May 23, 2017
Focus on FoliageBy Jasmina Dolce

In my past few newsletters, I’ve noted some trends we came across during the 2017 California Spring Trials. From popular colors to breeding breakthroughs, there were quite a few recurring themes along the coast.

One trend that caught my eye was a focus on foliage. When it comes to Spring Trials, flowers and their blooms have been the center of attention. New bicolor or even tricolor petunias and verbena, fun patterns on calibrachoa and phlox … that’s what we’re used to seeing. And we certainly still do.

But this year, exhibitors were excited to introduce us to new varieties that are  admired for their foliage, not necessarily their blooms. While flowers definitely catch a consumer’s eye, sometimes a plant’s foliage is just as attractive, if not more than, the flowers above it.

It makes perfect sense to me. Flowers can sometimes have a short life, so it’s the foliage that remains. And gardeners want the most attractive plants, whether they have blooms or not.

Here are some of the new introductions whose foliage caught our eye at this year’s trials. I’m excited to see how they perform at retail next year.

Heucherella ‘Fun and Games Eye Spy’
Walters Gardens

This new heucherella presents amber yellow foliage with a prominent center pattern, which mellows to bright green in summer. The bubblegum pink flowers offer a nice contrast to the foliage.

Begonia ‘Spectre Silver’
Terra Nova Nurseries

An unusual begonia with maple-like silver leaves, ‘Spectre Silver’ is complemented with bright red-pink sterile flowers that hang about the plant casually.

Lavender ‘Meerlo’

‘Meerlo’ boasts beautifully variegated and highly fragrant foliage year round. Aside from its beauty, this variety offers extreme heat, humidity and drought tolerance.

Geranium ‘Glitterati Diva Queen’
Hort Couture

‘Glitterati Diva Queen’ is a new hybrid specialty geranium that has vibrant chartreuse leaves with a striking rust red zone and bright pink flowers.

Begonia ‘Canary Wings’
Ball Ingenuity

This new begonia offers an extremely unique look with its yellow to bright chartreuse foliage. It is very versatile and can be used in small pots, large containers and combinations.

Lamium ‘Hanky Panky’

‘Hanky Panky’ presents stunning silver-white, metallic foliage with narrow green margins. It flowers all season long with soft pink flowers. With its excellent bushy habit, it will be great in combos, baskets or as a groundcover perennial.

Are you trialing any of these plants, or do you plan to add them to your production next season? Have you noticed any demand in varieties with unusual or striking foliage? Shoot me an email and let me know; I’d love to hear from you.

— Jasmina

Jasmina Dolce

Jasmina Dolce is managing editor of GPN magazine. She can be reached at [email protected]

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