From the Road — Day 3 at CAST’21
I know I’m probably getting a bit repetitive, but I’ll say it again … I can’t stress enough how wonderful it is to see everyone’s faces and enjoy their enthusiasm and learn about all the new beautiful variety introductions in person. What a refreshing experience!
Our third day was spent in Santa Paula where we began our tour at Ball. We finally got to see and learn more about the much-talked-about ‘Bee’s Knees’ petunia, which was Ball FloraPlant’s big introduction last year and presents an incredible deep yellow coloration.
Another introduction from last year that I was happy to see was PanAmerican Seed’s Kitchen Minis program. These are great little veggie varieties that are meant to be enjoyed tabletop for four to six weeks. I think they’ll do great as an impulse or gift item at retail.
And, of course, I can’t forgot about all the beautiful new perennial introductions from Kieft and Darwin. From lobelia to leucanthemum to buddleia to echinacea, they had everything out in a trial bed with the bees just feasting!
We ended the day at Armstrong Growers, where we got to catch up with the folks at Suntory, Plant Haven and Vivero.
Suntory’s Granvia Gold bracteantha looked outstanding, and they are experimenting with new colors to add to the collection. They are also adding new Mixers; we loved the ones that incorporated Soiree Kawaii catharanthus.
Plant Haven always has such a unique selection of genetics, and this year was no different. Lots of varieties with a tropical look or houseplant appeal; that trend is not going anywhere. We loved their hedera ‘Tropical Blizzard’.
We have one more day of our tour, so stay tuned for our final report tomorrow!
MixMasters Oh Beehave!
Mixed combinations continue to dominate at the consumer level, and Ball FloraPlant continues to follow the trend and introduce new recipes. They are now incorporating the new ‘Bee’s Knees’ petunia in some mixes. This mix pairs ‘Bee’s Knees’ with petunia ‘Midnight Gold’, and the color contrast is just incredible.
Pepper ‘Candy Cane Chocolate Cherry’
This brand new sweet pepper exhibits a truly unique coloration. It ripens from green/white stripes to chocolate/cherry red stripes, adding an extra layer of interest to vegetable gardens. It is early maturing and has a sweet flavor.
Leucanthemum ‘White Lion’
‘White Lion’ is bred to give growers a spring Shasta daisy. This unique and compact seed selection can be grown with a 10-hour daylength, perfect for those early spring sales. It provides an alternative to vegetative varieties as it requires no vernalization. Ideal for an annual production schedule, no supplemental lighting is needed.
Chrysalis is a new series of compact buddleia that provides continuous blooming from spring through late fall. It has an abundance of flowers and attracts butterflies. Because of its smaller size, it would be great in borders or containers. Four colors are available, but Cranberry was a definite standout.
Petunia ‘Headliner Enchanted Sky’
The newest addition to the Sky family of speckled petunias, ‘Headliner Enchanted Sky’ features an exciting new pattern to the assortment. Bright pink blooms have a center white star along with the signature white spots. This will create an eye-catching basket either alone or mixed with other varieties.
Mandevilla ‘Sun Parasol Sunbeam’
Sunbeam is the latest addition to the Sun Parasol Originals. It blooms like crazy and boasts a beautiful deep yellow bloom. Plants have a nice bushy habit perfect for both hanging baskets and containers. The Sun Parasol Original assortment now has seven colors available.
Petunia ‘Surfinia Heavenly Cabernet’
Surfinia is already known for its outstanding garden performance and profuse bloomers. The newest color addition is Heavenly Cabernet, which stands out with its deep burgundy-to-purple blooms. Like its companions, it is fast growing and exhibits incredible weather tolerance.
SuperSemps were introduced last year, and now have two new colors (Emerald is pictured). These low-water varieties are excellent in containers, garden borders and xeriscape landscapes. They have super fast production — six weeks from 72-cell to 4-inch pot and then six weeks from 4-inch pot to 1-gallon container. And rosettes are 8 inches!
Cuphea ‘Hummingbird’s Lunch’
This plant has been getting a lot of attention due to its incredible pollinator appeal. Hummingbirds absolutely love this variety. It has bright cherry-red flowers on a tidy, mounded habit. Once established, it requires little water. While it’s a great basket variety, it also does well in garden borders and mass landscape plantings.