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Paul Pilon, Chris Beytes, Ellen C. Wells & Jennifer Zurko
Plenty of Perennials

Dianthus Fruit Punch Cherry Vanilla (Proven Winners)

We know there are tons of dianthus on the market, but few get and hold our attention as well as Proven Winner’s Fruit Punch Cherry Vanilla. It has 1.5-in., fully double carnation-like flowers. The blooms are deep red and have sharply contrasting light pink picotee edges. They’re sweetly scented and held proportionately above the narrow, blue-green foliage. Cherry Vanilla grows just 8-in. tall and is hardy north to Zone 4a. Classic Coral and Raspberry Ruffles were also introduced. 

Dianthus Rockin’ Red (Kieft Seed)
Dianthus x barbatus interspecific hybrid Rockin’ Red is a new first-year flowering perennial from Kieft Seed. Like its name suggests, Rockin’ Red simply rocks with its vivid red flowers—probably the richest red we’ve seen on any dianthus. This thriller performs in containers and landscapes alike. In the landscape, it grows 18- to 24-in. tall and flowers atop strong stems. No worries for perennial growers, as it can easily be kept at a reasonable size with paclobutrazol spray applica-tions. Will grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 5a to 8b (possibly even to Zone 4).

Salvia Rose Marvel (Darwin Perennials)
Salvia in colors other than blue are in high demand, so this new rose-colored cultivar might be just what you’ve been looking for. Rose Marvel (sister to Blue Marvel) has the largest flowers of any of the rose-colored cultivars on the market. The flowers have a rich, deep rose coloration. Plus, Rose Marvel has a long flowering window and re-blooms without being cut back. Hardy in Zones 4a to 9b.

Armeria Dreameria (Darwin Perennials)
Dreameria from Darwin Perennials is one of the most talked about new perennial series at Spring Trials. With their long-blooming season, these new armeria hybrids are considered a breeding breakthrough. Just how long do they bloom? From early spring to fall, they claim. Sweet Dreams develops loads of lavender-colored, ball-shaped flowers held nicely above the foliage on compact stems; Daydream is its pink counterpart. Dreameria is also heat, drought and salt (coastal landscapes) tolerant and continue to flower under these conditions. If you like the looks of allium, give these long-blooming look-alikes a try. Hardy to Zone 6.

Lewisia Constant Coral (Terra Nova)
The "Constant" in its name refers to its continuous bloom (spring to fall) and also refers to its excellent survivability in most greenhouse and nursery conditions. Although it’s small, just 4-in. high, Constant Coral produces tons of coral pink flowers atop its vigorous deep green leaves. It’s easy to grow, but does like good drainage. Its ease of production, diminutive size, long bloom time and Zone 4 hardiness would make Constant Coral a valuable addition to most perennial programs. There’s also a Fuchsia.

Dianthus Mountain Frost (Darwin Perennials)
The Mountain Frost series includes five colors, but the most interesting is the double one, Pink PomPom. They burst into mounds (6- to 8-in. tall by 10- to 12-in. across) of color in early spring and continue to grace the plant throughout the growing season and into the autumn. They’re tidy, low-maintenance and drought-tolerant perennials. USDA Hardiness Zones 5a to 9b.

Heuchera Forever Red (Terra Nova)

On the surface, it looks sort of ordinary compared to Terra Nova’s colorful, multi-hued heuchera, but this red stays red from beginning of the season to the end, spring to fall. So if you want a red-leafed plant in your garden or combinations, you can be assured to always have a red-leafed plant. Hardy to Zone 4.

Heucherella Fun and Games Eye Spy (Proven Winners)

When thinking about what we look for in a heucherella, the attributes of the foliage are the primary consideration; the flowers have almost always been secondary. Proven Winner’s new Heucherella Fun and Games Eye Spy has changed that for us. Eye Spy has attractive large amber yellow leaves with deep rose centers that vein up towards the edges and grows numerous showy bubblegum pink flowers that last for several weeks. Hardy to Zone 4.

Coreopsis Solar Dance (Cultivaris)

A grandiflora type with sterile, semi-double flowers blooming from May to November. Hardy to Zone 4.

Baptisia Decadence Deluxe Pink Lemonade (Proven Winners)

Their Decadence series is known for being somewhat compact. At 3 1/2- to 4-ft. tall, Pink Lemonade isn't as compact, so they decided to called it Deluxe. Or as Christa Steenwyk said, it’s “garden sized.” As for the color, flowers start out as yellow in bud stage, and build to light and darker pink. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.

Sedum Chocolate Cherry (Cultivaris)
Not only is it striking, with dark foliage and cherry-red flowers, but it’s also powdery mildew tolerant. Hardy to Zone 5.

Lamium Hanky Panky (Cultivaris)
Much more vigorous than the traditional White Nancy, with lots of silver leaves and large pink flowers. It’s also very versatile and can be used in combos, baskets or as a groundcover. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.

Dianthus Supra Pink (Hem Genetics)
A new addition to the Supra series and an AAS National winner, Pink is a first-year flowering perennial that finishes in 15 weeks from sowing. Hardy in Zones 4b to 9.

Chic Shrubs

Pittosporum Beach Ball (Kiwi Flora)
Named for its shape, but it doesn’t have to be trimmed if the homeowner wants it to grow out. Also part of the Sunset and Southern Living magazine collections, so, obviously, it’s good for southern locations.

Bougainvillea Sunstone Red (Vista Farms)

A sport of the well-known old variety Juanita Hatten, Sunstone Red is deep pink like Juanita, but is more free-branching and heavier-blooming. And given the right conditions, it has more variegation than Juanita, too.

Gardenia Sweet Star (Bailey Nurseries)
This new shrub features single, creamy white flowers with plenty of great gardenia fragrance. It’s only Zone 7 hardy, so it’s patio plant for many of us.

Rose Knock Out White, Coral, Peachy (Star Roses & Plants)
New at the Ball stop this year (after being purchased by Ball in 2015), Star Roses & Plants showed three new Knock Out Roses—their first introductions in eight years! These do have regions they perform best in, so be sure to check with your broker about which will work best for you.

Rose At Last (Proven Winners)
A scented shrub rose with peach-colored blooms that grows 2- to 3-ft. tall. Hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

Physocarpus Ginger Wine (Proven Winners)

Resistant to powdery mildew and has white flowers that appear in late spring. Grows 5- to 6-ft. tall and hardy in Zones 3 to 7.

Quince Double Take Peach (Proven Winners)
Plenty to like about this new quince. First, it’s the only quince you’ll see at Spring Trials. Second, it’s got an attractive peachy color that will look good in any garden. Third, double flowers—who doesn’t love double flowers? Fourth, it’s thornless. Lastly, it’s good for Zones 5 to 9.

Cotinus Winecraft (Proven Winners)
Commonly called smoke bush, it keeps a nice, rounded habit. New foliage starts off burgundy and then turns darker as it matures. Hardy in Zones 4 to 8.

Potted Plants & Mums

Calla Ivory Art (Flamingo Holland)

They had several, all nice, but most impressive was Ivory Art, a bright white (not cream) calla with maculated foliage. They were in white pots and the flower was pretty much the same color. Impressive!

Cyclamen from Morel

Ball’s exclusive potted cyclamen breeder, Morel’s intros range from tiny to large. On the tiny side is the Smartiz series (pictured center), suited for 2.5- to 4-cm. pots. Smartiz gets Morel’s Fantasia coloration, which is a white edge on the flowers. There are two Fantasias: Magenta and Purple. These would be great for fairy gardens or as gift plants.

At the large end is the Halios series, suited for 5- to 6.5-in. pots. Halios gets a color pattern we’ve never seen before: Funflame (pictured right). The flower petals are sort of flame-shaped, with a gentle fade from white upward to Magenta, with the same Magenta hue at the bottom of the flower.

ExPlant/PanAmerican Seed
With the acquisition of Danish potted plant breeder ExPlant, PanAmerican now has the largest selection of ornamental peppers on the market. A few highlights included Acapulco Multicolor, which starts purple, then turns to green, to deep red, to orange and then light red. Zamora Yellow (pictured) is a black and yellow pepper. Both of these work indoors and out. They also have a line of edible peppers: Hot Fajita, Macho (which is compact) and Snack Yellow.

Pot Carnation Flow (Hilverda)
These pretty plants feature clusters of flowers that are similar to geranium umbels.

Pre-spiked orchid program from Flamingo Holland

Flamingo is now offering a pre-spiked, 10-weeks-to-finish orchid program. Each plant is guaranteed to have at least two spikes. They offer three sizes with about 40 plants per box. Since white is the most popular orchid color, each box is packed with at least 35% white varieties, with the rest being a mix of other colors. Can you order a box of all colors? Sure you can. But if whites are the best seller, why would you?

Gerbera from Florist
Dutch breeder Florist showed several new introductions: three new experimentals in the Sweet Love collection; two new in the Patio series, Sedona and Capitol Reef; Sundayz Maxi Red BC (meaning “black center”); and in the Flori Line Giants collection, an improvement on Volcanos. Also new in the Flori Line is Berries & Cream (pictured) for 4-in. production.

Echeveria Black Knight, Pollux (HMA)

If you’re looking for unrooted cuttings of a wide array of succulents, the folks at Horticultural Marketing Associates (HMA) have them for you. They work with Floraplant SA de CV in Mexico, and some domestic facilities as well, and ship cuttings throughout the U.S. and Canada. HMA will be introducing 60 new varieties—mostly succulents—in the next 18 months. Some of those new varieties include Echeveria Black Knight (a cousin to best-selling Black Prince) and Pollux (which is great if you’re looking for an echeveria with a fast-growing time).

Pot Mum Rhonda, Nikki (Syngenta)

They have two new families that have been bred to be as late-season as possible (mid-October for Thanksgiving sales). Rhonda has a smaller flower form and Nikki finishes one week earlier.

Belgian Mum Yasoda Pink, Vigorelli Red (Gediflora)
Yasoda Pink is new and a great color addition to their best-selling family of mums. And they’ve added Red to their Vigorelli family. It’s a late (mid-October) crop great for the South—and they last until Thanksgiving. GT