Table of Contents
Ewart, L.C. 1993. New bedding plants. p. 604-608. In: J. Janick and J.E.
Simon (eds.), New crops. Wiley, New York.
New Bedding Plants
Lowell C. Ewart
- NEW CROPS FOR CONSIDERATION
- Table 1
- Fig. 1
- Fig. 2
- Fig. 3
- Fig. 4
- Fig. 5
- Fig. 6
New floricultural crops have been defined by Roh and Lawson (1990) as "a newly
discovered genera or species; newly introduced cultivars of plants grown in
earlier years, but forgotten or without complete cultural information; plants
that are cultivated in foreign countries but have not been introduced in the
United States; or crops that can be produced with new production technologies
that can enhance crop quality and shorten the total production time." If this
classification is followed, new bedding plants fit the definition of new crops
There has been a renewed interest to bring new bedding crops to market in the
last five years. The trend is to introduce new perennial, bulb, and wildflower
plants in addition to annuals for the bedding plant and landscape industries.
This trend will likely continue well into the next century, especially with
bedding plants and garden plants leading all other floriculture crops with a
wholesale value of $971 million in 1990 (Agr. Stat. Board 1991). This
represents an 8% gain over 1989, and reflects a yearly increase that has
remained unbroken for over 10 years.
The following taxa selections are either under evaluation or have recently been
released for bedding plant sales. Additional new bedding plants are listed in
Begonia MSB-1 is a hybrid derived from inbreds developed from crossing
Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum Hort. with Begonia
schmidtiana Regel. The purpose was to develop material suitable for
hanging basket production from seed rather than from cuttings. The plants grow
fast, have a nice spreading, branched habit, and the flower color is a bright
red. Evaluations have been excellent.
Canna x 'Tropical Rose' is an All-America Selections Flower Award Winner for
1992, the first canna ever to receive this award. 'Tropical Rose' is an
improved dwarf canna that can be sold as young potted plants from seed sown 6
to 8 weeks prior to selling and which reaches heights of 76 cm (Sutherland
1991). Usually, cannas are grown from rhizomes rather than from seed. The
soft rose-colored blooms appear the first of July and continue the rest of the
summer in the Midwest.
Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don still commonly known as vinca, has had
several new additions due, in great part, to the work of R.D. Parker of the
University of Connecticut. The cultivars 'Parasol' and 'Pretty In Rose' are
both 1991 All-America Selections Bedding Plant Award Winners, and 'Pretty in
White' is a 1992 All-American Selections Award Winner in this category.
'Parasol' improves on the cultivar 'Little Bright Eye' for flower size and
flower quality. The large 4 to 5 cm blooms are pure white with a red center.
The blooms have overlapping petals creating a full round flower. 'Parasol'
exhibits heat and drought tolerance, and is an excellent landscape subject.
'Pretty in Rose' is a new deep rose, almost purple, color now available for the
first time in vinca; whereas, 'Pretty in White' is a beautiful white with a
small cream-colored eye. Both of these cultivars bloom all summer long and
perform best in full sun. In combination with other annuals, they are
perfectly suited to hanging baskets, planters, or patio urns.
These cultivars were derived from species and escaped 'wild' accessions (R.D.
Parker pers. commun.). The collection, which began in 1978, contains material
principally from Madagascar and Mauritius, but also contains material collected
in Brazil, India, Mexico, Portugal, and South Africa.
Craspedia x 'Drumstick' is new to horticultural cultivation. This
native from Australia is easily grown from seed. It is a green pack item and
blooms approximately 170 days from seeding. The 3 cm globular flowering heads
of golden yellow are held atop long, wiry stems about 60 cm tall. The
excellent cutting stems rise from compact rosettes of ground level foliage.
The flowers have very good durability either fresh or dried.
Gomphrena x 'Strawberry Field' is the first true strawberry-red red
gomphrena and is a beautiful, continuous blooming annual. The 3.5 cm blooms
are borne in profusion on 60 cm stems, and they are delightful in bouquets
either fresh or dried. It is a green pack item and starts to bloom
approximately 90 days from seeding and will bloom all summer.
Hosta selection MSH-1 (Fig. 1) was found growing among what appeared to be a
variable group of seedlings in an old abandoned garden. The plants are very
dwarf, early flowering with 26 cm flower stalks with light purple flowers. The
plant silhouette is on the order of Hosta lancifolia Engl., but much
smaller. The plants, in regular perennial fashion, bloom the second year from
seed in early June in the Midwest and are excellent as a rock garden subject.
Dwarf bearded iris (Iris pumila L.) (Fig. 2) are beautiful in the spring
and are usually purchased as rhizomes in late summer. They can now be produced
as a spring sales, pot plant item (E.J. Holcomb pers. commun.) by storing
potted rhizomes at 7°C for 8 weeks. There are many cultivars with various
colors that bloom in about 25 days after storage and produce more flowering
stalks per pot if the plants are grown under high pressure sodium lighting.
These dwarf iris are excellent for rock garden or edging use, blooming in late
April to early May. They are best grown in full sun in a well drained location.
Kalanchoe MSK-20, a selection developed for hanging basket production, was
derived from crossing Kalanchoe x 'Jingle Bells' with Kalanchoe
manginii Hamet. & Perr. B, and can be produced from cuttings or from
seed. The plants need 5 weeks of short days to induce flowering. The critical
photoperiod is 12 h, but the optimum is 9 h. The habit of the plant is more
like K. Manginii, only larger. The 2.5 cm long, trumpet shaped, red
flowers are borne in profusion on the ends of the branches. The natural
flowering time is December through March in the United States.
Kalanchoe MSK-1 (Fig. 3), 2, and 4, selections from crosses within Kalanchoe
blossfeldiana Poelln., are produced from seed and are intended for mass
market sales. The plants require short days for flower induction. The colors
of MSK-1, 2, and 4 are orange scarlet, hot pink, and apricot-yellow,
respectively. The individual flowers have a spread of 17 mm, and the natural
flowering time is December through April in the United States.
Rhodohypoxis bourii (Bak.) Nel., known as the Starlet Flower, is native
to South Africa and hardy only into zone 8. Grown from rhizomes, it has been
used as a rock garden plant. It is suitable as an attractive spring pot plant,
ready for sale 5 to 6 weeks from potting. The flower colors range from white,
pale pink to red, and the flowers, each comprising 6 petals, meet at the center
with no eye. The slender stems produce a succession of 2 cm flowers. The
plants can be enjoyed as a patio subject or planted out in the garden, but
should be removed before freezing temperatures are experienced. The rhizomes
can reflower after 8 to 10 weeks of storage at 4°C (Bay City Flower Co.
pers. commun.). Production of this crop is still somewhat hampered by the
limited number of rhizomes available each year.
'Lady in Red' salvia, an All-America Selections Flower Award Winner for 1992,
is derived from Salvia coccinea Juss. ex J. Murr., sometimes called
Texas sage. The bright red flowers, which attract humming birds and
butterflies, are borne in loose whorls along a spike above the foliage. Mature
plant height is 60 cm. 'Lady in Red' can be produced as a flowering bedding
plant, using the same culture as for Salvia splendens F. Sellow ex Roem.
& Schult (Sutherland 1991). Crop time from sowing to initial bloom is
about 10 to 12 weeks, and the plants will flower all summer long.
Steirodiscus x 'Gold Rush' has a beautiful yellow, daisy-like flower
about 2.5 cm in diameter. In full bloom, the flowers cover the entire plant
which grows to 12 to 18 cm in height (Hamrick 1989). It is produced from seed
and will grow well at 15° to 21°C. The plants, however, require a cool
night temperature of 2° to 5°C and 15°C days to flower. Temperatures
over 26°C will result in poor growth and shorten the bloom period. In
general, the crop time is 12 weeks (American Takii Inc. pers. commun.).
A double flowered form of Trillium grandiflorum (Michx.) Salisb. ('Flore
Pleno') (Fig. 4) is quite rare as a commercial item. The single flowered type
at one time was forced as a pot plant, but went out of style. Now, with the
renewed interest in wildflowers in the landscape, such items have become
popular again. The plants, however, are now protected in some states and
cannot be dug from the wild. The double flowering form can be propagated
vegetatively, but at a premium price. Potted up during the summer previous to
spring sales and stored overwinter, this plant sells itself when in bloom at a
garden center outlet. The double flowers have a good 2 to 3 weeks duration
time which adds to their value for spring sales. The plants can be enjoyed
best, however, if planted as soon as possible into the landscape.
Violet MSV-1 (Fig. 5) is of hybrid derivation from within the wild Viola
stemless, blue, cut-leaved group. In the spring, the plants are covered with
blue flowers that are held above the foliage forming a beautiful blue carpet.
Propagation is by seed or division. Violets are photoperiodic (Mastalerz
1977), producing conspicuous clasmogamous flowers under short day, and
inconspicuous clestogamous flowers under long day conditions. It should be
possible to keep the plants flowering year-round by manipulating photoperiod
and temperature. This should allow sales of flowering plants for landscape use
from spring through most of the summer.
The most economic important garden zinnia (Zinnia elegans Jacq.) is very
susceptible to several leaf diseases. Zinnia angustifolia HBK, however,
is virtually disease free. Until now only the orange flowered cultivar
'Classic' was available. A new white flowered cultivar 'Star White' (Fig. 6)
has been introduced. The single, daisy-like flowers measure about 2.5 cm and
appear in mass on plants reaching 35 cm. The plants thrive in hot, dry
conditions and carry the same disease resistance found in Z.
angustifolia (Burpee pers. commun.). The plants bloom all summer and are
propagated from seed.
The plants highlighted represent an interesting and colorful group of new
plants that should find a home in the garden for years to come. They are an
example of what new crops can do for increasing the interest of color and
diversity in the landscape.
- Agricultural Statistical Board. 1991. Floriculture crops, 1990 Summary.
Washington, DC., USDA, NASS. Arp. Sp Cr 6-1 (91).
- Hamrick, D. 1989. 1989 International pack trials report. Grower Talks
- Mastalerz, J.W. 1977. The greenhouse environment. Wiley, New York.
- Roh, M.S. and R.H. Lawson. 1990. New floriculture crops, p. 448-453. In: J.
Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.). Advances in new crops. Timber Press, Portland,
- Sutherland, L. 1991. AAS winners span the spectrum in fresh, bright colors.
Grower Talks 55(2):73-79.
Table 1. Examples of other new cultivars and species that show
potential for bedding plant sales.
|Calandrinia x 'Bogota' ||Very dwarf, heat tolerant, violet rose color|
|Centaurea x 'Blue Midget' ||Dwarf, free flowering|
|Gaillardia x 'Red Plume' ||Dwarf, heat tolerant, excellent flower
|Gaillardia x 'Yellow Sun' ||Dwarf, heat tolerant|
|Impatiens x 'Spectra' ||Dwarf New Guinea-type from seed|
|Lisianthus x 'Blue Lisa' ||Dwarf, deep blue|
|Nasturtium x 'Tip Top' ||Dwarf, in single colors or as a mix|
|Sanvitalia x 'Double Sprite Yellow' ||Double flowers, heat tolerant|
|Claytonia verginica L. ||Wildflower|
|Dicentra Cucullaria (L.) Bernh. ||Wildflower|
|Lychnis x 'Molten Lava' ||Dwarf, deep red|
|Platycodon x 'Sentimental Blue' ||Dwarf, large flowered|
||Fig. 1. Three-year-old plant of hosta selection MSH-1 in bloom.
||Fig. 2. May flowering selection of Iris pumila.
||Fig. 3. Kalanchoe selection MSK-1 in bloom from seed
||Fig. 4. Double flowering form of Trillium grandiflorum.
||Fig. 5. Violet selection MSV-1 in bloom in early May.
||Fig. 6. Zinnia angustifolia cultivar 'White Star' in full bloom.
Last update September 17, 1997