Costa Farms trial garden 2021

Eye-Popping Annual Introductions for 2022 By Vaughn Fletcher

These new varieties demanded attention at Costa Farms’ trial season kickoff.

The 2021 trial season began at Costa Farms in southern Florida, and I had the opportunity to visit and evaluate many of the new annuals there in late February. The planting dates varied from week 50 through week 2, so my focus was not on heat tolerance or summer performance but on the attributes of habit, floriferousness, flower presentation and color stability. The varieties I selected this month manifested intense color saturation, brightness and luminosity, and they will be eye catchers in the retail environment. Many of these new introductions will be in multiple trials throughout the country this summer for performance evaluation.


Garvinea gerbera

The Garvinea Majestic series — with large, multicolored double flowers — creates a powerful and dynamic retail presentation in multiple size containers. The series was introduced last year, and I was impressed with the luminosity and saturation of the varieties, including Majesty Burgundy that I highlighted in a previous article last year. Three colors were introduced in 2021: Light Pink, Burgundy and Yellow. Majestic Purple is one of the new introductions for 2022, and it was a standout in the gerbera trial assortment. The series is characterized by large double flowers, three unmistakable rings of floret flowers, and strong multiple flower stems rising above the canopy. The series has manifested outstanding weather tolerance in multiple trials in containers and trial beds. This is a tissue culture product offered by multiple liner suppliers throughout the country.

Suntory Flowers

Catharanthus Soiree Flamenco

The Soiree Kawaii series, introduced in 2015, was revolutionary in the Vinca world for its mini flowers, habit and superior garden performance. Suntory has expanded the catharanthus offering with the novelty Flamenco series. There are four varieties: Pink Twist, Salmon Glow, Cheeky Pink and Señorita Pink. This series has traditional vinca foliage, is more vigorous than the Kawaii series, and offers semi-double bicolor flowers with a frilly margin. This is a premium retail product with application in baskets and mixed containers in a full sun exposure. My favorite was Señorita Pink with ruffled light pink petals and dark pink centers. The series will be available in unrooted and liner form for 2022.

Dümmen Orange

begonia I'Conia

This new I’Conia begonia was in the begonia container trial, and it was one of the most colorful begonia varieties with its large, striking, frilly two-toned double flowers that covered the canopy. Peachy Keen offers additional consumer value with its exceptional fragrance. This is the first scented introduction in the Dümmen Orange begonia portfolio. It manifested excellent branching, a mounded habit and strong vigor. This variety is a standalone like First Kiss and Tweetie Pie and exhibits similar traits including double flowers, dark green foliage, mounded habit, vigor, and exceptional versatility. It has application in assorted container sizes including patio containers and hanging baskets.

Selecta One

Neo calibrachoa

There are hundreds of diverse calibrachoa varieties in the market, with new introductions from multiple breeders every year. It requires a unique and special variety to capture the attention of the consumer. Selecta One has introduced to the market Pink Hawaii, which has a distinctive multicolored flower similar to other competitive varieties, but what impressed me was the distinct and sharp lines of the yellow throat that spread to the margin and the color gradation of the petals with dark burgundy centers, maroon outer petals, and pink margins. This variety “popped” in the trial bed and manifested a prolific flower canopy. This is a significant addition to the semi-trailing Neo series, which comprises over 26 diverse varieties.

Proven Winners

Verbena rigida

This is the first Verbena rigida I have ever highlighted, and I am not surprised that the Proven Winners group would be at the forefront of a new class of verbena offered to the industry. The species has various common names including Sand Paper and Slender Vervain and a marketable selection called Polaris. This is a fascinating species with outstanding potential and performance capability under extreme temperatures and drought. It is an herbaceous perennial hardy to Zone 7. It has lanceolate dark green leaves that form a spreading and low growing habit with clusters of small bicolor flowers on an inflorescence shaped like a candelabra. There are two new varieties for 2022, a blue and a pink bicolor. The variety names have not been announced yet. These two colors will have application in mixed containers and as a border in landscape beds. It is low maintenance, attractive to pollinators and will provide outstanding color until frost. I look forward to evaluating this new series in summer trials.

PanAmerican Seed

Jolt dianthus

There were hundreds of flower varieties in the trial vying for attention, and the new dianthus ‘Jolt Purple’ was one of the first plants that captured my eye. The reason was the stunning saturated and bright purple flower canopy. The series consists of Pink Magic, Cherry, Pink (AAS winner) and the new Purple. This is a heat-tolerant, durable and long-flowering series. The foliage is dark green, and what stands out immediately is the upright and well-branched growth habit. The series matures at 16-20 inches with application in quarts and gallons. PanAmerican Seed describes this variety as electrifying in their catalog and, based on trial performance at this early trial at Costa, that is an accurate description.

Ball FloraPlant

Coleus Spitfire

There are a multitude of varieties and series of coleus in the market, and Ball FloraPlant offers one of the most extensive selections of coleus that includes the three Premium series and the FlameThrowers. The new ‘Spitfire’ is unlike anything else in the portfolio. It is a distinctive standalone variety with lanceolate cascading bicolor green and pink leaves. It grows to half the size of the FlameThrowers, is well branched, adaptable in sun or shade, and maintains stable color retention. This will be an excellent coleus for pint, quart and mixed containers.

Syngenta Flowers

Cora XDR vinca

The Cora XDR series debuted in the spring of 2019 with greater resistance to multiple Phytophthora isolates and improvements in branching, uniformity, vigor and floriferousness. This series has demonstrated outstanding season-long performance in landscapes, consumer beds, and patio containers with vibrant solid and bicolor flowers that create exceptional retail appeal. Magenta Halo Improved has been upgraded with greater disease resistance to match the series. It was also one of the most distinctive plants in the trial with striking bicolor flowers that were prolific and formed a colorful canopy. There are now 10 varieties and a mix in the series with multiple applications in packs, quarts and large mixed containers.

Dümmen Orange

Rainbow calibrachoa

Dümmen Orange offers the largest calibrachoa portfolio in the industry consisting of seven series. They have added to this extensive group with the Rainbows for 2022. This series comprises Tiger Tail, Orange Oasis, Pink Pepperberry, Bermuda Blue, Calypso Coral, Flamingo Flair and Parisian Pink. This is a distinctive blend of multicolored flowers that are environmentally reactive and change colors predicated on light, temperature, moisture, and day length. All the varieties in the series offer unusual transitional color combinations and will provide the grower a new novelty series for quarts, combinations, and baskets. The series is day length neutral and similar to the Aloha series in growth habit. A new Confetti Garden mix will be available next year consisting of Parisian Pink, Bermuda Blue and Tiger Tail.


Sallyfun salvia

This was one of the most floriferous plants in the trial — with long, velvety white inflorescences rising above the foliage canopy. This is more vigorous than Snow White. The Sallyfun series is ubiquitous in the retail market. It’s composed of seven varieties with diverse colors and divided into classes based on mature size. The series is consistently a top performer in summer trials in all regions and offers the consumer a wide range of bicolors and solid colors that flower throughout the summer. The Sallyfun series is utilized in quart production and is an outstanding thriller component in mixed containers.

Syngenta Flowers

Calliope geranium

What more could Syngenta do to augment this premier geranium series? The current ‘Calliope Medium Dark Red’ was recognized as an All-America Selections winner in 2017 for its superb performance in public and private trials. This new ‘Calliope Medium Dark Red/Dark Leaf’ will offer the same extraordinary attributes of branching, floriferousness, uniformity, durability and heat tolerance of the Calliope Medium series with the added value of a dark leaf. It was stunning in the Costa trial with large double flowers, saturated flower color, and a conspicuous mounded and well branched habit.

Selecta One

petunia Headliner

There are many adjectives to describe this new Headliner introduction, and they include vibrancy, energy and zestfulness. Banana Cherry possesses transitional multicolored flowers with yellow throats, white centers and burgundy and maroon margins. It manifested a colorful canopy with outstanding vigor and flowers positioned above the foliage. This variety will have production and consumer application in patio containers, designer recipes, and hanging basket combinations. Selecta offers three classes of petunias based on vigor, and the Headliners are in the medium class and demonstrate earliness, vigor, and a mounded habit. The Headliners include many assorted Skies (speckled), bicolors and solid colors.

PanAmerican Seed

petunia E3 Easy Wave

The E3 series stands for Easy, Efficient and Evolutionary. Based on early performance at the Costa trial it reflected these traits. This completely new series is different from the traditional Easy Waves in many significant ways. The varieties will flower at 10 hours of day length, require less plant growth regulators (except Blue), and provide better uniformity. This series will improve and enhance production efficiency and provide the opportunity for early sales and greater retail sell through. The new colors are Blue, Coral, Pink, Pink Cosmos, Red, Sky Blue and White. They were all represented in the trial beds and demonstrated uniformity, earliness and floriferousness.

Syngenta Flowers

Spectra New Guinea impatiens

This new interspecific vegetative New Guinea Impatiens series was as good as advertised in the Costa trial. Many of the features and benefits listed in the literature were confirmed in this trial. My first impression when I walked the trial bed was the exceptional uniformity, earliness, mounded habit and prolific flower canopy. The flowers were large and manifested intense colors and outstanding timing. Syngenta tested and trialed this series for earliness for many years before the official launch and, based on the results, the series is being promoted as a 8.5-week crop. The series was trialed in a full sun exposure but is adaptable in sun or shade. There are five colors in the series for 2022: White, Magenta, Pink, Orange and Bright Red, and they were all represented in the trial. Production recommendations include quarts, mixed containers and hanging baskets.



Sakata has added two new vigorous SunPatiens for 2022 — Improved White and Sweetheart, which flowered prolifically in the trial bed. This variety produced large white flowers with a striking red fleck in the throat that provided great color contrast. Sweetheart and Improved White have been upgraded with improved branching and strong vigor. There are now over 12 varieties in the series, including the three spreading Tropical colors. The entire series has exhibited greater vigor and earlier flowering than the Compacts in the northern regions. The complete SunPatiens line offers extensive versatility in multiple container sizes, combinations, and hanging baskets and provides unparalleled summer performance.

Ball FloraPlant

Shamrock lantana

The new Shamrock series flowered early and prolifically in the trial with a colorful canopy of bicolored flowers with a consistent mounded habit. This is an important addition to the four current Lantana series from Ball FloraPlant. This series consists of four colors: Peach, Orange Flame, White and Rose. It blooms as early as the Little Lucky series with more vigor and new colors. The most outstanding Shamrock variety in the trial was Rose. I posted this on my Facebook page along with many other plant photos from the trial, and this variety received the most positive comments. This series has production application in a multitude of container sizes.

Vaughn Fletcher

Vaughn Fletcher is president of Fletcher Consulting. He has been in the horticulture industry since 1971, working in many areas including landscaping, garden center and greenhouse production, greenhouse and nursery sales and sales management. He can be reached at