CO-Horts Blog

Thursday, November 7, 2019

2019 "Best Of" Winners Announced from CSU Annual Flower Trial!

Posted by Jim Klett, Professor, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Colorado State University

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.  For more detailed descriptions and photographs, visit  The following are some of the winners selected from the 2019 trial: 

Best of Show – Dahlia ‘City Lights™ Purple’ from Selecta 
The dark foliage and flowers of this variety made a dramatic statement in the garden.  The growth habit had excellent uniformity with upright plants that did not flop despite overhead irrigation.  Plants had strong flower power and were favorites of the bees. 

Best Novelty – Begonia T-REX™ Ruby Slippers from Terranova
The huge red leaves had silvery edges that would make a great contrast for color and texture with other plants in the garden.  Plant is grown mainly for the foliage.  It made a very eye-catching plant for areas with dry shade and can be used in either the ground or in containers.

Best New Variety – Petunia ‘Headliner™ Dark Saturn from Selecta
The unique flower color was very impressive with a bold soft creamy yellow and a dark star shaped eye.  Plants had strong vigor and developed into a uniform blanket of blooms in the container.  Plants and flowers held up well in the heat. 

Begonia (shade) – ‘BK Collection Vermillion Red’ from Beekenkamp
The overall appearance was striking all through the season with a very intense, rich shade of red and abundant blooms.  In addition to the prolific flowering, blooms were double which greatly added to the overall show.  Plants had dark green foliage and were very uniform.

Begonia (sun) – ‘Tophat™ Pink’ from Syngenta Flowers
Plants had great vigor but maintained a very uniform growth habit.  Flowers were unusually large and very abundant which made them immensely popular with the bees.  Plants looked great in either the ground or container and only got better looking even into the fall.

Bidens – ‘Campfire™ Flame’ from Proven Winners
Flowers had beautiful shades of orange/red/yellow and fade to a nice rustic color.  Blooms were prolific and kept a solid canopy of color all through the summer and into September.  Growth habit was very uniform and the overall effect was quite striking in a container.

Digitalis ‘Pink Panther’ from American Takii       
This plant flowers the first year on compact plants with small foliage.  The heavy branching produced multiple spikes at one time and did not require pinching.  The sterile blooms are long lasting and attracts pollinators.   Pink flowers are abundant and very attractive.

Geranium ‘Clarion® Peach’ from Benary+
This regal type of geranium had large blooms with truly mesmerizing shades of peach, pink and white.  The uniform, mounding plants were covered by blooms all season long and were a definite show stopper.  Other entries in the same Clarion® series were also impressive with excellent vigor and flowering.

Impatiens – ‘Beacon™ White’ from PanAmerican Seed
Snowy white flowers covered the plant canopy providing a bright splash of color for shady areas.  The vigorous plants maintained a controlled growth for excellent uniformity.  The added bonus for the entire ‘Beacon™’ series is that they have strong resistance to Impatiens downy mildew which has devastated many Imapatiens walleriana in the past few years.

Lantana – ‘HAVANA Sunrise’ from Dummen Orange
This heat loving plant had good branching, large umbels of flowers over dark green foliage. The compact growth habit with prolific very attractive multi-colored flowers with shades of pink, cream and yellow makes it outstanding. It has a very uniform growth habit and looked great in a container.

Petunia (container) – ‘Crazytunia® Tiki Torch’ from Westhoff
Flower color was exceptional with a bold and colorful combination of red, yellow and orange.  Combined with strong plant vigor and abundant flowering, this entry was clearly a standout.

Vinca – ‘Soiree Kawaii Coral’ from Suntory
Tiny coral colored flowers were bright and prolific making an impressive display of color in either ground or containers.  Additional features were the small white eye on the bloom and glossy green foliage.  Plants stayed compact all summer long with no leggy branches.

Zinnia – ‘Zesty™ Scarlet’ from Ball Ingenuity
Vibrant scarlet flowers had great flower power with the abundant flowering and uniform growth habit.  Plants had excellent vigor and were disease free all-season long.


  1. thank you for this beautiful summary!
    Dot Himes

  2. Wonderful selection of plants. Descriptions and photos are very helpful. This is one of my favorite yearly blogs. Thank you for sharing this! Janis Stoven