Sep 23, 2020
A Midwest Backyard Flower Trial By Jasmina Dolce

For the past four years, industry consultant Vaughn Fletcher has been providing insight into new variety introductions and evaluating various plant trials across the country in his monthly column, Vaughn’s View.

In September GPN, he brought the trial to his very own backyard in Missouri. Many breeder companies provide new variety samples each year as a marketing tool for sales representatives and garden writers. Vaughn has been participating in this sampler program for many years, and has been a container gardener for well over 25 years. He says this gives him the opportunity to test each variety for environmental extremes, including heat, humidity and moisture.

This season, Vaughn started planting on April 25 and took his evaluation photos the week of June 22. He incorporated a slow-release fertilizer at planting and supplemented monthly with 15-30-15. In total, he planted 40 18-inch containers in full sun and grew them through summer and fall.

The varieties he chose to highlight were blooming profusely in late June, even though they were at different stages of development. Below are a few of his favorites. Click here to read the full evaluation.

— Jasmina 

Geranium ‘Rosalie Antique Salmon’
Syngenta Flowers

Syngenta Rosalie geranium

This new novelty geranium features a similar flower form as the Pandora (or Rosebud) geranium. It is a standalone variety with large umbels and light salmon/pink petals with ruffled centers. The habit is upright with outstanding bud development and prolific flowering.

Phlox ‘Gisele Red’
Selecta One

The underutilized interspecific Gisele phlox series has four new color additions for 2021. The flowers are nonfading, and chromaticity of Red is unique among spring annuals. This is one of the most heat-tolerant annual phlox series available, and it demonstrated outstanding performance throughout the summer in regional trials.

Scaevola ‘Whirlwind Starlight’
Proven Winners

Whirlwind scaevola - Proven Winners

Since the introduction of the Whirlwind series, Proven Winners has made significant improvements. Starlight is the newest introduction and offers a unique bicolor flower unlike any scaevola on the market. It spreads but also grows upright with stacked fan flowers, ideal for baskets and mixed containers.

Dahlia ‘MegaBoom Berry Blast’
Dümmen Orange

This variety was a standout in the Costa Farms trial in Florida, with dazzling bicolor flowers and excellent presentation above the foliage canopy. In the Midwest, performance was consistent with Southern trials as it produced remarkable white and rose flowers with yellow centers. Additional colors will be added to the series for 2022.

Calibrachoa ‘Colibri Mellow Yellow’

Colibri is a compact, daylength-neutral series introduced in 2017. Mellow Yellow is a new color addition for 2021 and demonstrated large flowers, earliness and attention-grabbing color. The entire series — with 10 total colors — has tight internodes and excellent flower coverage.

Catharanthus ‘Soirée Kawaii Coral Reef’
Suntory Flowers

Soiree Kawaii - Suntory

Three new colors have been added to the Soirée Kawaii series for 2021: Blueberry Kiss, Red Shades and Coral Reef. Coral Reef demonstrated high-impact color and a compact habit. The series makes an outstanding filler component, stands the test of time in containers, and will continue to manifest color through the fall.

Jasmina Dolce

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

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