Sizzling Summer Combinations By Vaughn Fletcher

These mixes demonstrated characteristics breeders strive for in recipes. Both dramatic and striking, these top performers stood out in late August out of hundreds of baskets.

I attended the Southern Plant Tour in June and returned to North Carolina in mid-August to evaluate summer performance. Metrolina Greenhouses trialed more than 250 sun combination baskets with minimal shade under a pergola structure. What are we looking for in late season combination recipes? The attributes include heat tolerance, compatibility, balance, vigor, foliage quality, timing, texture, flower stability and floriferousness. I have chosen 11 current and new recipes that demonstrated these qualities and are worthy of consideration in spring programs. They withstood the test of time in the South and continued performing throughout the summer.



Sakata introduced the SuperCal Premium series for 2019. The five interspecific colors are Bordeaux, Caramel Yellow, Cinnamon, French Vanilla and Sunray Pink. They have unique colors and large flowers. The series is more compact and semi-mounding than the standard varieties. This combination of Cinnamon and French Vanilla(pictured above) was impressive and eye catching. I have written about the thermal tolerance of this interspecific series on multiple occasions and its long-lasting garden performance.

Double Romance Mixer



This combination is one of the many Suntory Mixers. This is not a new recipe, but Suntory enters it in many trials year after year to demonstrate the summer performance of the Summer Double series. It is also in the Proven Select program. Double Pink, Rose and White had excellent timing, minimal deadheading and color stability. This may be the finest double petunia series in the industry.

Miami Beach



This recipe is a combination of three different varieties in the Westflowers portfolio: lysimachia ‘Karat’, a selection with light green to chartreuse foliage, calibrachoa ‘Chameleon Sunshine Berry’, and petunia ‘Hells Flamin’ Rose’. The basket was massive and texturally beautiful. ‘Karat’ is durable, heat and drought tolerant, and thrives through late fall. Very few trailing components can match this Lysimachia selection for performance. ‘Chameleon Sunshine Berry’, introduced two years ago, is one of the most distinctive polychromatic varieties in the Chameleon series. ‘Hells Flamin’ Rose’ is one of the most vivacious and stunning petunias in the industry and was an impressive addition to the recipe. The abundance of flowers declined as the season progressed, but the vibrancy remained.


Charmed Life

Proven Winners

Charmed Life is one of Pleasant View Gardens’ assorted Proven Winner recipes for 2019. It is comprised of three petunia Supertunia Charms: Hot Pink, Pink Star and Sangria. There are very few petunia series in the industry to rival the summer performance of this series. In trials throughout the country year after year, from early summer through fall, the performance is incomparable. The flowers are small to medium, but the varieties overcompensate with a prodigious flower canopy that is unrivaled. There are nine colors available and application includes landscape sites, fillers and baskets.

Compatible Cruze Control Pinata


Green Fuse

This is one of the new multiple variety Compatibles for 2019. This patio collection of 25 recipes, including four new ones for 2019, combines many Green Fuse genera including calibrachoa Cruze Control, petunias, lobularia, lobelia, salvia, scaevola and verbena. The Pinata Compatible recipe for 2019 is comprised of calibrachoa Cruze Control Grape Delicious, Orange and Yellow. It manifested excellent timing, balance and flower coverage. Many attributes determine the success of a recipe, but in reality it’s all about prodigious color through late summer or early fall, and this recipe fulfilled that goal.


MixMaster Tart Deco

Ball Floraplant

The MixMaster program consists of Sun, Heat Lover, Sun/Shade and Shade combinations. They have added Duos to the program for 2019. Tart Deco is a new duo consisting of GoldRush Blue and Pink. The basket was one of the most floriferous combos in the trial, and its flower stability and size were outstanding. This is the most vigorous and floriferous petunia series in the BallFloraPlant portfolio and one of the best summer performers for large baskets and landscape sites.

Disco Diva Mixer



This is a new Mixer for 2019 consisting of scaevola Surdiva Blue Violet, Fashion Pink and White Improved. This compact series has set the standard for branching, colors and earliness. Blue Violet is the best scaevola color in the industry and makes a wonderful component in mixed baskets and containers as well as a manageable quart program for retail sales. It was not as visible in this late season combination as the other components. The Disco Diva colors manifested exceptional heat tolerance, tight internodes and a colorful canopy.


Confetti Garden Safari Outback

Dümmen Orange

The Great Falls trailing coleus program was introduced two years ago and augments the outstanding Main Street and Stained Glassworks series. This confetti recipe combines coleus ‘Great Falls Niagara’, calibrachoa ‘Nani Golden Girl’ and calibrachoa ‘Aloha Kona Mango’. This basket was vigorous and yet the calibrachoa wove their way through the coleus to add color and balance. Four varieties of Great Falls coleus are in the program for 2019 and they are defined by vigor, heat tolerance, trailing habit and non-fading foliage. This series fulfills its true potential on display in mixed containers and baskets. The textures, colors and habit accent components and provide mass, structure and longevity to the finished product. Dümmen Orange offers the coleus in six Confetti Garden Safari recipes for 2019.

Sending Love


Syngenta Flowers

The vinca Cora Cascades are an integral part of spring baskets and combination programs with many attributes including vigor, mounded but spreading habit, uniformity, flower size and resistance to aerial Phytophthora. Syngenta has added four new varieties for 2019: Cherry Improved, Lavender with Eye, Shell Pink and White. The series now comprises 10 colors and one mix. The combination in the Metrolina trial consisted of the new Shell Pink and White. It provided impressive color and luxuriant and dense foliage. The combination demonstrated a cascading form that rivaled any recipe in the extensive trial.


MixMaster Summerfest

Ball Floraplant

This is one of many new Duo sun and heat loving combinations for 2019. It is comprised of angelonia ‘AngelMist Spreading Dark Purple’ and scaevola ‘White Sparkle’. The combination was vigorous, extremely colorful, and well balanced with the scaevola weaving through the angelonia. The AngelMist series, with its spreading habit, large florets and floriferousness, is an important component of multiple MixMasters. The heat-loving scaevola ‘White Sparkle’ complemented the angelonia with controlled vigor, durability and high impact color.

Plum Perfection Mixer



Suntory was well represented in the combination basket trial, and many of the varieties that have been in the portfolio for many years continued to excel in garden performance including the petunia Surfinias and scaevolas. This combination of petunia Surfinia Blue Veined, White Improved and Wild Plum manifested multiple attributes including balance, vigor, flower timing, foliage integrity, flower stability, large flowers and a prolific flower canopy.

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