FunkyTM Pink Bloom

Benary has been perfecting begonias since it introduced the first F1 hybrid begonia more than 100 years ago, so I asked the breeder of Begonia Funky™ Pink, Sabine Kratzenberg, how she managed to develop a whole new class of begonias.

Q: How long have you been breeding Funky™?

A: I found the first Funky™ prototype in 2010.

Q: What were the goals of this breeding program? What were you looking for?

A: This program actually started as kind of an accident. In 2010, when I took over the breeding material from my former colleague Christiane Heins, I found one crossing with rose flowers, which was extraordinarily early and free flowering with a very nice compact — but healthy — habit. It was the first Funky™ hybrid. This little thing had very good field performance and did great even in full sun! We quickly realized that this new hybrid had all the characteristics that we think customers would like.

We started a program to bring the advantages of this new hybrid to the whole color range. I set up crossings to transfer the compact, well branched habit, the many nice flowers, the earliness and the field performance to other colors. Also, I had to make sure that the new hybrids have reliable germination and good young plant development. That was missing in the first hybrid. This developed into a very intense breeding program [which involved] over five years of recombining and spreading the characteristics that Funky™ should have to the whole color range. Finally, after six years of hard selection work we were able to introduce Funky™ Pink as the first color of a full series, which will follow soon.

Begonia FunkyTM Pink

Q: The heat tolerance of tuberous types is an issue in some areas. Does Funky™ have more heat tolerance than a typical tuberous type?

A: Yes! Funky™ handles heat much better than other tuber forming begonias, except for our B. boliviensis. Santa Cruz™, San Francisco and Santa Barbara are slightly more heat tolerant. Nevertheless, in most climates, Funky™ performs spectacularly well in full sun. In really harsh climates, it helps to give them some shade.

More colors to add fun to your hanging basket programs are coming soon. For now, be sure to try Funky™ Pink Begonias! For more detailed information, contact your Benary sales rep or go to

Is beauty truly in the eye of the beholder?

Scientific proof of what your customers prefer.

By Jennifer Calhoun

What if you could predict how well a new flower would sell just by looking at it? You’d be a millionaire, right? But nobody can do that, or can they? PeerJ, an online scholarly journal, just released results of an intriguing study done by Charles University in Prague that looked into people’s emotional response and preference to various flower shapes and colors. What they found might just help you predict what you will sell out of next spring.

Campanula Pearl Deep Blue

First, Martin Hla and Jaroslav Flegr reviewed the findings of a multitude of published studies about consumer color preferences and perceived beauty. Some of these studies claim that these preferences are rooted so deeply in the subconscious that are governed by our basic survival needs. Do we really like blue because to our primal self it looks like water?

Other studies show significant cultural and geographical preferences. Asian cultures prefer red, and African cultures prefer yellow. Hla & Flegr pulled out the most useful information to create a two-part online survey to gather empirical data from more than 2,000 participants who rated the perceived beauty of 52 flowers in different shapes and colors.

Not surprisingly, colorful flowers were preferred to white, and blues were the most popular color of all. Among women, pink and purple colors also ranked very high, and deep yellow or brown were the least favorite. Much more important, however, was the shape of the flower.

Flowers that were radially symmetrical and simple (like a daisy or aster) were rated as the most beautiful. This seems to support previous studies proposing that shapes that are easily “processed” by the brain are preferred.

Left photo: Bellis Speedstar Plus Red. Right Photo: Bellis Speedstar Plus Rose

So how does all this help you sell plants? Although the following flowers were not in the study, they do meet the criteria of Hla & Flegr’s “most preferred” flowers. Why not give them a try this spring and do your own survey with your customers?

Campanula Pearl Deep Blue was improved last year. It is significantly earlier and very versatile because it can be grown as a great impulse item or hardy perennial. It has a narrow flowering window for bench-run shipping and a compact habit so you can get lots of plants per rack.

Bellis Speedstar® Plus is another series that has gone through a major upgrade in the past year. We have given it better uniformity, a more reliable seed pellet and a compact plant habit with smaller leaves. This series is great for early spring sales and pairs well with pansies, giving them a new, fresh look.

If you want to check out the full article, go to or for more information about our products, go to our website,

Hla M, Flegr J. (2016) “What flowers do we like? The influence of shape and color on the rating of flower beauty.” PeerJ 4:e2106

Making some BIG® noise!

Better Homes & Gardens features BIG® Begonias in Easy Garden Projects.

Testing and promoting only the best consumer products has been a core value at Better Homes & Gardens since Household Editor, Genevieve Callahan, began testing and approving all published recipes from her home kitchen back in 1923.

Each year the Better Homes & Gardens Test Gardens® trials many different varieties of plants under the care and watchful eye of Test Garden Manager, Sandra Gerdes (and her team). Sandra still holds the fervent belief that only the best should be promoted to their readers. This year, we are proud to announce that BIG® Begonias were selcted as “Stars of the Test Garden” by Sandra and her team.

This announcement was made in the early spring edition of Easy Garden Projects, a special interest publication from Meredith Corp. (the publisher of Better Homes & Gardens). Easy Garden Projects was introduced just a few years ago, but has quickly become a top seller because each issue is packed with do-it-yourself, budget-friendly projects for the newbie gardener as well as the veteran green thumb. Each project is designed so it can be completed in a weekend or afternoon, appealing to ever-impatient Millennials. So be sure to have those BIG® Begonias on hand!

Ernst Benary of America, a division of Ernst Benary Samenzucht GmbH, is an internationally renowned breeder, producer of leading annuals, perennials, potted flowering plants and cut flowers. Our long 171-year history as a family-owned business has allowed us to live our passion for breeding. For further information, log on to

“BIG truly describes the plant and flowers of this heat- and humidity-tolerant begonia. BIG begonias produce large flower clusters in rose, pink or red that sit above shiny green foliage.”

— Sandra Gerdes