Spring Has Sprung…. Has It?

Back in early March we were experiencing record high temperatures across the country, giving everyone a premature taste of spring fever. This week it’s been a little colder than normal (at least here in Rochester), and although I’m itching to start planting my garden, the near freezing nighttime temps, tell me to wait, wait, wait.

Okay, if we have to wait, let’s whet our appetite a bit for some of that summer color we can look forward to in the very near future! I enjoy sharing our customers’ ornamentals growing experiences when possible, be they a home gardener or a professional grower, and thought you’d all enjoy the following commentary and pictures from one of our grower customers:

"I have owned a landscape business for 20 years. I built my first greenhouse on our property 7 years ago and started doing plant sales, the second greenhouse 2 seasons ago. My business is modest, but sales have increased every year about 50%. In that time I would say 90% of the seeds I have grown have come from Harris Seeds. Looking forward to next season."

Steve Schwab
Triple Diamond Yard & Garden

Holy Moly, look at the size of those containers!


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!


Last Day of California Spring Trials – Thursday

Last Thursday was our last day visiting the CA Spring Trials. I apologize for not blogging sooner- after all, it’s been almost a week! We returned on Friday and I’ve been in ‘catch up’ mode since then.

Anyway, Thursday was a great way to wrap up our intensive Spring Trials trip. We visited the Proven Winners group, Benary, Suntory, and The Plug Connection. All are located down in the San Diego area.

Having written a blog post about Proven Winners® just prior to our trip, I was eager to visit them to see what we could look forward to for next season, and I wasn’t disappointed. By far the most impressive 2013 intro is Calibrachoa Superbells Lemon Slice. Developed from a sport off of SB Yellow, this new addition presents a totally unique color pattern of creamy white with a bright yellow broad star. The pattern appeared, and has been confirmed, to be extremely consistent. It looked spectacular in a hanging basket. If you’re a plant junkie, then no doubt you’re familiar with Supertunia Pretty Much Picasso. Now this popular variety has a new sibling named Supertunia Picasso in Pink. Both have the very distinctive lime green margin, but while SPMP offers a lilac-rose center, SPIP’s center is more in the dark pink part of the color wheel. Perhaps more distinctive is the habit of this new intro. Everything about it is a tad tighter and more compact, creating a nice full basket or container.


Other highlights in the PW annuals section were a striking Lantana called Luscious Berry Blend, Lobularia (Alyssum) Blushing Princess, - a companion to the popular Snow Princess, and a very eye-catching Coleus Colorblaze Keystone Kopper.


PW perennials have gained diversity since Walters Gardens joined the group last year. Perennial highlights that caught my eye were a new Dianthus series – Fruit Punch, and two great looking dwarf Monarda varieties: Pardon My Pink and Pardon My Purple. I was really taken with these because of their 12” bushy, clumpy plant habit that is atypical of Monarda. Note both these varieties will need vernalization.

For more pictures of Proven Winners, be sure to visit us on Facebook. And stay tuned this Friday when I’ll finish up the Spring Trial tour with our visits to Benary, Suntory and The Plug Connection!