2014 "Best of" Annuals

Best of Show – Dahlia ‘XXL Veracruz’ from Red Fox

Voted as “Best Dahlia” in 2013,’XXL Veracruz’ made it to the top as “Best Of Show” in 2014 with beautiful lavender and white bicolor flowers. The stunning display of flowers was a perfect combination of color, large blooms and prolific flowering. The “pom-pom” shape flowers had soft shades of lavender and white which would also make good cut flowers. The vigorous plants maintained uniform growth and resisted lodging with strong stems throughout the season.

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Best New Variety – Petunia ‘Supertunia® Black Cherry’ from Proven Winners

Plants had good vigor but the rich flower color was very captivating and brought it to the top as the “Best New Variety”. The flowers had color shades that were very similar to a black cherry which made it very unique. Plants had a tight mounding habit which made an impressive appearance covered in the abundant dark flowers.

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Best Novelty – Cuphea ‘Vermillionaire™’ from Proven Winners

The bright orange tubular flower made a great contrast against the dark green, glossy foliage for a unique combination of both color and texture. The abundant small orange flowers gave a very delicate and showy appearance consistently throughout the growing season. Plants not only took the summer heat but were much more resistant to flea beetles than traditional Cuphea. It would work well in either the landscape or in containers and would be a good flower to attract hummingbirds.

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Best Angelonia – ‘Statuesque Pink’PPAF from Garden Genetics

Soft pink flowers had a burgundy eye and were very abundant. The uniform growth habit and impressive vigor was exceptional – especially for a variety grown from seed. This more upright grower maintained a perfect shape and was a continual bloomer well into September.

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Best Begonia – ‘BIG® Bronze Leaf Red’ from Benary

The overall appearance was described by some evaluators as “gorgeous” and it was easy to see why with the large vigorous plants with dark, bronze foliage and prolific red flowers. It grew well in both sun and shade locations.

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Best Calibrachoa – ‘Can-Can™ Terracotta’ from Ball FloraPlant

Fiery shades of orange, yellow and gold created a very eye-catching flower. Blooms were abundant on a large plant which also maintained a good, uniform growth habit. Despite the larger growth habit, the plants did not open up in the middle and also did not show any chlorosis.

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Best Coleus – ‘Coleousaurus’ from Ball FloraPlant

Bold color and leaf patterns made a dramatic statement in combination with the expansive foliage size. Plants were vigorous and became large at end of season but maintained a uniform growth habit.

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Best Combo – ‘Kwik Combos™ Cherry Blossom Mix’ from Syngenta

Many different shades of soft pink gave this combo a “romantic” feel as well as great flower power. The variation in flower shapes of petunia, verbena and calibrachoa worked well together. Abundant blooms persisted well into September.

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Best Dahlia – ‘XXL Veracruz’ from Red Fox

Voted as “Best Dahlia” in 2013,’XXL Veracruz’ made it to the top as “Best Of Show” in 2014 with beautiful lavender and white bicolor flowers. The stunning display of flowers was a perfect combination of color, large blooms and prolific flowering. The “pom-pom” shape flowers had soft shades of lavender and white which would also make good cut flowers. The vigorous plants maintained uniform growth and resisted lodging with strong stems throughout the season.

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Best Gazania – ‘Kiss™ Frosty White Flame’ from Syngenta

White flowers had an eye-catching dark stripe on each flower petal for a nice bi-color effect. Blooms were abundant and covered the plant from edge to edge for exceptional flower power. Plants had robust vigor, deep green glossy foliage and were uniform.

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Best Geranium (Interspecific) – ‘Glitterati™ Ice Queen’ from Garden Genetics

These plants were exceptional not only for their excellent vigor and large size but also the variegated foliage. It was noted that this plant would be attractive even without flowers but the salmon colored flowers were very prolific and helped create an impressive overall appearance.

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Best Geranium (Ivy) – ‘Caliente® Pink’ from Syngenta

The ‘Caliente’ series had the top three entries in this category. However, this entry was rated the best for the way the abundant bright pink flowers combined with the dark green foliage. It was grown in a container but many thought it would also look great in the landscape. Flowers bloomed consistently all season.

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Best Geranium (Zonal) – ‘PAC Darko® Deep Red’ from PAC Elsner

This was a stunning plant with dark foliage, dark stems, dark zonation and intense red flowers. Plants were very robust with a good shape and held the flowers high on sturdy stems.

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Best Geranium (Seed) – ‘Pinto™ Premium Rose Bicolor’ from Syngenta

Abundant flowers with beautiful shades of rose and white made this a standout from the rest of seed geraniums. The flower color was bold with good bicolor contrast. Plants had bright green foliage and a very consistent growth habit.

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Best Lantana – ‘Lucky Sunrise Rose’ from Ball FloraPlant

Hot orange and red flowers had great flower power for the second year in a row. This entry had the second highest rating from the entire trial. The brightly color flowers were prolific and the dark foliage color really made the flower color standout. Plants were vigorous but maintained a uniform growth habit. It was noted it had delayed fruiting which helped continue good flowering.

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Best Lobelia – ‘Suntory® Lobelia Compact Blue’ from Suntory

Plants remained “fresh” looking all summer with consistent blooming. The intense blue flowers combined well with the dark green foliage and looked good well into September.

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Best Marigold – ‘Moonsong® Deep Orange’ from Syngenta

Plants had strong stems that supported the large “pom-pom” shaped flowers despite overhead irrigation and rain and they maintained a very uniform appearance. The deep orange flowers were very abundant and made a nice overall impression with the clean, vigorous foliage. This entry was also an All-America Selections (AAS) winner.

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Best New Guinea Impatiens – ‘Super Sonic® White’ from Syngenta

Large, white flowers would brighten up any shady spot. This steady bloomer maintained a prolific display of color all season. Plants had good vigor and were very uniform.

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Best Osteospermum – ‘Akila® Daisy White’ from Pan American Seed Company

Flowers were abundant throughout the season but plants also had a superior growth habit that was uniform throughout the growing season. The bright white flowers combined with a soft yellow underside which was very attractive. This entry was also an All-America Selections (AAS) winner.

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Best Petunia (seed mounding) – ‘African Sunset’ from American Takii

Prolific flowers had a very unique color of peach and mango that seemed to glow. Vigorous plants had a nice mounding, uniform growth habit. Flowers were a good size and had flower power with a very strong punch. This entry was also an All-America Selections (AAS) winner.

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Best Petunia (seed spreading) – ‘Easy Wave® Red Velour’ from Pan American Seed Company

This entry maintained solid flowering over the entire summer. The deep wine/red flowers had a very rich color that did not fade. Plants had good vigor and a nice spreading growth habit.

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Best Petunia (veg mounding) – ‘Sweetunia® Black Satin’ from Red Fox

These unique flowers formed a uniform black blanket well into September. The flower color was noted to be a “warm” shade of black with undertones that made it easy to mix with other colors. The plant was very uniform with rich green foliage that helped show off the dark flowers.

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Best Petunia (veg spreading) – ‘Suncatcher White’ from Ball FloraPlant

Large, white blooms covered the entire plant all through the season. The clear, white flowers combined well with the dark green foliage. Plants maintained a uniform shape all season.

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Best Portulaca – ‘Cupcake Cherry Baby’ from Red Fox

Flowers had a gorgeous color with a fascinating shade of cherry coloring. Plants were vigorous and made a nice groundcover with a spreading growth habit.

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Best Scaevola – ‘Surdiva® White Improved’ from Suntory

Plants had a great compact growth habit and were continually covered in flowers. It was clearly the best scaevola for flower power and a nice color combination with the medium green foliage.

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Best Sun New Guinea Impatiens – ‘Sunpatiens® Compact Electric Orange’ from Sakata

This was a winner for the second year in a row in part due to the prolific display of vibrant orange flowers. The growth habit was the second part of this winning combination with a very uniform and compact shape.

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Best Vinca – ‘Titan™ Rose Halo’ from Pan American Seed Company

The uniform plants with prolific flowering made this vinca rise to the top as the ‘Best Vinca’ despite intense competition this year from a large number of good looking entries. Flowers also had a striking white eye. Dark green, glossy foliage helped make the flower color “pop”. Besides the ability of vincas to tolerate hot and dry conditions, the ‘Titan’ series were bred to tolerate cool nights.

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Best Verbena – ‘Endurasacape Blue’ from Ball FloraPlant

Flower color was a beautiful lavender/blue shade that contrasted well with the green foliage. Plants had a spreading growth habit and were quite vigorous.

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Best Zinnia - ‘Magellan™ Scarlet’ from Syngenta

The large hot orange/red flowers were very prolific giving the plant great flower power. Plants were uniform and did not lodge. New growth seemed to keep growing past old blooms to keep a fresh appearance without much deadheading. They performed well at a 0.5” irrigation per week and would make a good for annual choice in a low water area. The ‘Magellan’ series placed in four of the top five spots in the zinnia class. The series in general display remarkable flowering and vigor along with a very uniform growth habit.

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Additional "Superior Plant" - Agryranthemum ‘Beauty Yellow’ from Westoff

“Blazing yellow” blooms covered the plant all season and were a standout even from across the garden. Plants had good green foliage and maintained a very uniform growth habit. It was early to flower and still very floriferous in September. The impressive flower display was even more special when it was noted that it required no “dead-heading” during the season to maintain its superior appearance.

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"Sneak Peak" Winner - Begonia ‘Jurassic’ series from Ball Ingenuity

(Designated as a “Sneak Peak Winner” - excellent plants not yet available in large quantities in 2015 but worth the wait for 2016). The entire ‘Jurassic’ series rated very high among judges for very unique foliage and dependable plant growth habit. ‘Jurassic Watermelon’ was the standout favorite with exotic leaf coloring and shape. The speckled foliage had a fascinating “watermelon colored” splotch that seemed to have an iridescent quality in the sunlight.

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"Sneak Peak" Winner - Gerbera ‘GE 09-120’ from Proven Winners

(Designated as a “Sneak Peak Winner” - excellent plants not yet available in large quantities in 2015 but worth the wait for 2016). This orange flowered gerbera was probably the showiest gerbera in the trial for many years. Prolific blooming all season plus excellent uniformity make this an excellent plant for both containers and landscape plantings. Flowers had a vibrant shade of apricot and orange that stood out well against the dark green foliage.

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"Sneak Peak" Winner - Geranium ‘Experimental G13S-605’ from Garden Genetics

(Designated as a “Sneak Peak Winner” - excellent plants not yet available in large quantities in 2015 but worth the wait for 2016). Incredible vigor resulted in a very large plant but still maintained a controlled growth habit. Blooms were abundant throughout the plant. Flowers were a “super-saturated” shades of orange and rosey pink that seemed to glow.

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Consumer's Choice #1 - Lantana 'Lucky Sunrise Rose' from Ball FloraPlant

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Consumer's Choice #2 - Cuphea 'Vermillionaire' from Euro American and Proven Winners

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Consumer's Choice #3 - Begonia 'Jurassic Watermelon' from Ball Ingenuity

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Consumer's Choice #4 - Petunia 'Sweetunia Black Satin' from Red Fox

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Consumer's Choice #5 - Zinnia 'Swizzle Cherry and Ivory' from Syngenta

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