Top Annuals from CSU Annual Flower Trials

Lauryn Schriner, Graduate Student, Dept. of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, Colorado State University
By James E. Klett, Ph.D. Professor & Landscape Horticultural Specialist Colorado State University

During the week of August 3, 2020, only about 90 professionals evaluated the Annual Flower Trials at Colorado State University (CSU) due to pandemic restrictions. Consumers evaluated the trials throughout July and August, since we were not able to hold an official Consumer Day also due to COVID-19. This year, we received approximately 200 votes electronically and on paper for what consumers felt were their top three plant choices.

The garden is planned and maintained each year by CSU’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, with guidance from a committee of growers, flower seed and plant companies, and public garden horticulturists. For more information on these and other outstanding annuals from the 2020 Trials, visit

The following eight plants were ranked the highest by consumers throughout the growing season.

  1. Celosia Bright Sparks™ Burgundy from Syngenta
    The bright red flowers on this celosia are large, which complements the darker burgundy foliage well. Plants had great vigor and prefer sun and less moisture. This selection was a real standout in the trials, and is useful as both a cut fresh or dry flower. We had no disease or insect problems with this plant.
  1. Coleus HeartBreaker from Ball Flora Plant
    This sun-loving coleus did well both in the ground and in containers, and set very few if any flowers. The foliage had three-toned colors of red, burgundy and green with a little twist, making it quite unique. The green edge to the leaf made the red and burgundy color really stand out as a great color combination. Overall it was a vigorous grower and was disease and insect free.
  1. Coleus Main Street La Rambla from Dummen Orange
    This coleus is grown for its unique foliage color of lime to mid-green with a red center, which is another striking color combination. Leaves had a unique texture and have a more ruffled overall look. This plant was a vigorous grower with few if any flowers. Again, it was sun loving and insect and disease free.
  1. Geranium Super Moon Red from Select One
    The darker green foliage was a great contrast to the red flowers with more reddish stems. The larger flowers were numerous and covered the plant with a unique appearance. Overall the contrast was stunning and the plant grew well in full sun with no disease or insect problems.
  1. Helianthus Suncredible® Yellow from Proven Winners
    This sunflower was a continual bloomer throughout the season with many lateral branches with numerous flowers. The growth habit was more dense and the plant did great in our ground beds. Foliage was disease and insect free. It still performed well with overhead irrigation, with no lodging. It was a very bee-friendly plant.
  1. Lantana Lucky™ Sunrise Rose from Ball Flora Plants
    The bright magenta color in the flower looks great in contrast to the bright yellow in the flower. Plants had a great balance of flowers to foliage and were very eye catching from a distance. Plants prefer sun and dryer conditions and were disease and insect free.
  1. Petunia Hippy Chick™ Violet from Danziger
    Flower color on this petunia is quite a breakthrough in uniqueness, with a white-striped outer edge with unique flower clefts on the petals. The flowers’ white edges set off the purple centers. Plants performed excellently in sun and dryer conditions, with no disease or insect problems.
  1. Zinnia Double Zaharia™ Yellow Improved from Pan American Seed
    Flower color seemed electric on this zinnia. The neon yellow looked great on the ray florets with darker brown/black centers. The foliage was uniform and disease and insect free. The habit was tall but it had a very full, well-branched growth habit. Plants performed well in sun with less moisture.

Growers will definitely want to grow and sell these eight top-ranking flowers for the 2021 season.