‘Best of’ 2008 Annual Flower Trials

Note to Editors: Top performing varieties at the Annual Flower Trial Gardens for the 2008 growing season and evaluators’ comments on all varieties are available at www.flowertrials.colostate.edu. Selected high resolution images are available by visiting www.newsinfo.colostate.edu and clicking on the headline for this release.

Colorado’s varied climate can present a challenge to nearly any landscape. Conditions such as searing heat, drought and severe weather can make it especially tough for flower lovers. To aid both homeowners and commercial operations, Colorado State University has released the results of its annual Flower Trial Gardens Performance Report.

The Flower Trials at Colorado State continues to grow in size and national stature. More than 1,200 different varieties of annuals were either trialed in ground beds or in about 700 containers at the Flower Trial Gardens, 1401 Remington St. in Fort Collins. Twenty-two seed and vegetative companies from within the United States and worldwide participated in the trials. Judging was held on August 5, 2008 and again on September 5, 2008 to determine the 2008 ‘Best of’ winners.

The Best of Show and Best Zonal Geranium was, ‘Calliope’ from Syngenta Flowers. Its prolific, deep red flowers were strong throughout the entire season. The variety had impressive vigor with larger leaves and good uniform growth habit in both ground and containers. It is being marketed in Home Depots in 2009 under the name ‘Big Red’.

The Best New Variety is Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’ developed by Creek Hill Nursery. This was a standout due to its multi-colored dark red with stripes of pink, white and green. The leaf color changed depending on hot or cold weather. The plant was vigorous in both ground and in containers.

Ptilotus ‘Joey’ from Benary Seed was chosen as Best Novelty for 2008. It was a runaway in this category with a unique flower form, delicate texture and attractive coloring. The flowers appear as fuzzy arrowheads with shades of soft lavender and white.  This Australian native had abundant flowers throughout the season.

The Best Coleus was ‘Henna’ from Ball Flora Plant with unique foliage coloring, fringed leaf edge and impressive vigor. The foliage was ochre-chartreuse on the upper leaf surface and burnt sienna on the lower side.

The Best Lantana was ‘Bandana Pink 09’ from Syngenta Flowers. The numerous long-lasting flowers balance soft pink and yellow. Plants were very vigorous and symmetrical in growth habit.

Best Zinnia was ‘Profusion Knee High Red’ from Sakata Seed America. The flower color was a very intense red with a hint of orange mixed in. The flower color makes a strong impact and blooms are abundant into September.

"The purpose of this research is to evaluate annual flowers to see how well they perform in Colorado’s high light intensity and low humidity," said Jim Klett, professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Colorado State. Klett manages CSU’s Flower Trial Gardens, the largest flower test garden in the state and one of the five largest in the United States.  

In all, 34 ‘Best Of’ winners were chosen from the 2008 Annual Flower Trials at CSU. A complete listing and description and photos can be viewed at www.flowertrials.colostate.edu.

Most of the winning plants are available at local nurseries or garden centers for this growing season.