Trial Results 2013 – Pentas

Butterfly Deep Pink

Butterfly Deep Pink

If you like pentas (Pentas lanceolata) then we have some information that will be of interest.  This summer we trialed 17 varieties in our test gardens at Bear Creek and the Precinct 2 Genoa Friendship Garden. Pentas are great annuals for the summer. They attract butterflies, hummingbirds and beneficial insects, and are a great source of nectar for bees.  They perform best in full sun and tolerate high heat and humidity once established. They produce clusters of star shaped flowers in colors of white, pink, red, violet and all shades in between. Pentas are naturally well branched, and flower freely throughout the season.

 

Evaluation:

The trials were planted in early June. They were planted on 12” centers within the rows and the rows were spaced 12” apart.  Data was collected every 2 weeks from July through September for garden performance. The plants were evaluated for flower production, leaf color, uniformity of habit and flower, resistance to insects and diseases and overall appearance. A 1-5 scale was used for scoring, with “5” being exceptional and “1” ready for the compost pile.

Results:

The top five performers were Butterfly Deep Pink, Starla Blush, Butterfly White, Northern Lights Lavender and Starla Red (Table 1). These plants all performed well from the beginning to the end of the season.  They all reached a mature height of 16-20” and produced continuous blooms.

When evaluating series, the Butterfly series from Pan American and Starla series from Syngenta were strong performers (Table 2). The habit and uniformity across the series was impressive, along with the consistency of their flower color.

The Kaleidoscope and Graffiti Series from Benary have a shorter, more compact habit that took a while to establish in the landscape, but grew well as the season continued.

Northern Lights Lavender

Northern Lights Lavender

Conclusion:

Pentas are great plants to use in the landscape for our hot, humid growing conditions and provide plenty of color throughout the summer. There are pentas to meet just about any landscape need whether you need short varieties such as Kaleidoscope or Graffiti, or the taller varieties such as Butterfly, Starla or Northern Lights to add some height to the landscape. There were some outstanding performers, and some that were slow to establish; but for a tough plant that will provide color throughout the “dog days of summer”, you cannot go wrong with planting pentas.

Table 1. Pentas trial evaluation data.

Variety

Breeder

Performance Average

Butterfly Deep Pink PanAmerican

4.07

Starla Blush Syngenta

3.91

Butterfly White PanAmerican

3.83

Northern Lights Lavender Benary

3.76

Starla Red Syngenta

3.52

Kaleidoscope Lilac Benary

3.48

Starla White Syngenta

3.47

Starla Deep Rose Syngenta

3.32

Butterfly Red PanAmerican

3.32

Starla Pink Syngenta

3.29

Kaleidoscope Deep Rose Benary

3.21

Graffiti Lipstick Benary

2.83

Kaleidoscope Pink Benary

2.80

New Look Pink Benary

2.71

Kaleidscope Carmine Benary

2.62

Graffiti Red Lace Benary

2.54

Graffiti Violet Benary

2.04

Table 2. Pentas series performance

Series

Performance Average

Butterfly

3.74

Starla

3.50

Kaleidoscope

3.03

Graffiti

2.47

 

Starla Red

Starla Red

Butterfly White

Butterfly White

 Special Thanks:

  • Dr. Brent Pemberton at the Texas A&M Overton research facility for the plants used in this trial.
  • Susan White, Patricia Metzinger and Teresa See at Bear Creek.
  • Royce Pendergast, Nancy Cansler, Brenda Hesse and Jan Kapner at Precinct 2 Genoa Friendship Garden.

 

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