Trends on the Horizon By Jasmina Dolce

Trends come and go, but we think some of these inspirational gems from the 2015 spring trials will make a statement in 2016 from the greenhouse to the garden.

Each spring, growers and other horticulture professionals travel the California coast to get a sneak peek into the new varieties and trends that are in the pipeline for the coming season.

Each year, Team GPN joins in the week-long adventure to fill you in on all of the details. Whether you attend the California Spring Trials or not, it can be an overwhelming journey, and it is nearly impossible to absorb all the details! So we try our best to capture it all for you.

On the following pages, you will find breeding breakthroughs, merchandising displays, packaging ideas, messages to the home gardener and more. These are some of the trends to be on the lookout for now and into next season.

While we focus on overall trends this month, make sure to check out the July issue of GPN where we’ll focus on all the standout variety introductions that made their debut at the 2015 California Spring Trials.

Mixing It Up

Combinations are not new, but that being said, the category just keeps growing and growing. Whether they’re available as multiliners or as simple recipes that you create yourself, combinations are everywhere. Consumers love mixes because they add a fun element to their gardens, and they’ll certainly pay a little extra for them.

Syngenta Flowers

1.The breeders at Syngenta Flowers, are taking a traditional autumn staple to the next level with colorful garden mum combos.

Green Fuse Botanicals

2. Combinations are certainly not limited to annual varieties. Green Fuse Botanicals introduced a new line of First Light perennial combinations this year. They have a 10-week crop time and require no vernalization. Our personal favorite of the collection was ‘Bottle Rocket’ (pictured).

Dümmen Orange

3. Dümmen Orange has always been at the forefront of the combination game. Their Confetti Garden line continue to be very popular at retail. Now they’re offering their recipes in convenient six-packs for the gardener to create those mixes at home.


4. At the Westflowers location, attendees were given the chance to vote on their favorite mixes. Judging by the number of flags in this one, it looks like ‘Sunset Strip’ (which features the glowing new petunia ‘Hells Fruit Punch’) may be the clear winner.

Bridging the Gap

While breeders don’t necessarily have direct contact with the end consumer, they are making strong efforts to change that. They want gardeners to be successful with their products, so they’re creating literature and various packaging elements that will help them achieve that success.


1. Benary’s BIG begonias are a top seller at retail, but aside from using them in the landscape many gardeners aren’t aware of all the other great things they can do with these versatile plants. That’s why Benary created the Do It Big magazine, which can be distributed to gardeners at retail. It contains tips for planting; recipes for food, drinks and bath salts; fun activities for children and more.

Ball Horticultural Co.

2. At the Ball Horticultural Co. stop, we loved their “Gateway to Gardening” display and the ideas behind it. Here they showcased easy plants that work well outdoors and indoors, and can easily be used as gift items. The idea is to help build the industry with small, simple plants that will spark an interest in beginner gardeners.

Breakthrough Bidens and Begonias

We are certainly used to seeing many of the staple crops at the Spring Trials, such as petunias and geraniums. But two varieties that seemed to follow us everywhere were bidens and begonias. Breeders are introducing new novel colors and improving the overall quality in these categories. Here are some of our favorites.

Begonia ‘Nonstop Joy Yellow’ from Benary

Bidens ‘Gold Jingle’ from Danziger

Begonia ‘Bossa Nova Pure White’ from Floranova

Bidens ‘BeeDance Painted Red’ from Suntory

Begonia ‘Unbelievable First Kiss’ from Dümmen Orange

Bidens ‘Campfire Fireburst’ from Proven Winners

Wise About Water

It is impossible to discuss gardening in California without bringing up water issues. Drought conditions are at an all-time high, and gardeners need to be extremely conscious of the plants they use. Many breeders are introducing and promoting already-existing varieties that require little water.

HGTV Home Plant Collection

1. HGTV Home Plant Collection wants to take the guesswork out of gardening with its individual branded segments. And they’re introducing a collection of water savvy plants for hot and dry conditions.

EuroAmerican Propagators

2. EuroAmerican Propagators’ tagetes ‘Gold Medal’ was actually introduced in 2013, but it’s being revived this year. As low water use is becoming more of a focus, this crop is being promoted more heavily due to its drought tolerance.


3. Beekenkamp showcased a lovely display of its heat- and drought-tolerant celosia. Kelos Fire, as the name suggests, can handle the heat and is very easy to grow for the consumer.

Innovative Edibles

Edibles have been a growing category for growers over the past several years, as consumers continue to move toward home-grown and sustainable crops. This year, we noticed a lot of new and unique edible options that will definitely stand out at retail.


1. This colorful sweet pepper trio from Sakata will add a fun display to patio containers and is offered in pre-planted mixes with one plant per variety (‘Orange You Sweet’, ‘Right On Red’ and ‘Yes To Yellow’).

American Takii

2. Edibles are not just for bedding and planter use, why not try them out in hanging baskets too? American Takii’s lettuce ‘New Red Fire’ looked awesome with its dark red color and is available in organic seed.

Plug Connection

3. At Plug Connection’s exhibit, they showed how gardeners can now harvest tomatoes and potatoes from the same plant with ‘Ketchup ‘n’ Fries’. This hand-grafted plant will yield up to 500 cherry tomatoes above ground and up to 41/2 lbs. of white potatoes below ground.

Jasmina Dolce is managing editor of GPN magazine. She can be reached at