Mar 25, 2019
2019 California Spring Trials — Day 2By Tim Hodson

Day 2 of the 2019 California Spring Trials is now in our rear view mirror as we keep heading south. Mother Nature really behaved herself yesterday and the sun was shining bright at all four locations that we visited.

We started out bright and early on Sunday morning at Kirigin Cellars winery in Gilroy where the Proven Winners companies are exhibiting again this year. Along with all of the new products that Proven Winners is debuting this year, the company is also introducing its new Heart to Heart caladium program that features 20 different fancy leaf and strap leaf varieties.

Stop number two was just down the road to see the new variety introductions from Syngenta Flowers. While we were at the Syngenta facility we also had the opportunity to learn more about ThinkPlants, the new marketing initiative bringing a diverse collection of perennials to the marketplace with a supply chain of URCs, seed, bare root, bulbs and liners.

In addition to Syngenta Flowers, the other breeding companies in ThinkPlants are Danziger (stop number three), newly announced Terra Nova Nurseries, Kapiteyn, KiwiFlora and Unex USA.

From Syngenta, we traveled to the other side of Gilroy to Headstart Nursery where Danziger has been hosting its trials for many years.

Our last stop of the day was in Salinas at Floricultura where we saw Beekenkamp Plants and Monrovia.

Here are a few of the new introductions from Day 2 that caught our eye on Sunday.

Helianthus ‘Suncredible Yellow’
Proven Winners

This large, bushy and vegetative sunflower is loaded with flowers and continuously blooms from summer through the fall. As its name implies, it’s a sun lover with sturdy stems and a uniform and well-branched habit. It will grow 24 to 42 inches tall and 20 to 32 inches wide.

Pepper ‘Fire Away Hot and Heavy’
Proven Winners

Last year, the Proven Harvest collection of edibles was introduced with two different tomatoes, a strawberry and a basil. This year two new veggies are being added – ‘Fire Away Hot and Heavy’ hot pepper (pictured) and ‘Goodhearted’ tomato. The compact hot pepper has a smooth, sweet and spicy taste to it. The cocktail tomato is also compact and suited for growing in upright containers as well as hanging baskets.

Impatiens walleriana Imara XDR
Syngenta Flowers

This was our first chance to see this new series of seed impatiens that has been trialed extensively in North America and Europe and has shown a high resistance to downy mildew. It is a landscape performer that is economical to produce and ideal for growing in packs and pots. There are currently eight colors in the series (‘Imara XDR Salmon Shades’ is shown here) with two new colors due soon.


Lantana ‘Hot Blooded Red’
Syngenta Flowers

This year Syngenta Flowers is really rocking out with this hot new lantana. It has a naturally well-branched habit and is more vigorous than Bandana, making it a great choice for gardens throughout North America. The medium-sized flowers are covered with attractive color. It is sterile and has been a top pick in many trials.

‘Vanessa Purple’ Verbena

All Vanessa verbena are tested for mildew resistance and color flushing. It has a unique and enchanting flower color to go with its dark green foliage. Its mounding habit helps make Vanessa rain resistant. It is recommended for gallons, baskets and containers.

‘Dreams Esme Peach’ Begonia
Beekenkamp Plants

‘Esme Peach’ is the new color addition to Beekenkamp’s Dreams BK collection. It is very floriferous and has a long flowering period. It has excellent outdoor performance and has high heat tolerance. It also has long shelf life at retail.

‘SunBelievable Brown Eyed Girl’ Helianthus

This award-winning compact sunflower provides extraordinary summer color with its large, vibrant blooms. Just one of these plants reportedly will produce 1,000 blooms during a growing season. It is easy to grow; daylength neutral and heat tolerant. Monrovia is planning an extensive national and regional consumer campaign to promote this variety.

Today we have two more stops in Salinas before we continue to head south to San Luis Obispo, so don’t forget to follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

— Tim



Tim Hodson

Tim Hodson is the editorial director of GPN and Big Grower. He can be reached at [email protected]

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