Watch for new loropetalum and gardenia varieties

Richard Bogren, Huffstickler, Kyle, Gill, Daniel J., Owings, Allen D.  |  1/28/2011 10:17:16 PM

News Release Distributed 01/28/11

By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists
Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings

Many new gardenia and loropetalum varieties have been introduced to the marketplace over the past few years. Older gardenia varieties are still great plants for us, but the newer varieties offer uniqueness in flowering and repeat bloom tendencies and sometimes have better landscape adaptability. The new loropetalums have unique burgundy-to-purplish foliage color throughout the year. In addition, some of the varieties have smaller growth habits.

Frostproof gardenia is a great plant home gardeners need to start enjoying. It’s not really a new gardenia variety, but in the past five years it has become widely known and widely grown. Frostproof is also widely used by landscape professionals. It’s an improvement over other, older gardenia varieties.

Frostproof’s characteristics include fast growth, site adaptability and suitability to poorer growing conditions, making it more desirable than August Beauty, Mystery and dwarf varieties. Frostproof was initially propagated in the Forest Hill, La., nursery area and is now distributed across the entire southeastern United States. It reaches a mature height of 5 feet with a spread of 4-5 feet. Try it soon for a low-maintenance, good-performing gardenia – which has not been common in the last few years.

A newer gardenia is Jubilation. This variety is being promoted in the new Southern Living plant program (www.southernlivingplants.com) and has performed well in LSU AgCenter evaluations. Jubilation has compact growth and will mature at a height of 4 feet with a 3-foot to 4-foot spread. It has good re-blooming potential.

Looking for the newest of the new in loropetalums? This plant is also commonly called Chinese witch hazel. Most loropetalums have purplish-to-burgundy foliage seasonally and pink or fuschia-colored flowers in spring about the time azaleas finish blooming.

The Purple Diamond variety is highly recommended by the LSU AgCenter. Purple Diamond has the most intense purplish foliage of any of the loropetalums and has a tighter growth habit that can be maintained in a more typical, shrub-like shape instead of a small tree-like shape common of the older loropetalums. The unique foliage color of this variety lasts year-round. Plants reliably bloom for 4-6 weeks in midspring and sometimes bloom a small degree in late summer.

Emerald Snow is a new, white-flowering loropetalum variety with green foliage and a mounding growth habit. Plants reach 3-4 feet tall.

Loropetalum and gardenia are shrub standards in Louisiana landscaping. Consider these new varieties to improve landscape performance and use.

Visit LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (Louisiana Highway 30) in Baton Rouge, across the street from the LSU baseball stadium. For more information, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/lahouse and www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.

Rick Bogren
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