Standout Selections From D.S. Cole Growers’ 2023 Plant Trials

Note: Information for this trials report was provided by Doug Cole of D.S. Cole Growers in Loudon, NH.

We had a very wet summer. Some weeks were tough due to the rain which would/could ruin flowers. On the other hand, it was cooler than past summers in our area, which was great overall.

We grew about 950 varieties which included annuals, perennials, and house plants. Some of our top-rated trials were:

  • Sunbeckia (Flamingo Holland): All varieties were good, especially Ophelia, Paulina, and Sarah
  • Episcia ‘Pink Panther: a very fast-growing house plant with continual flowering
  • Itsy Trifection (Syngenta Flowers): A Kwik Kombo that flowers all summer. These small-flowering petunias will stay in bloom while at the same time, a pot of Bacopa may be out of flower for the remainder of the summer.
  • Centaurea ‘Silver Swirl’ (Darwin Perennials): Compact with excellent color and unique foliage structure
  • Bidens ‘Blazing Star’ (Danziger): Good flower power. The flowers show a nice distinct pattern
  • Begonia ‘I’Conia La Luna’ (Dümmen Orange): Nice mounding habit with large flowers. The color pattern is eye-catching.
  • Calibrachoa ‘Calitastic Cappucino’ (Westhoff): This variety has gotten a lot of press due to its distinct flower pattern. It does add a unique color pattern to a crowded field of varieties.
  • CannaSun Cannas: These are produced from seed and of course are virus free because of it. They height is shorter and more compact than most varieties on the market.
  • Dahlia Labella Maggiore Series (Beekenkamp): The bicolors in the series impressed us with stunning colors. The stand-outs were Fun Flame, Fun Pomegranate, and Fun Rose Bicolor
  • Although it was new last year, the Bandolista series of lantana (Syngenta Flowers) turned out to be an improvement over the Bandana series when use in hangers and in large containers. The Bandolista produced a salable plant faster and with good color.
  • Petunia ‘Headliner Lavender Picotee’ (Selecta) was a standout due to its flower pattern and color.

This year, we found that most of the breeders are doing a good job bringing competing product to the market. It was hard to find bad product and also harder to find super special stand-out products as we would in the past. Petunias and Calibrachoa are good examples of species where there are so many good choices and so many similar varieties.

The biggest challenge when creating trials is finding the time to get the trials potted and handled properly during the midst of our busiest time of the year in the spring.

Turning Up the Heat on Greenhouse Radishes

This year we put more attention into our house plant varieties. We had them in different forms to show customers how they look as they mature. For example, we showed the young plants at the size the customer would receive, the size of a mature 4-inch pot and a large grown-out version in a 10-inch pot. With many houseplants such as Philodendron, the plants look quite different as the get older and larger.

Learn more about other field trials from 2023 here.

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