Each year, the Annual Flower Trial Garden tests and analyzes the performance of more than 1,000 varieties of annual bedding plants in Colorado’s harsh growing conditions. Dozens of expert evaluators rate the plants for vigor, growth pattern, bloom, and other characteristics. The trial results help home gardeners identify annual bedding plants that are most likely to succeed.
Gardening season 2020
“The Annual Flower Trial Garden – also a vital training ground for CSU horticulture students – is a part of a network of trial gardens at land-grant universities nationwide,” said Jim Klett, faculty coordinator and professor in CSU’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. “It’s the largest garden of its kind west of the Mississippi River.” Winners from the 2020 evaluation are now available at area nurseries and garden centers for the 2021 home gardening season.
About the trial garden
CSU’s Flower Trial Garden, which draws thousands of visitors each year, relies on student gardeners, volunteers, and industry supporters, and experts who help provide detailed analysis of plant performance. Colorado State Extension Master Gardeners play an essential role in the planting and maintenance of the garden. The outcome of this research is valuable to the industry and home gardeners alike. That’s because the Rocky Mountain region has unique growing conditions, characterized by high altitude, intense solar radiation, drying winds, severe hailstorms, large fluctuations between day and night temperatures, and a season-long need for irrigation.
‘Best of’ overall winners
Best of Show – Dahlia ‘Lubega Dark Velvet’ from Benary+
This was a ‘show stopper’ due to the strong contrast between the dark purple/velvet foliage and beautiful bicolor blooms. Plants were extremely attractive all by themselves with the dark foliage coloring and uniform compact growth habit. The prolific flowers were held high above the plants to create the maximum show. Blooms had single petals which attracted many bees. Plants did not have any sign of powdery mildew even late in the season.
Best novelty – Colocasia ‘Heart of the Jungle’ from Proven Winners
This plant makes a dramatic statement to any landscape with its large, dark foliage. The impressive size and shape create a very tropical and exotic appearance. It is grown for the beautiful foliage which makes a great structure plant in the garden. It does best in full sun.
Best container – Petunia ‘Bee’s Knee’ from Ball FloraPlant
The abundant flowers and great two tone yellow color provided exceptional flower power on very vigorous and well branched plants. It was noted for having the best yellow of any petunia in the trial. The color held up very well in the high light intensity of Colorado.
For more detailed descriptions and photographs, visit www.flowertrials.colostate.edu.