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GardenSMART :: Varieties That Go the Distance

Varieties That Go the Distance

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers

Each year Suntory Flowers puts new and current varieties to the test in nearly 20 trial sites throughout the country – Deep South, Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, Northeast, Midwest, Upper Midwest and Rocky Mountains. These include land grant university evaluations, commercial growers and a few botanical gardens, parks and arboreta. We try to visit as many as we can in person from March through August to see for ourselves how the varieties perform.

Here are the top five that really stood out this summer:

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Xerochrysum bracteanta 'Granvia Gold'

Pictured at Young's Plant Farm, Alabama

This supersized strawflower looked spectacular in beds and large patio pots in all the trials. Full, vigorous plants are more than twice the size of a standard strawflower, producing very large blooms. We also noticed the plants are mildew resistant, compared to the smaller, more tightly packed ones with dense foliage. Granvia has room to breathe.

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Soiree Kawaii catharanthus

Pictured at Metrolina Greenhouses, North Carolina

Goodness, gracious, great balls of color! That was my reaction when I saw these planters in August. These new hybrids are related to the common bedding plant vinca but offer superior performance. Hundreds of tiny flowers create mounds of color that maintain their shape until frost.

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Surdiva scaevolas

Pictured at Mast Young Plants, Michigan

The Surdiva series will change the way you think about scaevolas, which are traditionally pretty wild and rangy. Plants are compact and provide more concentrated color that lasts all summer. No deadheading. An excellent filler/mixer in combination planters and baskets. This color, Surdiva Blue Violet, has quickly become a top seller. A perfect component in red, white and blue color schemes.

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Petunia 'Surfinia Trailing Red'

Pictured at Colorado State University

Red is one of the most difficult colors to breed for garden performance. Marrying the right plant habit with color that won't fade is key. Surfinia Trailing Red has the bright, fire engine red color and graceful trailing habit that's perfect for hanging baskets and larger patio pots.

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Petunia 'Surfinia Purple Starshine'

Pictured at Metrolina Greenhouses, North Carolina

We were thrilled to see the consistent pattern and longevity of Purple Starshine, a novelty that will debut at retail in 2020. Hot purple flowers bloom with white stars. Plants are more compact and mounding and looked billowy in the beds. Stay tuned for more Surfinia novelties!

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