Summer Trial Performers from Dümmen Orange By Vaughn Fletcher

These current offerings were standouts throughout various trial gardens this summer.

Dümmen Orange is committed to the trials program, and its extensive annual and perennial portfolio was well represented this year throughout the country. In this article I will focus on current and new annual introductions for 2019.

I began the summer trials season at Costa Farms in May, traveled north throughout the summer, and visited multiple trials by mid-September. Begonias, coleus, geraniums, lantana, portulaca, petunias and Confetti combinations are the varieties I will highlight here.


The new Portofino series (pictured above) of seven colors is a significant and exciting addition to the I’Conia Uprights and standard I’Conias.

This series was in multiple trials in baskets and containers, and manifested many attributes including large double flowers, dark foliage, tight branching and excellent flower presentation above the canopy. Flowering was prolific, and the colors were bold and striking. This new generation of begonias will have excellent retail appeal in baskets and containers.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, this may be considered the golden age of begonias with the availability of many diverse seed and vegetative varieties and new stunning, dramatic introductions from multiple breeders. Begonia programs are significant throughout the industry, and this will continue with the adaptability and flexibility of begonias in multiple applications for sun and shade.


The multifariousness of coleus selections is profound and exciting. We currently use many vegetative and seed varieties that have been on the market for years because they are diverse, colorful, non-patented and more economical. What is changing, however, is the focused coleus breeding programs and the introduction and availability of varieties with excellent uniformity, textures, foliage leaf patterns, and stunning colors for sun and shade.

Dümmen Orange introduced Main Street, which may be the most programmable coleus series, a few years ago and continues to add unique and distinctive varieties every year. I have grown this series and witnessed it in production, trials and retail locations throughout the country. The uniformity, textural diversity, striking colors, and adaptability in sun or shade are impressive.

The two new varieties this year are Alligator Alley and Ocean Drive. I was especially impressed with the vivid two-tone coloration and lime green margin of Ocean Drive. The series produces flowers late in the season, which is crucial for extended foliage quality and it has multiple applications in quarts, mixed containers and baskets.


Great Falls trailing coleus was introduced last year and has been in multiple trials and production programs throughout the country. There are four varieties and all of them are used in the Confetti Safari Gardens for 2019. I have seen this series in full sun and partial shade, and the foliage is non-fading with bold colors and excellent vigor for filler application in baskets and combinations. When I visited the Metrolina trial in mid-August, Outback Safari was one of the top performers. It is comprised of calibrachoa ‘Aloha Nani Golden Girl’, calibrachoa ‘Kona Mango’ and coleus ‘Great Falls Niagara’. This Confetti combo demonstrated balance, contrasting colors, non-fading foliage and outstanding heat tolerance.


The lantana Havana series was introduced in 2016, and new varieties have been added every year. Cherry is the new color for 2019. This series has been outstanding in wholesale and retail programs and has performed exceptionally in trial sites around the country. I have been impressed with the uniformity, low seed set, glossy foliage, color diversity and tight growth habit.

There are five new Confetti Garden Havanas for 2019. ‘Confetti Garden Havana Nights’ was outstanding in the extensive container trial at Metrolina, and in mid-August was well balanced and colorful with excellent flower timing.


The Dümmen Orange geranium portfolio is extensive with many classes including the interspecifics: Big EEZE, Sarita and Cumbanita.

‘Big EEZE Neon’ was in multiple trials this summer, and the heat tolerance, floriferousness and vigor were outstanding. The five colors in the series have consistently demonstrated these attributes since their introduction. This series has application in landscape beds and large containers. We have many outstanding interspecific varieties to choose from, and based on performance this series necessitates consideration.


The Sunstanding series had been reclassified based on vigor for 2019. There are 10 colors each in the vigorous Apollo and compact Helios series. Both series are compatible in sun or shade, possess outstanding uniformity, and have application in baskets, containers and quart production. They were planted in full sun and shaded areas in the South, and the flowering was prodigious and continuous through fall.

The Helios series is definitely more compact, and this was evident in multiple trials. I was most impressed by the uniformity, which is unmatched by any interspecific series in the industry. The color range is extensive but one variety was eye-catching for its reflectance and iridescence, and that is Magenta Borealis.


This hybrid impatiens series was introduced last year with White and Pink Blush. Red was introduced for 2019. This is a unique full shade series with rose like double flowers with a floriferous canopy. It manifests excellent vigor, and the presentation in basket production has been outstanding with the gardenia-like double flowers. The entire series was trialed in containers and landscape beds in multiple trial sites. Red was less vigorous but matched the series for timing and flower power.


This is a remarkable novelty series comprised of Susie Storm, Johnny Flame and Miss Marvelous. Fiona Flash is the new introduction for 2019, and it matches the series for vivaciousness and stunning two-toned flowers: a dark center with hot pink margin. Fiona Flash is consistent with the Sweetunia series for earliness, floriferousness and compact growth habit. These varieties are used in many of the Confetti Gardens and generate exciting combinations with their unique and vivid flower color.

This has been a top-selling novelty series the past few years, and the addition of Fiona Flash augments the class. This series has been impressive in mixed containers and quarts and, even with the availability of many outstanding novelty varieties from other breeders, will continue to generate grower and consumer interest for their vitality and distinctiveness.


The Potunia series brought day length neutrality to the forefront when it was introduced years ago, and it continues to have market share for many reasons, which include earliness, compactness, floriferousness and retail presentation. There are eight colors in the series including Coral and White for 2019. The series continuous to have application in quarts, baskets, and as a filler in mixed containers. Coral was noteworthy in the Colorado State trial for its unique color and prodigious flower canopy.


Portulaca has become a significant genus in the industry for its heat and drought tolerance, unique flower colors, singles and doubles, and habit. Dümmen Orange introduced the vigorous, spreading Cupcakes and have followed up with the Upright Cupcake series consisting of four colors: Lavender, Lemon Zest, Orange Zest and Raspberry. The upright series was well represented in trials this summer and impressed with their tight upright habit, vibrant colors and flower power. Flower development and timing was similar to other series in the trials that I visited.

Dümmen Orange is offering two portulaca Cupcake Confetti Gardens for 2019: Cupcake Party and Cupcake Smarty Pants. The mixes were top performers in the Dallas container trial. The series will have excellent application in quarts and mixed containers for 2019.

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 [email protected]

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