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December 26th 2018

Trial Results and New Variety Preview

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Floret

The 2018 trial field was one of our best ones yet. Every year we grow hundreds of new varieties looking for treasures that meet our strict set of grading criteria, including long stems, disease resistance, unique coloring, good vase life and a delicate appearance or fragrance.

At the start of last year’s trial plans, I was actually worried that I had grown everything out there.

Armload of phlox flowersTo my delight, there were still hundreds of new discoveries to be made and some very exciting new groups of plants that were not on my radar. I thought it would be fun to recap some of our discoveries and introduce you to some of my new favorites that we added to the Floret seed line this year. In total, there are 92 new additions!

Phlox flower varieties available from FloretAnnual phlox is a newcomer to the cut flower scene. I’ve only been growing it for a handful of years now but can’t imagine a season without it. This year, we trialed every tall phlox variety we could get our hands on and now offer 7 incredible beauties, including the new additions of Dulce de Leche, Creme Brulee and Whipped Cream. These three showstoppers all have the most soft, romantic coloring and produce abundantly even in hot weather.

Their scented flowers make a great bouquet addition and floral designers are quickly becoming huge fans.

armload of cosmos Cosmos are one of the easiest and most productive cut flowers you can grow and are the perfect training wheels if you’re just getting started. The more you cut them, the more they bloom. My favorites list includes 16 glorious varieties with 2 notable new additions featuring spectacular coloring.

Cosmos trial at Floret Flower FarmWhile Apricot Lemonade is on the shorter side (plants are between 2-3 feet) their unique coloring makes them a must grow. Resembling Distant Drums roses, plants boast soft apricot, lavender dusted flowers, with many of the blooms having a mauve ring around their throat. Petals look as if they were trimmed with pinking shears.

Armload of Cosmos at Floret Flower Farm Xsenia has fast become a new favorite and flowers are the most unusual mix of magenta, purple and raspberry which have an iridescent quality and age with an apricot cast. Both are like nothing I’ve seen before.

close up of Amazing Grey poppiesThere are so many incredible poppies to discover once you start digging around. We grow four main types in abundance: Iceland, breadseed, Shirley and California. We added new varieties to each category, but by far the most notable discovery was Shirley poppy Amazing Grey.

armload of Amazing Grey poppies at Floret Flower FarmThe most common question we heard from visitors was: are those real? The tissue paper like flowers on Amazing Grey are the most haunting purple-grey hue, similar in color to Nimbus sweet peas.

They possess a metallic quality that is hard to fathom and are truly one of a kind. I’m developing a Poppy Primer in order share more about the main types and how to grow them, so keep an eye out for this new resource later this month. 

Carnation flower trial at Floret

Finding long stemmed, old fashioned carnations that can be grown from seed has long been one of my quests. Over the last two years, we’ve grown nearly 20 varieties and have narrowed those down to 5 must grows for wedding and design work.

Carnation trial at FloretCarnation flower trial at Floret In addition to being easy to grow and free flowering, they are also some of the most fragrant flowers in our field. Our newest addition, Chabaud Aurora, joins a line up of 4 other sweetly scented favorites. You can read more about the full carnation trial here.

China asters in field China aster flower trial at Floret China aster flower trial at Floret Another extensive trial that has spanned the last two seasons and nearly 80 varieties are China asters. These beautiful, hardworking flowers are a great addition to the late summer cutting garden.

When the rest of the garden starts to fade, China asters take center stage and along with dahlias help finish the season strong. There are so many wonderful things to say about this crop. Read our full China aster trial report here

 

Pansy and viola flower trial at Floret Pansy trial at FloretSecond to tomatoes, the pansy trial was our favorite this past season. We grew over 40 varieties looking for those that had unique coloring and long enough stems for cutting. We tested two separate growing methods, both with positive, albeit slightly different, results.

In addition to being easy to grow, cold tolerant and suitable for small spaces and containers, pansies and violas make wonderful, unexpected cut flowers and many of them are even fragrant. Read more about these cheerful bloomers here

ornamental squash and pumpkinsWe also explored edibles. This season we grew a massive ornamental squash patch looking for long lasting gems that had an old world, antique quality to their fruit. We made some great discoveries and while we couldn’t source seed for all the varieties that made the final cut, we were able to add 5 beauties to our offerings, including the buff colored Long Island Cheese, Musquee de Provence and Speckled Hound, pink skinned Moranga and the icy blue-grey clover shaped Triamble.

tomato display in ombretomatoes for bouquets Tomato trial at FloretTomato trial at Floret Probably our most fun trial to date was the tomato trial. We grew over 50 varieties looking for those that were beautiful, had long trusses suitable for arranging and great flavor to boot. While our favorites list hovered around a dozen, sadly we were only able to find seed for 4 of our favorites including Chocolate Cherry, Currant Red, Indigo Rose and Sunpeach.

Next year, we are determined to include the rest of our favorites list and I can’t wait to show you all of the strange and delicious beauties we discovered.

Celosia trial at Floret celosia at Floret Celosia trial at Floret

In addition to conducting extensive variety trials, we have also been hard at work learning the in’s and out’s of commercial seed production. In the vegetable world, seed saving information is more widely available and shared freely amongst small scale, organic growers. But in the flower world, everything is very top secret and there are only a handful of experienced growers willing to share what they know.

Celosia trial at Floret I have so much that I want to say about this topic and have a much longer post about everything we discovered this past season coming soon. But for now, I am thrilled to share that we have two new incredible celosia varieties available in the shop that we produced here on the farm.

celosia Texas Sherbet RoseThe original stock for these coveted celosias came from famed Texas flower farmers Pamela and Frank Arnosky. Years ago we were gifted the tiniest pinch of seed which we’ve slowly grown out and increased over time.

There are two mixes available in the shop. Texas Plume Summer Sherbet Mix is a blend of blush-apricot, vintage rose and the occasional soft lemon-yellow. Texas Plume Vintage Rose Mix is a blend of blush, pewter and sunbleached velvet set against striking dark foliage.

I am so excited to finally be able to share these treasured varieties with gardeners all over the world. There’s nothing else like them.

Queen Lime Orange Zinnia at FloretZinnias are some of the easiest and most productive cut flowers you can grow. In addition to being free flowering, they are also heat tolerant and come in a dazzling rainbow of colors. This year, I am so excited to add Queen Lime Orange to the well loved Queen series.

Queen Lime series Zinnias at FloretUnlike other zinnias, this series includes the most unique array of unusual coloring including lime green, smokey apricot, dusty rose and limey blush. In addition to their special coloring, the Queen series also produces vigorous plants with sturdy stems and tough flowers, a welcomed improvement to the zinnia family.

black eyed susanAnother summer bouquet staple are black eyed Susans. These easy to grow, hardworking plants produce an insane amount of flowers for the better part of summer. In addition to the chocolate colored beauties like Cherry Brandy, Chim Chiminee and Sahara, I’m thrilled to now include four golden favorites, most notably Macau.

Of all the black eyed Susan’s I’ve ever grown, this is my absolute favorite. By midsummer, this variety can easily reach up to 6 feet tall with individual plants producing up to 25 usable stems each. The miniature-sized flowers are borne in airy sprays, and when added to arrangements, they bring a happy uplifting quality. They have always been a customer favorite.

nasturtium at floretOne of my favorite annual flowering vines to use in arrangements are nasturtiums. While they look so delicate, both their flowers and foliage last an extremely long time in the vase, often up to 10 days. This year we’ve added three new treasures to our collection including Cherry Rose and Salmon Mousse. Both have glowing tropical flowers and a semi mounding habit which makes them better suited for smaller gardens. And Ladybird Rose, a compact, mounding grower that has the most unusual smokey raspberry blooms that lighten over time to cream with purple veining. These strange and beautiful flowers are like none other and because of their size would make a terrific addition to pots and the patio.

Floret trial fieldLastly, I don’t want to forget to mention two new favorites that might go unnoticed because they aren’t the showiest flowers in the lineup.

Yarrow from Floret flower trial fieldThe first is Yarrow Summer Berries, which is the best yarrow mix I’ve ever grown. If seed is sown early, this perennial will flower its first year. Blooms come in shades of raspberry, peach, coral, blush, rose and buttercream. This versatile range of color is a dream to work with. We have a 100 foot row in the field and plan to double it next year.

Poor man's orchid Angel wingsThe second is Poor Man’s Orchid Angel’s Wings Mix which was given to me by Frank Morton at Wild Garden Seed. This extremely easy to grow mix includes flowers in shades of violet, candy-pink, rose and appleblossom. Blooms look like miniature orchids and each has the most mesmerizing little lion-like face.

Plants are self cleaning and never look tattered – as older blooms fade, they drop from stems and new ones appear. This variety is fantastic for flower arranging and tall enough for mixed bouquets. It can be harvested at any stage and a vase life of 10 or more days in plain water is a regular occurrence.

Trial garden at FloretThis was such a fun growing year and we made so many new and wonderful discoveries. It’s hard to believe I thought there were no more treasures to be found. Our 2019 trial list has already eclipsed 400 varieties and I’m sure that number will grow before planting time in the spring.

It took a lot of time and energy to create this post and without your feedback, the team and I are unable to know if we’re on the right track. I would really appreciate it if you would please take a minute and leave a comment. Even a few words would be great!

If you submit a comment and it doesn’t show up right away, sit tight, we have a spam filter that requires we approve most comments before they are published. Lastly, if you feel like this information is helpful, I would love it if you would share it with your friends.

#growfloret Floret Seeds

37 Comments

  1. D on

    Was interesting to read your results. Queen series zinnia was already on my list for 2019, so was glad to see it on your list. I’ve tried schizanthus (aka Poor Man’s Orchid) before with less-than-wonderful results, but your review makes me think I should perhaps try again. I’m curious, have you tried, or do you grow, cerinthe?

    Reply
  2. Sky Island Farm on

    This has been very helpful and look forward to your trials this year! You have amazing taste! Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    Reply
  3. Kendra on

    Will you be doing a post on how to save seeds for the following growing year? I have purchased some of your seeds and would love to know how to harvest and (dry?) save seeds to plant the next year for annuals. Thank you! Your blog is truly inspiring!

    Reply
    • Team Floret on

      Hi Kendra–thanks for your kind words.We do plan to do a post sometime in the future about saving seeds.Stay tuned!

  4. Amy T Mintner on

    Thank you so much. I only usually have room for 1-2 varities so it is really great to know that you have narrowed some things down. Of course, I have to do my own trials, but I don’t have room to try so many.

    Also, I love all the pictures. Sometimes you can’t get a good idea of what something really looks like from a seed packet picture. Case in point, I wrote off Mignonettte, but after reading your post I am going to give it a try.

    And you include things that a grower would want to know-stem length, vase life, harvesting & handling, how long it took to grow, etc. Those are very important to a grower.

    I have 2 questions for you. #1- I have read about the thorns on “Bells of Ireland”, but I have never seen them. Is it just prickly or WUWT? I think they would be good to grow, but I ran into thorns and stickiness with Cleome and thought-no way!

    #2 – How are you able to grow stock profitably? It seems like just a 1 hit wonder. Do they keep putting out stems when you cut them? I don’t do sunflowers for that reason. They take up a lot out of the soil. I am in Texas so I think our season may be shorter for stock. You have a little bit cooler weather for longer. I used to live up in Seattle and visited the valley for the tulips every year. Now I’m in Central TX. Same growing zone as you, but the Summers are way hotter and I think we even get a little colder. And by Mid March we are in the 80s.

    Reply
  5. Lisa Martin on

    Thank you for this beautiful, illustrative, and inspiring post about all the amazing flowers you have gotten to work with and trial. I’m in the workshop this year and I just can’t get enough – you have changed my life! Thank you Team Floret for your wisdom, curiosity, generosity, courage, and education! I love your essence – you are changing the industry, individual lives, and touching the world – it’s very exciting!

    Reply
  6. Mai Thow on

    Thank you for taking your time to share your knowledge and what has been going on at the Foret with us; it’s inspirational. I watched all of your fall mini sessions and absolutely love how much passion you put into everything you do. I didn’t get a chance to sign up for your workshop this year, but am definitely going to for 2020. My ranunculus have 5″ sprouts on them already, not sure if this is normal for zone 8b. Also I would like to hear about how you deter pests if you have not written anything about that yet.

    Reply
  7. Zhanna Andreyanov on

    Erin I love your posts, it’s like finding a treasure box every time I read one. Thank you so much for being so open and for all the incredible information. This year is my first year buying seeds from you. I wish I signed up for your workshop, I will though for 2020.

    Reply
  8. Nora on

    Beautiful flowers and varieties, as always!
    I struggle to find a way to fit everything I want from Floret into my little 1/4 acre of partial shade :/ Speaking of which, I would love an article sometime on the best partial/full shade flowers (if there are any!). I would have a lot more room for flowers if so, haha.

    Reply
  9. Alissa Cockroft on

    I admire you! And I am so thankful and appreciative to and the Floret team for all of the hard work that you put in for all of us flower farmers out there! This post was awesome! I really enjoyed reading through it and am super excited to add some of these beautiful new verities to my field this year!! Thank you for all of the work that you put in to trialing new kinds of flowers and for sharing all of your hard earned knowledge – it is an invaluable benefit to the flower farming community! May your 2019 season be blessed and full of abundance!

    Reply
  10. Robin Lindsey on

    Erin,
    I don’t think it is possible for you to be off track! Your generosity and passion is not only appreciated, but it is contagious! The wealth of knowledge and insight you share is incredibly generous. You put so much beauty into this world.
    Although I personally love the softer pallets that you seem to gravitate towards, I am a market grower and have a hard time selling the softer tones. In my experience most of my market customers gravitate towards the brighter saturated combinations, would you be willing to trial and sell some of those?

    Reply
  11. Dorothea Jähne/L'Arche Gouda on

    Whether you are on the right track? Of course you are! Thanks for all your hard work and sharing it so freely with us. Very much appreciated :-)
    I am much interested in your discoveries about seed production. Earlier on I heard from Floret about fanning, which made cleaning our seeds easier. But still it is a complicated and intensive process.

    Reply
  12. Stephanie Smith on

    Thank you for your work and for offering your seeds so we can follow in your footsteps. I cannot wait to get started!!

    Reply
  13. Meghan on

    I love following Floret on IG and your blog. I am so inspired to make our 3rd generation garden look so colorful and vibrant. Thank you for the being a pioneer and learning all you can and sharing with us.

    Reply
  14. Philippa House on

    Full of hope for the coming year after reading your post, and feeling inspired to create a flowery haven this year in my handkerchief sized garden in West Sussex, UK, I plan to use home grown as much as possible as I start my floristry business 🌸 Thank you! Philippa of Mossy Flowers

    Reply
  15. Lori on

    Erin, As always thank you for everything you do! I started a little garden last summer and I loved it and so many of my friends did as well. Happy New Year,🎆

    Reply
  16. Karen on

    As a home gardener I enjoy the information on new plants you are trying out. And I appreciate that you offer seed to the public! The photography as usual is delicious and makes me eager for spring! Thank you!

    Reply
  17. Jess on

    As always, every bit of this was a joy to read! This post reshaped my thoughts about several different flower types and introduced me to several more. Can’t wait for all the new seeds to hit the shop!

    Reply
  18. Cristy M on

    Thank you so much for sharing all if this fabulous information! It is extremely helpful for people like me who are unsure of all the different floral varities and how they grow. All of your hard work is extremely appreciated and I am excited to see what you all will share in 2019!

    Reply
  19. Rebecca Golden on

    Thank you for what you (and your amazing team) lovingly cultivate and share – it’s like catching a glimpse of the Garden of Eden. Hoping to test some of these beauties! I also can’t wait for the spring bulbs you graciously sent (I was one of the winners) – they are all tucked away around our new home! It was one of the first things I did when we moved in!

    Reply
  20. Anna on

    thank you for sharing with us all the information about your new, amazing flowers. I will definitely by some of those new seeds and try to grow them this coming season. Thank you so much Erin for your hard work and dedication to educate us and help us grow so many beautiful flowers!!

    Reply
  21. Kate on

    These all look like such beautiful varieties, thank you so much for all your hard work out in the field and in the office documenting. I am so exited to try out some of these new beauties!

    Reply
  22. Jade S on

    Hello! My new husband just gave me your book for a Christmas present! It’s turned out to be Pandoras Box! I’ve been reading your blog & book, looking at the catalog, chatting about this and that and making plans! We have 40 acres north of you near Everson, just about to the Canadian border, making our little slice of heaven an interesting micro-climate with the winds from the Fraser Valley & soil that’s thick & heavy. With your information from your blogs & book I’ll start to play around with the dirt and start making memories with my grandchildren that hopefully will last them a lifetime like my grandma did for me as yours did for you!! Thank you for sharing all your wisdom & insights!!

    Reply
  23. Anna on

    The poor man’s orchids look so fun! I’d love to try them. Love the nasturtiums as well. Are they suitable as cut flowers or just for containers?

    Reply
  24. Linda Q on

    I have tried growing Sahara rudbeckia 2 years in a row and only get the very dark colored flowers-so disappointing. Is there a reason for this? I have limited space so can only plant 20-25 of this variety.
    I look forward every year to try ‘new’ flower varieties so thanks so much for all that you do!

    Reply
  25. Paula on

    Thank you soooooo much for all the work you put into making our own choices so much easier!!! I so love your taste for flowers and the hardest thing for me to do is to rein myself in on seed buying!!

    Reply
  26. Christine Demir on

    Your trial plot is amazing. So glad to see zinnias, carnations and my beloved Chinese asters in your plot too, along with cosmos and edible herbs and veggies. I’m rather taken with your pictures of the celosia, as they are something I have looked at a few times but yet to try.
    Erin, your blogs and your books are amazing. It is such a pleasure to be sitting here in 42C heat in an Australian summer waiting for your seeds to come out in January. Please keep sharing, you inspire so many.

    Reply
  27. Lacey on

    With SO MANY seed options out there, it is INVALUABLE to have your team doing the intensive work of zeroing-in on the ones that are likely to give us the best results. Thanks SO MUCH, Erin and team! I have a few other varieties in my various online carts this year I’m wondering if you have tried – Felmish Poppy, Joe-Pye Weed, and Sedums (like Emperor’s Wave)? All the best to you! – Lacey (Mama) Price, Price Family Flowers in Leavenworth, WA

    Reply
  28. Michelle on

    Great information! Makes me want to grow everything!

    Reply
  29. Jessica_StarryFieldsFarm on

    These are all breathtaking- I want to grow them all! You all do amazing work- you are such a gift to the flower community.

    Reply
  30. boxcroftgardens on

    Ladies,

    I think you know that all of your posts are informative, enlightening, engaging, and most of all a feast for the eyes. I read them all and always I am anticipating the next.

    With much appreciation,
    Boxcroft Gardens

    Reply
  31. Jontal on

    I’ve been stalking the Floret seeds pages to see when new varieties were added, and the Poor Man’s Orchid definitely stood out to me! I’m always looking for long lasting flowers, and love that I won’t have to worry about the perfect stage of harvest… that is, if I can buy the seed before it sells out. 😉 Thank you for finding such interesting plants for us to grow!

    Reply
  32. Alexis on

    This is wonderful! I did a little happy dance when the newsletter came in and I saw that there was not one new post but four :) Thank you for all the effort you put into finding new varieties and testing them. I love hearing your insights on the new varieties and why your chose them. My seed list just got a lot longer!

    Reply
  33. Elizabeth Sellon on

    I think your work and words and photos are such a marvelous treat in the end of december! Thank you! Your post comment button covers your Im a robot button and it took me many trys to get my cursor around it.

    Reply
  34. Maximillian on

    Hello Erin

    I really love the dianthus supberbus and its crossings its one of my all time favorite flowers. The superbus makes tall branched filigran stems which smell breathtakingly good :’). I would love to see you trying them. The wild variety is pastel rose and there is a white variety. The crossing of it which I like the most is the isnensis ‘dancing geisha’ mixture which is offered by jelito perennial seeds. It sadly stays a bit smaller but has gorgeous hanging petals and comes in a wide variety of colors from pink to light rose/creme. Here is a picture of some them which I grew arranged in a beautiful little bouquet. 😁
    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bhe9mrhHhsh/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=vxiklwteewnh

    Greetings from Germany
    Maximillian

    Reply

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