2019 California Spring Trials

Steve Poppe, WCROC Horticulture Scientist

May 2019

Steve Poppe, Horticulture Scientist and All-America Selections (AAS) judge from the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC), Morris, MN traveled and toured the California Spring Trials (CAST) in March 2019. The CAST event is an annual event where the major flower companies showcase their new and existing varieties that show promising potential for being dependable and beautiful garden performers. 

Steve traveled with three other AAS judges, the AAS Executive Director, and AAS Communications staff.  Our trip started in Oxnard, CA and traveled north. Our last stop was in Watsonville, CA.  At each of our 16 stops, our tour guides showcased the individual characteristics of their top performing flower varieties.

Here are a few of the standouts from CAST:

Digitalis Pink PantherDigitalis, Pink Panther  A variety from seed which flowers the first year and produces large pink flowers on compact spikes. (From American Takii)

Big Series of Begonia x benariensis  A variety from seed that has big flowers on well-branched plants that has outstanding performance.  Can grow in sun or shade. (From Benary)

Petunia Supertunia Raspberry Rush  Very vigorous petunia that has that has continuous bloom in a container or landscape bed.  Garden height is 6 to 12” and a spread up to 30” and is self-cleaning with no deadheading necessary.  (From Proven Winners) 

Euphorbia Diamond Snow  Offers continuous airy delicate white flowers all season long.  Similar in size to Euphorbia Diamond Frost but with double flowers.  Grows best in a container, but don’t overwater. (From Proven Winners)

Bengal Series Gerbera  Outstanding series of Gerbera.  In past years at the WCROC, we have trialed other Gerbera varieties that have very little if any flowers all season long.  In 2018 we planted the Bengal series Gerbera in a semi-shaded location and applied a fine mulch for moisture retention and adequate weed control.  This proved to be a great spot to grow and display these Gerbera.  They flowered continuously, looked healthy and were a real eye-catching annual flower in 2018. (From Syngenta)

Cats Yellow ViolaCats Yellow Viola  Eye-catching unique vein pattern that appears to be whiskers on a cat.  Low-growing plant that spreads to form an attractive ground cover about 8 to 10” tall.  (From Benary)

Dianthus Supra Purple  An AAS Winner, this single flowered beauty has highly fringed petal edges for an eye-catching experience.  Plants remain under a foot in height, are very vigorous and will continuously flower under hot summer growing conditions. (From Hem Genetics)