Yucca, Salvia Among Greenhouse Grower Team Favorites From Day 2 of CAST

The Greenhouse Grower team spent the second day of California Spring Trials at the Santa Barbara Polo Club (which featured PlantHaven, Pacific Plug & Liner, Plant Development Services, Suntory Flowers, Vivero International, Green Trade Horticulture) and Dümmen Orange. Here are their top picks.

Top Picks From Greenhouse Grower Senior Editor Julie Hullett

Yucca ‘Nice and Easy’ (Plant Development Services, Inc.)

Yucca plants typically have long, sword-shaped leaves with spiky edges. They are not exactly kid-friendly or pet-friendly. But the new Yucca ‘Nice and Easy’ from Plant Development Services solves those problems. The foliage is soft to the touch, and the edges are not pointed or sharp. The foliage is also variegated as the weather changes. The edges are a creamy white in warm weather, but turn pink as cooler temperatures roll in.

Encore Azalea ‘Autumn Moonstruck’ (Plant Development Services, Inc.)

Dan and Jerry’s Greenhouses Acquires Missouri Range from Bela Flor Nurseries

The Encore Azalea collection is welcoming a new member with ‘Autumn Moonstruck’. This introduction is especially unique, according to Jim Putnam of PDSI, because it is the first Encore Azalea with variegated foliage. The foliage starts out green and blends into a bright chartreuse. The upright growth habit is also beneficial to growers during shipping, making the blooms less likely to shatter.

Geranium Glory Days Series (Dümmen Orange)

Dümmen Orange introduced an interspecific geranium series called Glory Days. This series combines the best of both worlds. It incorporates the floriferous habit and disease resistance of zonal geraniums with the single blooms of ivy geraniums. Glory Days comes in two colors, Red Orange Bicolor and Pink Bicolor.

Dr. Allan Armitage’s Picks, Day 2

Primula program (Pacific Plug & Liner)

How can you not love primroses? They live to please. However, they don’t always please when the colors are faded or the plants are so small that a rock garden is the only place they thrive. I have always enjoyed the Ballerina series from PP&L; the yellow-flowered form is certainly compact and colorful. But at CAST, we also saw a new medium-height series called Pollyanna whose additional stem height provides better air movement for reduced disease susceptibility. But the most surprising introduction in this field were the even taller plants of the Pretty Polly series. These were about 2 feet tall, very robust, and available in four colors. Oh, if we could harness the potential of primrose to be a fall planted, spring flowering plant to complement pansies, violas, and snaps in other areas of the country. What a win that would be.

Mandevilla ‘Sun Parasol Fired Up Orange’ (Suntory Flowers)

The mandevillas have come a long way in recent years, and part of the credit for their success can be laid at the feet of the Sun Parasols. These bush forms have provided landscapers and gardeners with mounding plants of lovely flowers. Enter Fired Up! They appear to be lanky, but are not. While the stems are far more upright, they are strong and not at all lanky.  Plants are not vining but appear like rocket ships compared to other mandies.  And I loved the vibrant orange! Light the flares and fire it up.

Salvia ‘Vibe Ignition Orange’ (PlantHaven)

Perhaps it’s a guy thing, but I seem to be attracted to vibrant orange flowers, especially in plants where you would not expect such a color. I was taken by the handsome oranger flowers of the sage, a rather uncommon color in sages. The plants satisfied what I call the Trifecta. They are excellent pollinators (the honey dew almost falls out of the flowers, they are native (this is a hybrid combining southwestern natives), and the deer don’t like them. Given the trifecta, along with the eye-catching color and strong yet flexible stems, this is definitely worth a trial on your bench.

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