Vaughn’s View: Colorful and vibrant annual introductions for 2024 – Part 1
When I step into the first trial of the season at the Costa Farms Season Premiere spring trial and gaze at the multitude of new annual introductions, I am overwhelmed with anticipation and excitement to walk the trial and evaluate them. I also reflect on the number of global flower breeders represented in this trial and the many years of research, breeding, development and trialing that precedes these new introductions.
The spring and summer trials are the final phase prior to industry release and offer the horticultural industry the opportunity to visit, promote and make purchasing decisions for next season. I am reminded by the perceptive and visionary quote about flower trials by W. Atlee Burpee in 1893: “To thoroughly know seeds and the relative value of their products, both of his own and his competitor’s stock, to learn the comparative merits of newly introduced or proposed novelties, carefully conducted trial grounds are to the progressive seedsman, and his assistants, the open book of nature.”
This, and my subsequent article in June, will focus on new annual introductions for 2024 in the Costa trial that manifested unique and brilliant colors, breakthrough genetics, and prolific flower canopies that set them apart. The majority of the varieties were planted in the trial beds week 50 of 2022, and my first visit was week 9. Many of these new introductions will also be in multiple trials this summer.
1. PETUNIA ‘CRAZYTUNIA COSMIC VIOLET’
(Shown above) The new Cosmic Violet joins Cosmic Pink and Cosmic Purple to offer three of the most dramatic petunias in the Crazytunia portfolio. Cosmic Violet is a mutation of Black Mamba, one of the most popular colors in the collection. All three varieties offer striking centers, large flowers, stable color patterns, uniform habits and excellent summer performance. Mast Young Plants offered a limited release of Cosmic Violet this spring, and it will be in multiple summer trials.
2. LANTANA ‘PASSIONFRUIT’
‘PassionFruit’ is a new standalone trailing lantana introduction with a dense, spreading habit and large umbel clusters with transitional florets of peachy-orange, yellow and bright pink. ‘PassionFruit’ is recommended for combinations, baskets and landscape sites. We have had many new trailing lantana series introductions the past three years, and this new selection looks to rival them in habit, early flowering and floriferousness.
3. IMPATIENS ‘SUNPATIENS COMPACT RED CANDY’
Sakata had expanded the bicolor selections for 2024 with Compact Red Candy. The bicolor flowers, with red star centers and light pink petals contrasting with the dark bronze foliage, were dazzling in the trial. The Compact series is characterized by vigor, continuous flowering, compact habit, stable flower patterns and superlative summer performance. The versatility, durability and prolific flower color of this series are unmatched, and it is a season extender with a diverse range of colors for production application in spring and summer.
4. CUPHEA SWEET TALK SERIES
The breeding and introduction of vegetative cuphea has accelerated in the past five years. The three new colors in the Sweet Talk series are Deep Pink, Lavender Splash and Red. They were densely branched and flowered profusely in the trial. They differed slightly: Deep Pink was the most floriferous, Lavender Splash the most compact, and Red the most eye-catching. The series has a mature size of 8 to 14 inches and develops large, vibrant lobed flowers. It is heat and humidity tolerant, adaptable in full sun, and pollinator friendly. This new seed series will offer an alternative or an addition to your current cuphea program. Production application will be quarts, gallons and mixed containers. As our summers become hotter and more environmentally extreme, cuphea offers the consumer a plant that will survive and thrive. I have included a photograph of the Deep Pink which was extremely colorful in the February trial.
5. COLEUS ‘DOWN TOWN GREENVILLE’
Flower breeders have responded the past few years with the introduction of new vegetative coleus series with a wide range of leaf forms, habits, textures and multicolored foliage. Dümmen Orange currently offers the Main Street series and Stained Glassworks collection, and for 2024 is introducing the Down Town series. This new series is comprised of five new varieties, including LeFreak, which was a standalone variety last year and the forerunner to this series. The varieties are diverse, adaptable in sun or shade and have polychromatic, serrated, lanceolate leaves. My favorite in the trial was the well-branched and splashy ‘Down Town Greenville’ with a dense habit and chartreuse leaves splashed with burgundy.
6. PETCHOA ‘CALIBURST YELLOW’
It was only a matter of time before the first petchoa from seed would be introduced to the industry, and the new ‘Caliburst Yellow’ was definitely a “wow” plant in the Costa trial. The brightness, floriferousness and color saturation set it apart in the landscape and trial beds. It showed tight internodes, a controlled habit and a multitude of flowers rising above the foliage canopy. This is a facultative long-day plant with outstanding versatility and application in quarts, mixed containers and baskets. It was utilized as a component in E3 Easy Wave petunia baskets in the trial with stunning results.
7. COLEUS ‘TALAVERA MOONDUST’
Syngenta has entered the diverse vegetative coleus market with the Talavera series comprised of six colors: Burgundy Lime, Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Velveteen, Pink Tricolor, Sienna and Moondust. The series manifested uniformity in the landscape and trial beds and the foliage colors were stable, diverse, and non-fading. Moondust, with the yellow speckles interspersed on terra-cotta foliage, was eye-catching. The new coleus selections offer a wide color range, late flowering, color stability, heat and sun tolerance, and multipurpose application. Landscapers and consumers are using coleus in landscape sites, assorted container sizes, and baskets in sun and shade.
8. CALIBRACHOA ‘CALITASTIC CAPPUCCINO’
This new novelty introduction had the most unique flower pattern of all of the calibrachoa in the trial and was used in trial beds, containers and the hanging basket trial. The large, multicolored flowers with the conspicuous yellow throat, mahogany center and white margins were distinctive and colorful. This new selection will have application in mixed baskets and combination planters. There are more than 23 varieties in the Calitastic series offering solids, bicolors and multi-colors.
9. ANGELONIA ‘ARCHANGEL RUBY SANGRIA’
Angelonia offers heat, drought and humidity tolerance resulting in season extending performance. The genus has multiple applications in landscape sites and patio containers. With the rapid increase in container gardening, angelonia has become a prime component as a thriller, and with a wide range of colors to choose from, provides the consumer the opportunity for creating a colorful mixed container. The angelonia Archangel series offers 10 colors, including the new Ruby Sangria, for 2024. This new selection is characterized by large florets, lustrous green foliage, wellbranched habit and durability. What sets this variety part is the dark ruby-colored flowers that are unique to angelonia.
10. PETUNIA ‘SUPERTUNIA SAFFRON FINCH’
Proven Winners augmented the petunia Supertunia Mini Vista series with Yellow for 2023 and have introduced ‘Supertunia Saffron Finch’ for 2024. This new introduction has a lemon yellow throat and light yellow margin. The flower size, branching, vigor and abundance of flowers were impressive in the trial bed. This variety will be a dynamic component in future bundled combination kits and a dynamic color in mixed containers and baskets.
11. PETCHOA ‘SUPERCAL PREMIUM RED MAPLE’
Red Maple is a striking new introduction with iridescent scarlet orange flowers that will have sales potential throughout the summer and fall. The attributes of the premium series are large flowers, a mounded habit, and rain, humidity, and heat tolerance. This is a season-extending series with the vibrant colors of Yellow, Cinnamon, Citrus and the new Red Maple. Petchoa Supercal mixes in containers and baskets have been top performers in the trials for many years.
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