I always try to grow a few new varieties each season. Finding new flowers and foliage to go with the old reliables can be rewarding and risky. We all know that seed catalogues make us feel like a kid in a candy store and self-restraint can be difficult during the winter months as we plan the upcoming season.
Since there is no guarantee that new varieties will be successful or desirable, I devote only a limited amount of space for trials. It’s important to make sure there is enough bed space for the old favorites and must-grow varieties as well as a few new ones.

Jewels of Opar were very productive with lime green foliage.
Peach Screamer is 5 feet tall and beautiful in the garden
Marigolds in abundance!

Here are four varieties I tried for the first time this year and whether they made my list of favorites. All were sown indoors from seed and transplanted, had excellent germination, and were easy to grow.

Jewels of Opar (Talinum paniculatum) Positive: Adds air and sparkle to arrangements. Negative: Can use/sell only limited amount. The lime-green foliage at the base is beautiful but not usable.

Flowering tobacco ‘Peach Screamer’ (Nicotiana glutinous) Positive: Unique vertical blooms, small bell-shaped florets in dusty peach color, loved by pollinators, adds garden interest as they are five feet tall. Negative: Sticky to handle like other flowering tobacco, blooms tend to fade and drop quickly.
Marigold ‘Coco Gold F1’ (Tagetes erecta) Positive: Blooms are big and beautiful with long stems. Negative: I’m still not totally on board with the marigold craze and am trying to figure out the best way to use them in bouquets and arrangements. Customers tend to think of them as “common” and some don’t like the smell.

Silene ‘Blushing Lanterns’ (Silene vulgaris) Positive: Dainty white flowers on tiny pale green lantern-like pods are unique and add movement to arrangements and bridal bouquets. Much sturdier than they look. Customers liked them. Negative: Height only about 20 inches.

I will definitely grow the Silene again next year, and some ‘Peach Screamer’. I would like to try some other marigold varieties, but I will pass on jewels of Opar. What are you going to add to your grow list next season?

Keep going, keep growing!

Silene is unique and adds a dainty touch in the DIY bucket.

Susan Rockwood

Arcola Trail Flower FArm

Contact her at [email protected]