NC State Floriculture

1998 Summer Bedding Plant Trial Summary

Douglas A. Bailey
Department of Horticultural Science

Appreciation is expressed to Holly Scoggins; Bernadette Clark; Ingram McCall; and Paul Lineberger and his staff at the Horticultural Field Laboratory for all of their technical assistance. In other words, they did the work! If you would like a copy of the entire report in PDF format (requires Acrobat Reader), click here.


Over 515 entries of annual plants were evaluated during the 1998 bedding plant season at test gardens in Raleigh, North Carolina. The trial gardens are used each year to evaluate bedding plants for landscaper and home owner use.

The trial gardens are located at the Horticulture Field Lab, 4301 Beryl Road, in Raleigh. The site is located on latitude 35°47'N, longitude 78°42'W with an elevation of 400 feet. Transplants were grown in 2.5 inch x 2.2 inch containers, and most were planted in the trial garden on 12 May 1998. A few slower selections were planted when ready. Plant spacing in the trials was 18 inches x 24 inches (in-row x between-row spacing). Seven plants of each entry were used to evaluate the performance of the cultivars with the exception of All America Selections judged entries, which had 14 plants each.

All plants were grown in full sun except for begonia, browallia, felicia, fuchsia, hypoestes, impatiens, New Guinea impatiens, primula, setcresea, and torenia; these were grown under 55% shade. When needed, water was applied using overhead irrigation.

Table 1. Solar energy, temperature and precipitation from May through September 1998 and 30 year temperature and precipitation averages for Raleigh, NC.


Daily average solar radiation received (Langleys/day)

Daily average temperature (°F) and percent change from 30 year avg

30 year average daily temperature (°F)

Monthly precipitation (inches) and percent change from 30 year avg

30 year average monthly precipitation (inches)



69.5 (+2%)


3.66 (-13%)




76.3 (+2%)


3.13 (-16%)




80.5 (+2%)


0.59 (-88%)




75.3 (-3%)


7.47 (+65%)




75.8 (+5%)


4.51 (+17%)


Temperatures were slightly warmer than normal during May&endash;July and during September; they were slightly below normal during August (Table 1, Figure 1). Looking at the entire five month season, temperatures averaged 75.5 °F, which is about 1.5% above normal (74.4 °F is our 30 year average daily temperature for May through September).

Figure 1. Daily minimum and maximum temperatures for Raleigh, NC from 1 May through 30 September 1998.

Rainfall received during the 5-month period (19.36 inches) was below our average of 21.2 inches (Table 1 and Figure 2) and much below our record 35.3 inches of rainfall during the 1996 season. May and June were dryer than average; July was extremely dry. August was well above average, and September was above average for rainfall.

Figure 2. Rainfall received in Raleigh, NC from 1 May through 30 September 1998.

Beds were pretreated with Basamid® for weed control prior to planting. Fertilizer was applied as a preplant incorporation and as dry applications during the bedding plant season. No insecticide applications were made during the evaluation in order to document major pest problems. No major pests were noted during the 1998 season, however the Japanese beetle population seems to increase every year in the gardens. Plant diseases were less prevalent in 1998 than in 1997 or 1996. The lack of rainfall may have accounted for the reduction in diseases such as Rhizoctonia that sometimes present a problem. The major disease problems included Botrytis blight and bacterial leaf spot on geraniums.

Plants were given a visual rating by the same individual once a week beginning 3 June 1998, three weeks after planting through 19 weeks after planting; the final evaluation date was 23 September 1998. The rating was based on plant performance and appearance, including floriferousness, plant size and shape, and freedom from insect and disease problems. The rating scale used ranged from 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent), with 0.5 unit increments; a 0 rating was given if all seven plants of the cultivar died. Weekly ratings were averaged to provide an overall rating for the entire season. We used the seasonal average ratings to select the N.C. State Leaders of the Pack and the NCSU Exceptional Performance Winners.

Sources of Seeds and Plants

The following companies graciously sponsored the 1998 trial gardens. The companies are acknowledged in the ratings table and in the listings by the abbreviation that appears to the left of the company name. Appreciation is also given to BASF Specialty Products; to Fafard, Inc.; and to the North Carolina Commercial Flower Growers' Association for their contributions towards the trials.

«» AAS -- All-America Selections, 1311 Butterfield Road, Suite 310, Downers Grove, IL 60515
«» AT -- American Takii, Inc., 301 Natividad Road, Salinas, CA 93906
«» BALL -- Ball Seed Co., P.O. Box 335, West Chicago, IL 60185
«» BCG -- Bear Creek Gardens, P.O. Box 9100, Medford, OR 97501
«» BEN -- Ernst Benary of America, Inc., 1444 Larson Street, Sycamore, IL 60178
«» BFP -- BallFloraPlant, 622 Town Road, West Chicago, IL 60185
«» BG -- Bodger Seeds Ltd., 1800 North Tyler Avenue, Lompoc, CA 91733 3618
«» BWN -- Berylwood Nursery, Inc., P.O. Box 2, Lexington, NC 27293-0002
«» DHN -- D0hnfeldt Inc., P.O. Box 947, Albany, OR 97321 98664
«» ECKE -- Paul Ecke Ranch, P.O. Box 230488, Encinitas, CA 92023-0488
«» FIS -- Fischer USA, Inc., 2955 Balmont Road Suite 110, Boulder, CO 80301
«» FN -- Floranova, 106 Third Street, P.O. Box 1362, San Juan Bautista, CA
«» GOLD -- Goldsmith Seeds, Inc., P.O. Box 1349, Gilroy, CA 95020
«» GRS -- Grimes Seeds and Plants, 11335 Concord-Hambden, Concord, OH 44077
«» HWN -- Homewood Nursery, 10809 Honeycutt Rd., Raleigh, NC 27614
«» NCSU -- Department of Horticultural Science, Box 7609, North Carolina State University
«» NOV -- Novartis Flower Seeds, Inc., 5300 Katrine Avenue, Downers Grove, IL 60515-4095
«» OGL -- Oglevee, Ltd., 152 Oglevee Lane, Connellsville, PA 15425
«» PA -- PanAmerican Seed Co., P.O. Box 438, West Chicago, IL 60185
«» SAK -- Sakata Seed America, Inc., 105 Boronda Road, Salinas, CA 93907

N.C. State Leaders of the Pack

The following were selected in 1998 on their ability to display attractive landscape color throughout the majority of the bedding plant season. At any one time, other species or entries may have made a better short-term showing, but the "Leaders of the Pack" were selected for consistent, dependable full-season performance as a source of color and beauty in the landscape. The cultivar source is shown in parenthesis.

  • Ageratum
    • 'Blue Hawaii' (BG)
  • Begonia (Fibrous)
    • Coral: 'Super Olympia Coral' (BEN)
    • Mix: 'Harmony Mix' (BALL), 'Super Olympia Mix' (BEN), 'Espresso Mix' (DHN)
    • Pink: 'Prelude Pink' (BALL), 'Eureka Green Leaf Pink' (NOV), 'Ambassador Pink' (DHN), 'Super Olympia Pink' (BEN), 'Victory Green Leaf Pink' (GOLD), 'Senator Pink' (DHN)
    • Red: 'Dragonwing' (PA), 'Vodka' (BEN), 'Super Olympia Red' (BEN), 'Senator Scarlet' (DHN)
    • Rose: 'Super Olympia Rose' (BEN), 'Senator Rose w/ White Center' (DHN), 'Inferno Rose' (DHN), 'Eureka Bronze Leaf Rose' (NOV)
    • White: 'Eureka Bronze White' (NOV), 'Inferno White' (DHN), 'Victory Green Leaf White' (GOLD)
  • Bloodflower
    • 'Orange' (BWN), 'Silky Gold' (BWN)
  • Celosia
    • 'Prestige Scarlet' (SAK), 'New Look' (BEN)
  • Coleus
    • 'Alabama Sunset' (BWN), 'Lime Queen' (BWN), 'Gay's Delight' (BWN), 'Camellia' (BWN), 'Black Opal' (BWN)
  • Dianthus
    • 'Diamond Purple' (SAK)
  • Fuchsia
    • 'Cascading' (BCG)
  • Geraniums From Cuttings
    • Pink: 'Jessica' (OGL)
    • Red: 'Designer Red' (BFP)
    • Salmon: 'Schoene Helena' (FIS)
    • Geraniums From Seed
    • White: 'Maverick White' (GOLD)
  • Hypoestes
    • 'Confetti Mix' (DHN)
  • Impatiens
    • Blue/Violet: 'Accent Lilac' (GOLD), 'Dazzler Lilac Splash' (BALL), 'Mosaic Lilac' (GOLD)
    • Coral: 'Accent Coral' (GOLD)
    • Mix: 'Dazzler Star Mix' (BALL), 'Showstopper Sweetness' (BALL)
    • Orange: 'Carnival Orange' (DHN), 'Deco Orange' (PA)
    • Pink: 'Cajun Carmine' (NOV), 'Impulse Deep Pink' (NOV), 'Carnival Pink' (DHN)
    • Red: 'Impulse Red' (NOV), 'Super Elfin Raspberry' (PA), 'Tempo Burgundy' (BG)
    • Rose: 'Mosaic Rose' (GOLD), 'Accent Bright Eye' (GOLD)
    • White: 'Accent White' (GOLD), 'Tempo White' (BG), 'Carnival White' (DHN), 'Fiesta White' (BFP)
  • Marigold
    • 'Durango Orange' (PA), 'Safari Tangerine' (BG)
  • Narrow-Leaf Zinnia
    • 'Crystal White' (AT)
  • New Guinea Impatiens
    • Blue: 'Celebration Lavender Glow' (BFP), 'Paradise Guadeloupe' (ECKE)
    • Orange: 'Paradise Timor' (ECKE)
    • Orange/Red: 'Paradise Antiqua' (ECKE), 'Pure Beauty Apollon' (ECKE)
    • Pink: 'Paradise Tonga' (ECKE), 'Paradise Pascua' (ECKE), 'Paradise Woya' (ECKE)
    • Red: 'Paradise Tarawa' (ECKE), 'Pure Beauty Marpesia' (ECKE)
    • Rose: 'Pure Beauty Aglia' (ECKE), 'Celebration Rose' (BFP)
    • White: 'Deka White' (OGL), 'Paradise Samoa' (ECKE)
  • Petunia
    • Blue/Purple: 'Misty Lilac Wave' (PA), 'Purple Wave' (AAS), 'Surfinia Purple' (BCG), 'Trailblazer Violet' (NOV), 'Hurrah Plum' (NOV)
    • Pink: 'Surfinia Pastel Pink' (BCG), 'Surfinia Brilliant Pink' (BCG)
    • Rose: 'Rose Wave' (PA), 'Liricashower Rose' (SAK), 'PrimeTime Rose' (GOLD)
    • White: 'Surfinia White' (BCG)
  • Plectranthus
    • 'Silver' (BWN), 'Variegata' (BWN)
  • Salvia
    • Blue: 'Reference' (BEN), 'Signum' (BG)
    • Purple: 'Purple Vista' (PA), 'Salsa Light Purple' (GOLD), 'Lavender Vista' (PA)
    • Red: 'Red Hot Sally' (BALL), 'Red Vista' (PA)
    • Red/White: 'Salsa Scarlet Bicolor' (GOLD)
    • Rose: 'Salsa Rose' (GOLD)
    • White: 'White Vista' (PA)
  • Scaevola
    • 'Outback Purple Fan' (ECKE)
  • Sweet Potato
    • 'Pink Frost' (BWN), 'Blackie' (BWN), '99' (NCSU), 'Sulfur' (BWN)
  • Torenia
    • 'Blue' (BCG)
  • Verbena
    • Blue/Purple: 'Temari Violet' (BCG), 'Tapien Blue Violet' (BCG), 'Polaris' (BEN), 'Tapien Lavender' (BCG), 'Tapien Powder Blue' (BCG)
    • Pink: 'Tapien Soft Pink' (BCG)
    • Red: 'Quartz Scarlet' (PA), 'Temari Red' (HWN)
  • Vinca
    • Pink: 'Raspberry Red Cooler' (PA)
    • Red: 'Pacifica Red' (AAS)
    • Rose: 'Rose Cooler' (PA)
  • Zinnia
    • 'Profusion Orange' (SAK), 'Profusion Cherry' (SAK)

NCSU Exceptional Performance Winners

Each year, the best of the best, those cultivars that exemplify outstanding performance during the trials, will be recognized as Exceptional Performers. The winners are judged on full-season performance and are recommended as outstanding selections for our region. Growers, retailers and landscapers are encouraged to consider these cultivars first for their color needs. Only five cultivars were selected from 517 entries in the 1998 trial garden:

  1. Petunia, 'Surfinia Pastel Pink' (4.4; Bear Creek Gardens)
  2. Petunia, 'Rose Wave' (4.4; PanAmerican Seed Company)
  3. Petunia, 'Misty Lilac Wave' (4.4; PanAmerican Seed Company)
  4. Begonia, 'Dragonwing' (4.3; PanAmerican Seed Company)
  5. Scaevola, 'Outback Purple Fan' (4.3; Paul Ecke Ranch)

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