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Costa Farms Summer Showdown 2013 Top Performers


Every summer,

we put plants to the test here in our 2-acre Trial Garden. With warm conditions and tropical levels of humidity, a plant has to be tough to hold up through the season. And while we know our conditions aren’t representative of many other places, we are confident that if a variety thrives here, it will perform for home gardeners just about anywhere. We grew all varieties in 6-inch pots and transplanted them into the garden Week 26. They were given three applications of fertilizer: at Week 26, at Week 28, and at Week 30. To match the care given by average home gardener, we did not pinch plants or treat disease/ insect issues that may have arisen.

Evaluation We evaluated the varieties using three criteria: · Floriferousness (by Week 37) · Uniformity · Overall performance · Clean foliage · Minimal or no pest damage · Appearance Presentation Over the following pages, you’ll find the 63 best-performing selections in our Trial Garden. We’ve grouped them into categories of consumer appeal based on current trends: · Plants that have attractive foliage · Plants for pollinators (butterflies, bees, etc.) · Plants that are particularly good for beginners · Plants that are good groundcovers

1.8

Rainfall - Summer 2013

1.6 1.4 1.2 1 0.8 0.6

2m Rain tot (in) 2m Rain max over 15min(in)

0.4 0.2 0

100

Temperature (F) and Relative Humidity (%)

95 90 85 80 75 70 65 60

Avg Temp

Min Temp

Max Temp

Rel Hum

The graphs above show environmental conditions this summer in Miami. Temperature and relative humidity did not drop below 70ºF or 70% during the evaluation period. There was consistent rainfall, but irrigation supplied supplemental water when the soil started to dry out.


Attractive Foliage

Sweet Potato Vine

Variety: Floramia Nero Consumer Appeal: Fantastic purple foliage; attractive flowers; compact shape; bold, easy-care color all season Best Uses: Mixed containers; mass plantings Pair with: Angelonia, salvias, coleus Grows in: Sun Breeder: Dummen

Elephant’s Ears

Varieties: Royal Hawaiian Black Coral; Maui Gold; Hawaiian Punch; Kona Koffee Consumer Appeal: Tropical look; compact size; bold color Best Uses: Mixed containers; garden beds; mass plantings Pair with: Canna, cordyline, juncus Grows in: Sun or shade Breeder: PlantHaven

Coleus

Varieties: Colorblaze Alligator Tears; Marooned Consumer Appeal: Minimal flowering; outstanding plant shape; bold color Best Uses: Containers; mass plantings; garden beds and borders Pair with: Petunias, alternanthera, elephant’s ears Grows in: Sun or shade Breeder: Proven Winners

Plants that have boldly colored leaves are trendy these days. End consumers have long known foliage plants are lovely accents to those prized for their flowers, but these gardeners have now come to realize that stunners such as elephant’s ear, sweet potato vine, and coleus are knockout specimen plants on their own. Especially hot are chocolate or chartreuse leaves; these colors can be seen from a distance and are relatively easy to mix with other colors.

Caladium

Varieties: Red Glamour; Scarlet Flame; Summer Breeze; White Majesty. Consumer Appeal: Bold color; thick leaves hold up to wind and rain Best Uses: Containers; mass plantings; garden beds and borders Pair with: New Guinea impatiens, coleus Grows in: Shade Breeder: Classic Caladiums

Sweet Potato Vine

Variety: Mardi Gras Consumer Appeal: Multicolor foliage; easy to grow; high-impact color; fast grower Best Uses: Mixed containers; mass plantings; hanging baskets Pair with: Lantana, pentas, ornamental peppers, geraniums Grows in: Sun or shade Breeder: Ecke


Attractive Foliage

Sweet Potato Vine

Variety: Ragtime Consumer Appeal: Attractive texture; bold, all-season color; easy to grow Best Uses: Mixed containers; hanging baskets; mass plantings; garden beds Pair with: Coleus, geranium, gaillardia Grows in: Sun or shade Breeder: Ecke

Plectranthus

Variety: Harlan Quinn Consumer Appeal: Charming flowers; tidy, mounded shape Best Uses: Mixed containers; front of the border Pair with: Tricolor sage, SunPatiens, bidens Grows in: Sun or shade Breeder: EuroAmerican Propagators

Coleus

Variety: Mighty Mosaic Consumer Appeal: Fun neutral color; good for hip, modern color combos; easy to grow Best Uses: Mixed containers; garden beds Pair with: Verbena, calibrachoa, pennisetum Grows in: Sun or shade Breeder: PanAmerican Seed

Begonia

Variety: Eureka Bronze Leaf Pink Consumer Appeal: Lovely pink blooms; attractive plant shape; nice bronze foliage Best Uses: Mixed containers; front of the border; mass plantings Pair with: Torenia, juncus, heuchera Grows in: Shade Breeder: Syngenta

Coleus

Varieties: Main Street Oxford Street; Broadway Street; River Walk Consumer Appeal: Bold color; easy to grow; minimal flowering Best Uses: Mixed containers; garden beds; mass plantings Pair with: Pentas, heuchera, salvia Grows in: Sun or shade Breeder: Dummen

Chrysocephalum

Variety: Silver Leaf Yellow Consumer Appeal: Neutral foliage color; bright flowers; heat and drought resistance Best Uses: Mixed containers; mass plantings; hanging baskets Pair with: Lantana, salvia, angelonia Grows in: Sun Breeder: Suntory


Plants for Pollinators

Angelonia

Variety: Actors Purple Consumer Appeal: Upright shape; excellent flowering; richly colored flowers; heat and drought resistance Best Uses: Mixed containers; garden beds; mass plantings Pair with: Helichrysum, petunia, verbena Grows in: Sun Breeder: Greenfuse

Pentas

Varieties: Kaleidoscope Deep Red; Rose; Lilac; Pink Consumer Appeal: Hydrangea-like flowers; easy to grow Best Uses: Mixed containers; mass plantings; garden beds Pair with: Geranium, zinnia, cosmos Grows in: Sun Breeder: Benary

Angelonia

Varieties: AngelMist Spreading Dark Purple; Spreading Pink; Spreading Purple; Spreading White Consumer Appeal: Bold color; heat and drought resistance Best Uses: Mixed containers; garden beds; mass plantings Pair with: Pentas, lantana, salvia Grows in: Sun Breeder: Ball

Bees have been in the news lately and more stories about the importance of bees and butterflies are expected for the 2014 season. It used to be that just the serious, master gardeners paid heed to pollinators. But over the last few years, bringing colorful butterflies and hummingbirds has grown increasingly higher on consumer wish lists for their outdoor spaces. Likewise, a growing number of landscapers are getting requests for residential butterfly gardens.

Lantana

Variety: Little Lucky Pot of Gold Consumer Appeal: Compact shape; excellent uniformity; floriferousness Best Uses: Mixed containers; mass plantings; front of the border; hanging baskets Pair with: Evolvulus, calibrachoa, scaevola Grows in: Sun Breeder: Ball

Lantana

Variety: Bandana Orange Sunrise Consumer Appeal: Floriferousness; heat and drought resistance; bold color Best Uses: Mixed containers; mass plantings; garden beds Pair with: Rudbeckia, gaillardia, salvia Grows in: Sun Breeder: Syngenta


Groundcovers

Scaevola

Varieties: Diamond; Crystal; Brilliant Consumer Appeal: Excellent uniformity; floriferousness; easy to grow Best Uses: Mixed containers; mass plantings; hanging baskets Pair with: Evolvulus, marigold, zinnia Grows in: Sun Breeder: Westflowers

Mercadonia

Variety: Magic Carpet Yellow Consumer Appeal: Carpet of color; tolerates foot traffic Best Uses: Mixed containers; mass plantings; hanging baskets Pair with: Marigold, celosia, SunPatiens Grows in: Sun Breeder: Sakata

Dianthus

Variety: Kahori Pink Consumer Appeal: Bold color; fragrance; uniformity Best Uses: Mixed containers; mass plantings; front of the border Pair with: Portulaca, snapdragon, heliotrope Grows in: Sun Breeder: Fides

Scoparia

Variety: Ilumina Lemon Mist Consumer Appeal: Fragrant flowers; heat and drought tolerance Best Uses: Mixed containers; mass plantings; hanging baskets Pair with: Lantana, ornamental pepper, gazania Grows in: Sun Breeder: Suntory

Evolvulus

Variety: Blue My Mind Consumer Appeal: True-blue flowers; floriferousness; heat and drought resistance Best Uses: Mixed containers; mass plantings; front of the border Pair with: Salvia, heliotrope, gaura Grows in: Sun Breeder: Proven Winners

Scaevola

Variety: Whirlwind White Consumer Appeal: Heat and drought tolerance; floriferousness Best Uses: Mixed containers; mass plantings; hanging baskets; front of the border Pair with: Cosmos, pentas, geranium Grows in: Sun Breeder: Proven Winners


Plants for Beginners

Begonia

Variety: Surefire (Big) Red; Rose Consumer Appeal: Floriferousness; heat and drought tolerance Best Uses: Mass plantings; garden beds; large mixed containers Pair with: New Guinea impatiens, coleus, caladium Grows in: Shade Breeder: Proven Winners (Benary)

Coleus

Varieties: Stained Glassworks Raspberry Tart; Burgundy Wedding Train Consumer Appeal: Outstanding habits; bold color Best Uses: Mixed containers; mass plantings; hanging baskets; garden beds Pair with: Pentas, celosia, gomphrena Grows in: Sun or shade Breeder: Ecke

Begonia

Variety: Braveheart Rose Bicolor Consumer Appeal: Excellent habit; floriferousness; easy to grow Best Uses: Mass plantings; garden beds; mixed containers Pair with: Gaura, lavandula, portulaca Grows in: Sun Breeder: Syngenta

Flowers that bloom all season long that you don’t have to mess with are the Holy Grail of the gardening world. While no garden plant is truly no-maintenance, we know home consumers love the idea of easy. And Costa Farms consumer research shows saying a plant is “easy” is good— but it’s even better to offer specifics such as “you don’t have to water often” or “no pruning required.” Positioning a plant as less work to grow is always a good marketing technique!

Impatiens

Varieties: Sun Harmony Deep Orange; Magenta; Pink; Violet Consumer Appeal: Floriferousness; dense, mounding habit Best Uses: Mass plantings; garden beds; large mixed containers Pair with: Petunia, zinnia, vinca Grows in: Sun or shade Breeder: Danziger

Vinca

Variety: Cora Deep Lavender Consumer Appeal: Dense, mounding habit; carpet of color; disease resistance Best Uses: Mixed containers; mass plantings; hanging baskets; garden beds Pair with: Cosmos, geranium, pennisetum Grows in: Sun Breeder: Syngenta


Plants for Beginners

Portulaca

Varieties: Cupcake Carrot; Cherry Baby; Peachy; Yellow Chrome Consumer Appeal: Floriferousness; heat and drought tolerance Best Uses: Mass plantings; front of the border; hanging baskets Pair with: Lantana, gomphrena, celosia Grows in: Sun Breeder: Dummen

Portulaca Rio

Variety: Rio Apricot Consumer Appeal: Floriferousness; heat and drought tolerance Best Uses: Mass plantings; front of the border; hanging baskets Pair with: Vinca, calibrachoa, agastache Grows in: Sun Breeder: Ball

Portulaca

Varieties: PortoGrande Golden Yellow; Apricot Consumer Appeal: Large flowers; heat and drought tolerance; floriferousness Best Uses: Mass plantings; front of the border; hanging baskets Pair with: Salvia, gaillardia, zinnia Grows in: Sun Breeder: Syngenta

We currently grow several of these top performers from our Summer Showdown Trial Garden. The data from these trials is just one of the many factors we use to help guide our decision-making process for what varieties to grow in the future. It’s important to us to ensure we’re growing varieties that will ship well, look beautiful at retail, and thrive when they come home with end consumers. We see selling the right plants as an investment in the future.

Portulaca

Variety: Soleil Pink; Red Consumer Appeal: Carpet of color; heat and drought tolerance Best Uses: Hanging baskets; window boxes; mixed containers; mass plantings Grows in: Sun Pair with: Gaura, cosmos, penstemon, lantana Breeder: EuroAmerican Propagators

Impatiens

Varieties: SunPatiens Spreading Deep Rose; Spreading White Consumer Appeal: Floriferousness; attractive habit Best Uses: Mass plantings; large mixed containers; garden beds Pair with: Coleus, penstemon, zinnia Grows in: Sun or shade Breeder: Sakata


Consumers Need Help It’s no surprise that the garden center offers consumers a confusing, challenging experience. There’s a wide variety of plants from which to choose, the notion that it’s easy to kill plants, and most consumers have little assurance in knowing what to plant with what. Here are some tips to inspire consumer confidence: Group Companion Plants. To look good, plants have to survive together once a consumer takes them home. Remind shoppers to put sun-loving varieties with other sun-loving varieties, for example. The same goes for soil moisture. Setting up a display with featured plants that like the same conditions can be helpful. Note Plant Size. When they’re in their pots in the garden center, plants are a similar size. But once consumers take them home, they discover the difference between demure and dynamic varieties. Paying attention to plant proportion— and spacing accordingly, keeps small varieties from getting swallowed up or buried behind bigger varieties. Take the Intimidation out of Color. Look to paint departments for inspiration on how to make combining colors fun. Pre-selected color schemes (especially featuring notable colors, such as the Pantone Color of the Year, or local favorites, such as the colors of the hometown sports team) are an easy place to start.

Call Out Trends Consumers love the idea of trends— there’s something that appeals to our collective psyches about being a part of the “it crowd.” Make plants more attractive by pointing out trends. Foliage plants, for example, are readily seen in consumer magazines and blogs. A bold, impactful collection of coleus and sweet potato vines, for example, go from a basic assortment to dazzling display when you tell people these plants are in.

Make Suggestions. Selecting a person (a staff member, an expert at the grower or breeder level) to call out plant combinations is also helpful to consumers. Having a voice with authority say “this is a good combination” goes a long way. Play Up Attributes. You can also empower consumers by playing up plant attributes. Highlighting three varieties that attract butterflies or have fragrant flowers, for example, gives consumers a reason to plant those varieties together— and feel confident about it.

Highlight Style We don’t often think about styles in the horticultural world even though consumers are well acquainted with the concept from interior design. Give plants a more decorative feel by pointing out styles. Begonias, for example, are perfect for casual style; angelonia is ideal for cottage style, and vinca works for mass, formal plantings. Even if your consumers don’t identify with a sense of style themselves, they like the idea of it.

2013 Costa Farms Summer Trial Garden Top Performers  

Here are the top-performing plants in Costa Farms Trial Garden. They thrived through the Florida heat and humidity!

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