Summer Trials 2023
My July and September Vaughn’s View articles focused on exceptional and colorful recipe basket combinations in the Costa Premier spring trial. This article will highlight some of my favorite new, current and experimental recipes from multiple breeders in the container trials at Costa in late April, Young’s Plan Farm and Metrolina in late June, Dallas Arboretum in early July and the Colorado State trial in early August.
We now have hundreds of choices from international breeders offering a wide ranging color and species palette. I have chosen bold, colorful 2024 recipes that manifested the attributes of visual harmony, component balance, timing, color stability, brightness, weather tolerance, floriferousness, exceptional performance and ultimately consumer success the entire summer season. These characteristics are essential for the development of a recipe that will be impactful in the retail setting, creating eye- popping consumer appeal.
1. MIXMASTER PORCH PATRIOT IMPROVED
This new and improved MixMaster recipe for 2024 combines Angelonia ‘Archangel Raspberry’, Lantana ‘Lucky Yellow Improved’ and Scaevola ‘Blue Brilliance’. This is one of many heat-loving combinations in the MixMaster program and the components demonstrate the thriller-filler-spiller design concept. The Angelonia ‘Archangel Raspberry’ is a unique color in Angelonia and is one of the best sellers in the series. The Lantana ‘Lucky Improved’ offers a more compact habit and better branching for containser and the Scaevola ‘Blue Brilliance’ offers outstanding drought and heat tolerance. This recipe was in multiple trials and manifested consistend durability and resilience throughout the summer. The accopanying photoraph is from the Young’s Trial in late June.
2. COLEUS TALAVERA MIX
The introduction of new Coleus stand-alone varieties and series continues to expand at a rapid rate and Syngenta has entered the Coleus market with the Talavera Series comprised of six multicolored varieties. The experimental Talavera mix from the Young’s trial is not in the Kwik Kombo program for 2024 but demonstrates the well defined foliage pattern and color stability of Talavera Sienna and Talavera Moondust. The series is sun and shade tolerant, has a uniform growth habit and in later trials showed minimal bolting. The series was trialed in containers and beds in southern and northern trials and maintained a manageable and compact habit. This series will offer the consumer another color range for creative containers.
3. LAVA DESIGNER COMBINATION
This recipe is experimental but manifested balance, timing, brightness and exceptional weather tolerance in the Metrolina trial. It is comprised of three sun loving species: Angelonia ‘Angelissa Rose’, Petchoa SuperCal ‘Purple Dawn’ and Lantana ‘Sundance Yellow’. These are excellent stand-alone varieties and components in mixed containers. This is a container that will perform throughout the summer offering the analogous colors of the Angelonia and Petchoa complemented by the Yellow Lantana.
4. FUNFUSION SWEET IN SINGAPORE
Ball FloraPlant has introduced a new series of FunFusion combinations for 2024. Five FunFusion recipes are available for next season. FunFusion Sweet In Singapore was well balanced with outstanding textures, form and flower structure. The components are the thriller, Angelonia ‘Archangel Purple’, the filler, Lantana ‘Shamrock Orange Flame Improved’, the spiller and Cuphea ‘Sugar Bells’. The Archangel series possesses large flower spikes that tower over the foliage and the large florets increase the impact of the varieties. The Lantana ‘Shamrock Orange Flame’ has a darker orange hue for 2024, and the Cuphea ‘Sugar Bells’ is an outstanding heat tolerant, floriferous component with an excellent upright spreading habit.
5. KWIK KOMBO BLUEBERRY BLAST
This new Kwik Kombo recipe combines the components Petunia ‘Shortcake Blueberry’, Petunia Dekko ‘Purple’ and Verbena ‘Lanai White’. This recipe was an outstanding performer in multiple trials this summer. I highlighted the superior heat tolerance of the stand-alone ‘Shortcake Blueberry’ when it was introduced a few years ago. The durability and resilience of many of the new Syngenta Petunias is impressive and this variety is no exception. It is combined with the Dekko Purple, which makes an excellent component in quarts and mixed containers and the Verbena ‘Lanai White’ has the vigor and flower power to accent the analogous Petunia colors.
6. CONFETTI GARDEN TONE ON TONE CHERRIES ON TOP
Dümmen Orange offers nine Tone on Tone Confetti recipes for 2024. These are creative, bright and colorful multi- genera combinations with a single color theme that will be impactful in the retail setting. Confetti Garden Cherries on Top is comprised of these components: Petunia ‘Smartunia Neon’, Calibrachoa Bloomtastic ‘Rose Quartz’ and Verbena ‘Empress Flair Cherry Charme’.
The Potunia series, with its compact, mounded habit, is outstanding in quart and mixed container production. The Neon and eight additional Potunia varieties offer Intrinsa TMV resistance. The Calibrachoa Bloomtastic series offers heat tolerance, durability, large flowers and prolific flowering. The Verbena Empress Flair series, comprised of 14 colors, is compact and semi-mounding.
7. COMBO INSPIRATION
This combo inspiration is comprised of components that have been selected for season extending performance and include Ball FloraPlant’s some varieties that are not currently utilized in the MixMaster recipes. This potential FunFusion recipe is experimental, but it was eye-catching, textural, and manifested vibrant analogous colors. It combines the AAS winner Petunia Bee’s Knees, the new stand-alone Lantana ‘Passion Fruit’, and Purslane ‘RioGrande Magenta’.
All three varieties have demonstrated outstanding summer hardiness. The new Lantana ‘Passion Fruit’ is a season extender which has a pronounced spreading, trailing habit, polychromatic florets, dark foliage and minimal cycling. It was utilized in many mixed containers and beds this summer and was impactful and bold. Portulaca is becoming an important element in summer containers for its heat and drought tolerance and the RioGrande series offers five large flowering core colors.
8. PASSION COMBO TASTER’S CHOICE
The Taster’s Choice is an experimental Passion Combo comprised of Verbena ‘Estrella Imperial Blue’ and the new Calibrachoa ‘Calitastic Cappuccino’. This duo combination recipe is not in the program for 2024, but I felt it was important to highlight the attributes of Cappuccino. Westhoff offers the widest range of Calibrachoa series and stand-alone varieties in the industry and this new selection has been superior in summer trials in all regions.
The Calitastic series offers 20 distinctive varieties, and the new Cappuccino augments the line with superior vigor, a prolific flower canopy, weather tolerance and a distinctive multicolored flower pattern. It is on the cover of the Westhoff 2024 catalog, ranked number two in the Plantpeddler top 25 trial varieties and I highlighted it in my summer Costa trial article. The Verbena Estrella series consists of nine unique colors that possess an upright to semi trailing habit, making them ideal for quart production and mixed containers.
9. KWIK KOMBO ITSY TRIFECTION MIX
I lauded the beauty and performance of this new Kwik Kombo on Facebook and Instagram all summer. The Itsy Petunia series, comprised of Itsy Magenta, Itsy White and the new Itsy Pink, is one of the most unique and resilient Petunia series introduced in many years. The flowers are small but prolific, the habit is mounded to semi-trailing, the drought and heat tolerance is exceptional, and PH sensitivity is minimal. This was best of show in the Dallas Arboretum container trial and it has matched that performance at Colorado State University.
10. INSPIRATION SWEETSUNSHINE MIX
This is a combination of three new introductions for 2024: Geranium Sunrise Purple+Big Eye, Petunia SweetSunshine Pink+Red Vein and Petunia SweetSunshine Blueberry Vein. This is an experimental recipe, but I have added it to the article to highlight the flower structure, stable flower color and performance of the SweetSunshine double Petunias in the summer trials. SweetSunshine Magenta and Provence were introduced last year and Pink+Red Vein, Blueberry Vein and Magenta Sky are new for 2024. I was impressed with the durability, the well branched habit, the stable flower color and the consistent doubleness. I highlighted the attributes of Blueberry Vein in my southern plant trial article in August. SweetSunshine Magenta Sky is the first speckled double Petunia in the market and maintained its pattern throughout the summer in the northern region. I had Pink+Red Vein and Magenta Sky in my trial pack this year, and they flowered prolifically all summer in containers. We have a limited number of double Petunias in the market, and this series, based on performance this spring and summer, is worthy of your consideration.
11. FLETCHER COMBINATION
I receive many of the new varieties in my breeder trial samples every spring, which I plant in my container trial. I have been container gardening for well over 35 years and this year I planted 50 22-inch containers. I have many favorites, but one of the most impressive was the Danziger container consisting of the following new varieties for 2024: Angelonia ‘Alonia Big Pink Bicolor’, Lantana ‘Gem Lemon Quartz’ and Petunia ‘Amore King of Hearts’ improved. The Alonia Big series now offers eight varieties, and the Improved Big Pink Bicolor was the most floriferous and eye-catching in summer trials that I visited. It was the top Angelonia performer in my container trial. The Gem series has expanded rapidly with the addition of Citrine and Diva Pink in 2023 and the new Pearl and Lemon Quartz for 2024. The Amore Petunia series needs no introduction and the popular King of Hearts has been improved with greater color stability.
12. LAKE TAHOE
This experimental recipe is not in the Bundled Combination Kit program for 2024. The components are Salvia ‘Rockin’ Purple Improved’, Euphorbia Diamond Snow and Petunia Supertunia Priscilla. I have included this combination to demonstrate the improved compact habit of Salvia ‘Rockin’ Purple Improved’. It is one of the most popular Salvias on the market for many reasons. It is heat tolerant, flowers profusely, possesses long deep purple flower spikes, is an outstanding pollinator magnet and has consumer application in landscape beds and large patio containers. The more compact habit makes it more manageable as a thriller in container programs.
The combinations you choose must provide satisfying results. Most combinations deteriorate over time; they become unbalanced and plant quality and performance decreases. The goal of breeders and growers is to produce a recipe that maintains balance, floriferousness, weather tolerance and sustainability as it evolves throughout the summer.