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‘Supers’ Raise the Bar for Performance & Habit

Kevin Hurd
Kevin Hurd, Director of New Products for Proven WInners®

Retailers and gardeners love Proven Winners® ‘Super’ varieties:  Superbells® Calibrachoa, Supertunia® Petunia and Superbena® Verbena — with good reason.  For more than 25 years, these plants continue to set the standard for superior garden performance, beauty and easy-to-grow habit. Find out how we do it!

“When you breed, you usually select for a couple of key characteristics that are most important,” says Kevin Hurd, Director of New Products for Proven Winners.  “The focus from the start of the ‘Super’ varieties has been on plants that give great consumer performance.”

Some ‘Super’ varieties have been established for about 20 years, and are so popular year after year that they’ve become ‘Classics’ on their own, including Supertunia® Royal Velvet®, Superbells® Pink and many others.  Their outstanding season-long performance and disease resistance have made these plants proven grower and customer favorites. 

SUPERTUNIA® ROYAL VELVET® has been an industry favorite for almost 20 years.
SUPERTUNIA® ROYAL VELVET® has been an industry favorite for almost 20 years.

 

Breeding efforts in the last 10 years have been focused on making sure the plants are easy for growers to grow for maximum impact at market, according to Hurd.

“Our breeders have really worked to put together the consumer performance these plants are known for with an easy-to-grow habit for growers,” he explains.  “Now, the Supers have more compact habits, generally larger flowers and better timing to look good on the bench.”

Superbells Pink
SUPERBELLS® Pink is one of several ‘Classics’ that both growers and customers love.

 

“Raspberry Blast was an example,” Hurd adds.  “That former Supertunia was a very popular plant but it was late to flower and had a flat habit.  Now with the new Supertunia® Raspberry Rush™, we have something that is earlier to flower with a much better habit, so it will look a lot better at retail while also being an amazing flower for consumers to grow.  Its petal substance is basically bulletproof.  If you see it after a rainstorm, it looks as good as it did before it rained.”

The Proven Winners development teams regularly assess plants to see if they can be improved for performance and ease of production.  This means new debuts often highlight breeding advances that will benefit both grower retailers and the end consumer.

SUPERTUNIA® RASPBERRY RUSH™ is a new debut with better habit and retail presence that its predecessor.
SUPERTUNIA® RASPBERRY RUSH™ is a new debut with better habit and retail presence that its predecessor.

 

Superbells® Calibrachoa

Calibrachoa are probably one of the youngest groups of commercial crops,” Hurd points out.  “Compared to Petunia, which have been an industry staple for a very long time, Calibrachoa have been a commercial crop for only about 40 years.  But breeding is extensive in this group.”

He notes that earlier varieties were much bigger and rangier, blooming later with smaller flowers.  “The new Superbells varieties have shorter internodes and similar timing to each other, early flowering (before week 12) and more flowers. When you put more flowers on a smaller habit, you’ll see a lot more color.  With some, it is almost rare to see the foliage,” he says.

The SUPERBELLS® Tabletop™ series, shown here in the Heroes recipe, are compact, easy to maintain Calibrachoa ideal for tight urban spaces.
The SUPERBELLS® TABLETOP™ series, shown here in the Heroes recipe, are compact, easy to maintain Calibrachoa ideal for tight urban spaces.
SUPERBELLS® Doublette LOVE SWEPT™
SUPERBELLS® Doublette LOVE SWEPT™
SUPERBELLS® HOLY MOLY!®
SUPERBELLS® HOLY MOLY!®

 

Proven Winners has been in the forefront of developing innovative new types of Calibrachoa in recent years, each showing great disease resistance, season-long performance and unique colors or appearance:

  • Superbells® TableTop™ – “Our R&D group has a lot of young people in it and they’re looking for more urban solutions,” says Hurd. “They want to shrink down the size of some plants and make them more manageable, like the TableTops.  Because they are smaller, they also need less water and are easier to care for.”
  • Superbells® Double – “Most of these are solid color, which many people like,” he notes.  “As a contrast, Superbells® Doublette Love Swept™, with its delicate white edges, shows how beautiful the Doubles can be with a pattern.”
  • Superbells® Holy – “Proven Winners was the first to come out with Calibrachoa series like Holy,” he says.  “Now there are three of them.”
  • Superbells® Lemon Slice® – “Lemon Slice was a once-in-a-lifetime breeding event for Proven Winners,” Hurd notes.  “There will be only one of these!”
  • Superbells® Punch™ – “Proven Winners also was first to introduce the very popular Punch series, which currently has seven different options,” he explains.  “I remember how amazing it was when Blackberry Punch came out.  It needed an upgrade since then and now we have Superbells® Blackcurrant Punch™, which is earlier to flower, has larger flowers and displays petals with a better presentation.  Very striking!”
  • Superbells® Star – Hurd recalls that Cherry Star was the first Star to hit the market and be successful.  “Now, there are six different Stars available,” Hurd adds.

SUPERBELLS® LEMON SLICE®
SUPERBELLS® LEMON SLICE®

SUPERBELLS® BLACKCURRANT PUNCH™
SUPERBELLS® BLACKCURRANT PUNCH™

Supertunia® Petunia

Robust landscape performance, unusual colors and sizes, and options with single or double blossoms make this wide selection of Supertunias irresistible to consumers.

Unlike the relatively newer Calibrachoa varieties, Petunias have been a popular garden flower for a more than a century.  And breeders have studied ways to improve appearance, performance and growing habit for years.

When new innovations are introduced, like the Supertunia® Picasso varieties, breeders continue to refine them.  “We start with an innovation like Pretty Much Picasso, then constantly refine them for better consumer performance, better grower performance and great retail appeal,” says Hurd.  “We’re always looking for ways to make a more perfect plant.”  He notes that the latest version of this concept is Supertunia® Picasso In Purple®.

The SUPERBELLS® Tabletop™ series, shown here in the Heroes recipe, are compact, easy to maintain Calibrachoa ideal for tight urban spaces.
SUPERTUNIA® PICASSO IN PURPLE®

 

Because there are several types of Supertunias, Proven Winners has made some recent changes to their names to better describe their features.

  • Supertunia® Mini Vista – “These were formerly called ‘Charms’ but the Proven Winners team wanted to emphasize how awesome these are in their growth habit,” he explains.  “They’re like Supertunia Vista® in that respect, but with compact size.”
  • Supertunia® Charm – “We kept the name Charm for two varieties that didn’t quite fit into the Vista vigor model.  They have prolific blooming and unique appearance, but are still compact – Daybreak Charm and Mulberry Charm,” Hurd adds.
SUPERTUNIA® Mini Vista Indigo
SUPERTUNIA® Mini Vista Indigo
SUPERTUNIA® Mulberry Charm
SUPERTUNIA® Mulberry Charm
  • Supertunia® Trailing – “These used to be called ‘mini’ but were renamed to clarify their features and make them easier for growers and consumers to understand,” he says.  These long-trailing Petunias have medium-sized flowers, which make them ideal for landscapes, hanging baskets, combinations and window boxes.
  • Supertunia® Double – “Double Petunias are wildly popular in some parts of the world,” he says.  “They can be later to flower but are quite striking.  The new Sharon is the best performing double Petunia I’ve ever seen, period!”
SUPERTUNIA® Trailing Bright Pink
SUPERTUNIA® Trailing Bright Pink
SUPERTUNIA® Sharon
SUPERTUNIA® Sharon
  • Supertunia® Giant Pink – “This is a grandiflora from old breeding that exhibits fewer flowers but they are really big – typically 5 inches across!  I think it is the only grandiflora with good petal substance – after a rain it will still have its flowers,” Hurd comments.
  • Supertunia® – “Royal Velvet is the original plant and it is such a staple.  Everyone knows its color, size, timing and habit,” he says.  “Purple is an inbred color so our challenge is to keep it on target.  It’s been overdue for an upgrade and the original breeder has been working on that for 15 years, but hasn’t found a way to improve it yet!”  Besides Royal Velvet, the very popular standard-sized Supertunias have 12 other colors, including best sellers like Honey™, Limoncello®, Royal Magenta®, Black Cherry® and Bordeaux™.
  • Supertunia Vista® – “We set a high bar looking for performance like that in Bubblegum®,” Hurd explains.  Known for their very vigorous mounded habit and heat tolerance, Vistas have become hugely popular to make a big statement in landscapes and containers. “The new white, Snowdrift®, exceeds the Vista bar and we’re excited about it.  As for Bubblegum, we’ve been considering an upgrade, but it is so great that I can’t say much more about it. I think it is literally the perfect plant!”

 

 

SUPERTUNIA® Giant Pink
SUPERTUNIA® Giant Pink

SUPERTUNIA VISTA® BUBBLEGUM®
SUPERTUNIA VISTA® BUBBLEGUM®

Superbena® Verbena

“Most Superbenas come from the same breeder, so they are a bit less diverse in their background,” Hurd notes. They’ve been described as “garden overachievers,” and have evolved into top-performing plants with a variety of appealing colors and textures.

SUPERBENA® Stormburst
SUPERBENA® Stormburst
SUPERBENA ROYALE® Cherryburst
SUPERBENA ROYALE® Cherryburst
  • Superbena® – The classic Superbena varieties are known for their vigorous growth, heat tolerance and mildew resistance.  Best sellers include Red, Stormburst, Violet Ice and Whiteout™.  “Compared to an old Superbena like Purple, these new ones are much nicer at retail, with much shorter internodes,” he says.
  • Superbena Royale® – "The Royales were introduced about 10 years ago when we were searching for Verbenas that were more compact, easier for growers to finish in a small pot, and better looking at retail.  Now, we're developing those same characteristics of larger flowers and better retail presence in the standard Superbenas," Hurd explains.
  • Superbena Sparkling® – “The Sparklings debuted in Royale size but now have transitioned to the normal Superbena model,” he notes.  “They have really improved disease resistance. 
SUPERBENA® Stormburst
SUPERBENA SPARKLING® Rosé
Heavily flowered SUPERBENA® Red growing in Kevin Hurd’s garden.
Heavily flowered SUPERBENA® Red growing in Kevin Hurd’s garden.

 

Trialing and development continue with Superbenas, according to Hurd. “We work with Cornell U. to trial these, and Superbenas show the most resistance to Powdery Mildew than any other variety.  In fact, that is the number-one selection criteria vs. any other series.”

That disease resistance makes Superbena a favorite in Hurd’s Texas garden.  “They are what I use the most in the south where I live, and it is a perennial there.  I plant Superbena Red, which has large red flowers, a great habit and has been blooming since before Valentine’s Day. It’s amazing in all this heat!”

For more information about any of the Proven Winners’ ‘Super’ varieties, click here or contact us at 734-654-6420 or info@pwfourstar.com.