CAST 2024 new variety preview By Heather Machovina

Breeders provide a peek at what’s in store for new varieties at California Spring Trials 2024

I can’t wait to share the new varieties and trends breeders are showcasing this year at CAST. We will be visiting every location and every breeder to find out what options growers will have for new and improved genetics — available for 2025 production. Be sure to read our June and July issues to get the best coverage of new varieties and trends at California Spring Trials.


As I patiently wait for CAST to start, I reached out to the breeders and asked for a first look at some of the new varieties they will be presenting during the event. There were many gorgeous options to choose from, so here’s a sneak peek.


Nasturtium ‘Baby Red’

Nasturtium ‘Baby Red’ produces vibrant red flowers and joins the other two Baby varieties, Rose and Orange. The series features plants with a unique mounded shape and are perfect for small gardens and containers.


Angelonia ‘AngelFlare Black’

A brand-new series of spreading angelonia that is outstanding in combinations and hanging baskets. AngelFlare is more upright than AngelMist, and will launch with three colors — including an incredible true black that gets even darker as it matures. Ideal for season-extender and pollinator programs.


Begonia ‘BIG White Bronze Leaf’

The first white bronze leaf within the interspecific begonia class gives an impressive contrast between white flowers and dark leaves. Extraordinary flower power and very uniform plant habit. Has slightly smaller flowers compared to other BIG varieties.


Tomato ‘Unicorn Pink’

A great variety for home gardens. Medium-sized cherry tomatoes are produced on an indeterminate plant with a heavy fruit set. The tomatoes resist cracking and have an excellent sweet flavor. Sixty to 70 days to harvest. Resistant to Fusarium wilt race 1 and root-knot nematodes.


Dahlia ‘Mystic Electro Pink’

The dahlia Mystic collection includes trendy plants perfect for modern gardens. These special flowers stand out because they have fancy dark red to black leaves and vibrant blossoms. Unlike older types of dahlias, they don’t need support sticks to grow. They also have lots of small, pretty flowers in many beautiful colors that can be used in various ways.


Calibrachoa ‘LIA Abstract Lemon Cherry’

The bold and bountiful blooms of Abstract Lemon Cherry make it a standout new introduction. Loads of brilliant, golden yellow flowers feature an extra special sparkle with a striking splash of cherry. This medium vigor calibrachoa is the perfect addition to hanging baskets and combinations.


Echinacea ‘Sombrero Fuchsia Fandango’

Darwin enhances its top-selling echinacea Sombrero series for 2024 with next-level flower coverage and intense vivid pink color in Fuchsia Fandango. The series continues to promise first-year flowering reliability, habit uniformity and high flower count per plant.


Erysimum ‘Intense Brilliance’ (82285)

The new Intense series of erysimum brings bigger blooms and brighter colors to this category. In shades of red, orange and amber, the flowers of all four Intense varieties sparkle above the medium-green foliage. A compact plant, each variety packs a punch with intense flower color and fragrance. Zones 6-9.


Calibrachoa ‘Cielo Firecracker Blossom’

An all new breeding program delivered this exciting series introduction for 2024. The Cielo series boasts the largest flowers of any calibrachoa on the market. With 13 intense colors grabbing both grower and retail attention, Cielo will become the new standard!


Petunia ‘Shake Blueberry’

A third series in our assortment of genetically dwarf petunias, the Shake colors are all genetic mixes, where one cross of two parents produces a beautiful assortment of colors and patterns. Flowering habit is between grandiflora and multiflora types, larger flowers than most multifloras, smaller than grandifloras but prolifically produced. Normally no PGRs are needed.


Salvia ‘Salgoon Lake Flamingo’

Lake Flamingo brings a new, fresh pink color to brighten up the salvia Salgoon series. Like a real flamingo, this variety has an elegant appearance and a strong color contrast between the flowers and stem. As Salgoon can be grown quickly, it is one of the earliest salvias to be available in garden centers from mid-spring onwards.


Ziziphora ‘High Mountain Mint’

Native to high mountain regions stretching from northern Israel to Mongolia, this plant is a valuable addition to our Durabelo series, known for its resilience against dry conditions and extreme cold. During the summer months, ziziphora ‘High Mountain Mint’ graces us with delicate white and pink blossoms. Its remarkable medicinal properties include natural antibacterial effects, making it a valuable tool for extending the shelf life of products and preventing mold growth. In Turkey and Iran, it has a rich tradition of being used for its aromatic qualities and as a flavor enhancer for yogurt.


Selaginella ‘Green Spikemoss’

A low-growing evergreen perennial, selaginella is grown primarily for its soft fern-like, lacy foliage. Tolerates high humidity and is resistant to rabbits. Compact, mounding, spreading and dense habit. Great as an indoor plant, container plant for shade patio and balcony, rock and woodland shade gardens and small shade ground covers. Zones 9-11.


Sedum ‘Spectacular’

New ‘Spectacular’ is the first seed alternative to vegetative sedum spectabile. Compared to the leading vegetative varieties, ‘Spectacular’ has a more compact habit and sturdy flowerheads. Stronger stems and less breakage make this sedum “spectacular” for smaller pots, patio containers and landscapes.


Cyclamen ‘Midi+ Indiaka Red’

An eagerly awaited new red color for the popular cyclamen Indiaka series. Plants are robust and have a round and solid shape showing bright colors with a unique contrast to the white base of the petal. Proven performances in northern and southern climates.


Dianthus ‘Dart Pink Magician’

This new series doesn’t require heat for production, compared to other early spring products, and its natural versatility fits it into more pot sizes with fewer to no PGRs. The dianthus Dart series shows much more color at retail. Launching with five colors: Pink Magician, Purple, White Picotee, Scarlet and White.


Impatiens ‘SunPatiens Compact Lavender’

An excellent addition to the impatiens SunPatiens series. Offering full sun and shade versatility, this floriferous variety produces beautiful, large, lavender-pink blooms throughout the season with a strong mounding habit.


Cyclamen Illusia series

Cyclamen Illusia is a one-of-a-kind product with a special flower shape. Breeders succeeded in creating a true novelty of extraordinary quality. Illusia has unfolded and reversed flowers with a beautiful contrast in colors. Pink is the first color to be introduced in this series. The details, like the little beard in the flower, make it a joy to look at.


Calibrachoa MiniFamous Evo series

This new calibrachoa series from Selecta One expands the company’s popular MiniFamous assortment. Evo will be prized for its double blooms, no pinch/no PGR labor savings, and pot tight production. Available in five colors to launch the series: Blue, Magenta, Red, White and Yellow.


Mandevilla ‘Sun Parasol Original XP Bluephoria’

Get ready to experience Bluephoria — an exciting breakthrough blue variety in the Sun Parasol Original XP series from Suntory Flowers. This mandevilla is self-branching, loaded with blooms and has bushy, attractive foliage. Pink buds open to mesmerizing shades of blue.


Ornamental kale ‘Bright and Early’

Genetically compact and tidy for small pot and pack production requiring less PGRs. Ornamental kale ‘Bright and Early’ colors are clean and crisp, coloring up early and offering a shorter production cycle to a wider range of growing conditions.