Horticulture Week Business Award - Best Ornamental Plant Introduction -- Bedding

Winner - Imara, Syngenta

The gardener’s favourite is back and stronger than ever. Imara has brought back busy Lizzies (Impatiens walleriana) to the market — even more resistant to downy mildew than ever before. With a full colour range and outstanding garden performance in sun, shade, rain or shine, as well as being robust and durable, the number one bedding plant has returned to the market.

Syngenta Flowers was first to market with this breakthrough plant and has developed Imara this year, with the plant now available to all growers and retailers.

Since the widespread outbreak of downy mildew in 2011, the Impatiens walleriana market drastically declined. After years of development, Syngenta has been able to breed Imara with downy mildew resistance, allowing growers to bring the plant back into production and retailers to reinvigorate the market.

Independent trials in North America and Europe, including tests at Cornell University’s Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center in 2017 and 2018, showed the plant’s resistance to disease. It is now available in purple, red, orange, white, salmon, violet, rose, orange star or a colour mix.

Breeder Ton Groot says Imara was introduced in Europe to extensive publicity, including coverage on BBC News, during the 2018 FlowerTrials in the Netherlands. B&Q initially had exclusive rights to sell the plant in the UK and sold six million in the first year. There are expected to be many more sales in 2019 because the plant is now available to all.

During intensive, large-scale trialling, Imara outperformed other varieties even when exposed to the disease. The testing confirmed that the series has strong resilience against downy mildew and will perform until first frost.

Syngenta spent nine years developing Imara. The company found a natural source of disease-resistant plants and started a programme for classical breeding.

Some 5,000 seedlings were evaluated by Syngenta to find genetics that would not succumb to downy mildew. Once discovered, Imara were also tested in greenhouse and field trials for plant habit, flowering time, quality and uniformity. Their performance was confirmed by trials at Syngenta Jealott’s Hill Research Centre and independent trials at Stockbridge Technology Centre in 2017.

Imara busy Lizzies became one of B&Q’s fasting-selling plants ever — nearly a million in the first week of sales in May 2018. They featured in a B&Q show garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in July 2018.

CATEGORY SPONSOR: MODIFORM

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