2000 Pack Trials Part II

The focus of our 2000 California Pack Trials coverage (part II) is on the noteworthy vegetative and specialty crop introductions. Featured are Ball FloraPlant, Bodger Botanicals, EuroAmerican Propagators, Fischer USA, The Flower Fields, Golden State Bulb, Goldsmith Plants, GroLink, Oglevee, Proven Winners, and Yoder Brothers/Blooms of Bressingham.




According to Ball, the vigor displayed by Luminaire trailing snapdragons in U.S. trials last summer was at least two times greater than that of other trailing snaps. Plants are very well-branched and extremely prolific, producing bigger blooms and more of them. Luminaire trailing snaps also show excellent heat and draught tolerance. All varieties, including five new colors, are well-matched in habit across the series. Shown is ‘Luminaire Yellow.’

Dreamtime strawflowers (Bracteantha) are upright in habit and reach a garden height of 12 inches. Plants work well in mixed containers, patio planters, baskets and borders. New to the series are ‘Dreamtime Antique Shades’ (shown), which features bubble gum-pink blooms edged in creamy yellow; and ‘Dreamtime Cream’, with creamy-yellow flowers.

Ball’s Aztec series of early-blooming, powdery mildew-tolerant verbenas now has seven colors, including ‘Aztec Red’ (shown). All varieties are well-matched for timing, flower size and habit, creating mounded, trailing plants that are well-suited to containers, baskets and the garden.

Ball calls Celebrette New Guineas the “grow-anywhere” series, capable enough to perform in 4-inch pots to 10-inch baskets with equally great results. The heat- and drought-tolerant plants perform superbly even in the South. New to the series are Light Coral, Purple Stripe (shown), and Salmon Frost.

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This year marked the debut of Bodger Botanicals, Bodger’s new line of vegetative cuttings.

One of the more than a dozen new Bodger Botanical series is lantana Morning Glow. Bred by American Daylily, the Morning Glows are medium-height plants (a height of 24 to 30 inches in the garden) with a branching habit. The two available colors are Pink/Yellow and Yellow (shown).

Appealing to both the eyes and the nose, Mentha Snowcones produce thin, needle-like, flat leaves with a pronounced minty aroma. Compound flowerballs sit in groups of four or five atop six-inch stems. Snowcones are available in three colors: White, Lavender, and Purple (shown).

Sword-shaped leaves and strong colors characterize the Lancers series of phormium. This series of compact New Zealand flax reaches a garden height of three feet. Lancers are offered in two varieties: Green/Yellow (shown) features bicolor green leaves with yellow stripping; Red/Dark Green features bicolor red leaves with dark- green stripping.

The Tiny Tunia petunia series produces flowers the size of a quarter. But what these flowers lack in size they make up for in sheer numbers. Hundreds of flowers cover plants, and with a trailing habit, Tiny Tunias are stunning in hanging baskets. The series has six colors, Burgundy, Pink, Plum Ice (shown), Violet Ice, Violet and White.

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With its Bouquet Garden line, EuroAmerican hopes to stoke the consumer’s interest in home-grown cutflowers. Featuring top-of-the-line Danzinger aster, solidago and gypsophila varieties, this series makes it easy for gardeners to grow charming cutflowers. Best offered for sale in May and July to ensure optimal growth and bloom under natural day length conditions, liners will be available April through May in 2001. Shown is ‘Sunbird’, a pure, vibrant-pink aster hybrid.

New offerings in EuroAmerican’s patented Incense ‘n’ Peppermints line of herbs are Salvia ‘Icterina’, a variegated golden sage; Salvia ‘Purpurascens’, a purple sage; and Salvia ‘Tricolor’ (shown), a showy sage with gray-green, white and pink foliage. All three have a garden height of 10 to 12 inches.

A new diascia line from British breeder Hector Harrison features the sort of vigor, resilience and abundance of bloom that EuroAmerican asserts will change the way growers and gardeners think about diascias. ‘Coral Bells’ features coral-pink flowers; ‘Red Ace’ produces a profusion of rose-pink flowers; and ‘Little Charmer’ (shown) has flowers similar to but rounder than those of ‘Strawberry Sundae’.

EuroAmerican also has released 17 new EuroSelect varieties, 17 new Athens Select varieties and a new line of specialty potted crops, including Kalanchoe ‘Elves’ Bells’, Senecio ‘Senetti Blue’, and Senecio ‘Senetti Magenta’ (shown).

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‘Happy Pink’ (shown) is one of the new novel and unique plants being offered in Fischer’s Exotica Trial Assortment this season. This plant has distinctly lobed leaves with a dark, conspicuous zone. The prolific bright-pink flowers have delicate star-shaped petals – an appealing attention-getter. Happy Pink has very good heat tolerance and performs well in the garden.

One of seven new varieties being offered in the Rocky Mountain Trial Assortment, ‘Rocky Mountain Red’ (shown) has beautiful, dark, cherry-red flowers that extend well above medium-green foliage. Rocky Mountain is a vigorous line of zonals with outstanding heat tolerance and outdoor growth – an excellent choice for landscapes and large containers.

A nice addition to the Tango series, ‘Tango White’ (shown) is a vigorous zonal with bright, pure-white flowers held above deep, dark-green leaves. Tango White also is available in Fischer’s new Classic Zonal Trial Assortment.

A new addition to the popular Cascade ivy geranium line, ‘Snow Cascade’ (shown) produces an abundance of soft pinkish-white flowers that cover the plant in a blanket of color – flowers become whiter (with less pink) as the season progresses and night temperatures begin increasing. The Cascades are very vigorous, quickly filling in baskets and window boxes.

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The Flower Fields and Yoder Brothers were co-exhibitors at each other’s Pack Trials Open Houses – a marketing alliance has been formed between Yoder Brothers and Paul Ecke Ranch, which rolls Yoder’s spring garden mums and premium perennials into Ecke’s The Flower Fields line.

Meanwhile, The Flowers Fields has been very active in bringing new vegetative annuals to the market. ‘Blue Showers’ (shown) joins ‘Bridal Showers’ and ‘Lavender Showers’ in the Showers series of bacopa. The Flower Fields touts its bacopas – which also include the large-flowered, trailing Penny Candy series (shown is ‘Penny Candy Pink’) and the mounded Candy Floss series – as the market’s most complete selection of colors and forms.

Joining the Chandelier trailing snapdragon series is Pearl White, and Yellow (shown). The seven Chandelier varieties feature a trailing habit with compact leaves and internodes, a higher tolerance to rust, and fragrant flowers.

Complementing the popular Yubi portulaca series is the Double Yubi series, seven vigorous varieties with true double flowers.

A new series, Sun Chimes diascia hybrids, features versatile plants that flower from spring until fall. The two available colors are ‘Sun Chimes Red’ shown and ‘Sun Chimes Coral’.

With the introduction of ‘Liricashower Pure White’ and ‘Liricashower Lemon Yellow’, the calibrachoa hybrid series now has six varieties that The Flower Fields touts as the “best of class for garden performance.” These low-maintenance spreading plants are ideal for baskets, window boxes and pots in full sun.

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Once again, Watsonville-based Golden State Bulb Growers took Pack Trials a step further this year. With “demo” trials on potting combinations for callas, future lines, holiday varieties, coir, and disease management, the company offered one of the season’s most comprehensive crop-specific trials.

Perhaps the most interesting of Golden State’s demonstration trials was the company’s first effort to illustrate planting densities and yields on greenhouse forcing of selected cutflower varieties. The “cutflower lug box” trial showed greater returns and a shorter harvest cycle to justify forcing of certain varieties.

Golden State showcased three new calla varieties for the Spring of 2001. New to the Gem-type callas is ‘Improved Lavender Gem’ (shown), a more consistent compact plant with deep bloom coloration and better bloom position than the previous ‘Lavender Gem’.

For a unique orange-red color, turn to Callafornia Calla Blaze (shown), a deep yellow-orange that flushes to red with pollen shed. Blooms are 2- to 3 1/2-inches in diameter with spotted leaves. Blaze is best suited for six-inch and larger pots and is an excellent cut flower.

Parfait (shown) also joins the Callafornia Callas as a new rose/red shade with spotted foliage.

Touted by Golden State as “on top of the genetic heap” with perfectly formed blooms held high and facing outward, the On Top begonia series is the company’s leader in begonia plug sales. The success of the series inspired the company to develop a smaller picotee suitable for pot production. The two varieties in this line, the original ‘Sunset Shades’ and ‘Pink Halo’ (a 1999 introduction), are joined this year by ‘On Top Calypso’ (shown), a cream bloom with orange edge. Calypso is compact and floriferous with an excellent branching habit.

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Three improved varieties join Goldsmith Plant’s Americana series of upright geraniums. ‘Americana Light Pink Splash’ (shown) and ‘White Splash’ have been improved for better cutting quality, while ‘Americana Pink’ boasts faster rooting. Each improved variety still shows medium-green leaf color, excellent heat performance, compact to medium growth habit, and the vibrant color characteristic to the series.

Bred as a series for both the grower and consumer, Americana geraniums are free-flowering with large flower heads held above a well-branching structure.

Goldsmith Plant’s dark-leafed upright geranium series Eclipse gains an addition this year, ‘Eclipse Violet’ (shown). The new, intense violet blooms contrast nicely with deep-green leaves. Eclipse varieties have a good retail shelf life and can be grown at higher densities. The series now has five colors, including White, Light Salmon, Rose and Red Improved.

Three new colors join Goldsmith Plants’ line of Freestyle hanging geraniums. ‘Freestyle White’ (shown), Cherry Rose (shown) and Burgundy bring the series to five colors. These ivy geraniums feature medium-green leaves and a compact, naturally trailing habit perfect for planters and hanging baskets.

No pinching is recommended for Freestyle geraniums. Free-flowering, semi-double flowers cover the entire plant. Freestyle has excellent heat performance and no rooting problems. Plants are also oedema tolerant.

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When GroLink (formerly Van Zanten) introduced Belgian Mums several years ago, most varieties were naturally flowering after mid-September. At that time, breeders already were working on earlier flowering and decorative varieties. Early varieties (Urano in three colors, ‘Molfetta’ and ‘Temptress’) bloomed last year in mid-August in the earliest areas, and in early September in the late regions. Shown is ‘Molfetta’.

Five mid-season varieties (mid-September) join the Belgian Mums, including ‘Mistretta’, a large, red, decorative type; ‘Terano’, a large decorative white; and ‘Ibera’ (shown), a large decorative white with a classic form.

Among the new late-blooming Belgian Mums (mid- to late September and through the fall) are ‘Papiro’, a uniform-white, long-lasting daisy type; and ‘Ballino’ (shown), which features the classic Belgian shape. ‘Galatino’ (shown) is another of the six newly introduced late-blooming Belgian Mums.

GroLink also offers a Preview Selection, which features 25 cuttings each of 12 new varieties, rooted or unrooted, with accompanying tags. Among the preview varieties are three new Belgian Mums: ‘Rieti’, ‘Ostra’, and ‘Centro’.

Likewise, GroLink’s High Flyers line features an extensive selection of more traditional garden mums, which include many uncommon flower forms and colors.

GroLink has created new marketing materials, including two P.O.P. kits, to support a program with a new name and a continued commitment to generating excitement in garden mums.

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A real topic of conversation at the Oglevee open house were the Solenia begonias, a hiemalis type that performs outdoors. According to Oglevee, these begonias are much more free flowering, exhibit a more vigorous growth habit and tolerate more sun than do typical hiemalis begonias. Available in four colors: Red, Pink, Dark Pink, and Orange (shown).

The Double Gem series from Oglevee represent a breakthrough in New Guinea breeding. Consisting of at least 10 petals instead of the usual five found on standard New Guineas, the Double Gems are the first double-flowered New Guineas.

New to the series is ‘Double Gem Cherry’ (shown), which features two-inch red flowers with a slight tint of rose, and a glossy, medium-green leaf. Also new is ‘Double Gem Rose’, which features two-inch rose flowers, and a dark-green leaf with a reddish-brown cast. All ten colors in the series are excellent outdoor, high-temperature performers.

Two new additions also join the Cameo series of double impatiens, which feature some of the largest flowers available. ‘Cameo Salmon’ has rich, pure salmon flowers that sit atop the foliage. ‘Cameo Lavender’ (shown) has lavender-pink flowers. There are now eight Cameo colors.

The Cameo series has a mounding, spreading habit and excellent branching, ideal for baskets, pots and the garden.

Three new colors – Bright Red, Watermelon and Salmon – join the Patriot zonal geranium series, notable for excellent garden performance, large flowers and a medium growth habit. The series now has eight colors. Shown is Bright Red.

Oglevee reminds growers that all its material have been run through the company’s vigorous CVI cleanup process and is certified disease free.

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Supporting the rollout of Proven Winners’ 2000-2001 spring collection is a revitalized “Dedicated to the Art of Gardening” marketing program featuring a new image designed to significantly increase brand awareness and consumer market penetration.

A new Proven Winners series, Bracteantha ‘Sundaze’ has an exceptional mounding habit ideal for adding fullness to garden containers as well as for adding lushness to beds and borders. The five colors are White, Pink, Lemon Yellow, Golden Yellow and Bronze Gold (shown).

The Supertunia series has three new varieties: White, Lavender Pink, and Royal Velvet. Proven Winners also has introduced the Supertunia Mini series, which has five varieties: Bright Pink, Pastel Pink, Lilac, Purple, and Strawberry Pink Veined (shown). Joining the Surfinia series, which now has eight colors, is Lime, featuring creamy blooms with a lime blush. Supertunias and Surfinias are trailing petunias that reach a height of eight to 10 inches and are suitable for production in four-inch containers.

The award-winning Million Bells calibrachoa series are the newest and most widely requested plants on the market today, Proven Winners asserts. Joining the Million Bells trailing series is Orchid Pink (shown).

Also known as “African daisy,” osteospermums are great bloomers even through the summer months. Joining Lemon and Cream in the Symphony osteospermum series is Orange (shown). The Symphony varieties have an upright, controlled growth habit, which makes them predictable additions to any garden or landscape setting. Garden height is 8 to 14 inches.

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While chrysanthemums remain Yoder Brothers’ largest crop, the company is far from a niche producer. The acquisition of Green Leaf, the introduction of premium perennials to the U.S. through Blooms of Bressingham North America, and a recent alliance with The Flower Fields have underscored Yoder’s reputation as an active and innovative industry leader.

As Yoder breaks new ground with perennials, the company continues to support and expand new varieties and starter plants. Yoder has incorporated the development and production of hibiscus, impatiens, dahlias, asters and The Flower Fields product line, along with azaleas, poinsettias and miniature pot roses.

But Yoder hasn’t forgotten its roots. The company rolled out a new lineup of pot and garden mums at the Pack Trials this year. Among the new releases is garden mum Dazzling Stacy, hearty mum with yellow blooms and orange tips.

Joining Yoder’s line of Keepsake azaleas is ‘ Keepsake Promise’ (shown). An improvement over ‘Keepsake Champagne’, Promise offers a more compact plant with more uniform color, a fuller head, faster forcing and more durable foliage. Its deep-coral petals and dark-green foliage create a striking mass of color. Large 3 1/4- to 4-inch double flowers (on a mounded form) often grow down to the rim of the pot. Average forcing time for Promise is 21 days with a keeping quality of 30 days.

Blooms of Bressingham again showcased its new varieties alongside Yoder’s at the Pack Trials. One of Blooms’ most intriguing perennial introductions is Heliopsis ‘Loraine Sunshine’ (shown). With a one-of-a-kind variegated leaf form and a more compact garden habit than other green-leafed varieties, Loraine Sunshine should be a hit with consumers. Equally appealing are its large, golden-yellow daisy flowers.

Blooms is touting the mildew resistance of Phlox ‘Shortwood’ (shown), which will go a long way in rekindling consumer interest in garden phlox – by all accounts an anchor of the summer perennial border. Plants form round clumps with erect and sturdy flowering stems excellent for cutting. Shortwood produces pink flowers with a dark eye.

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