Vaughn’s View: Colorful and vibrant annual introductions for 2024 – Part 2
This article highlights new annual introductions for 2024 from my Costa Farms Season Premiere spring trial visit in late February. In the May article, I covered many new and distinctive varieties from eight different flower breeders. In this article, I will describe additional introductions that were chromatic, unique, diverse and worthy of consideration. The upcoming July and August articles will focus on the basket, container and perennial trial varieties at Costa from my late April visit and evaluation.
1. PETCHOA ENVIVA SERIES
(Shown above) It was only a matter of time before a new petchoa series was introduced to the industry. I highlighted the new seed variety petchoa ‘Caliburst Yellow’ from PanAmerican Seed in my May article, and, in conjunction with that significant introduction, Selecta One will introduce a new vegetative series, petchoa EnViva, for 2024. There are four core colors in the series: White, Blue, Red and Pink; all were represented in the trial. My favorite color in the trial was Pink, which manifested a floriferous canopy and vibrant deep pink flowers with a yellow throat. The attributes of this new series are uniformity, a controlled, mounded growth habit, consistent flower size and color stability. We are familiar with the exceptional weather tolerance and season extending performance of the interspecific petchoas. Production application includes quarts, gallons, mixed containers and baskets. This new petchoa series will be in multiple trials this summer and I expect the series, based on performance in this early trial, to demonstrate exceptional summer performance.
2. BEGONIA ‘DRAGON WING RED BRONZE LEAF’
PanAmerican Seed has made many significant and revolutionary begonia introductions in the past 20 years; last year was no exception with the introduction of the unique begonia Hula series, which received praiseworthy recognition from multiple trial managers. PanAmerican has continued this stream of begonia introductions for 2024 with ‘Dragon Wing Bronze Leaf Pink’ and ‘Dragon Wing Bronze Leaf Red’. This is one of the most ubiquitous and recognizable begonia series in the industry, and these two bronze leaf introductions enhance and expand the series. The varieties are early flowering and manifest dark bronze foliage with a colorful and prolific flower canopy. These new introductions will be in regional flower trials this summer and will become an important component in quarts, mixed containers and basket programs in the years ahead.
3. CANNA ‘SOUTH PACIFIC YELLOW’
The popularity of canna continues to grow every year. Consumers are purchasing and using cannas in large patio containers and landscape beds for season-long color and a tropical flair. We have many virus-free vegetative and seed cannas available in the industry, and the South Pacific series was the first F1 hybrid seed series to enter the market. The series is comprised of Ivory, Rose, Orange, Scarlet and — new for 2024 — White and Yellow. Both new colors were in the trial beds and demonstrated the attributes of the entire series: multiple flower stems, earliness, durability and vibrant color. The plants mature at 26 to 32 inches, and the inflorescences rise above the foliage, commanding a statuesque and flamboyant component. They are outstanding focal points, ostentatious thrillers, pollinator magnets and great additions in water gardens. The new Yellow was stunning in the trial, with multiple flowers rising above the foliage with striking visibility. The entire series will be available from multiple plug suppliers in 2024.
4. ANGELONIA ‘ALONIA BIG CHERRY’
What’s not to like about angelonia? The breeding trends have been noteworthy with new series and color introductions and improvements in habit and flower size. It is a genus for the times: durable, heat and drought tolerant, minimal deadheading need, and production versatility in quarts, gallons and mixed containers. It is one of the premier thriller components in containers and, with the wide range of colors, offers the consumer the opportunity to create a dramatic color scheme. Danziger offers two series, the Alonia and the Alonia Big. Three new Big colors have been added for 2024: Big Grape, Big Cherry and Big Bicolor Pink Improved. The characteristics of this subseries are glossy green foliage, upright architecture and long inflorescences. Big Cherry was a standout in the trial with a heavy flower count, dense habit, vibrancy and saturated deep cherry florets produced along the entire stem. This new color enhances the color palette. Both series are popular in spring programs for their bench run capability, consistent flower timing and wide color range.
5. MANDEVILLA ‘SUN PARASOL GIANT PEACH SUNRISE’
Suntory celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Sun Parasol Collection this year with the introduction of the mandevilla ‘Sun Parasol Giant Peach Sunrise’ for 2024. This follows the introduction last year of the stunning Original Sunbeam, the best yellow mandevilla in the market. This is an exciting new distinctive selection with extraordinary polychromatic flowers with yellow centers, an orange throat and peachy pink petals. The flower colors may transition to softer tones in different regions of the country as the season progresses. There is no mandevilla in the market to match the flower pattern of this new variety. There are eight varieties in the Giant series. This is a natural climber and is used primarily on a trellis in containers. It becomes more floriferous and colorful as the season progresses and will thrive under hot and humid conditions until early fall. On a personal note, I have planted many of the Giant varieties in my summer trials for the past 15 years, and they are incomparable for summer performance. I have reached out to many friends on social media, and this new variety has engendered incredible excitement. The majority of consumers make snap judgments when it comes to color decisions, and Peach Sunrise will be virtually irresistible for many consumers. SunFire Nurseries will be the exclusive liner supplier for 2024.
6. COLEUS ‘PREMIUM SUN CORAL CANDY’
I have highlighted many exceptional seed and vegetative coleus introductions the past six years; last year, I focused on Ruby Heart, the Premium Sun introduction for 2023. It was the first seed coleus to receive the prestigious All-America Selections (AAS) award. This collection just gets better and better with the new Coral Candy for 2024. This new introduction offers lanceolate-shaped, multicolored, serrated foliage with a deep pink midrib, pink splashed leaves and green margins. The color patterns and texture are bold, and the foliage has a slight pendulous habit. This variety is sun and shade adaptable, late flowering, and non-fading. The range of leaf colorations is transitional, predicated on environmental conditions. The accompanying photograph may differ from what you see in the summer trials. There are now 11 diverse and polychromatic colors in the Premium Sun Collection, and these are unquestionably the most unique seed coleus in the industry, with exceptional versatility in production programs, multiple applications for the consumer and proven success in landscape beds.
7. GERANIUM ‘MOJO SCARLET’
The Syngenta geranium portfolio is formidable, diverse and well represented in spring programs throughout the country. The interspecific dark leaf Mojo series, introduced two years ago, has quickly captured market share and become an integral part of many geranium programs. I highlighted ‘Mojo Cranberry Splash’ last year for its unique bicolor flowers and outstanding heat and humidity tolerance. The characteristics that have moved this series to the forefront are the dark foliage, large umbels, medium vigor, superior summer performance and versatility in spring production programs. Syngenta tests and screens all its geranium introductions in Florida, and the Mojo series has been recognized as the best interspecific geranium series in trials the last two years. There are now eight colors in the series, including Dark Red Improved and the new Scarlet. Even though it was late February, the Scarlet manifested dense branching and multiple umbels with strong deep scarlet florets.
8. PETUNIA ‘SWEET SUNSHINE MAGENTA SKY’
It has been over 20 years since the first double petunia series entered the market; since then, we have seen the introduction of many seed and vegetative series from multiple flower breeders. The Sweet Sunshine Double series is comprised of six unique colors, including the new Blueberry Vein and Magenta Sky, the first sky pattern in double petunias. Magenta Sky was eye-catching in the Costa trial with a well-branched trailing habit, colorful canopy, and welldefined and stable deep magenta petals interspersed with white flecks and white margins. The series had been used successfully in spring mixed basket programs, quarts and patio containers. In addition, ‘Sweet Sunshine Double Provence’ has received the Fleuroselect Gold Medal award for its unusual flower colors and performance.
9. PORTULACA ‘CUPCAKE IMPROVED GRAPE JELLY’
Many new plant introductions in summer trials have made a lasting impression on me with their optical properties of brightness, floriferousness and vibrancy. This was true of the portulaca Cupcake series introduced in 2012. It was entered in regional trials that summer and has since become an important series in spring and summer programs. Dümmen Orange offers an upright and spreading series and has continued to make breeding improvements since that time. Four varieties — Lemon Zest, Carrot, Yellow Chrome and Grape Jelly — have improved branching, flower count and extended day length flowering for 2024. My favorite in the Costa trial was the Improved Grape Jelly, with large and highly saturated flowers that formed a prolific canopy. In the last 10 years, we have seen the breeding, development, and introduction of new portulaca series with bicolor and multicolored single and double flowers with compact and spreading habits. Dümmen Orange, as well as many other breeders, have made improvements to current selections and introduced new varieties with many of these improved traits.
10. SALVIA ‘PLUM CRAZY’
The introduction of interspecific, guaranitica, longispicata, splendens and farinacea selections continues at a rapid pace. Salvia offers a multitude of characteristics that attract the consumer and provide creative production applications for the grower. They offer unique colors, flower forms, durability, multiple branching, assorted sizes, prolific flowering, textures, low maintenance, and heat and drought tolerance, and are an incredible pollinator magnet. Ball FloraPlant has been instrumental in introducing a wide range of species for application in containers and landscapes. I highlighted the outstanding performance of ‘Blue Chill’ last year, and Ball FloraPlant now offers nine different varieties including the new ‘Plum Crazy’ for 2024. This new selection matches the habit of salvia ‘Black & Bloom’ and offers a prolific inflorescence of magenta-colored calyxes and black corollas. ‘Plum Crazy’ will have production application in quarts and 1- and 2-gallon containers. Landscapers and consumers will use it in large patio containers and beds. I cannot overstate the beauty and versatility of these new salvia varieties for the consumer and landscape industry. They will go the distance and provide color, stature and durability, as well as being a magnet for multiple pollinators.
11. BEGONIA ‘STONEHEDGE ROSE BRONZE LEAF’
Benary is synonymous with begonias and, just when you thought that another begonia series was inconsequential, Benary has introduced Stonehedge for 2024, comprised of two bronze leaf varieties. This is a unique interspecific series that is quite different from Bigs or Whoppers. This new series is more vigorous at maturity, reaching up to 48 inches in landscape beds. It is a free flowering, multiflora type with an upright, vigorous habit and dense foliage. It is adaptable in sun or shade; application is recommended for large containers, baskets and landscape sites. The accompanying photograph is from the Costa basket trial and demonstrates the vigor, flower size and habit of the Rose Bronze Leaf. Three green leaf colors will be added to the series for 2025.
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