California Spring Trials underway

California Spring Trials underway

Lawn & Landscape is making its way up the coast for a glimpse of the newest plants and products for the green industry.

March 29, 2011
Industry News

Lawn & Landscape Associate Editor Brian Horn and members of GIE Media Horticulture Group’s team have been making their way north up the coast for the 2011 California Spring Trials.

The trials offer a peek at the newest plant varieties, clever marketing programs and essential products for the entire green industry. Our team started its trek last Friday at Ecke Ranch in Encinitas and will end Thursday at Syngenta Flowers in Gilroy.

Here are some of the highlights so far:

Plug Connection's Super Natural grafted vegetables will receive their formal industry rollout at this year's OFA Short Course, July 9-12, in Columbus, Ohio. Company product development manager Juan St. Amant said the initial focus will be on tomatoes, but other crops have the potential to be grafted including peppers and eggplants. Amant said the grafted plants will probably be offered in 72 cell liners and will be grown to order.

Benary introduced its Inspire pansy series three years ago, retiring the Fama series. Bred specifically for the North American market, seven varieties have been added to expand the series to 29 separate colors. Bred for extreme weather conditions, the plants overwinter well and the flowers don't shrink in size under warm temperatures.

On display during our stop at Proven Winners in Bonsall were many of the 28 new perennials from Walters Gardens that have been added to the PW program. Susan Martin, Walters Gardens director of marketing communications, said eight of the varieties are brand new. Four of the new plants are in the Decadence baptisia series (Blueberry Sundae, Cherries Jubilee, Dutch Chocolate and Lemon Meringue).

With the increasing consumer interest in 3D movies, TVs and video games, Selecta has launched its 3D series of osteospermum (which were actually shown with 3D glasses). Available in Pink, Purple and Silver, the flowers stay open 24 hours so consumers can get the maximum effect. The good thing for growers - they can be produced just like any other osteo variety without any different cultural requirements.

Presto is Ball FloraPlant's new compact, dark-leafed zonal geranium series. What's magical about these plants? The 13 colors send up three to four flowers in the first flush, they finish together enabling growers to bench run the crop and they don't need any growth regulators.

We made a quick trip to Oxnard to visit GroLink and Green Fuse Botanicals. GroLink has expanded its family of dahlias with the Happy series. The six varieties in this series have a medium habit with dark bronze foliage. The color intensifies under higher light levels. The bright colorful flowers really stand out against the dark foliage. The new Ladyslippers streptocarpus series from Green Fuse isn't like the old varieties with a lot of strap-like leaves and a few flowers. Available in six colors, the plants are produced from tissue culture and are covered in flowers.

Then, we backtracked to Santa Paula to spend some time with Fides, which also hosted Flamingo Holland. Roselily Belonica Oriental lily from Flamingo Holland is a true double flower lily with 20 petals per flower. The lightly scented flowers don't produce pollen and last up to two weeks longer than single flowers. A 14/16 size bulb produces an average of two to four flowers per plant.Fides displayed the new garden mums it's working on for the North American market. Expect to see several new series from the plants currently being trialed and selected.

For full coverage of the California Spring Trials, including a map with every location and full video coverage, click here.

Also, follow Lawn & Landscape’s tweets for photos of all the new plant varieties.