Winners from the 2010 Colorado State University Annual Flower Trial Gardens

Note to Reporters: Top performing varieties at the Annual Flower Trial Gardens from the 2010 growing season and evaluators’ comments on all varieties are available at Selected high resolution images are available with the news release at

Colorado weather can make for difficult growing conditions, especially for flower lovers. From searing heat to severe weather to lack of moisture, it can be a challenge to produce abundant flowers. In an effort to aid both homeowners and commercial growing operations, Colorado State University has released the results of its “Best of” 2010 annual flower trials.

More than 1,100 different varieties of annuals were either given trial plantings in ground beds or in about 600 containers at the Flower Trial Gardens, 1401 Remington St. in Fort Collins. The garden, west of the University Center for the Arts, is managed by CSU’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture in cooperation with a committee of local growers, bedding plant personnel and public garden horticulturalists.

“The Annual Flower Trial Garden gives us the perfect opportunity 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.

Twenty-six seed and vegetative companies from within the United States and worldwide participated in the trials. Judging was held on Aug. 9, 2010, and again on Sept. 8, 2010, to determine the 2010 “Best of” winners.

The Best of Show is Denver Daisy from Benary Seed. The abundant large flowers are very showy with a long bloom time. The flowering and growth habit are exceptionally uniform. Denver Daisy was a past winner in the annual flower trials and also a Grand Prize Winner in public voting through the American Garden Award Program.

The Best New Variety is Graceful Grasses Vertigo from Proven Winners. This plant has impressive vigor. Its large size and dark purplish glossy foliage makes it a unique focal point in the garden.

Best Novelty for 2010 is Yellow Compact from Grolink Plant Company. This bulbine makes a unique impression due to its delicate yellow flowers on the tips of uprights stems. The foliage has a fine grass-like texture.

31 varieties of bedding plants earned a “best” in their categories; while one additional plant earned a “superior” rating. Among the winners were:

Best coleus was Trusty Rusty from Ball Horticultural Company. The foliage was impressive with its striking colors that were contrasting. Plants displayed great vigor and were extremely uniform.

Best dahlia was Dark Angel Dracula from GroLink Plant Company. Bold, rosy, wine-uniform colored flowers combined with dark foliage created a very unique visual appearance.

Moonsong Deep Orange from Goldsmith Seeds is the best marigold. The dark orange flower color was clearly the deepest orange of any marigold in the trial. Plants also had a uniform growth habit.

The best verbena for 2010 is Magelana Hot Rose from Syngenta Flowers. Large rose flowers were layered throughout the plant and had good mildew resistance.

Best vinca is Boa Peppermint from Floranova. Plants were very floriferous with attractive white flowers with a pinkish red eye. This plant had good foliage and a cascading habit.

Best zinnia is Zowie! Yellow Flame from Syngenta Flowers-Goldsmith Seeds. Few flowers had such an intense combination of colors than this variety. Yellow/orange petals have a cherry red color on the inner eye. It was also more resistant to disease than other zinnias.

These 10 plants are just a sample of the 32 varieties of plants that earned “Best of” distinction. A complete listing, description and photos can be viewed at

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