CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Last week, I wrote about the 2012 California Spring Trials, where growers showed off their new varieties at multiple locations along the Pacific Coast in March.
Looking through the website from the trials, there are lots of bright colors and prolific bloomers among the top annuals at the event.
New begonias abound. There's Benary's 'Santa Cruz Sunset' with bright orange bell-shaped flowers, and the Crackling Fire series from Suntory has four new colors including pink, creamy yellow, orange and white with a striking flower shape. There's an apricot bicolor and six other new colors from the Arcada series. The 'Gumdrops' cocoa-red begonia has chocolate leaves with rich red flowers.
Burpee is introducing 'Sparks Will Fly,' a bronze and orange begonia that is easy to grow and can be used in patio planters or at the front of a border.
There's a new lobularia (sweet alyssum), a "sister" to the popular 'Snow Princess,' from Proven Winners. It's a lavender and white variety, 'Blushing Princess.' There are a lot of purples in the mixes this year, with sweet scents and all-summer blooms.
Many new impatiens from Ball FloraPlant will hit the market next summer. Two popular ones from the Patchwork Series, 'Cosmic Orange' with a white center that resembles a gingerbread man, and 'Cosmic Burgundy.' These will be trendy in premium hanging baskets, and they thrive in deep shade locations.
Ecke Ranch has some new impatiens as well. These plants have been produced to help combat the downy mildew epidemic that has struck in Europe.
SunPatiens 'Compact Electric Orange' works in full sun and shade, and they are vigorous so you don't have to buy as many plants to fill your pots or beds. They're called a "vacation plant" because they are drought tolerant.
I hope retailers in our area get the new Primula acaulis'Blue Zebra,' a light blue flower with dark blue veins and a bright yellow center that has a long blooming period. It will be available in 2013.
Another favorite of mine is the Geranium Great Balls of Fire series from Dummen. These are drought- and heat-tolerant double-flowered ivy geraniums with eight color choices. My mom loved geraniums, and I try to plant a few each year. These will be a great addition to the hanging baskets by the porch.
Two growers have new chrysanthemums. Fides Oro is introducing the Chrysanthemum Mystic Mums series, bred to have larger decorative flowers and a flexible, mounding plant habit. Unique color options include a fabulous hot pink that I'll be looking for next spring.
GroLink's new for 2012 'Staviski Yellow' is a bright yellow chrysanthemum that's a prime choice for mixed-color planters. The late-season plant works well in shady spots for summer.
Perennials for next spring
Here are some of the new perennials to look for in the spring of 2013: