When you head off to the nursery to ogle the impatiens, you're probably not thinking about the science behind those candy-colored posies. Turns out, the seed world is as secretive as big pharma. The folks at Swiss seed company Syngenta, a leader in the $3 billion global pot and bedding plant market, know this… and take precautions. When I visited them in Basel, Switzerland, I was shepherded through many locked doors before reaching the inner sanctums. But these seedmeisters, though proprietary, are proud of their products. For Mother's Day we cajoled them into revealing their most innovative '09 flowers and what gives them their special zing. We've included patent numbers, so you can verify their scientific chops for yourself.
If you're one of those impatient gardeners who can't wait to get out in the dirt, you should seek out this variety of Calibrachoa (trailing petunias to you newbies). The Callie is bred to flower early in the shorter days of winter, and the broad palette of 19 colors makes this variety popular with corporate facility managers eager to match the company's logo to its potting beds.
Patent #pp19,865 
Who knew a geranium could be ranked "Top Performing," like some mutual fund, or particularly talented MBA grad? But here you have it: Caliente's (or Cante Ros) been rated the Top Performing Geranium at the University of Florida Flower Trials, three years running. Heat tolerance is one factor that propelled it to the front ranks, but its disease resistance and big flowers pushed it to the head of the class.
Patent #pp15,834 
Poinsettias are hardly the first flower that springs to mind in May. But those of you who are long-term planners will be interested in this cutting edge (pardon the pun!) plant: the Mira poinsettia can grow at a temperature of only 16 degrees Celsius (that's 60.8, for those of you keeping track in Fahrenheit). That means it needs 20% less energy to grow than comparable varieties--great, if you're trying to force these babies to bloom in November. And the white variety is tres chic.
Patent # pending.
There are more patented posies in our Freaky Flowers Slideshow .
By: Linda Tischler Design by: Mary-Louise Price