Note to Reporters: A selection of the winning flowers can be found with the news release at news.colostate.edu.
The 2014 gardening season is almost upon us. And if you want to know what flowers to plant this growing season, a list of great possibilities comes from Colorado State University’s Annual Flower Trial Garden.
The garden, which spans nearly three acres on the east side of the Fort Collins campus, is a Northern Colorado showpiece with a focused research purpose: Each year, the Annual Flower Trial Garden tests and analyzes the performance of more than 1,000 varieties of annual bedding plants in Colorado’s harsh growing conditions.
Dozens of expert evaluators rate the plants for vigor, growth pattern, bloom and other characteristics. The trial results help home gardeners identify annual bedding plants that are most likely to succeed.
“The Annual Flower Trial Garden – also a vital training ground for CSU horticulture students – is part of a network of trial gardens at land-grant universities nationwide,” said Jim Klett, faculty coordinator and professor in CSU’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. “It’s the largest garden of its kind west of the Mississippi River.”
Winners from the 2013 evaluation are now available at area nurseries and garden centers for the 2014 home gardening season. For more detailed descriptions and photographs, visit www.flowertrials.colostate.edu.
“Best Of…” Winners from 2013
Best of Show – Lantana ‘Lucky Sunrise Rose’ from Ball Flora Plant
Lantanas are known to be heat tolerant and this variety was even more superior as displayed by a consistent display of blooms throughout the summer and into the fall. The brightly colored flowers were very prolific and the dark foliage color really made the flower color “pop.” The abundant flowering made this entry easy to distinguish even from a distance. Plants were vigorous but maintained a uniform growth habit.
Best New Variety – Petunia ‘Cascadias Indian Summer’ from Danziger
Hailed as a true color breakthrough, this variety was very reminiscent of a watercolor painting of the Southwest with unique shades of pink, yellow and orange. Flowering was strong throughout the season. The plant maintained its shape all season with a nice cascading growth habit.
Best Novelty – Pennisetum ‘Graceful Grasses Fireworks’ from Proven Winners
This is a very unique grass due to the colorful foliage. The relatively narrow leaf blade has an attractive combination of green mixed with white and pink streaks running its long length. Colors can vary through the summer depending on light and temperature but it is attractive even when not in bloom. Plants are medium height and would work well in many landscapes.
Best Angelonia – ‘Sungelonia White’ from Suntory
Best Begonia – ‘Surefire™ Rose’ from Proven Winners
Best Calibrachoa – ‘Aloha Tiki Neon’ from Dummen USA
Best Coleus – ‘Kong Jr. Rose’ from Ball Ingenuity
Best Combo – ‘Kwik Kombos™ Desert Sunset Mix from Syngenta Flowers
Best Dahlia – ‘XXL Veracruz’ from Dummen USA
Best Geranium (Interspecific) – ‘Sarita Lilac Splash’ from Dummen USA
Best Geranium (Ivy) – ‘Great Balls of Fire Merlot’ from Dummen USA
Best Geranium (Seed) – ‘Pinto Premium White’ from Goldsmith Seeds
Best Geranium (Zonal) – ‘Dynamo Red’ from Ball Flora Plant
Best Lantana – ‘Lucky Sunrise Rose’ from Ball Flora Plant
Best Lobelia – ‘Techno Heat Violet 11’ from Syngenta Flowers
Best Lobularia – ‘Lavender Stream™ from Danziger
Best Mandevilla – ‘Sun Parasol® Giant Pink’ from Suntory
Best Marigold – ‘Pagoda Yellow’ from Ameriseed
Best New Guinea Impatiens – ‘Super Sonic® Orange Ice’ from Syngenta Flowers
Best Osteospermum – ‘Margarita Cool Purple’ from Fides North America
Best Petunia (seed) – ‘Shock Wave™ Denim’ from PanAmerican Seed
Best Petunia (veg spreading) – ‘Surfinia Purple Majesty’ from Suntory
Best Petunia (veg mounded) – ‘Surprise Blue Sky’ from Dummen USA
Best Scaveola – ‘Bombay White’ from Syngenta Flowers
Best Sun New Guinea Impatiens – ‘Sun Patiens Compact Electric Orange’ from Sakata Seed America Inc.
Best Verbena – ‘Temari Patio Hot Pink’ from Suntory
Additional “Plants Rated as Superior” for 2013
Agryranthemum ‘Beauty Yellow’ from Westoff
Blazing yellow blooms covered the plant all season and were a standout even from across the garden. Plants had good green foliage and maintained a very uniform growth habit. It was early in flower and still very floriferous in September. The impressive flower display was even more special when it was noted that it required no “dead-heading” during the season to maintain its appearance.
Cleome ‘Senorita Rosalita’ from Proven Winners
This was a solid performer all season with consistent blooming and a uniform growth habit. It has also been a “Best Of” winner in the past. The dark foliage, taller size and uniformity make it a good choice for a background plant.
Dahlia ‘XXL’ series from Dummen USA
Entire series (Alamos, Durango, Hidalgo, Mayo, Taxco, Veracruz) was exceptional with large flowers and great colors. Strong flowering was characteristic for all varieties in the trial. Plants were a good height and would look good in ground beds as well as containers.
About the Annual Flower Trial Garden
CSU’s Annual Flower Trial Garden, which draws thousands of visitors each year, relies on student gardeners, volunteers and industry supporters and experts who help provide detailed analysis of plant performance. Colorado State Extension Master Gardeners play an essential role in planting and maintenance of the garden. The outcome of this research is valuable to the industry and home gardeners alike. That’s because the Rocky Mountain region has unique growing conditions, characterized by high altitude, intense solar radiation, drying winds, severe hailstorms, large fluctuations between day and night temperatures and a season-long need for irrigation.
The Trial Garden receives no direct public funding. It is funded primarily by fees from plant-breeding companies that submit entries to the yearly trial. The garden also receives donations from industry associations, foundations, nurseries, plant producers and other companies in the green industry.
For more information about the CSU Annual Flower Trial Garden, visit www.flowertrials.colostate.edu.