Last Day of California Spring Trials – Thursday – Part 2

My previous blog post covered our visit to the Proven Winners group on the last day of our California Spring Trial tour last week. We also visited Benary, Suntory, and The Plug Connection that same day. All are located down in the San Diego area.

Without a doubt, the standout introduction at Benary’s trial was their new Begonia boliviensis Santa Cruz Sunset. The flower form is different from what we’re accustomed to, and has recently become more popular. The vigorous plants fill out hanging baskets and large planters for a stunning display of color. Note that Santa Cruz Sunset is the first boliviensis type Begonia available from seed!

Suntory had a few new additions to their renowned Calibrachoa Million Bells series that are worth noting. Million Bells Tropical Delight made a great presentation with its contrasting red eye and veins against the yellow background. Also new is the very attractive Million Bells Bouquet Amethyst.


Visiting The Plug Connection’s trial was a great way to for us to recap the trip because they are a grower who brings in the new introductions from the breeding companies and compares them against commercially available varieties. It affords us an opportunity to see how they truly size up to what is already on the market. Also, each year they take one vegetative genus and grow a complete trial of it. For the seed part of the trial, I was especially interested to see how the new genetically dwarf petunia Duvet and EZRider series performed against the already established Limbo series. Based on pack and pot performance, my observations were that the Limbo’s still appeared to be as dwarf or more compact than either of the two new series. But I’m also waiting to see how all 3 series perform against each other in our garden trials this summer. The Plug Connection grew the compact versions of Calibrachoa for their specialty trial this year. It was an excellent comparison to see the Callie, Noa, Million Bells Bouquet, Lindura, Minifamous, and Calipetite series all grown together. I have to say I was most taken with the Calipetite series. This series is bred by Sakata, and although I hadn’t mentioned it in last week’s blog when we visited Sakata, we did notice it at their trial. What stands out about this series is how truly compact it is. While everyone assumes Calibrachoa is trailing and vigorous, Calipetite appears to be sweet, neat and petite! They are perfect candidates for using on their own in pots or as a component in combo planters for a touch of bright color.


The Plug Connection (one of our plug and liner suppliers) also introduced their Mighty ‘Mato grafted tomato program last year. It’s been very well received and their plan is to expand the program to include a few more tomato varieties and also bring in Eggplants and Peppers.

This wraps up our annual California Spring Trial tour. As much as I enjoy this trip to observe each season’s new products and catch up with industry colleagues, it’s always nice to return home to terra firma! For more pictures of our last day of trials, be sure to visit us on Facebook!


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