New at the Pack Trials By Brandi D. Thomas and Bridget White

With new sites and more companies exhibiting in 2002, theCalifornia Pack Trials keep getting bigger and bigger, and GPN has expanded itscoverage to reflect this growth. This month and last, we present the PackTrials from several different perspectives, starting right here with a samplingof the varieties making their debut at this year’s event.

Last month, the GPN editors picked their favorite newintroductions, and Rick Schoellhorn covered begonia baskets, which wereeverywhere at the trials. Not comfortable with highlighting just 20-25varieties, this month’s articles cover more of the hot new plants thatyou will want to trial. These articles, by far, do not cover the entirety ofthe Pack Trials. Make sure that you receive catalogues from all the breedingcompanies to get a look at the great varieties space excluded from ourcoverage.

Antirrhinum.‘Palette Purple Rose’ (shown) and Purple Eye round outTakii’s series of improved dwarf snapdragons. Palettes are early-bloomerswith heavy branching and profuse flowering that continues throughout theseason. Vigorous and compact with good uniformity, the series is versatile foruse in large packs, 4-inch pots, hanging baskets and the garden.

Begonias. BodgerBotanical’s new Gum Drop series features extra-large, fully doubleflowers in a range of six colors: Cherry Blossom (shown), Mandarin, Pink, Red,Rose and White. Perfect as stand-alone or component plants in hanging baskets,Gum Drops flower size means that blooms will not be lost among the foliage.

A seed-produced, double-flowering begonia with consistentlyuniform blooms, D¾hnfeldt’s ‘Queen Pink’, the mostvigorous of the series, produces rose-like flowers that perform well in extremeweather conditions. Queen begonias flower in 11-13 weeks in the pack, remainingcompact, and are ideal for hanging baskets, patio containers and 4- to 6-inchpots

Calibrachoa.Goldsmith Plants’ Callie Calibrachoa series features a well-branched,mounding habit ideal for 4-inch pots and hanging baskets. ‘Callie DarkBlue’ (shown) is one of the deepest blues on the market. Selected forearly blooming under short days, Callie’s self-cleaning flowers remainopen 24 hours per day. Callie grows from 6-8 inches in the garden and trails to20 inches in hanging baskets. Habit is uniform across the 5-color series.

In recent years, Selecta has been gaining recognition forits MiniFamous Calibrachoa series. This year sees the addition of two newvarieties and four varieties improved for color. Featuring vigorous to mediumgrowth over the series, MiniFamous Calis have good heat tolerance and early tovery early flowering. The blooms on Peach increase in color intensity closer tothe throat before turning to yellow.

Suntory’s Million Bells Calibrachoa offerself-cleaning, 1-inch flowers and good disease tolerance. While the habit ofboth Cosmos Pink and Red is upright, Trailing Red Purple (shown) is moreprostrate. Million Bells varieties bloom profusely into fall, with theirbell-shaped flowers spilling from baskets and containers.

Chrysanthemums. Tobe introduced in October, chrysanthemum ‘Fabienne’ is new to YoderBrothers’ line of pot Fleurette varieties. This is the first bi-colorvariety of the Fleurettes, with white forming a halo around the daisy eye andbright pink tips. Fabienne has a uniform, rounded habit, full flower coverageand medium-green foliage. It has a 7-week response time and is best grown as aspray.

‘Little Rock’ from Yoder has large, brightpink-purple flowers that fade into white at the outermost tips for a delicatelypainted look. Flowers are large and uniformly distributed over the çplant, giving it a full, rounded appearance. Little Rock’s sturdy,upright, dark green foliage contrasts tastefully with the richly coloredblooms. It has a 9-week response time, and is best grown as ZBR (zero budremoval) or spray, but can also grow as a disbud with CBR (center bud removal).

Gazanias. One of themost stunning new varieties we saw, Gazania ‘Kiss Mahogany’ fromGoldsmith Seeds has bronzy pink flowers on a mounded, controlled habit withupright, medium-green foliage. A brownish ring outlined in black circles theyellow eye. Mahogany grows to 8-10 inches in the garden and 4-6 inches incontainers.

The unique mix of different-striped colors available inPanAmerican’s ‘Tiger Mix’ Gazania is a real eye-catcher. Adrought-resistant plant, Tiger Mix features large blooms, compact growth, shortstems, a free-flowering habit and early flowering. The Tiger Mixture containsstrong plants, with good landscape performance, that hold their color well.

Geraniums.’Black Magic’ from Fischer capitalizes on the consumer demand fordarker flower colors. Not quite as heat-tolerant as other ivies, BlackMagic’s dark burgundy-purple, semi-double flowers are nonetheless goingto be a big seller either as a stand-alone or in combination with whites orpastels.

One of four new additions to Selecta’s Sunrise series,Salmon Pink’s semi-double flowers have a paler margin that adds depth tothe flower head. Dense, zoned foliage is held to a compact habit that moundsnicely under upright florets. Salmon Pink fits nicely with the series, offeringslightly early flowering and good heat tolerance.

Impatiens, double. BallFloraPlant’s first variegated double, ‘Fiesta OlŽPeppermint’ features dark pink to white bi-color blooms over silverygreen and cream foliage. Its controlled, compact habit is good for 4-inch, lateand/or pot-tight production with little or no growth regulators required.Free-flowering, self branching plants will flower until first frost.

The third bi-color in Oglevee’s Cameo series,’Cameo Scarlet Surprise’ has larger-than-average, medium scarletand white bicolor flowers with a good color range from white to red. Verywell-proportioned plants have a good mounding habit and medium-green leaves.

Impatiens, New Guinea.Dark colors like ‘Sonic Purple’ and very pale colors like’Sonic Light Lavender’ top the offerings at Fischer. Both varietiesare early- to mid-season bloomers with dark green foliage. Light Lavender is,however, a little more vigorous with compact to medium growth, as opposed toPurple’s compact habit.

Oglevee’s new Applause series offers growers adifferent format for New Guineas: small containers. All five colors ÑRed, Rose, Lavender (shown), Dark Salmon, Purple, Orange Blaze and LightLavender — are compact growers perfect for 4-inch- or jumbopack-production. Features include large flowers, constant blooming and heattolerance.

Pansies/Violas.Creating a complete color range in their popular Atlas series, Bodger Seedsoffers six new colors for the line: Beaconsfield, Blue with Blotch, PurpleSmile, Red with Blotch, White with Blotch and Yellow with Blotch. A perfectcomplement to the other nine colors in the series, the new Atlas colors havelarge flowers held high over compact, mounding plants.

PanAmerican adds eight new colors to its popular Sorbet F1viola series, acquired last year with the purchase of Waller Genetics. Newvarieties, including Coconut Swirl, conform with the series, featuring strongover-wintering performance, heat tolerance, early blooming and intenseflowering.

A rich, purplish rose color with white/cream centers,’Ultima Baron Merlot’ (shown) from Sakata has medium-sized,abundant flowers on a compact plant. This series is ideal for spring and fallmarkets, with early flowering potential. The Ultima Baron series offers newcolor patterns that will enhance the color opportunities in the landscape andexpand the pansy market.

Perennials. Thrivingin hot, sunny locations, even under drought conditions, Benary’sEchinacea ‘Primadonna Deep Rose’ is ideal for cut flower or pottedplant production. A deeper shade of pink than most Echinaceas, Primadonna DeepRose holds its color well and ages with the characteristic Echinacea”drooped” petal look. ç

We’ve seen several Guara lindheimii come intoproduction recently, but EuroAmerican Propagators’ ‘PerkyPink’ should stand out. Perky Pink features reddish leaves, a compacthabit and an airy look perfect for use in combination plantings. Continuousblooms cover this plant through the hottest part of the summer. Best for 4-inchor combination production.

Origami Aquilegias from Goldsmith Seeds offer six greatcolors, including Rose & White (shown). Growers can schedule them withother bedding plants, and they were bred for first-year flowering. Six-inchcontainers grow taller, more robust and less leggy than other varieties.Origami is free-flowering with uniform height and timing.

American Takii’s Tropical series is an extra dwarf,seed canna that grows to only 24-30 inches in height. ‘TropicalYellow’ has vivid, yellow-orange-speckled flowers and upright, dark greenfoliage. These cannas will flower approximately 85-120 days after sowing in thespring and are naturally branching.

Petunias. Introducedlast year, Ball FloraPlant’s Suncatcher series adds three new colors:Deep Plum, Sapphire (shown) and Pink Vein. Featuring a vigorous, mounded,trailing habit, these petunias will flower under short days for an early showof large blooms. Well-branched and good for 4-inch production, this singleflower series is being re-introduced this year.

Blue, Red and Violet are new to Goldsmith’s Stormseries. These grandiflora petunias were selected for strong resistance tooverhead watering and rain, so they are quick to recover after inclementweather and resist Botrytis. With strong basal branching and a non-stretchinghabit, this series stays compact during production and keeps its shape in thegarden.

Sakata Seed added five new colors to its Explorer seriesÑ Blue, Pink, Rose (shown), Magenta and Purple. Rose features vibrant,rose-colored flowers on a compact, spreading habit with medium-green foliage.Explorers are early to flower and will continue flowering into fall. Flowersize is 2-3 inches, and petals have a shiny, waxy texture that repels water tohelp them recover quickly after a storm.

Potted Crops. Apure, bright yellow, Calceolaria Pita Petit ‘Yellow’ is a compactand early-blooming variety for both pack and pot production from S&G.Producing large, vibrant, pita-shaped flowers, Pita Petit performs well as abedding plant, in larger pots and in mixed containers. It also continues tobloom through the cool, fall months — providing a perfect complement tolate-season sales of pansies and ornamental cabbage and kale.

With 1 1/2- to 2 1/2-inch blooms, Calla ‘GarnetGlow’ is hot pink with a slight dark eye and has lighter green,lanceolate foliage. Stems grow to 10-16 inches and plants should be kept coolfor best stem length. This variety has a very uniform, upright habit that isbest in larger pots. Early flowering, it makes a good cut flower. Garnet Glowis also available in HIPP (High Input Product Availability), a new programGolden State Bulb Growers has created to tailor its product to producers’needs. Among this program’s benefits are: the most vigorous,cleanest-possible stock; a more compact plant requiring less Bonzi; anexceptionally high number of breaks with more, yet smaller, flowers; and moreplant using a smaller tuber.

Festival ‘Spider Salmon/Red Shades’ was one ofD¾hnfeldt’s new additions to this finely petaled gerbera line. Shadesof pink, rose and red flowers with a predominantly dark eye sit atop sturdy,medium-green foliage. Plants have an upright habit and share thecharacteristics of other Festival varieties, ç including a 95-percentgermination rate, uniform seedlings and a tight flowering window. All Festivalvarieties feature Pro Coat seed coating.

Goldsmith Seeds’ ‘Libre White Improved’features a liberating change for growers, retailers and consumers who sufferskin irritation from traditional primula varieties, as it was bred to beprimin-free. This variety has large, bright white flowers that sit nicely overan improved, more compact habit. With a crop time of 16-20 weeks, Libre can beused for both early- and late-season sales. Recommended for 4- to 6-inch pots, colorbowls and window boxes. Libre is available in nine other colors and amixture.

With a minimum of three flowers to each plant, Revolution’Golden Yellow Shades’ gerbera offers a showy mix of yellow tolight orange flowers on a compact habit. Kieft Seed’s Revolution seriesoffers early-flowering plants that bloom uniformly across the series and can besold within two weeks from the start of flowering. Also available in PastelOrange/Dark Center, Scarlet-Red/Dark Center, Yellow/Dark Center, Red Shades/DarkCenter, Pastel Pink Shades/Dark Center and Rose Shades.<spanstyle=”mso-spacerun: yes”>

Vegetative annuals/Component plants. If fragrance is a dying plant characteristic, noone has told Ball FloraPlant because this year saw five new introductions totheir Nemesia Aromatica series. With fragrances ranging from lilac to vanilla,Aromaticas have a compact, well-branched habit and excellent heat tolerance.Approaching day-length neutral, plants will continue flowering past frost,making a great fall crop. New colors include Dark Lavender, Deep Blue (shown),Lavender, Light Pink and White.

Like many of EuroAmerican Propagator’s offerings,Arctotis may not be a familiar genera to many growers. Previous forms weresparse-bloomers with wild growth. ‘Pumpkin Pie’ (shown) and’Sun Spots’ have a more compact habit and profuse blooms held abovesilver-green leaves. Uses range from 4-inch to mixed container to hangingbasket production.

According to Oro Farms, Nemesia ‘Busy Bee Ice’is the first nemesia to feature variegated foliage. Dainty, light pink/lavenderflowers with a sweet scent adorn this upright plant that makes an excellentcomponent plant for mixed containers. Busy Bee Ice is heat- and cold-tolerantand very floriferous. It should be planted in January-March for spring salesand requires one pinch after planting and no PGRs.

In the iceplant family, Oro Farms’ ‘Pig FacePink’ is a Carpobrotus with small, dark pink, daisy-like flowers andmedium-green, fine, succulent foliage. Cuttings should be planted inJanuary-March for spring sales; it requires just one pinch and PGRs are notnecessary. This variety will take full sun in all locations and is notfrost-hardy. Growers should consider marketing it not only for its novelty, butalso its drought tolerance.

A great bird attractor that will add interest to any garden,PanAmerican’s ornamental millet ‘Purple Majesty’ featurespurple foliage, stems and flowers; large cattail-like flower plumes; and goodPGR response. Suitable for 4-inch to 1-gallon production, plants remain greenunder greenhouse conditions but will color outdoors in full sun.

There were several new Angelonias released the year,including Proven Winner’s Angelface series and Paul Ecke Ranch’sCarita series. Starting with three colors, Blue, Blue Bicolor and Violet,Angelface will make a good addition to late-season schedules. Best for 6-inchor larger containers, Angelface is responsive to PGRs and heat- andsunshine-tolerant Carita offers four colors: White, Purple, Lavender (shown)and Deep Pink (shown). Vigorous, well-branching plants have an upright habitthat adds height to mixed containers. Perfect for a variety of pot sizes, from4-inch to 10-inch.

S&G Flower’s Laguna Lobelia series featurescompact, well-branched plants that are suitable for packs, small pots andcontainers. Extremely floriferous, Trailing Pink has softly hued pink flowerswith fine, medium-green foliage, a trailing habit and good heat tolerance.Laguna’s 1/2-inch blooms provide full coverage for a blanket of color.

Suntory’s Torenia ‘Summer Wave Amethyst’is being reintroduced for 2002. Intensely floriferous, self-cleaning andself-branching, Amethyst produces small, purple/white bicolor flowers with atiny wishbone shape at the center created by their stamens. It has a nicelymounded, trailing habit and light green foliage. Summer Wave tolerates both drysoil and heat, and blooms from April-October in shady beds and hanging baskets.

Verbenas. ProvenWinners’ new Superbena Verbena pedula lives up to its name, featuringextra-large flowers and a very vigorous habit. Perfect for larger containers,the seven Superbena colors — Blue Purple, Burgundy, Coral Red, Dark Blue,Large Lilac Blue, Pink Shades and Purple (shown) — are mildew-resistantdespite their large leaves. This series will eventually replace the Tamariseries.

Brandi D. Thomas and Bridget White

Brandi D. Thomas is associate editor and Bridget White is editor of GPN.

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