Parade of Top Ten Newcomers

Annuals to covet and grow

Impatiens ‘SunPatiens Compact Tropical Rose’

Can you believe ‘SunPatiens’ are celebrating their 10 year anniversary? Ten years of rollicking good fun, phenomenal new introductions, and, in effect, turning the impatiens world on its ear from Day 1. New for 2017 is ‘SunPatiens Compact Tropical Rose’, the first of the compact ‘SunPatiens’ to offer variegated yellow/green foliage that lights up the day and night. Contrast the foliage with a cacophony of intense rose flowers, a tidy habit that works in the ground or in containers, and this just might be the most impactful new ‘SunPatiens’ ever introduced.

Petunia ‘Supertunia Vista Fuchsia Improved’
Have you ever seen any plant have a ‘cult’ following such as ‘Supertunia Vista Bubblegum’ has? Of the three ‘Supertunia Vista’ varieties, ‘Supertunia Vista Fuchsia’ has been the weak link among the siblings. This should change for 2017 as ‘Supertunia Vista Fuchsia Improved’ increases vigor and flower power to match its siblings. No more looking for the ‘Vista Fuchsia’ in a combination with ‘Vista Bubblegum’ and ‘Vista Silverberry’, the improved ‘Vista Fuchsia’, with a multitude of bright magenta fuchsia flowers, may just create a ‘cult’ following of its own.

Calibracoa ‘Superbells Tropical Sunrise’
A fair question to ask is if there is even a need for another unique calibracoa. If the new calibracoa is ‘Superbells Tropical Sunrise’, the answer to the question is a resounding YES! With its very unique flower pattern, large flowers, especially in the early season, and its ability to hold the bicolor bloom pattern even in the heat of summer, this is the one new plant introduction that could surpass all others in popularity. If calibracoa works in your containers, find this variety, plant this variety, love this variety!

Portulaca ‘ColorBlast’
This new introduction of portulaca (aka purslane) has three bicolor flower varieties that demand attention as something wonderfully new in purslane. ‘ColorBlast Lemon Twist’, a bicolor yellow/white, ‘ColorBlast Mango Mojito’, an orange/yellow bicolor, and ‘ColorBlast Watermelon Punch’, a rose/yellow bicolor, have all the attributes of easy care purslane with the additional allure of bicolor blossoms adorning hanging baskets or combination containers. These varieties might easily compete for ‘Plant of the Year’ in the Kansas City metro area.

Begonia ‘Megawatt’ series
With all the excellent new varieties in begonias of all shapes and sizes, ‘Megawatt’ begonias enter the begonia ‘Whopper’ arena hoping to dismantle the ‘king’ of begonias. Four varieties, two bronze leaf and two green leaf, are offered for garden performance ‘par excellence’ in landscape settings or simply ‘a la carte’ in pots. Mature height of 24+ inches, super easy care, and outstanding summer performance make ‘Megawatt’ begonias a great choice for novices and experts alike.

Canna ‘Cannova Orange Shades’
The Canna ‘Cannova’ series has revolutionized cannas and with good reason. Grown from seed alleviating virus concerns, matched with a habit that works well in almost any sized container, and adding ‘Cannova Orange Shades’ in 2017 to six other colors, these cannas have turned heads and have gone where no cannas have before. ‘Cannova Orange Shades’ blooms early, blooms often, and simply does not disappoint, either in the ground, or as a centerpiece statement in combination pots.

Lantana ‘Lucky Red’
Lantanas are a staple in the Kansas City garden diet, and the ‘Lucky’ series has quickly become a favorite due to its tidy habit and continuous flowering. One obvious omission was a variety offering a red bloom. Lo and behold, the 2017 version of ‘Lucky’ lantanas adds ‘Lucky Red’. The red in the bloom is more pronounced as the flower matures, though the intensity of the red is worth the wait. Imagine, for a moment, its August 15, it’s sweltering hot outside, and the view out the window is ‘Lucky Red’ lantana blooming itself to impress any and all who take the moment to enjoy. Ahh, summer in KC can be beautiful!

Cyperus ‘Prince Tut’
If ever a name tells the story of a plant, cyperus ‘Prince Tut’ speaks volumes, if just from the words on a page. This new addition to the ‘Baby Tut’ and ‘King Tut’ family grows to half the size of ‘King Tut’ with the same giant umbel that so endears ‘King Tut’ to legions of gardeners. ‘Prince Tut’ eloquently fills the gap between its siblings, and could easily surpass both in application and enjoyment.

Phlox ‘Gisele’ series
Annual phlox has been a conundrum for years, offering much hoopla and struggling to live up to expectations. The phlox ‘Gisele’ series with 5 colors might very well change former disappointment to future glory. Tested and trialed from Florida to Michigan, from North Carolina to California, phlox ‘Gisele’ passed both cool weather and hot weather tests with praise and accolades from all locations. This phlox is a sleeper, and well deserving of finding a niche in the hearts of plant lovers in Kansas City.

Coleus ‘Inferno’
Picking new introduction # 10 for 2017 proved extremely difficult, and after careful consideration, with many other noble and noteworthy varieties vying for attention, coleus ‘Inferno’ crept to the top. The slightly ruffled, brick orange foliage of ‘Inferno’ makes a statement, whether in a container or banked together in a landscape providing a sense of inspiration to passersby. New breeding in vegetative coleus focuses on late flowering or even no flowering though September, and ‘Inferno’ is included in this new breeding initiative. Grow ‘Inferno’, and experience the easy beauty of coleus.

With so many plants that perform in Kansas City, grab a friend that has yet to experience the joy of growing, search out these new varieties, share your expertise, and observe a passion for the beauty and joy of plant life blossom in a fellow human being.

Mike DeRee, territory sales rep for Ball Seed Company, works and gardens in Wichita, Kan.

To view images of the TOP TEN, visit the online version of the April 2017 issue at

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