Consider new shrub varieties for home landscapes

News Release Distributed 05/21/09

Every year, new shrub varieties are introduced for landscape use. At the same time, some varieties debuted in prior years are new in that they’re just catching on.

Among plants sporting new varieties are gardenias, Indian hawthorn, crape myrtles and loropetalum.

“Frostproof gardenia is a great plant that home gardeners need to start enjoying if they haven’t already discovered it,” says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings. Introduced some five years ago, Frostproof is now selling in large numbers.

This variety is much improved over other varieties, according to the horticulturist. Characteristics are faster growth, site adaptation and suitability to poorer growing conditions over the August Beauty, Mystery and dwarf varieties.

Frostproof was initially propagated in Louisiana in the Forest Hill nursery area of central Louisiana and is now available across the entire southeastern United States.

“Try some soon for low-maintenance and good performance, which have not been common gardenia traits in the last few years,” Owings says.

Another gardenia variety to consider is Jubilation. It is being promoted in the new Southern Living plant program.

Looking for the newest of the new in loropetalums? Also known as Chinese witch hazel or fringe flower, its new varieties include Purple Diamond and Purple Pixie. Both are unique and worth purchasing, according to Owings.

Purple Diamond has the most intense purplish foliage of any of the loropetalums and has a tighter growth habit that is maintainable in a more typical shrub-like shape, instead of a small tree-like shape common of the older loropetalums.

“Purple Diamond has been an outstanding landscape performer in our trials at the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station (in Hammond, La.),” Owings says, adding that Purple Pixie is a new dwarf spreading variety.

Both varieties are in the Southern Living plant program along with Emerald Snow, which is a new white-flowering variety with green foliage and a mounding growth habit.

A new series of dwarf crape myrtles is Razzle Dazzle, developed by world-renowned horticulturist and breeder Dr. Michael A. Dirr from the University of Georgia. The series has been developed with the trustworthy attributes of easy care and mildew resistance as well as exceptional color and compact habit. Mature height is 4 feet.

Owings notes that these plants are being evaluated for flowering, cold hardiness and disease resistance at the LSU AgCenter’s Burden Center in Baton Rouge. Varieties in the series include: Ruby Dazzle (pink blooms with bronze-red foliage); Cherry Dazzle (cherry-red flowers); Snow Dazzle (white blooms); Dazzle Me Pink (pink blooms); and Raspberry Dazzle (raspberry-red blooms). Cherry Dazzle and Raspberry Dazzle are the best for Louisiana. Cherry Dazzle is the most widely available of these varieties.

The newest Indian hawthorns are Snowcap and Spring Sonata. The latter is in the Southern Living plant program. Sonata foliage is larger than other Indian hawthorns. It reaches peak bloom in the spring at the Hammond Research Station 10-14 days later than other varieties.

Snowcap is a new patented variety. It is a dependable shrub with a dense habit and clean, dark green foliage that turns burgundy as the weather turns cooler. Foliage is also disease-free. The best pink-flowering Indian hawthorn continues to be Eleanor Tabor.

Other new shrubs Owings recommends include hydrangea (Blushing Bride, Endless Summer and Twist and Shout), red tip photinia (Pink Marble) and the Sunny Knock Out rose. Most of these plants are available at retail garden centers around the state.


Editor: Mark Claesgens

5/21/2009 7:22:26 PM
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