Costa Farms in Miami, Florida, launches the earliest field, container and basket trial in North America every year. This trial encompasses varieties currently in the market and many new annual and perennial introductions for next season. I attended the trial in week 7 to gather information on the new annual introductions in the field trial, and I shared information on many of the outstanding performers in my May and June articles.
I returned week 15 to evaluate the mature basket trial and select the combinations that demonstrated the attributes necessary for a successful and dynamic color palette. These attributes include component uniformity, flower timing, foliage vigor, flower stability, floriferousness, and heat and humidity tolerance.
This trial comprised complementary and analogous colors and current and new plant components. There were over 80 different combinations in the trial with double replication. The baskets were 2-gallon coco fiber with nine plant components in each basket. The planting date was week 49-50. A slow-release fertilizer was incorporated, and this was supplemented with liquid fertilizer applications.
The stage and maturity of the designer mixes is consistent with what we see in the northern trials in mid-summer. The recipes I chose to highlight include current, new and experimental combinations. Many of the varieties are in current spring production programs and their application in assorted recipe combinations demonstrates this versatility.
MIXMASTERS GREAT ESCAPE
This colorful, vivacious, and well-balanced multi-species MixMaster is new for 2022 and comprises calibrachoa ‘Cha Cha Diva Hot Pink’, petunia ‘Bee’s Knees’, and verbena ‘Firehouse Burgundy’. The Cha Cha series was new for 2021 and is more vigorous and cascading than the Cabaret series. Diva Hot Pink was in multiple trials last summer and demonstrated outstanding weather tolerance. Its multicolored flowers with the yellow centers and white and pink petals were eye catching. ‘Bee’s Knees’ needs no introduction. This standalone yellow petunia won many trial awards last year for its intense yellow petals, floriferous habit and outstanding summer performance. The Firehouse series comprises 11 solids and bicolors, including three new colors for 2021: Blue Fizz, Violet Wink and Purple Fizz Improved. This is a vigorous mounded series for mixed containers and hanging baskets.
KWIK KOMBOS SUMMER JELLY MIX
This new midseason Kwik Kombo for 2022 created a harmonious blend of the analogous colors of calibrachoa ‘Callie Pink/Eye’, verbena ‘Lanai Bright Eye’ and petunia ‘Sanguna Purple’. These three series are utilized in many of the Kwik Kombo recipes. They provide vigor, a wide range of colors and excellent summer performance. Syngenta will introduce four new Kwik Kombos for 2022 and seven improved recipes.
KWIK KOMBOS BANANA PANCAKES MIX
This new and captivating early season Kwik Kombo for 2022 was one of the favorites on my Facebook page and was highly reflective and luminous in the trial. The components are calibrachoa ‘Callie Yellow’, petunia ‘Sanguna Yellow’ and verbena ‘Lanai White Improved’. This combination was well balanced with excellent timing and was one of the brightest recipes in the trial. When you combine the lively color, vitality and cheerfulness of yellow with the high value and sophistication of white it creates instant consumer appeal.
LANTANA SHAMROCK COMBINATION
This lantana mix is an experimental trial recipe; however, the lantana Shamrock series will be introduced for 2022. It is composed of four colors: Peach, Orange Flame, White and Rose. This combination consisted of the three colors Orange Flame, Rose and White. I highlighted this series in my May article on eye-popping annuals in the Costa trial. This is an early-flowering medium-vigor series with a mounded habit and excellent timing. It will have outstanding versatility in quarts, mixed containers and hanging baskets. The growth habit of this series positions it between Little Lucky and Lucky.
ITSY & SHORTCAKE MIX
The focus of this experimental recipe is the durable and prolific flowering of petunia ‘Itsy Magenta’, petunia ‘Itsy White’ and petunia ‘Shortcake’. ‘Itsy Magenta’ was available to the industry for 2021 production and received award-winning recognition in numerous trials for its prolific flower canopy, dense branching and overall summer performance. I trialed this variety in my containers last summer, and it was a wonderful filler and spiller component with a vibrant magenta color. The flowers are small, but they cover the foliage canopy with a carpet of color. ‘Itsy White’ will be introduced for 2022, and it was a stunner in trial beds at Costa in April. It manifested the same attributes as the ‘Itsy Magenta’ and both varieties will have outstanding application in mixed containers and baskets. ‘Shortcake’ is a novelty standalone variety with a white and blueberry striped flower pattern and excellent color retention throughout the summer. This variety received high performance ratings in numerous trial sites in 2020.
BEGONIA ‘VIKING EXPLORER RED ON GREEN’
We have numerous seed and vegetative begonia varieties available for container and basket programs, and this new begonia from seed appears to be a breeding breakthrough with glossy foliage, large inflorescences, earliness and, most importantly, a pendulous habit. There are two varieties for 2022, Red on Green and Rose on Green. They were on display in beds, containers and baskets in full sun exposure. I was impressed with the vigor, flower color stability, tight branching and voluptuous flowers. The photo demonstrates the pronounced trailing and extensive branching habit, which is the hallmark of this series. This will be an excellent begonia option for basket production
CALIBRACHOA ‘MINIFAMOUS NEO PINK HAWAII’
This mono species combination is experimental, but I wanted to emphasize ‘MiniFamous Neo Pink Hawaii’, a new introduction for 2022. It is combined with calibrachoa ‘Cabaret Dark Blue’ and calibrachoa ‘Neo Yellow’, which accents beautifully the well-defined yellow star pattern, vigor, and semi-trailing habit of Pink Hawaii. This striking variety was included in my May article. On both of my visits, in February and April, it demonstrated consistent performance, prolific flowering, color stability and excellent heat tolerance. This is a significant addition to the diverse Neo series, which comprises solids, doubles and bicolors, and is utilized in multiple Trixi recipes.
MIXMASTER SUNNYSIDE IMPROVED
We will see a significant change in this MixMaster for 2022 with the new ‘Bee’s Knees’ petunia replacing ‘SunSpun Yellow’. This will definitely upgrade this multigenera recipe with a more vibrant and stable yellow petunia combined with calibrachoa ‘Cabaret Golden Yellow’ and verbena ‘Firehouse White Improved’. This combination has been a top seller for good reason. It demonstrated balance, timing and floriferousness. The addition of ‘Bee’s Knees’ will improve and enhance the yellow hue and improve performance.
BLUEBERRY TART MIX
This recipe combines Blueberry Scone and Tart Deco, two of the top sellers in the Chameleon series. Westhoff received an honorable mention Medal of Excellence award for the breeding of Blueberry Scone in 2016, and it has continued, since its introduction, to be one of the most popular varieties in the collection. ‘Chameleon Tart Deco’ is one of my favorites for its vibrant multicolored flower pattern, non fading color and outstanding summer performance. We have over 22 varieties to choose from, including Improved Sunshine Berry and Avant Garden for 2022. This diverse portfolio of multicolored flower patterns offers the grower color versatility in mono and mixed baskets and patio containers.
Selecta One continues to add new Trixi recipes that incorporate Main Stage and Headliner Sky petunias. Crystallize is a new recipe for 2022, and the combination of the analogous cool colors of petunia ‘Headliner Crystal Sky’ and ‘Headliner Night Sky’ was distinctive and stunning in the trial. Night Sky continues to be one of the top-selling petunias in the industry, and when combined with the new Crystal Sky it creates a recipe with retail impact.
Danziger entered the breeder designer recipe program for 2021 with the Durabellas. Over 29 recipes were introduced, comprising a broad range of Danziger genetics including petunia, calibrachoa, lantana, verbena, nemesia and lobularia. They were in summer trials throughout the country last year, and I highlighted many of the new recipes from the Plant Peddler and Mast trials in my fall articles. This wide range of Danziger genetics provides the opportunity for creative, well-matched, colorful, and tested combinations for the spring and summer selling season. Durabella Instagorgeous is new for 2022, and the combination of calibrachoa ‘Lia Bubblegum’, petunia ‘Scoop Lemon Ice’, and petunia ‘Ray Fuchsia’ created a colorful and vibrant recipe. Danziger will introduce another 20 mono and multi-genera DuraBellas for 2022.
KWIK KOMBOS MELON SORBET MIX
This is an experimental Kwik Kombo with enormous potential for 2022 that performed exceptionally well in the Costa trial. The combination of calibrachoa ‘Callie Coral’, verbena ‘Lanai Purple’, and new petunia ‘Dekko Sorbet’ for 2022 was vigorous with excellent timing and balance. My emphasis is the Dekko Sorbet, which has coral pink flowers with faint creme veining and a yellow throat. The Dekko series of 12 assorted colors is semi trailing with stacked tight internodes, prolific midsize flowers and has demonstrated excellent summer performance.
SUMMER DELIGHT MIX
An article on a breeder basket trial would be incomplete without the addition of a petchoa SuperCal recipe. The weather tolerance and recovery, diverse color range, large flowers, production versatility, and consumer satisfaction of this interspecific series are all well documented and on display every spring. The combination I chose to highlight had as its components ‘SuperCal Pink Improved’, ‘SuperCal Light Yellow’ and ‘SuperCal Royal Red’. The timing was excellent, the flower size was consistent, the foliage was dense, and the flower colors were stable and highly saturated. Sakata will introduce five new colors for 2022: Pink Improved, Premium Pearl White, Premium Purple Dawn, Premium Sunset Orange and Premium Yellow Sun. Many of these new colors will be in summer trials for industry evaluation.
CONFETTI GARDEN ENDURABLE LILAC
Four Endurable Confetti Gardens were introduced for 2021: Endurable Beauty, Endurable Cherry, Endurable Lilac and Endurable Pink. These trio confetti recipes consist of three genera, petunia DuraBlooms, verbena Empress Suns and calibrachoa Bloomtastics. Endurable is a fitting name for these Confetti Gardens. Synonyms for endurable include sustainable and long lasting, and the combination of these three series creates a recipe that is sure to provide satisfaction and summer performance for the consumer. Endurable Lilac includes calibrachoa ‘Bloomtastic Serenity’, petunia ‘Durabloom Electric Lilac’ and verbena ‘Empress Sun Lavender Charme’. This analogous cool color combination was striking, vibrant and eye-catching.
EASY WAVE PETUNIA E3 COMBINATION
I included this new Petunia Easy Wave series in my May article following my visit to the Costa trial in late February. The series consists of six colors — Blue, Coral, Pink, Pink Cosmos, Red and White — and in that February visit the series demonstrated the earliness that sets it apart from the traditional Easy Wave series. When I returned to the trial in mid-April, the series continued to manifest a mounded and uniform habit, strong color retention, heat tolerance, vigor and a prodigious flower canopy. These attributes were also evident in the basket trial, and I chose to include the experimental combination basket of ‘Easy Wave E3 Red’ and ‘Easy Wave E3 White’ in this article. The series will flower in 10 hours of day length, require less PGRs, and offer more flexibility and programmability. This is a significant breakthrough in Wave petunia flower breeding.