Plant performance is a priority at J. Berry, as is presentation; its branded containers come in jewel-tone hues, such as rose gold. Watch a video about Crown Jewel here: bit.ly/2wXoe7V
I’Conia, a subseries and extension of the existing brand of begonias from Dümmen Orange Portofino, features elegant flowers that sit on top of the foliage and are contained in a mounded habit. New colors include Yellow, Champagne and Hot Coral. Learn more details about the series in a video on our website: bit.ly/2H7zoXk
Attendees traded their traditional name tags in for all-access, backstage passes to Pacific Plug & Liner this year, as the 2018 theme for the always impressive Spring Trials stop was rock-and-roll. Displays were in perfect harmony, and the company even had Spring Trials “concert” merch on hand.
Syngenta Flowers showed off its surfer style with this gnarly display of Cabrio calibrachoa varieties that come in six colors, are bred for small containers and bloom during 10.5-hour days. The surfboards came from local thrift stores. Syngenta’s outdoor gardens, which attendees walked through to get to the greenhouse, also got a fashion-forward makeover with new varieties planted throughout, such as Snaptini snapdragons, which bloom early and continually, and colorful Delta Speedy pansies.
Sense of sight
Showy plants abounded on the West Coast.
American Takii emphasized two plants that are AAS winners for 2018, South Pacific Orange (top photo), one of three new compact cannas that join South Pacific Scarlet to create a series, and Onyx Red, a striking, compact ornamental pepper. Learn more here: bit.ly/2Jjfspx
At Benary , attendees were intrigued by SUCCESS! Silver Vein petunia’s unique coloring. Watch the video with more details here: bit.ly/2smvy8o
The new Senetti Magic Salmon’s breathtaking color combination drew the eye, even from a distance, at the Suntory Flowers area of GroLink. Watch the video about Magic Salmon and more here: bit.ly/2wY1jcw
Sakata Seed America debuted a stunning selection of colors in its new SuperCal Premium series, including Cinnamon, Caramel Yellow and French Vanilla.
At PlantHaven, two plants with pure white flowers were attracting attention. Silver Fountain Gaura (pictured) stood out with its variegated foliage, sterile, nectar-rich white flowers and repeat blooming. Also of note was the Salvia VIBE Ignition White, which president Robert Bett said was a crowd favorite. Watch the video here: bit.ly/2Iy201t
We were ready to get inked when we saw Tattoo Vinca, a new series from PanAmerican Seed . Heat and humidity tolerant, Tattoo has four tasty varieties that were developed over the past 10 years — Tangerine, Papaya (pictured), Raspberry and Black Cherry. Check out this video for more: bit.ly/2kz3dYa
Pinkerbell is a new regal geranium offered by PAC that boasts great flower power and doesn’t require chilling. The company says it’s easy to force for Valentine’s Day. Learn more here: bit.ly/2La9R2p
Green Fuse Botanicals debuted new colors in its Staircase series of Lupine, including Blue and Blue Yellow, pictured in the foreground (photo on page 50).
Pretty Little Pink Splash is the first in a vegetative geranium series from Syngenta Flowers, with a “blanket of flowers” and similar heat tolerance as ivy geranium. Learn more here: bit.ly/2H9WJrp
Sense of taste
In recent years, we’ve seen more fruits and vegetables at Spring Trials, and this year was no exception. Here are a few of the newest tasty treats.
Much of Sakata Home Grown’s focus this year was on earlier varieties. Several peppers finished in 60 to 75 days, including Crackle, a hot Thai type, and Lola (pictured), a sweet banana pepper with thick walls and good coverage against sunscald. Another early variety was Camaro determinate slicing tomato, which holds flowers in extreme heat. Learn more here: bit.ly/2JhmgEl
To drive retail sales and promote gardening, Thompson & Morgan is selling these Grow Kits, including “Salad Cut & Come Again” and “Rainbow Salad.” The company also partnered with a tea company to include a packet of Thompson & Morgan sunflower seeds with boxes of Dorset Tea.
Bushel and Berry debuted two new berries, Buckle Blueberry and Southern Bluebelle, this season. Find out more in this video: bit.ly/2LihmoQ
For the first time, Proven Winners is expanding beyond ornamentals and including produce into their collection with five new varieties — two tomatoes, two strawberries and a basil. Kerry Meyer, program manager, said that each of the varieties was brought into the collection for its look and performance, but also the story behind it, which you can learn more about in this video: bit.ly/2J5IXYA. For example, Amazel basil is the first Italian sweet basil to be downy mildew-resistant, and was discovered by a graduate student during her research. The tomatoes, ‘Garden Gem’ and ‘Garden Treasure,’ were the fruit (pun intended) of scientist Dr. Harry Klee’s three decades of research into taste, disease resistance and other desirable qualities such as performance in hot climates.
ABZ Seeds added another strawberry to its offerings with Summer Breeze, a double-flowered plant in two showy colors. Watch this video to see the varieties: bit.ly/2xrSyb7
Susannah Ball walked us through the new vegetables and technology available from PanAmerican Seed’s (6) HandPicked Vegetables group. Among the standouts were Habanero Primero Red (pictured), which ripens in 75 days, has good vigor and a small plant size, and Butterbaby butternut squash, which provides numerous, 1-pound sweet, personal-sized fruits on plant that can be trellised to save space. PanAmerican Seed is also offering more of its vegetable seeds in pelleted form for hydroponic growers. Learn more here: bit.ly/2JlUPJj
Vegetalis catered to consumers who want more disease resistance in their plants with its new vegetables, including several new hot and sweet peppers with Tobacco Mosaic Virus resistance and a new tomato, Summerlast (pictured), with Tomato Mosaic Virus and Late Blight resistance.