‘Best Of’ Annuals From 2023 Season

By James E. Klett, Professor Emeritus, Colorado State University

On Aug. 8, 2023, over 250 Industry and Master Gardeners gathered at the Colorado State University (CSU) Annual Trial Gardens to judge close to 1200 entries. Results were totaled Sept. 8, 2023, by members of the CSU Annual Trial Garden Advisory Committee to make the final selection of the ‘Best Of’s’ for the 2023 season based on the top favorites results from the August evaluation date. Forty-two categories were judged. Listed below are 15 of the more popular varieties including the Best of Show, Best New Variety and the Best Novelty.

Best Of Show – Dahlia Dahlegria™ Apricot Tricolor from Syngenta

This Dahlia got top honors from both industry and consumer groups due to its unique flower color against the dark foliage. The single petals along with a center eye, and yellow to raspberry to magenta single flower petals, were outstanding. It was also popular with pollinators.

Best New Variety – Begonia Stonehedge Rose Bronze Leaf from Benary

This variety grows tall in height with good stem color and large rose-colored flowers. Leaves also have a nice shine to them. The plant excelled in a sunny location.

Best Novelty – Centaurea FanciFillers Chrome Fountain from Westhoff

This plant, grown for its foliage color with medium course texture, stays very fresh looking. It is a great companion plant and container plant, and not too vigorous of growth. If it flowers late in the season, they can easily be removed.

Some of Ground Grown “Best Of’s”

Coleus – Flame Thrower Siracha from Ball FloraPlant

This variety had a compact and very uniform growth habit with no flowering. Leaves have more of a serrated leaf margin and held color well.

Rudbeckia – Sunbeckia Luna from Ball Plant Genetics

The plant’s prolific, larger bicolor flowers displayed a nice color progression as it matured. It had less lodging than some of the other Rudbeckia varieties in the trial.

Petunia (vegetative) – SureShot White from Ball FloraPlant

The flowers held up well late into the season and plants had a very vigorous growth habit. Flowers were so plentiful that foliage was hardly visible.

Petunia (mini) – Supertunia Mini Vista® Pink Star from Proven Winners

The entire Supertunia series performed well with great vigor and an overall uniform habit. Flowers held up well late into the season, even after heavy rains.

Lantana – Lucky Sunrise Rose from Ball FloraPlant

Bicolor flowers had harmonious colors that progressed from yellow to purple. It makes a great landscape plant with good foliage color and the flowers attract a lot of pollinators.

Marigold – Big Duck Yellow from AmeriSeed

This plant had large flowers and a more upright habit. Flowering was very consistent throughout the season.

Geranium (zonal) – Galaxy Pink from Ball FloraPlant

The entire Galaxy series performed well in the trials. Attractively colored flowers were held well above the foliage. Plants grew well even in partial shade.

Impatiens (sun) – Sunpatiens® Compact Rose Glow from Sakata Seed America

Flowers were so numerous that foliage was barely visible. Growth habit was very uniform and flower color was vibrant against dark green foliage.

Salvia – Mystic Spires from Ball FloraPlant

Continuous flowering of deep blue/purple flowers required no deadheading. Stems were strong with no lodging and flowers attracted pollinators.

Container Favorites

Calibrachoa – Cha-Cha Yellow from Ball FloraPlant

This variety had a great growth habit with bright yellow flowers contrasting with dark green leaves. Its continual, abundant blooms attracted pollinators.

Impatiens (New Guinea) – Super Sonic® Orange Ice from Syngenta

Flowers were large and contrasted well against dark foliage. Flower color was vibrant with white shades on the edge of the flower petals.

Begonia (shade-seed) – Megawatt™ Rose Bronze Leaf Improved from PanAmerican Seed

The plant’s uniform habit had good vigor with constant blooming. Leaves had a glossy green sheen in the sun and flowers were self-cleaning.

The plants presented are only 15 of the 42 classes that were superior. The complete listings can be found on the website www.flowertrials.colostate.edu.