This year, we learned more about a few of the companies behind the plants, as well as new business endeavors for them.
Benary (1) celebrated its 175th anniversary with a living timeline, showcasing key moments in its history as well as new varieties. One of the most important dates for the company was 1946, when the Benary family left their home and company behind in East Germany in the aftermath of World War II. Fritz Benary landed in West Germany and rode his bike throughout Europe, collecting seeds from customers to help restart the company. The company is honoring Fritz Benary’s ride and work in many ways, including tying his story to the introduction of Super Hero marigolds, an improvement on the Hero series. Spry, a 2018 National All-America Selections winner, is compact like the others in the Super Hero series and features maroon and gold flowers. Learn more from Jen Calhoun, marketing specialist for Benary North America, in this video interview.
We’re always interested in learning about emerging technology that will lighten growers’ and grower-retailers’ loads. Perry Wismans, global head of floriculture innovation at Dümmen Orange (2), gave us the details on Basewell, a new plant product form that falls between a callused cutting and a rooted liner. These rooted cuttings are housed in an Autostix strip, but can be shipped either in an intact strip, or separated for those growers who don’t have the required machinery. So far, they’ve trialed 15 species with customers, and have plans for more soon. You can watch our interview with Wismans, where he explains more about the technology and benefits, and shows examples of Basewell cuttings.
There was a lot to discover and celebrate at Hem Genetics (3) this year. Hem Zaden celebrated 100 years in business, Hem Genetics 20 years, and this year the company introduced Hem Technologies. Through Hem Technologies, a new business venture, the company brought its petunia seed pelleting in-house at a new seed facility. Joe Messer, manager for North America, told us that the company was also working to demonstrate the possibilities of planting its seeds with the combination planters displayed at Spring Trials. More here.
SENSE OF STYLE
These fashionable breeders showed off their style at their stops with fancy flowers, haute couture displays and more.
The red carpet was rolled out for Leading Lady, Runway Beauty and the other “personalities” that comprise the Hollywood Hibiscus collection of disease-resistant, prolific hibiscus from J. Berry Nursery (1). The Texas-based grower and breeder also added a brand new genus to its lineup — begonias — with the new Crown Jewel series of four heat-tolerant, compact begonias with enduring color. Plant performance is a priority at J. Berry, as is presentation; its branded containers come in jewel-tone hues, such as rose gold. Watch a video about Crown Jewel here.
I’Conia, a subseries and extension of the existing brand of begonias from Dümmen Orange (2) Portofino, features elegant flowers that sit on top of the foliage and are contained in a mounded habit. New colors include Yellow, Champagne and Hot Coral. Learn more details about the series in this video.
Attendees traded their traditional name tags in for all-access, backstage passes to Pacific Plug & Liner (3) this year, as the 2018 theme for the always impressive Spring Trials stop was rock-and-roll. Displays were in perfect harmony, and the company even had Spring Trials “concert” merch on hand.
Syngenta Flowers (4) showed off its surfer style with this epic display of Cabrio calibrachoa varieties that come in six colors, are bred for small containers and bloom during 10.5-hour days. The surfboards came from local thrift stores. Syngenta’s outdoor gardens, which attendees walked through to get to the greenhouse, also got a fashion-forward makeover with new varieties planted throughout, such as Snaptini snapdragons, which bloom early and continually, and colorful Delta Speedy pansies.
SENSE OF SIGHT
Showy plants abounded on the West Coast.
American Takii (1) emphasized two plants that are AAS winners for 2018, South Pacific Orange (top photo), one of three new compact cannas that join South Pacific Scarlet to create a series, and Onyx Red, a striking, compact ornamental pepper. Learn more here.
At Benary (2), attendees were intrigued by SUCCESS! Silver Vein petunia’s unique coloring. Watch the video with more details here.
The new Senetti Magic Salmon’s (3) breathtaking color combination drew the eye, even from a distance, at the Suntory Flowers area of GroLink. Watch the video about Magic Salmon and more here.
Sakata Seed America (4) debuted a stunning selection of colors in its new SuperCal Premium series, including Cinnamon, Caramel Yellow and French Vanilla.
At PlantHaven (5), two plants with pure white flowers were attracting attention. Silver Fountain Gaura (pictured) stood out with its variegated foliage, sterile, nectar-rich white flowers and repeat blooming. Also of note was the Salvia Vibe Ignition White, which president Robert Bett said was a crowd favorite. Watch the video here.
We were ready to get inked when we saw Tattoo Vinca, a new series from PanAmerican Seed (6). Heat and humidity tolerant, Tattoo has four tasty varieties that were developed over the past 10 years — Tangerine, Papaya (pictured), Raspberry and Black Cherry. Check out this video for more
Pinkerbell is a new regal geranium offered by PAC (7) that boasts great flower power and doesn’t require chilling. The company says it’s easy to force for Valentine’s Day. Learn more here.
Green Fuse Botanicals (8) debuted new colors in its Staircase series of Lupine, including Blue and Blue Yellow, pictured in the foreground.
Pretty Little Pink Splash is the first in a vegetative geranium series from Syngenta Flowers (9), with a “blanket of flowers” and similar heat tolerance as ivy geranium. Learn more here.
SENSE OF TASTE
In recent years, we’ve seen more fruits and vegetables at Spring Trials, and this year was no exception. Here are a few of the newest tasty treats.
Much of Sakata Home Grown’s (1) focus this year was on earlier varieties. Several peppers finished in 60 to 75 days, including Crackle, a hot Thai type, and Lola (pictured), a sweet banana pepper with thick walls and good coverage against sunscald. Another early variety was Camaro determinate slicing tomato, which holds flowers in extreme heat. Learn more here.
To drive retail sales and promote gardening, Thompson & Morgan (2) is selling these Grow Kits, including “Salad Cut & Come Again” and “Rainbow Salad.” The company also partnered with Dorset Tea to include a packet of Thompson & Morgan sunflower seeds with boxes.
Bushel and Berry (3) debuted two new berries, Buckle Blueberry and Southern Bluebelle, this season. Find out more in this video.
For the first time, Proven Winners (4) is expanding beyond ornamentals and including produce into their collection with five new varieties — two tomatoes, two strawberries and a basil. Kerry Meyer, program manager, said that each of the varieties was brought into the collection for its look and performance, but also the story behind it, which you can learn more about in this video. For example, Amazel basil is the first Italian sweet basil to be downy mildew-resistant, and was discovered by a graduate student during her research. The tomatoes, ‘Garden Gem’ and ‘Garden Treasure,’ were the fruit (pun intended) of scientist Dr. Harry Klee’s three decades of research into taste, disease resistance and other desirable qualities such as performance in hot climates.
ABZ Seeds (5) added another strawberry to its offerings with Summer Breeze, a double-flowered plant in two showy colors. Watch this video to see the varieties.
Susannah Ball walked us through the new vegetables and technology available from PanAmerican Seed’s (6) HandPicked Vegetables group. Among the standouts were Habanero Primero Red, which ripens in 75 days, has good vigor and a small plant size, and Butterbaby butternut squash, which provides numerous, 1-pound, sweet, personal-sized fruits on a plant that can be trellised to save space. PanAmerican Seed is also offering more of its vegetable seeds in pelleted form for hydroponic growers. Learn more in this video.
Vegetalis (7) catered to consumers who want more disease resistance in their plants with its new vegetables, including several new hot and sweet peppers with Tobacco Mosaic Virus resistance and a new tomato, Summerlast (pictured), with Tomato Mosaic Virus and Late Blight resistance.