Vaughn’s View: Stunning Summer Performers Part 1
My trial season visits began at Costa Farms in late February, continued during the summer at 14 different trial sites throughout the country and culminated with a second visit to Colorado State University in early September.
The diversity of new seed and vegetative introductions was impressive with many genetic breakthrough series and unique new colors within current series and collections. I have selected 25 new introductions that captured my attention in multiple trial sites, which I will highlight in this article and the subsequent article in February. Many of these introductions were performance award winners in university, private and public trials. What set these varieties apart in the trial sites was consistency, heat, humidity and rain tolerance, flower stability,
eye-catching flower colors, and instant impact.
These new varieties will offer programmable compatibility for the grower, eye-popping retail appeal, consumer satisfaction and garden success.
1. IMPATIENS SOLARSCAPE SERIES
(Pictured above) The first F1 interspecific seed impatiens in the industry was introduced last year and was ubiquitous in the summer trials. It is comprised of four vibrant colors: Neon Purple, Magenta Bliss, Orange Burst and White Shimmer, and it matures at 12 to 15 inches. I saw the series for the first time at the Costa Premier spring trial last February and was impressed by the vibrant flowers and color coverage in full sun in trial and landscape beds. In trials throughout the country, all the colors demonstrated superior heat and rain tolerance, durability, and impressive floriferousness in containers, beds, and baskets. This series is royalty free and non-branded, with multiple production applications. The Solarscape varieties are recommended for sun or shade, but based on last summer trials and my landscape beds, the series flowered more prolifically in a full sun exposure. The accompanying photograph of an impatiens Solarscape mixed container is from the Colorado State trial on Sept. 9, 2022.
2. CELOSIA FLAMMA SERIES
I saw this experimental seed series for the first time in the Mast trial in 2021, and I was astonished by the vibrancy and brightness of the flower plumes. It was entered into the trial program this year as the Flamma series, and it manifested a powerful show of color the entire summer in all regions of the country. The series is comprised of five colors: Bright Red, Orange, Rose, Golden and Red. It is also available as a mix. Orange received the prestigious AAS national award, but many of the colors were worthy of this award. In beds and containers in multiple trials, this series manifested uniformity, large non-fading plumes, tight flower heads, excellent branching and exceptional heat tolerance. Production applications will include packs, quarts, gallons and mixed patio containers. The accompanying photograph is from the Penn State trial on Aug. 31, 2022.
3. ANGELONIA ‘ANGELDANCE VIOLET BICOLOR’
This new AngelDance series offers two varieties: Fuchsia Bicolor and Violet Bicolor. Both have more vigor, larger florets and a taller presentation than varieties in the ArchAngel series. What was impressive throughout the summer was the upright habit, durability, vibrant bicolor flowers, heat and humidity tolerance, and minimal cycling. This was the only angelonia series among many that was still flowering on the last day of August on my Penn State trial visit. This is a season-extender series that has outstanding application in landscape sites and as a thriller in patio containers. The Violet Bicolor was a top consumer selection in the Mast trial and the best new annual introduction in the Colorado State trial; however, Fuchsia Bicolor was comparable in performance and offers large, orchid-like deep fuchsia and white bicolor flowers. The accompanying photograph is from the Mast container trial in mid-August 2022.
4. BRACTEANTHA ‘GRANVIA PINK’
Suntory made quite an impression with the introduction of ‘Granvia Gold’ in the summer trials in 2020. This strawflower variety may have the brightest and most stunning gold/yellow flower color in the market, as well as exceptional heat tolerance. The Granvia genetic stream continues for 2023 with the introduction of Harvest Orange, Pink and Peachy Keen. The series was entered in southern and northern locations in containers, and the performance level of these new colors equaled the ‘Granvia Gold’. I chose Pink to highlight because of its unique color, color stability, flower size and summer performance. This series will be stunning in beds and patio containers. Suntory will introduce a new Red and White variety this spring at CAST. The accompanying photograph is from the Metrolina trial in early June 2022.
5. BEGONIA BIONIC SERIES
Syngenta offers an impressive portfolio of seed begonia series for multiple production applications. This new interspecific series, comprised of two bronze leaf and two green leaf varieties, manifested incredible branching, uniformity, large flowers, sun-shade tolerance and a prolific flower canopy throughout the summer. The series will provide more vigor than the Tophat series and will flower a week later. I was impressed with the performance of the series in landscape beds at Costa in late February and late April and at Raker-Roberta’s in mid-August, as well as in container trials at Penn State and Colorado State. The Green Leaf Rose was selected as the best begonia in the Colorado State trial in late August. The accompanying photograph of the Green Leaf Red variety is from the Metrolina trial in early June 2022 and demonstrates the superior branching consistent with the series.
6. BEGONIA HULA SERIES
My first glimpse of this new interspecific begonia series was in the landscape beds at the Costa Premier spring trial in late February, and I was struck by the abundance of BabyWing-size flowers that covered the canopy of the four introductions for 2023. This is the first interspecific begonia series from seed adaptable in sun or shade locations. It was well represented in container and trial beds in multiple locations last summer in sun and shade, and it did not disappoint. The series is comprised of four colors: Red, Blush, Pink and Bicolor Red White. The features of this series include tight internodes, day-length neutrality, mounded semi-trailing habit, excellent heat tolerance and floriferousness. The flowers are small but prolific, and the series has the vigor to produce an abundance of flowers with outstanding coverage above the foliage canopy. It is a non-branded, cost-efficient series with production application in baskets, mixed containers and quart production. The series is considered a Pro Landscape Performer series for the landscape industry. The accompanying photograph of ‘Hula Red’ is from the Raker-Roberta’s basket trial in mid-August, and I witnessed the same performance in the sun container trial at the Dallas Arboretum in late June 2022.
7. LANTANA HEARTLAND SERIES
This series was introduced in 2021 with seven colors. Blue Moon and Orange have been added for 2023. This breeding originated from the popular Havana series and offers more vigor with a wide range of large polychromatic umbels. This is an important new class addition to the Dümmen Orange lantana program. The series demonstrated durability, lustrous foliage and excellent branching, and matured at 18 to 24 inches. Dümmen Orange will offer many of the colors as components in nine Hot Spot and Garden Party recipes for 2023. The enclosed photograph is ‘Heartland Neon’ at the Colorado State trial in early September 2022, which is emblematic of the stunning multicolored umbels within the series.
8. COLEUS ‘PREMIUM SUN RUBY HEART’
I highlighted this new seed introduction in my Costa Premier trial article in May 2022 and in my November article on new coleus introductions. Ruby Heart augments the performance and diversity of this seed collection. It has non-fading, multicolored burgundy foliage with a defined chartreuse margin and is adaptable in all regions of the country as demonstrated in multiple trials last summer. There are now 10 colorful varieties in the collection with a wide range of leaf forms and patterns. The varieties are adaptable in sun or shade and offer the grower a dynamic economical seed series for production application in quarts, patio, and combination containers. Ruby Heart was a University of Georgia Classic City award winner for 2022 with its performance from start to finish. The enclosed photograph is from the Colorado State trial in early August 2022.
9. LOBELIA ‘MAGADI COMPACT BLUE BAY’
The compact Magadi series has been one of the most important lobelias of choice for growers for many years. It is available in five colors, including the new Blue Bay with its stunning, unique bicolor splash pattern of dark blue and white. The attributes of this series are compactness, dense branching, early flowering, vibrant colors and exceptional summer hardiness. Blue Bay was trialed in multiple locations last summer; in every trial, it manifested color retention and, most importantly, it flowered prolifically until mid-September. It was the only lobelia among many that was flowering in the Metrolina trial in North Carolina in late August. The accompanying photograph is from the Raker-Roberta’s trial in mid-August 2022.
10. COLEUS ‘STAINED GLASSWORKS PINEAPPLE
I described eight new coleus introductions and four breeder designer recipes in my October 2022 coleus article. I focused on this genera because the breeding, trialing and introduction of seed, specifically vegetative coleus varieties, has been extraordinary in the past 20 years. The attributes are significant and include improved vigor and branching, sun tolerance, distinctive foliage patterns and textures, late flowering, and sustainability throughout the summer season in all regions of the country. As I reflect on the summer trial season and the numerous new and improved coleus varieties introduced, in my opinion Pineapple Express was exceptional and conspicuous with its gold foliage and splashes of burgundy. It was vivid, dramatic and distinctive. It flowered late in the season, was non-fading, well branched and maintained its unique color pattern. I have highlighted many varieties in the Glassworks collection in the past, and this new introduction is outstanding with application in landscape beds and large patio containers. I used it in my container trial last summer and it maintained its bright and nonfading foliage until frost. The accompanying photograph is from my container trial in the Kansas City area on Sept. 23, 2022.
11. LANTANA ‘BANDOLISTA RED CHILI’
This new trailing lantana series, comprised of Mango, Pineapple, Coconut and Red Chili, was eye-catching in the Costa Premier spring trial in February and April 2022, and later in the summer trial locations. What was eye-catching, you ask? The flower clusters and umbels are large with high color saturation and brightness. The habit is mounded and semi-trailing, with a prolific flower canopy that rises above the foliage. The Syngenta lantana portfolio is significant and diverse with this new trailing series adding a new class to the program with production application in baskets, mixed containers and landscape beds. The series is sterile, except for Coconut, and will continue to produce flowers prolifically throughout the summer. Red Chili, with its polychromatic umbels, was rated number three in the Plantpeddler trial and was the best pollinator-friendly series in the Mast trial. The enclosed photograph, from the Raker-Roberta’s basket trial in mid-August last year, demonstrates the semi-trailing habit.
12. LANTANA ‘SHAMROCK PEACH IMPROVED’
When I reflect on the Shamrock series, what comes to mind is symmetry, timing and uniformity. This medium vigor series is comprised of five colors for 2023: Orange Flame, Rose, White, the new Butterscotch Glow and Peach, which has been improved with a better habit to match the series. Peach has bicolor peach and yellow flowers that are distinctive, stable and positioned above the foliage, creating a colorful canopy. This series, which entered the market last year, has tight internodes, a mounded habit and more vigor than Little Lucky. It was a top performer in numerous trials last summer and offers versatility with application in quarts, combinations, baskets, and beds. The enclosed photograph is from the Colorado State container trial on Sept. 9, 2022.
13. NEMESIA ‘AROMANCE MULBERRY’
I highlighted this new nemesia variety in my Costa Premier spring trial article last June. I included it because of its intoxicating fragrance, prolific flowering, impactful lobed bicolor lavender and fuchsia flowers with the yellow center, and superior summer performance. This is the first nemesia I have included in my top 25 annuals of the trial season and, based on its performance last summer, it deserves recognition. Nemesia sales have been declining the past few years for many reasons, including seasonality, production applicability and insufficient heat tolerance. What distinguished this new introduction throughout the summer was the floriferousness; heat, rain and humidity tolerance; habit; and color stability in multiple trials until late September. I received samples of this variety for my Kansas City container trial. It flowered continually all summer and, as I write this article on Nov. 6, 2022, it is still in flower with dark green foliage. This new introduction is definitely worthy of its Proven Winner recognition. The accompanying photograph is from the Raker-Roberta’s container trial in mid-August 2022.
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