In this recorded webinar join Plants Map Cofounder Tracy Blevins for a look at 2019 new plants coming to your garden center this year from the California Spring Trials of 2018. 

This presentation is based on my experiences at the 2018 California Spring Trials (CAST). I was invited to attend as a plant nerd with with the National Garden Bureau.

Some of the presentation is based on a blog I wrote for NGB entitled – Impressions from the California Spring Trials.

CA Spring Trials is an annual weeklong event at locations from Ventura up to San Jose. This is not an open to the public event because the purpose is for breeders to showcase their newest plant varieties and retail merchandising programs to brokers and plant agents. This event is primarily for a segment of the horticulture industry that covers annuals, seasonal plants, bedding plants, some perennials and shrubs.

My host was the National Garden Bureau (NGB). Each year since 2015 the NGB has invited a group of garden communicators to accompany them to the CA Spring Trials. Learn more about the National Garden Bureau at

2018 CA Spring Trials on

History of the Pack Trials – California Spring Trials
Started in 1967 by Glenn Goldsmith (former PanAmerican Seed breeder) who started Goldsmith Seeds (1964). Goldsmith invited seed sales reps to see his new varieties alongside his competition. 1st bedding plant comparisons hence the name ‘pack’ trials referring to the cell packs we are familiar with. Over the years, other California breeders started doing the same thing. The event has grown to 15 Locations, 70-100 breeders from all over the world, with 100s’ of new plant varieties showcased.

If you have questions or comments about this presentation feel free to send them to me at [email protected].

Tracy Blevins

Plant List

  • Strawberry Delizz® F1 – 1st AAS (2016) winning strawberry. Everbearing but large berries like a June variety. Compact size and varying flower colors available make this an attractive ornamental edible. Available to be grown from seed.
  • Hula Berry®— North America’s original white strawberry with a tropical taste described as similar to pineapple.
  • Vinca Tattoo™ Series – Vincas with bicolors that look airbrushed. Colors include Black Cherry, Tangerine, Raspberry, Papaya. Upright vinca. Blooms all season. Full sun. Heat loving. Heavy flowering. Available as seed.
  • Petunia Evening Scentsation – First petunia to receive an AAS (2017) award for its fragrance and color. Described as sweet honey with notes of hyacinth. Scent is perceived differently by each individual. Available as seed.
  • Phlox Popstars (series) – Unique starlike flowers. Shades of blue/purple, pink, red. Available as seed.
  • Bidens TIMELESS™ Collection – White Delight features large, daisy-like, white flowers with a yellow center. A compact plant that attracts bees and butterflies. Grown as a late summer annual.
  • Senetti® series – New color is Magic Salmon(Pericallis x hybrida) Cool season annual grown like pansies, snapdragons.
  • SunPatiens® series – New color is Vigorous Orchid. Thrives in sun or shade, larger pant size than other impatiens, tolerates heat, and longer blooming.
  • Variegated Angelonias – Adessa® Blue Bicolor. Known as summer snapdragons, grown as annuals with heat and drought tolerance. Series includes blue, white, pink, and the blue bicolor.
  • Variegated Verbenas – Samira® Up series – Magenta Splash – fast growing trailing plants that produce large flowers and blooms all season.
  • SuperCal® series are part petunia and part calibrachoa. These are intergeneric hybrids (a cross between plants in two different genera in the same family). The plants have the combined best traits of each parent: large flowers (petunia), vibrant colors (calibrachoa). Easier to grow because they are more heat tolerant than petunias and more cold tolerant than calibrachoa. Referred to as the ‘all weather’ petunia.
  • Begonias! Canary Wings, Megawatt, AmeriHybrid Picotee Flamenco, I’Conia Portofino Champagne, Havana Rose, TopHat White, Cocktail Rum, Sun Cities Collection, NonStop Begonia
  • Foliage Begonias Shadow King Spearmint, Dibs Butterscotch, Dibs Strawberry Chocolate
  • Crown Jewel Begonia Series includes Peridot, Topaz, Jasper, and Onyx. Lovely foliage and flowers. More heat tolerant and longer blooming than heucheras. Part shade, shade, hardy to zone 8
  • Echibeckias are an intergeneric hybrid cross between Rudbeckia and Echinacea. Echibeckia Summerina (series) includes Electric Shock, Summerina Brown and more. Fast growth of Rudbeckia, plus the vigor and disease tolerance of Echinacea. Large 3” flowers last two to three months. Perennial. USDA 6-10.
  • Wallflower (Erysimum) Sugar Rush – Primrose is a sweetly scented, lovely light yellow color. Annual.
  • Wallflower (Erysimum) Sunstrong – Bicolor Purple is a lavender and peach bicolor that blooms from spring until frost due to its heat tolerance. Perennial (USDA. Bee and butterfly magnet.
  • Snapdragon Snaptini™ dwarf series is a shorter plant with sturdier branches and a longer blooms season.
  • Snapdragon Twinny series offers large double blooms on dwarf plants and sturdy branches. Peach is a 2010 AAS winner. Available as seeds.
  • Snapdragon Crackle and Pop series has eight different colors. The plants have more branching which equals more flowers in a small compact size. Also earlier blooming than other snapdragons.
  • Dahlia Dalaya series features big blooms and exotic bicolors, mildew resistance and small compact size (16” x 18”).
  • Dahlia Labella Grande series has large flowers on very small, compact 12” plants. Easy to grow. Colors include Orange Bicolor and Labella Grande Fandang (hot pink).
  • Salvia nemorosa Rose Marvel has the largest flowers of any rose/lavender/pink Salvia nemorosa available. Blooms all season from spring to fall. Perennial USDA 4-9.
  • Salvia Vibe Fuchsia – Attracts Hummingbirds, drought tolerant. Series also includes purple and white flowers.
  • Salvia greggii Mirage™ White is heat tolerant and frost tolerant with a longer bloom season. Salvia greggii is known as autumn sage and is native to Texas. Perennial USDA 7-9.
  • Salvia Grandstand™ Pink-Red Lipstick is an annual (Salvia spendens) that blooms all season. Average size is 12-18” tall. The flowers are large with a gorgeous pink-red bicolor. Available as seed.
  • Hollywood Hibiscus ‘Rico Suave’ won the TPIE Cool Plant Award. This is the latest “character” from J. Berry Nursery. Bright gold-orange ruffled petals with a deep burgundy center. Compact in size, unusual flower colors, prolific blooms.
  • TradeWinds Tropical Hibiscus series – Calypso Fire is a cascading hibiscus for hanging baskets with large 4 – 4.5″ red flowers
  • Summer Spice™ Hardy Hibiscus collection is a breakthrough in breeding that features new, never-before seen bloom colors. Received 2018 Editor’s & Reader’s Choice Medals of Excellence Award Winners from Greenhouse Grower Magazine.
  • Proven Winner Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha® Hydrangea (Hydrangea serrata) is a rebloomer on both new wood and on old wood. Lacecap flowers have blue double petals in neutral to alkaline soils (purple/blue in acidic soils). Very cold hardy hydrangea. USDA 5-9.
  • Endless Summer® Hydrangeas latest in the series is Summer Crush which is smaller in size (3’ x 3’) with large mophead raspberry red or neon purple (acid) blooms.

2019 California Spring Trials will be March 23 – 27

Bonus Plants

  • Anthurium andreanum Livium (flamingo flower) received the TPIE 2019 Favorite New Flowering Plant distinction. This new variegated flower form of a potted Anthurium took 30 years of traditional breeding to create.
  • Dracaena White Aspen from Costa Farms was named the TPIE 2019 Favorite New Foliage Plant.
  • Dolphin Plant (Dendrophorbium peregrinum / syn Senecio peregrinus) is a succulent with leaves that bear a resemblance to a pod of little dolphins.
  • 2016 AAS Winner both decorative and culinary. Seeds are hulless make them easier to roast and eat. Also good for baking. 9-12 pounds (12-14”).
    2019 AAS Winner Potato Clancy – grow from seed. Plants are more compact (24-26”) red to rose skin color, creamy white/yellow interior.
  • 2019 Perennial Plant of the Year® (POY®) from the Perennial Plant Association – Stachys ‘Hummelo’ has a low mound of thick, crinkled, interesting green foliage. Upright spikes of bright-purple flowers appear in late summer. Full sun, well-drained soil. USDA 4-8. Tolerates deer. Attracts bees.

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