Sep 12, 2017
Top Southern Performers By Jasmina Dolce

In the August issue of GPN, trusted columnist and industry consultant Vaughn Fletcher shared his thoughts on the the top-performing varieties during his tour of the southern plant trials. These include Young’s Plant Farm in Alabama, Sakata in South Carolina — Clemson University and Metrolina in North Carolina.

Fletcher says these trials were implemented to test and evaluate established varieties and new introductions that perform best in the South and Southeast and to incorporate the best performers into future programs.

The new eye-catching annuals he chose to highlight in his article were evaluated based on floriferousness, foliage quality, uniformity, vibrancy, color saturation and vigor. There were many contenders, Fletcher says, but he picked 10 new varieties that were most impressive in the southern trials.

Here are his top picks. To read the full article, click here.

Alternanthera ‘Choco Chili’

This new vegetative variety has a mounded, compact habit with black-purple foliage on top and bright ruby color on the underside. It was nonfading in multiple trials and very heat tolerant.

Calibrachoa ‘Superbells Double Ruby’
Proven Winners

The flowers on this double calibrachoa were fully double and abundant. The cascading, but mounding, habit and branching were excellent, and the flower color is a vibrant deep red.

Coleus ‘Stained Glassworks Royalty’
Dümmen Orange

Dümmen Orange introduced four new varieties to the Glassworks collection. The most interesting was Royalty because of its vivid deep rose bicolor leaves. It will be an outstanding component plant in mixed containers.

Coleus Great Falls Series
Dümmen Orange

This new trailing series consists of four multicolored varieties. All four were nonfading, and spreading with a controlled habit and smaller leaves than traditional coleus varieties. They can be utilized in sun or shade beds, planters and mixed containers.

Helianthus ‘Sunfinity’
Syngenta Flowers

‘Sunfinity’ was a significant focus at the 2017 California Spring Trials, with 10 years of breeding behind it. This vigorous sunflower offers nonstop blooming, multiple branching and season-long color.

Lantana Bloomify Series
Ball FloraPlant

Bloomify is being marketed as the first certified sterile lantana, and this feature will provide excellent flowering through the summer. The plants were vigorous in trials, with a strong upright architecture and full flower heads.

Phlox Phloxstar Series

This series is available in three colors: Red, Salmon and White. The colors were uniform and mounding with a nice flower canopy. Red was one of the most intense and vibrant colors in the trials.

Portulaca Pazzaz Nano Series

Nano is the new compact sub-series to the popular Pazzaz series. Available in four colors, it was consistently compact, exhibiting large vibrant flowers and a full center.

Salvia ‘Rockin’ Deep Purple’
Proven Winners

This improved variety for 2018 has an upright habit with a floriferous canopy. This gives the plant tremendous application in landscapes and as a thriller in large containers. The violet-blue flower spikes are tall, and the purple calyxes give an added intensity.

Zinnia ‘Profusion Red’

‘Profusion Red’ was selected as a 2017 All-America Selections winner for superior garden performance. It is the first true red zinnia in its class with outstanding flower retention as the season progresses.

Are you growing any of the above plants? Are you as impressed as Vaughn?

Have you visited any of the southern plant trials? If so, what were some of your favorites?

Shoot me an email at, 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