FORT COLLINS – It’s time to pull on the gardening gloves. And if you want to know what flowers to plant during the 2013 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 2012 evaluation are now available at area nurseries and garden centers for the 2013 home gardening season. For more detailed descriptions and photographs, visit www.flowertrials.colostate.edu.
“Best Of…” Winners from 2012
Best of Show – Dahlia ‘XXL Hidalgo’ from Dummen USA
This plant brings a unique class to the garden dahlia category and was a standout without special care. The flowers are relatively large and noted for having a deep rich “butter-French” color. Flowering started early and continued strong late into the season complimented by the dark green foliage. This dahlia will add stature and glamour to the typical garden.
Best New Variety – Lantana ‘Luscious Berry Blend’ from Proven Winners
Besides prolific flowering, this variety is an eye-catcher due to a beautiful blend of bright flower colors. Plants had great vigor and formed a dense canopy. Another superior feature is that it produces virtually no fruit or seeds and saves its energy for a constant show of blooms.
Best Novelty – Tecoma ‘Bells of Fire’ from Plug Connection
This plant has a very tropical look to both the foliage and flowers. Besides the unique appearance, flowering often begins as a small plant in the greenhouse and continues throughout the summer. The blooms remind many of those on a trumpet vine. Flowers are an attractive blend of orange/red and showy.
Best Angelonia – ‘Carita™ Purple’ from Syngenta Flowers
Best Argyranthemum – ‘Everest’ from Danziger
Best Begonia boliviensis – ‘Santa Cruz’ from Benary
Best Begonia x hybrida – ‘Whopper Rose Green Leaf’ from Ball Ingenuity
Best Calibrachoa – ‘Superbells Lemon Slice’ from Proven Winners
Best Combo – ‘Kwik Kombos™ Night in Pompeii™’ Syngenta Flowers
Best Dahlia – ‘XXL Hidalgo’ from Dummen USA
Best Diascia – ‘Darla® Deep Salmon 11’ from Syngenta Flowers
Best Geranium (ivy) – ‘Grand Idols Purple’ from Fides North America
Best Geranium (zonal) – ‘Caliente® Fire’ from Syngenta Flowers
Best Impatiens (seed) – ‘Impreza White’ from PanAmerican Seed
Best Lantana – ‘Little Lucky Pot of Gold’ from Ball FloraPlant
Best Lobelia – ‘Magadi Blue’ from Selecta
Best Marigold – ‘Christy Orange Improved’ from Ameriseed
Best Osteospermum – ‘Serenity Dark Purple’ from Ball FloraPlant
Best New Guinea Impatiens – ‘Super Sonic® Magenta 08’ from Syngenta Flowers
Best Petunia (veg-mini) – ‘Littletunia Blue Vein’ from Danziger
Best Petunia (veg-spreading) – ‘Whispers™ Star Rose’ from Syngenta Flowers
Best Petunia (seed-spreading) – ‘Trilogy White’ from American Takii, Inc.
Best Purslane/Portulaca –‘Happy Trails Deep Red’ from PanAmerican Seed
Best Sun New Guinea Impatiens – ‘Sun Harmony Salmon’ from Danziger
Best Torenia – ‘Summer Wave Large Amethyst’ from Suntory Flowers, Ltd.
Best Verbena (spreading) – ‘Lanai® Deep Purple’ from Syngenta Flowers
Additional Plants Rated as “Superior” for 2012
Lobularia – ‘Lavender Stream’ from Danziger
This variety was a standout for its unique rich purple flower color. It was also chosen for a superior growth habit that had excellent controlled vigor. Evaluators stated that it “plays well with others” and would not overgrow other plants in a border.
Ornamental Millet – ‘Jade Princess’ from Ball Ingenuity
This variety is one of the most unique and eye-catching plants in the garden with its large, fuzzy seed head. As the flower inflorescence emerges the color begins with a rich maroon and chartreuse coloring, maturing into a solid dark maroon plume. The large fluffy panicle flower emerging from the foliage brings to mind the image of a fox sneaking through tall grass. Foliage is a wide chartreuse leaf blade.
About the Annual Flower Trial Garden
CSU’s Annual Flower 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.
The 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. 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.
For more information about the CSU Annual Flower Trial Garden, visit www.flowertrials.colostate.edu.
Source: Colorado State University