WESTLAND/AALSMEER: This year’s FlowerTrials® took place June 11-14, 2019 in the Westland and Aalsmeer regions in the Netherlands and the Rheinland Westfalen region in Germany. A record 62 breeding companies launched thousands of novelty pot and bedding plants and merchandising programmes and concepts. The number of international visitors remained steady with a number of large new delegations attending particularly from Taiwan, Mexico and Korea. The total number of local visitors showed a slight decline over 2018 which can almost certainly be attributed to the Whitsun weekend preceding the week 24 event. In attendance were growers (37% of total visitors) followed by import/export specialists (21%), breeders/young plant producers (12%), retailers (6%) and auction representatives (1%). Here’s our take on the biggest stories from FlowerTrials 2019.
Summer Breeze was the watchword on the FlowerTrials stand of ABZ Seeds. The new double-flowered strawberry variety Summer Breeze Rose was the star turn. Its even newer sister variety Summer Breeze White was also on show in quantity, a few months in advance of its launch as a fully commercial variety. Company founder and breeder Gé Bentvelsen assured visitors that a further sister variety, a pink, was also at an advanced stage in the process of stock build-up prior to release.
ABZ Seeds is among the most specialised of all FlowerTrials companies, dedicated entirely to breeding seed-raised strawberries. These have been primarily bred as ornamental plants for containers, but with the flavour of the fruit also an important consideration.
Before Summer Breeze, the most recent major ABZ introduction was Delizz. This also featured in this year’s FlowerTrials display. Fruit quality and quantity were essential features of this variety. So was point-of-sale presentation, in a custom-designed purple Tamara pot. Delizz is an AAS winner.
The variety Toscana – also on the stand – was the FleuroStar winner for 2012. It is now one of over twenty varieties in the ABZ catalogue, and seed is exported to almost forty countries.
ABZ Summer Breeze Rose.
Almost every year new begonias come from Benary, and 2019 is not an exception. Their recently introduced basket variety Funky Pink is now one of a series, with four new colours on show. More are on their way.
There is a further variety for the BIG series, Pink Bronze Leaf. There are now six colours, three each in two leaf colours. There is also a king-sized version of the original BIG series, BIG De LuXXe, up to 25 percent larger. And there is a new begonia semperflorens, the green-leaved Supercool, bred for its response to lower propagation temperatures. It is an alternative to the Sprint Plus series, which is an industry standard.
While Benary is above all known for its outstanding range of seed-raised begonias, it has a wide range of breeding activity. New for this year’s Trials was a nine-colour display of Graffiti 20/20, a significant update of Benary’s established seed-raised pentas series. Graffiti 20/20 Flirty Pink is the first seed-raised bicolour in this plant.
This German company is continuing to extend its breeding activity well beyond its traditional strengths in begonia and rudbeckia. The petunia series SUCCESS! and viola Admire are recently introduced examples that are making waves in the marketplace.
Pink Bronze Leaf is a further variety for the BIG series.
Pentas lanceolate Graffiti 20/20 Flirty Pink.
Benary’s recently introduced basket variety Funky Pink is now one of a series, with four new colours on show.
COHEN PROPAGATION NURSERIES
Unrooted cuttings of bedding, balcony and basket plants are the specialisation of the Cohen family on their Israeli nursery. Europe and North America are the principal markets. At the FlowerTrials the Cohen display is always notable for the number and size of its hanging baskets. Many feature varieties exclusive to the company from the Israeli breeders Breier. This range includes the Caloha series of calibrachoa, the verbena series Tiara, and the nemesia series Honey. Breier has also bred the Divine series of dianthus, the first in its genus with a basket-friendly habit combined with quite large double flowers.
The Trials display drew on a very wide range of varieties, from many breeders. They included Surfinia varieties, several of which are top customer choices, as well as important genera like fuchsia, argyranthemum and bacopa. A recent addition to the list is the cuttings-propagated isotoma series Pop ‘n Fizz, bred by Thompson & Morgan.
Among eye-catching specimens displayed this year were the new diascia Magic Mist Bicolour Pink & White, the Mystic dark-leaved dahlia series bred by KiwiFlora, and the vivid new yellow and orange large-flowered calceolaria Balloon.
Cohen Dahlia Mystic Enchantment, bred by KiwiFlora.
Diascia Magic Mist Bicolour Pink White.
Evanthia is among the youngest companies taking part in the FlowerTrials, but the range of plants on its stand illustrated its already wide outreach in the trade. The Sunsation series is claimed to be the international market leader in pot sunflowers. Two of its colours were recognised with Royal Horticultural Society AGM’s. In addition to its other competitive features, the company’s Pieter Lock said that plants responded very well to stopping at both early and late growth stages.
Lavandula angustifolia Cleo-Patio, a first-year flowering perennial, claimed to be outstandingly uniform, is exclusive to Evanthia. Its own breeding successes include the bedding salvia Matches Red. In European cut flower production, the Celosia cristata series Act is well known. The company is important also in young plant supply for column stocks, in four series.
Sourcing and supplying seeds of tropical plants is an important and specialised activity for Evanthia. It has a particular strength in the popular Monstera deliciosa. The variety Tauerii is named among its top ten products.
Lavendula angustifolia Cleo-Patio.
UK-based and a major breeder of seed-raised ornamentals, Floranova is a long-standing participant in the FlowerTrials. It became part of Syngenta Flowers in August 2018, but continues to operate as a separate business under its own identity.
There was plenty of novelty for FlowerTrials visitors to see, with the new interspecific dianthus series IQ having pride of place. It is claimed to be faster than competitive series, and very uniform across its nine colours. There was little shoot growth above the flowering level, and very favourable grower opinion following last year’s commercial trials.
There were four new colours for the bedding salvia series Mojave. This is a plant in which Floranova is among market leaders internationally.
Floranova was also showing its new African Marigold series Big Top. The tight petal structure of the flowerheads is a positive rain-shedding feature. The new vinca (catharanthus) series Blockbuster has its name from the very large flower size. This is targeted on the market in Southern Europe and the USA.
Among FloraNova’s principal current money-earners is the recently-introduced seed-raised Begonia boliviensis series Bossa Nova. New colours with very dark foliage are at an advanced stage in trialling and build-up of parental seed-stock.
Marigold Big Top Orange.
Hem Genetics’ increasingly diverse range of breeding activity was well in evidence on its 2019 FlowerTrials stand. There were new patio tomato varieties, in two series, Plumbrella and the ultra-compact Funnyplums. There are red, orange and yellow colours in each.
Examples of new varieties of plants of entirely different character included Dazzling Night, a mid-height version of Verbena rigida. There was also a new seed-raised lavender. This is Lavandula angustifolia Promise, one of the introductions to the company’s herb range. Thyme Orangelo and lemon balm Mandarina were others.
Early in its history, Hem Genetics made its name as a pioneer in genetically compact bedding plants. This year there was a new colour in one of these ground-breaking series. This was Violet Picotee in its Limbo GP grandiflora series. In another genus, dianthus, Hem also rapidly established a high reputation. This year the new China Pink Loving White was shown, new for the Diana series.
Earlier this year Hem Genetics announced its agreement with Ameriseed to act as its exclusive distributor in Europe. African Marigold Big Duck Orange, an AAS winner, was on the Hem stand as one example of Ameriseed varieties. The dwarf double-flowered zinnia series Holi, also on the stand and also recently introduced, was another.
Verbena rigida Dazzling Nights.
The Israeli company Hishtil stands out at the FlowerTrials for its unique range of special interests. Grafted products is one of them. This year grafted chilli peppers were highlighted. The company offers a big range, with diversity in fruit size, shape, colour and, of course, the degree of heat.
Grafted basil – Basil Trees – are a Hishtil speciality, and is offered in three varieties. The concept is a development from the company’s wide range of herbs. Altogether almost forty varieties are offered, with four being specially promoted for their cascading habit.
Lavenders are particularly important. This year there were numerous experimentals on show, and there were new varieties in the BeeZee series, bred by the Kerley family in the UK but exclusive to Hishtil.
There was also a large number of experimental ipomoea varieties, an indication of the expected continuing rise in interest in these dramatic foliage plants.
Hishtil is a relative newcomer to the dianthus market and is actively building its variety range, said Eyal Kleinberger. To date, the Roselly series is its best seller, with the tricolour Flamenco especially popular.
Hishtil’s line of potted carnations: Roselly.
For Jaldety Plant Propagation Nurseries, the fact that the genus Salvia is important stands out in their FlowerTrials display. The family-owned Israeli business nearly twenty varieties in a number of species. Three established varieties that feature strongly in the company’s sales are the herbaceous perennial Caradonna and the shrubby S.microphylla varieties Hot Lips and So Cool Pale.of offers.
Jaldety offers year-round supplies of unrooted cuttings in almost 500 varieties. Other especially well-represented genera include thunbergia and delosperma (the WOW series – Wheels of Wonder). A new arrival for the 2019-20 catalogue is the fragrant Gypsophila cerastioides variety Pretty Maid, recommended for early spring sales. Another is a foliage plant, the sedum variety Silver Roses. It will contribute well to mixed plantings in large containers.
Jaldety’s customer base is widely spread, mainly in North America, Europe and the Far East. In addition to normal sales, the company offers private stock and propagation services on an exclusive basis
Granvia Gold was one variety that no visitor to MNP flowers’ Trials presentation could have missed. The flowerheads of this new strawflower are an intense deep yellow, and freely produced on stiffly upright stems. The variety was one of the six entrants for the FleuroStar Award, so samples were also seen at nine other Trials locations.
In the large-flowered argyranthemum hybrid series Grandaisy, MNP had another gold newcomer. This was one of three new colours, to make ten altogether in a still recently introduced but already very successful series.
MNP flowers also had three new colours – Coral Morn, Ocean Blue and Trailing Red – for Surfinia petunias. The company was celebrating the 30th anniversary of the series, one of the best known in the world of ornamental plants of all kinds.
The Sundaville series of mandevilla (dipladenia) has become increasingly important for MNP flowers since its introduction. There are now varieties in three groups. Colours include apricot and pink as well as the red of the first Sundaville variety. Sundaville Mini Orange was among the newcomers on show.
The new ipomoea Sunpuma Purple attracted much visitor interest. With its very dark foliage and violet flowers, it seems likely to become popular as a trailing plant for baskets and other containers. Examples on show at the Trials looked very good. It may well also find a place as a climber.
Beacon, begonias and Cool Wave were the watchwords for PanAmerican Seed’s display at this year’s FlowerTrials. These are of course just some of the many special strengths of PanAmerican Seed.
The new mildew resistant Beacon series of Impatiens walleriana has been extensively promoted. It is the outcome of an extended and extraordinary effort to make possible the rebuilding of the market for this bedding plant. It was ultra-popular with consumers in both the USA and Europe until the ravages wrought by Impatiens Downy Mildew in 2011. Not only were the current six colours of the Beacon series prominently on show, but there was also an impressive demonstration of Beacon resistance to deliberate inoculation with the disease.
Begonias were present in numbers and in five series, including the trailing Sun Dancer. These large-flowered seed-raised Amerihybrid tuberous varieties and the supporting breeding programme were recently acquired by PanAmerican. The names are descriptive – Picotee and Ruffled, for example.
The 25th anniversary of Cool Wave petunias was marked with the showing of the new Raspberry Swirl and Strawberry Swirl.
There was much for visitors to see otherwise. The viola series Frizzle Sizzle Mini was new, and so were three sister varieties for the tall dianthus Rockin’ Red. Seed-raised leucanthemum Madonna looked well worth its Fleuroselect Gold Medal. And a new zinnia series was on show: Zesty is a more compact version of the successful Zahara series.
Begonias were present in numbers and in five series.
The focus of the FlowerTrials is on bedding, patio and pot plants. Here, Takii has established a high reputation in petunia, zinnia and viola. Unlike most competitors, it has also a major stake in seed-raised cut flowers, particularly sunflower – Sunrich Orange is a Takii variety – and in lisianthus.
Evening Scentsation, a trailing blue petunia, was the variety visitors were least likely to miss in Takii’s display. The colour is a selling point in its own right, but it is the scent that marks the variety out. This has been recognized in trials in the USA – Evening Scentsation is an AAS award winner.
The Preciosa zinnia series was prominently displayed, and will be watched closely in field trials this summer. It is an advance on Takii’s prestigious Dreamland series, with improved basal branching.
Takii entered the market for Begonia semperflorens fairly recently, with its Monza series. The semi-double flowered Fiona Rose is new, a sister variety for 2019 Fleuroselect Gold Medal winner Fiona Red.
There is also a 2020 Gold Medal for Takii. The winner is Baby Rose, a compact non-trailing variety of Tropaeolum minus. This nasturtium has deep rose flowers and small dark green leaves. It has potential for pot production as well as for planted-out bedding.
The flowering climber thunbergia was the first plant to confront visitors to Volmary’s Flower Trials. The Sunny Suzy series has been promoted with enthusiasm by this German company, with a new Apricot this year, but it also brings enthusiasm to much else in its offer.
Volmary’s edibles, patio and basket tomatoes especially, were prominent. The tropical vegetables Sweet Potato and Oca were well in evidence also. A large and colourful tasting booth was a Trials display feature, repeated from previous years.
Volmary breeds in several genera, with dahlia among them. Its Lubega series are well established. Lubega Power Violet Bicolour was among the most impressive of the varieties displayed.
The Fuchsita series of both upright and trailing grower-friendly varieties is a further Volmary breeding strength. Fuchsita Scarlet White was a newcomer on show.
Products of other breeders also saw strong promotion in the Volmary Flower Trials display. Sakata’s Sunpatiens series was among them, and so was the SmileyZ series of tissue-culture propagated rudbeckias.
The ‘green’ environmental movement is large and influential in Germany. Displays of pollinator-friendly varieties and of organic herbs were a reminder of how closely Volmary relates to its very large domestic market.