Highlights of the 2017 Penn State Flower Trials

In 2017, 931 entries were in the Penn State Flower trials at the Southeast Agricultural Research and Extension Center, in Manheim PA.
Highlights of the 2017 Penn State Flower Trials - News


The weather conditions were very favorable for plant culture, with abundant rainfall and cooler temperatures than in previous seasons. The fertility program was modified in 2017, and plants were placed in the growing area based on pH and EC requirements of the plant species. The fertility management, and the excellent weather resulted in very good performance in 2017, and species that had difficulties in 2016 due to excessive temperature, performed very well in 2017.

One example of this improvement was with the annual Phlox, and eleven cultivars were tested in 2017. While they were all good performers, the Gisele series from Selecta did very well, and ‘Gisele Hot Pink’ and ‘Gisele Light Pink ‘received final scores of 4.8 out of 5. Proven Winners’ Intensia Blueberry’ also scored a 4.8. ‘Gisele Pink’ received a 4.7 final score. ‘Gisele White’ scored s 4.6, and Danziger Flower Farm’s ‘Phloxstar Red ‘also received a 4.6. All of the annual Phlox entered in the Penn State Flower Trials performed well in 2017, a big difference from 2016 when the seven weeks of excessive heat took its toll on these plants.

Danziger Flower Farm’s ‘Phloxstar Red ‘received a 4.6. Photo: Sinclair Adam, Penn State

Another improvement in the program in 2017 was the management of the Begonia entries. These plants were subjected to fungicide applications of Phyton 27 rotated with Cease on a weekly basis. The Penn State Meteorological information stated we had about 12” above average rainfall for 2017 (by early August), providing abundant opportunity for Xanthomonas spread and infection. While several cultivars out of the 46 Begonia entries did get infected with Xanthomonas bacteria, the spread of this problem was much less than in previous years. The rotation of these two products (Cease & Phyton 27) kept the disease from spreading effectively. As a result, a number of Begonia entries did very well in 2017, and continued to perform very nicely into October. ‘Be Adore X 74’ from HiverdaKooij scored a 5.0 (out of 5) and was an excellent performer all season, and bloom continued into October. Fifteen entries scored a 4.9 out of 5, and 15 entries scored 4.8. All in all, the Begonia performance was excellent in 2017.

Petunia and Calibrachoa entries in 2017 were fertilized with liquid soluble Petunia Feed every week in 2017, and this change in fertility resulted in excellent performance through the growing season. The top three Calibrachoa entries out of 64 total entries were tied with final scores of 4.9 (out of 5). These were: ‘Superbells White Improved’, ‘Superbells Coralina’ both from Proven Winners, and ‘Unique White Improved’ from Kientzler North America.

The Petunia group consisted of 99 entries, and as in years past, ‘Supertunia Vista Bubblegum’ was the top scorer coming in at 5.0 out of 5.0. Eleven plants scored a 4.9 including six Supertunias from Proven Winners (‘Supertunia Hot Pink Charm’, ‘Supertunia Lovie Dovie’, ‘Supertunia Pink Star Charm’, ‘Supertunia Picasso in Purple’, ‘Supertunia Vista Fuchsia’, ‘Supertunia Vista Silverberry’). Other Petunia entries that scored a 4.9 were: Ball FloraPlant’s “Color Rush Pink’, Dummen Orange’s ‘Suntunia Neon Rose’, Syngenta’s ‘Dekko White’, and HF Michell/Green Fuse Botanicals ‘Blanket Blue Star’.

For more in-depth details of the 2017 trials, visit the Penn State Flower Trials webpages.