Netherlands Flower Trials - Plant showcase

Leading breeders gathered at the Flower Trials in the Netherlands last month to showcase their latest and upcoming varieties. Jack Shamash reports.

Echinacea Sombrero - image: Florensis
Echinacea Sombrero - image: Florensis

Benary -

German breeder Benary is once again offering seed-raised ranges with new plants upgrading existing varieties. The pansy Viola wittrockiana 'Inspire' is a vibrant lemon colour with blotch, aimed at the huge market for bright-yellow bedding plants. The plant is specially bred to cope with extreme weather conditions and is suitable for both spring and autumn planting.

Benary's latest begonia, the Begonia tuberhybrida F1 'Nonstop(R) Red', is relatively easy to grow, flowers well and has large 5cm blooms. Company representative David Wales explains: "Our range hasn't changed dramatically this year. All our new introductions are improvements on existing products which have proved popular."

Royal Van Zanten -

Pride of place at the Royal Van Zanten display this year went to the Alstroemeria 'Princess Lilies Kate'. It is an extremely bright-red lily with really large flowers. The firm hopes that the royal reference and the popularity of Kate Middleton will give the flower an extra promotional plug. Company representative Isabel Groot explains: "It's double the size of a normal lily and has a very distinctive colour. We're getting a lot of interest in it."

Royal Van Zanten will also be offering a range of long-lasting, anemone-shaped chrysanthemums with distinctive green centres. The heads simply become yellow as they grow older and do not need to be removed. These chrysanthemums will be available for the first time this year.

PanAmerican Seed/Kieft-Pro-Seeds -

PanAmerican boasts 99 new introductions this year with a full range of summer bedding. 'Cool Wave Viola' is a large pansy that flowers very early. If planted in autumn it will flower in autumn, rest in winter and flower again in spring until midsummer. It has a pale-violet colour and can survive temperatures down to -25 degsC.

Representative Ross Ford describes it as "a really special flower". The flower is deliberately aimed at female gardeners aged between 35 and 45 and the product even has its own Facebook site.

PanAmerican is also introducing Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit', which has large red and yellow flowers and a distinctive branching habit. Another introduction is Angelonia 'Serenita' - one of the few seed-grown Angelonia on the market. 'Serenita' fits into warm bedding production with no pinching needed. It is suitable for bedding and containers.

Combinations -

This year's big introduction from Combinations is Lobelia 'Blue Jeans', a distinctive plant grown from seed. Representative Jack Von der Knaap says: "Plants grown from seed will never be quite as good as cuttings, but this is a very good product and quite comparable to anything grown from cuttings."

The company also has a striking range of Lewisia. These do not need vernalisation and have striking white, purple and coral flowers. Combinations also had a new Osteospermum 'Fire Burst', with a particularly bright-red colour, that the company says is relatively easy to grow.

Floranova -

The Norfolk-based breeder is well known for its Vegetalis range of ornamental/edible vegetables. After a large number of introductions in recent years, the company is only releasing one new product for 2012.

'Cayenetta' is a chilli plant that won an award at the All American Selections this year. It grows to 20cm in height and can spread to almost a metre across. A single plant produced 280 fruits this year.

Marketing services manager Ralph Cockburn says: "This is ideal for people with small gardens or patios. It is also very good for growers because it is compact and can be sold when it is beginning to show fruit. We try to ensure that our plants are genuinely suitable for culinary purposes."

Floranova is also offering a range of 'Sugar Rush' wallflowers. These do not require a cold period and are available in a four-colour mix of yellow, primrose, purple and red. They have a good scent and they will flower in autumn.

Fides -

This year, Fides is launching a series of extremely large blooms designed to be eye-catching. Impatiens 'Tamarinda Max' is a maximum series with large blooms, full habit and good heat tolerance. The flower comes in seven colours - lavender, pink, sweet pink, red, orange, burgundy and white. It is ideal for containers and hanging baskets.

Fides is also offering interspecific Geranium 'Mambo'. It has a warm-red colour and double flowers, is suitable for pot sizes from 13cm and bigger, and is intended for bedding and patios.

Geranium 'Belcanto' is true pink and double-flowered. It is also heat tolerant and is intended for general garden use. Meanwhile, 'Margarita Supreme' is an XL range designed for larger pot sizes. It has good branching and lots of blooms. Again, it has good heat tolerance.

Danziger/Imperial Plants -

The Israeli breeder has produced a range of striking annuals. Lobularia Lavender Stream is a ball-shaped plant. The lavender-coloured blooms turn even darker in cool weather. It is a fast grower and performs well in warm conditions. Suitable for baskets, patios and planted directly into the garden.

Petunia Sunflower Ray is early-flowering with eye-catching round flowers in black and yellow. It has a shiny appearance when it rains and has good tolerance to stormy weather conditions.

Marvel Beauty Raspberry is an extremely distinctive petunia with a compact structure. It has an abundance of flowers that are reddish-pink with a shiny yellow centre.

Florensis -

Lobelia Hot Spring is tipped to become one of the most popular introductions of the year. With its delicate white and blue flowers, this is one of the earliest-flowering lobelias, which means that it can be sold from the very beginning of the bedding plant season.

Florensis is also offering Petunia Mystic Merlin - an extremely striking bloom featuring black flowers with cream to purplish stripes. The bloom grows vigorously and can be used as a semi-trailing flower, making it ideal for patio pots and baskets.

Another novelty is Echinacea Sombrero, a brilliant orange/red flower with attractive sage-green stems. It has a compact habit and Florensis believes that it will prove particularly popular for patio containers and large pots.

Syngenta -

Syngenta has increased its range of Verbena Lanai series, which are tolerant to powdery mildew. Among the new flowers, Red and Blue Twister is early to bloom and large-flowering. Its branching habit makes it ideal for baskets and containers. The plants are grown from cuttings.

Also grown from cuttings are the flowers in the Pelargonium Calliope series. The latest colour, Lavender Rose, features large flowers, is heat-tolerant and has oedema resistance, which typifies the range. Syngenta is also offering annuals that can be grown from seed. Petunia grandiflora Duvet F1 is a naturally dwarf plant that is neat, compact and mound shaped that does not tend to become leggy. It is available in blue, pink, red, salmon and white.

Among the new flowers are perennials such as Phlox Paniculata Sweet Summer. This is available in 11 colours and has a high tolerance to mildew. It also has the advantage that it is quicker to flower than most varieties of phlox. In addition, it has attractive dark stems and rich green foliage, and all colours are scented.

Westhoff -

German supplier Westhoff has been trialling Verbena Pink Ballet, which has large closed flowers on a semi-trailing plant habit. It is therefore very grower-friendly. It is particularly notable for its French lilac-scented flowers.

Calibrachoa Celebration Peach Cobbler has a very distinctive flower colour and pattern, with very delicate red and orange colours. Plant habit is semi-vigorous to vigorous and it performs very well throughout summer. Lobelia Cobalt Star is a new variety with a semi-upright habit that is well suited for large-scale production. For domestic or amenity gardeners, the profusion of flowers and the intense cobalt colour are likely to prove attractive.

Moerheim New Plant -

This year, Moerheim has eight new introductions. Most prominent is Sundiascia Blush Pink, a Diascia variety with a very upright habit. Company spokesman Jacob Smolenaars says: "It is for the UK market, where large Diascias are popular. It is very easy to grow, distinctive and looks good." The plants have large spiky flowers with delicate petals and a soft pink colour. They grow from 30cm to 50cm in height and are ideal for containers or patios.

Moerheim also has some exciting new begonias. Most notable is Crackling Fire, which is available in a variety of colours. A recent addition is the orange/red flowers, which have just come onto the consumer market this year. These begonias are compact with small, branching blooms and are highly distinctive.

Sakata -

SuperCal Cherry is a Petachoa hybrid, combining petunia and Calibrachoa traits. A very bright-cherry colour, it is day-length neutral, pH-tolerant and blooms from spring to early autumn. It grows cool and is suitable for everything from flower baskets to mass plantings.

Sakata has also extended its SunPatiens range. These are impatiens bred to be fully sunand heat-tolerant, also insect-resistant and self-cleaning. The plants flower throughout the season and they can be planted in bedding, patios or pots. SunPatiens Corona is the first green-leaf spreading type in the range. Zinnia profusion is a mix-coloured zinnia that has good disease and heat resistance. It grows vigorously and thrives in hot or humid conditions.

Takii -

Two new capsicums drew attention this year. Capsicum Cubana has plants with 4.5cm fruits that last until winter and can be eaten. Available in red and orange mixtures. Capsicum Mambo produces slightly smaller fruit. Takii's range is available through Beekenkamp and Florensis.

Takii has aroused a lot of interest with spring Alceas, which do not need vernalisation and can be grown outdoors in frost-free conditions. They can be sown in week two and planted by week nine, with fully grown flowers by week 24.

Begonia Monza is early with good garden performance, compact habit and large flowers. Gerbera jamesonii Royal Prince is also proving popular because of its bicolour red blooms and compact habit, which means it can be sold in a 10.5cm pot. The seeds produce very uniform plants.

Thompson & Morgan -

A new foxglove, Digitalis Illumination Pink, takes pride of place among Thompson & Morgan's new introductions. The flower, which won the RHS Chelsea Flower Show plant of the year award, is grown through tissue culture. It reaches around 1m in height and has flowers all round the stem. The profusion of blooms means that it stays in flower longer than most comparable plants. It is also available in apricot and raspberry colours.

Fuchsia Lady in Black is another new launch. The firm says it will be a climbing type with double flowers with a black centre. T&M is also producing Cosmos Pink Pop Sock - a 30cm-tall cosmos with a variety of single and double flower types. It is very compact and flowers from May onwards. The plant is aimed primarily at the packet seed market, but it is suitable for bedding growers.

Dummen -

German breeder Dummen has introduced a mix of plant combinations for top-quality containers. Red Fox Garden Party contains bedding and structure plants grown from cuttings. There are four combinations - including geraniums, begonias and petunias - such as Hawaiian Summer.

Spokesman Max Conrad says: 'They are specially combined so that the plants won't overgrow each other. Consumers really want the convenience of having ready-mixed packages, so this is designed with them in mind." They are available from Young Plants in the UK.

Also under the Red Fox branding, the geranium salsarita has dark foliage and a strongly coloured flower. It is extremely tolerant to drought or rain. Dummen has also produced a new series of Calibrachoa. Aloha Kona is more compact than the established range of Aloha Calibrachoa. Day-length neutral, it comes in a range of colours.

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