The 2015 gardening season is almost upon us. And if you want to know what flowers to plant this growing season, a list of great possibilities comes from Colorado State University’s Annual Flower Trial Garden.
The garden, which spans nearly three acres on the east side of the Fort Collins campus, is a Northern Colorado showpiece with a focused research and outreach purpose: Each year, the Annual Flower Trial Garden tests and analyzes the performance of more than 1,000 varieties of annual bedding plants in Colorado’s harsh growing conditions.
Vigor, growth pattern and bloom
Dozens of expert evaluators rate the plants for vigor, growth pattern, bloom and other characteristics. After two evaluations (one in early August and a second in early September) the evaluation committee decides on the CSU “Best of” for 2014. The trial results help home gardeners identify annual bedding plants that are most likely to succeed.
Gardening season 2015
“The Annual Flower Trial Garden – also a vital training ground for CSU horticulture students – is part of a network of trial gardens at land-grant universities nationwide,” said Jim Klett, faculty coordinator and professor in CSU’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. “It’s the largest garden of its kind west of the Mississippi River.”
Winners from the 2014 evaluation are now available at area nurseries and garden centers for the 2015 home gardening season. For more detailed descriptions and photographs, visit www.flowertrials.colostate.edu/
“Best of…” winners from 2014
Best of Show – Dahlia ‘XXL Veracruz’ from Red Fox
Voted as “Best Dahlia” in 2013,’XXL Veracruz’ made it to the top as “Best Of Show” in 2014 with beautiful lavender and white bicolor flowers. The stunning display of flowers was a perfect combination of color, large blooms, prolific flowering and uniform growth habit. The “pom-pom” shape flowers had soft shades of lavender and white which would also make good cut flowers. The vigorous plants maintained uniform growth and resisted lodging with strong stems.
Best New Variety – Petunia ‘Supertunia® Black Cherry’ from Proven Winners
Plants had good vigor but the rich color of the flower was very captivating and brought it to the top as the “Best New Variety”. The flowers had color shades that were very similar to a black cherry which made it very unique. Plants had strong vigor and a tight mounding habit which made an impressive appearance covered in the abundant dark flowers.
Best Novelty – Cuphea ‘Vermillionaire™’ from Proven Winners
The bright orange tubular flower made a great contrast against the dark green, glossy foliage for a unique combination of both color and texture. The abundant small orange flowers gave a very delicate and showy appearance on a consistent basis throughout the entire growing season. Plants not only took the summer heat but were also much more resistant to flea beetles than traditional Cuphea. It would work well in either the landscape or in containers and makes a good flower to attract hummingbirds.
Best Angelonia – ‘Statuesque Pink’PPAF from Garden Genetics
Best Begonia – ‘BIG® Bronze Leaf Red’ from Benary
Best Calibrachoa – ‘Can-Can™ Terracotta’ from Ball FlorPlant
Best Coleus – ‘Coleousaurus’ from Ball FloraPlant
Best Combo – ‘Kwik Combos™ Cherry Blossom Mix’ from Syngenta
Best Dahlia – ‘XXL Veracruz’ from Red Fox
Best Gazania – ‘Kiss™ Frosty White Flame’ from Syngenta
Best Geranium (Interspecific) – ‘Glitterati™ Ice Queen’ from Garden Genetics
Best Geranium (Ivy) – ‘Caliente® Pink’ from Syngenta
Best Geranium (Seed) – ‘Pinto™ Premium Rose Bicolor’ from Syngenta
Best Geranium (Zonal) – ‘PAC Darko® Deep Red’ from PAC Elsner
Best Lantana – ‘Lucky Sunrise Rose’ from Ball FloraPlant
Best Lobelia – ‘Suntory® Lobelia Compact Blue’ from Suntory
Best Marigold – ‘Moonsong® Deep Orange’ from Syngenta
Best New Guinea Impatiens – ‘Super Sonic® White’ from Syngenta
Best Osteospermum – ‘Akila® Daisy White’ from Pan American Seed Company
Best Petunia (seed mounding) – ‘African Sunset’ from American Takii
Best Petunia (seed spreading) – ‘Easy Wave® Red Velour’ from Pan American Seed Company
Best Petunia (veg spreading) – ‘Suncatcher White’ from Ball FloraPlant
Best Petunia (veg mounding) – ‘Sweetunia® Black Satin’ from Red Fox
Best Portulaca – ‘Cupcake Cherry Baby’ from Red Fox
Best Scaevola – ‘Surdiva® White Improved’ from Suntory
Best Sun New Guinea Impatiens – ‘Sunpatiens® Compact Electric Orange’ from Sakata
Best Verbena – ‘Endurasacape Blue’ from Ball FloraPlant
Best Vinca – ‘Titan™ Rose Halo’ from Pan American Seed Company
Best Zinnia – ‘Magellan™ Scarlet’ from Syngenta
Additional “Plants Rated as Superior” for 2014
Agryranthemum ‘Beauty Yellow’ from Westoff
“Blazing yellow” blooms covered the plant all season and were a standout even from across the garden. Plants had good green foliage and maintained a very uniform growth habit. It was early in flower and still very floriferous in September. The impressive flower display was even more special when it was noted that it required no “dead-heading” during the season to maintain its appearance.
Zinnia ‘Magellan’ series from Syngenta
The ‘Magellan’ series placed in four of the top five spots in this class. The series in general display remarkable flowering and vigor along with a very uniform growth habit.
About the Annual Flower Trial Garden
CSU’s Annual Flower Trial Garden, which draws thousands of visitors each year, relies on student gardeners, volunteers and industry supporters and experts who help provide detailed analysis of plant performance. Colorado State Extension Master Gardeners play an essential role in planting and maintenance of the garden. The outcome of this research is valuable to the industry and home gardeners alike. That’s because the Rocky Mountain region has unique growing conditions, characterized by high altitude, intense solar radiation, drying winds, severe hailstorms, large fluctuations between day and night temperatures and a season-long need for irrigation.
The Trial Garden receives no direct public funding. It is funded primarily by fees from plant-breeding companies that submit entries to the yearly trial. The garden also receives donations from industry associations, foundations, nurseries, plant producers and other companies in the green industry.