May 2023
What a week! A look back at California Spring Trials By Teresa McPherson

Here are a few of the many themes that were trending this year at California Spring Trials.

I’ve just returned from traveling down the California coast over five days to attend California Spring Trials and check out what the breeding companies and other exhibitors have been working on for the coming year. And I have to tell you, if you’re a green goods buyer, you have a tough job … we saw so many just plain gorgeous introductions!

Here are a few of the many themes that were trending this year.

Shoulder Season Varieties

At almost every stop, three-season crops were mentioned; Sakata’s main theme was “Bring Color to Every Season,” where they exhibited SunPatiens as three-season extenders that pair well with both spring and fall colors, and SuperCal, an all-weather variety that can last longer than hardy mums. Suntory showed its strawflower Granvia as a spring-to-fall plant as well, noting that the flowers can also be dried for longer lasting enjoyment.

Cut Flowers

Cut flowers continue to be a hot market. Many breeders were showing new introductions for cut flowers — including both the traditional (HilverdaFlorist’s Patio gerbera daisies are a popular cut flower for home gardeners) and the unexpected (American Takii displayed ornamental kale as a cut flower option). A lot of the displays mirrored the top floral trends for 2023; read more about floral trends here.

Gift Options

Benary exhibited its new Benary to Go grab-and-go plants intended for gifts, as well as 10 new Season Me! herb mixes for impulse buys at retail, with cute names like ‘Little Italy’, Grillin’ N’ Chillin’ and ‘Stew on This’. Dümmen Orange added nine new introductions to the “Welcome to the Jungle” collection of foliage and succulents it introduced last year, including pothos, peperomia, crassula and more.

Environmentally Friendly

Danziger’s main theme was “Get in Tune with Nature,” focused on pollinator-friendly plants and those needing fewer chemicals. Hem Genetics showed their commitment to eco-friendly production and varieties that don’t require any plant growth regulators, marked by new tags.

On Brand

Branded packaging was another focus at CAST, with breeders saying that plants in branded pots tend to have better sell-through. We saw new branded pots for Sakata’s Viking begonias, Danziger’s Amore petunias and Benary’s new herb mixes.

Stay tuned for more CAST coverage in the June and July issues of Lawn & Garden Retailer.

Teresa McPherson

Teresa McPherson is the managing editor of Lawn & Garden Retailer. Contact her at [email protected].