The votes are in! Evaluators have evaluated, raters have rated, and the winners in Colorado State University’s 2017 “Best of” annuals have been announced. Each year, breeders of annuals supply their hottest selections, which are planted at CSU’s Flower Trial Garden in Fort Collins. Plants are rated throughout the season, and the top performing varieties are tagged as “best of … ” for the year.

Best of Show goes to Calibrachoa Chameleon® Indian Summer Improved, bred by Westhoff. This top choice had eye-catching color combined with great vigor for exceptional flower power. Varying shades of red, rose, pink and yellow were ever-changing to create a dynamic appearance. The flowers of the Chameleon ® series are selected for their ability to change color as environmental conditions change, which was evident in this selection. Blooming continued strong all summer and into September. Plants maintained a uniform growth habit that enveloped the container as a ball of flowers.

CSU’s 2017 Best Novelty selection is ‘Copper Prince’ millet (Pennisetum glaucum) from PanAmerican Seed. This plant is an excellent selection for the senses and texture in a garden. It had stout, large, fuzzy panicles of dark rose/bronze rising high above the plant. The arching foliage had wide blades and plants were very uniform with a unique caramel/copper color during the summer. ‘Copper Prince’ would create a very dramatic look in the landscape or in a large container.

The Best New Variety for 2017 is Lantana Royale Cosmo from Proven Winners’ Luscious® series. Plants in this series present a uniform, rounded growth habit and strong flowering, with flowers rising above the foliage for maximum show. Vibrant bloom colors included deep pink to magenta-purple with orange-yellow highlights.

Ranked among the “Other Outstanding Plants” is Bidens Blazing™ Fire from Danziger. Fiery orange, yellow and red colors were prolific and spectacular. Plants had great vigor, and the dense mounding habit enveloped the container as a ball of flowers with a large “wow” factor. Plants remained uniform all season and never flopped open. Flowers opened up darker and faded to a nice yellow.

Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum® petunia from Proven Winners was selected to be ‘Best of’ its class. This variety has won multiple awards in the past — or is always in contention. Plants were extremely vigorous and produced a mountain of pink flowers that were stunning even from a distance. It made a great plant for landscape or large containers. It also was disease resistant.

Verbena Lanai® Upright Twister™ Purple from Syngenta also was named ‘Best of’ in its class. Plants were grown in containers and were covered with a beautiful canopy of large, soft lavender flowers with a white eye. The many flowers kept “burying their dead” and stayed fresh looking throughout the summer. The growth habit was very uniform.