Syngenta Flowers, Benary Offer Plenty to Admire at California Spring Trials


Our editorial team spent the last day of California Spring Trials at Syngenta Flowers and Benary, which features new series and improvements to long-time favorites. Here are their top picks.

Dr Allan Armitage’s Picks, Day 4

Lobelia ‘Masterpiece Blue with Eye’ (Benary)

Lobelias have been around baskets and containers for a very long time. Although other colors are available, the fallback hue is blue, so you would not think another blue lobelia would be exciting. However, this F1 hybrid from seed seems to show significantly better vigor, and stems appear to be stronger and more robust than any others I have seen. Their vigor will ensure that they will not get lost in a mixed container or a basket. The deep blue color of the flowers is offset by a clean white eye. If I was growing lobelias in my mix, I believe this is very much worth trying.

Hare’s Tail Grass ‘Bunny’ (Benary)

Plantpeddler Honored with Ag Education Leadership Award

I often think of Benary as the Begonia Barons; they have been introducing begonias for so long. Yet, here I am talking about an ornamental grass quite unlike anything I have seen. Known botanically as Lagurus ovatus, it is worth a second look not just because of the short oval creamy flower heads but because of the amazingly soft pale green foliage. They are as much fun to hug as lamb’s ears. At retail, that would be a fun selling point, “Hug the Bunny”.

Petunia ‘Painted Love’ (Syngenta Flowers)

I am not at all sure why I decided to share this with you other than the fact that ‘Painted Love’ is a wonderfully handsome plant and because of its potential appeal to the customer and the garden center. It is a stand-alone cultivar — and that is potentially a good thing for growers dealing with upscale retailers looking for something unique. Given the name “painted love”, and the potential for marketing messages, this is a potentially hidden treasure.

Top Picks From Greenhouse Grower Senior Editor Julie Hullett

Begonia ‘Big White Bronze Leaf’ (Benary)

Benary is known in the horticulture industry for its portfolio of begonias, and it just brought a new introduction to the market. This new variety is part of the BIG Begonias, and it is the first interspecific white begonia with a bronze leaf, according to Matthias Redlefsen, President of Benary.

Helianthus ‘Sunfinity Double’ (Syngenta Flowers)

Syngenta Flowers has been offering Sunfinity sunflowers for several years now. But the highlight of their display at California Spring Trials was a new double Sunfinity from seed. Head of Marketing Americas Alicain Carlson says it is difficult to create a double sunflower from seed. The Double Sunfinity sunflower is said to bloom all season long and has mildew resistance.

Catharanthus Nirvana XDR Series (Syngenta Flowers)

Vincas can be susceptible to phytophthora, so Syngenta Flowers is taking a stab at disease resistance. Syngenta introduced the Vinca Nirvana XDR Series at CAST. XDR stands for extreme disease resistance. Nirvana XDR has resistance to various strains of aerial phytophthora. Nirvana comes in multiple colors, including Blue Halo, Cranberry Halo, Blackberry, and Blue Splash.

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