Sun Garden and Related Plant Highlights from the Hammond Research Station - Spring 2011

Allen D. Owings, Rosendale, Roger M., Quebedeaux, Joey P., Bracy, Regina P., Chen, Yan  |  5/19/2011 9:38:35 PM

New 'Blue Chip' Buddleia. Cultivar in the Lo and Behold series from Proven Winners.

'Compact Lilac' SunPatiens.

The new 'Guardian Lavender' Delphinium from PanAmerican Seed. Great cut-flower potential.

SunPatiens are one of the exciting new additions to warm-season, annual bedding plants. There are three groups of SunPatiens. The compact group is the smallest-growing and reaches 2-3 feet tall with an equal spread. Colors in this size range are blush pink, deep rose, coral, white, orange, magenta and lilac.

A spreading group includes only two colors – white and salmon – but both have variegated foliage. The spreading types get 3 feet tall by 4 feet wide.

The tallest and widest growth on SunPatiens is in the vigorous-growth varieties. Colors are coral (with variegated foliage), lavender, magenta, red, white and orange. These plants can get 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide by the fall.

SunPatiens will bloom from May through first hard frost. Plants perform best when they receive full sun. If grown in semi-shady conditions, prune in midsummer to maintain a bushy growth habit because plants will otherwise become lanky and produce fewer flowers. Mississippi Medallion plants for 2011.

Serena angelonias (Louisiana Super Plant – spring 2011) are available in Lavender, Lavender Pink, Pink and White. Blue (not currently planted in LSU AgCenter trials) will be a new color addition in 2012. Full sun. Continuous bloom. First seed-propagated angelonia. Plant mid- to late spring.

Butterfly pentas (Louisiana Super Plant – spring 2011) are great butterfly gardening plants. The Butterfly series of pentas will give you that, and maybe even more. The series includes a variety of colors – Butterfly Deep Rose, Butterfly White, Butterfly Blush, Butterfly Deep Pink, Butterfly Light Lavender, Butterfly Lavender and Butterfly Red. You can also obtain them as a mix. This seed-propagated hybrid is distinctive for its compact growth habit and larger flowers than other pentas. It also has excellent garden performance. Superb heat and humidity tolerance make this summer bedding plant a reliable choice.

BabyWing begonias (Louisiana Super Plant – spring 2012) are nice, mounded, upright-growing, seed-propagated dwarf begonias. Available cultivars are BabyWing Pink and BabyWing White. Height of 15 inches. Does best in slightly more shade than sun.

Shoal Creek vitex (Louisiana Super Plant – spring 2011) is an outstanding selection of vitex with superior characteristics compared with the standard type. For one thing, at 12 inches, the flower spikes are noticeably larger. In addition, the individual flowers in the spikes are larger and are a deeper, more vibrant lavender-blue color. They provide a wonderful addition to summer landscape color without the work involved with bedding plants. This versatile plant can be trained as a large shrub or small, multi-trunked tree about 10 to 15 feet tall and wide. Allowed to grow naturally, vitex will generally form a large, bushy plant about 10 feet tall. If you want it more compact, cut the plant back to about 2 to 3 feet from the ground each year in late winter. Other vitex cultivars for Louisiana include Abbeville Blue and Lecompte.

Other past, current and future Louisiana Super Plants being evaluated in the trial gardens are Camelot foxglove (fall 2010), Amazon dianthus (fall 2010), ShiShi Gashira camellia (fall 2010), Frostproof gardenia (spring 2011), Senorita Rosalita cleome (spring 2012), Sorbet viola (fall 2012). Southern sugar maple (fall 2011), Conversation Piece azalea (fall 2012), and Evergreen sweetbay (fall 2012) are located in the Margie Jenkins Azalea Garden. Swan columbine (fall 2011) was removed April 2011. Belinda’s Dream rose (fall 2011) is planted in the new Easy Care Rose Garden. Penny Mac hydrangea (spring 2012) is not yet planted.

Petunias. In addition to the incredible performance of three (cherry, pink and silver) of the four cultivars in the Tidal Wave series, other petunias being evaluated February-June 2011 include the Whisper (6 colors), Picnic (6 colors), new colors in Suncatcher (Pink Lemonade) and Sun Spun (Blue), Vista cultivars (Bubblegum, Silverberry and Fuschia) and Sanguna (ten colors).

PowWow echinaceas are new, seed-propagated, purple coneflowers from PanAmerican Seed. Wild Berry (All-America Selection 2010) and White are the two available cultivars. We have grown these since spring 2010. Reliable perennial in south Louisiana.

Mistical echinaceas are from Darwin Perennial Program via Ball Horticulture. These are new, vegetatively propagated, purple coneflowers. The three available cultivars are Amber Mist, White Mist and Pink Mist.

New coleus from Ball FloraPlant. For 2012, Wasabi (serrated chartreuse foliage, 18-28 inches tall, partial sun) and Sultana (deep burgundy foliage combined with a chartreuse netting pattern, 18-28 inches tall) join the ranks of other great, new, vegetatively propagated coleus form Ball FloraPlant. Others include Indian Summer, Redhead, Mint Mocha, Trusty Rusty and Henna. All are very good plants for Louisiana.

Guardian delphinium is a new, seeded series from PanAmerican Seed. Colors are White, Blue and Lavender. You can also get a mix. Very nice plants.

Coleus from GroLink being evaluated include the Florida City series. This company produces many unrooted cuttings for greenhouse growers. Their coleus program is called COLEUSA.

Alternanthera from GroLink are also being evaluated. We have about 15 cultivars. The top performer the past few years has been Brazilian Red Hots.

Heirloom hybrid tea rose evaluations were started in fall 2010. Heirloom (1880-1950) hybrid tea roses will be grown under low-maintenance conditions. Cultivars included are Antoine Rivoire, Baronne Ed. De Rothschild, Better Times, Blithe Spirit, Careless Love, Charlotte Arms, Columbia, Dame de Coeur, Diamond Jubilee, Dr. Brownell, Emily, General MacArthur, Helen Hayes, La Tosca, Lady Ursula, Mme. Butterfly, Mme. Caroline Testout, Mme. Jules Bouche, Mrs. Charles Bell, Mrs. Pierre S. du Pont, Ophelia, Pearl Harbor, President Hebert Hoover, Queen o' the Lakes, Radiance, Red Radiance, Richard E. West, Sunny South, Texas Centennial and Tom Brenneman.

Ornamental kales that we may not have thought of as “ornamental” types include Starbor, Winterbor, Red Russian, Redbor (Louisiana Super Plant – fall 2011), Curled Green, Toscano and Ripbor. Plant as a cool-season annual in fall or in February. These have better heat tolerance than Peacock and other series.

New All-America Selection salvia for 2011 is Summer Jewel Red. This Salvia coccinea was consistently rated “superior” or “above average” by the AAS judges because of its early and generous flower blossoms, continuing from spring to autumn. Additionally, each dwarf and densely branching plant remains a tidy 20 inches tall, even at full maturity. The bright red flower spikes are covered with half-inch blooms, making it perfect for the bird lover’s garden where the bright red color acts as a magnet for hummingbirds. Summer Jewel Red, just 50 days from sowing to first flower, is approximately two weeks earlier than comparisons. Expect long-season performance and superior holding ability in both wind and rain. This annual is ideal for full-sun containers, mixed beds and borders where uniformity is desired.

Easy Elegance shrub/landscape roses are being evaluated for landscape performance over the next two years. This project has been implemented in the sun garden area at the Hammond Research Station using the seven Easy Elegance rose cultivars that have so far been some of the better performing ones in Texas trials. Consumer demand in the southern United States has been high for the My Girl cultivar, based in part on that plant’s noted high performance in plant pathology evaluations at the University of Tennessee.

What are Easy Elegance roses? This is another line of low-maintenance roses for the landscape. More than 20 cultivars make up the group, with cultivars being classified as shrubs or grandifloras. Cultivars being evaluated are Macy’s Pride, Sunrise Sunset, Sweet Fragrance, Super Hero, My Girl, Centennial and All the Rage.

Pan American Seed has the new Happy Hour portulaca and Kauai torenia (shade planting) in addition to two new ornamental peppers – Sweet Heat and Cute Stuff Red. These will be planted the week of May 16.

Blue Chip buddleia has been out a couple years now and is from Proven Winners. Everybody reports excellent results with the plant. It is an intense bloomer, has compact growth and is reliably perennial in south Louisiana. We all are familiar with other varieties in this genus, and most folks are highly impressed with this plant. It is in the Lo and Behold group that also includes Purple Haze. Bluish-purple flowers with a mounding habit on 24- to 30-inch-tall plants. Dark green foliage. Does best in full sun with well-drained soil.

Flutterby buddleia is the new series of butterfly bushes from Ball Ornamentals. The petite group includes Lavender, Pink, Dark Pink, Blue Heaven, Snow White and Tutti Fruitti. The petite group has a mature height by the fall of 24-30 inches. A grande group has five cultivars – Blueberry Cobbler, Peach Cobbler, Tangerine Dream, Vanilla and Sweet Marmalade. These have a mature height of 48-72 inches. There is also an intermediate size group with Mauve Pink, Peace, Lavender and Pink as the cultivars.

Sun caladium trials have been initiated with 27 total cultivars included.

Copper plants have been collected over the past few months, and over 20 cultivars will be evaluated for landscape performance over the next two years. These include new ones from Proven Winners, the industry standards (Louisiana Red) and many more.

Dwarf tibouchinas are being sold at a few retail garden centers. These have mainly been grown in Florida. We now have a green-foliage and variegated-foliage form that is being grown and propagated for Louisiana. Royal Purple flowers mid- to late spring through fall. Marginally winter hardy in Hammond, La., these plants will see production and availability increases soon.  Athens Blue is a common cultivar for this plant. Other princess flowers, including the large-leaf form, need to be used more in Louisiana landscapes.

Southern Living plants have been added to the trial gardens over the past few years. These plants include three loropetalums (Purple Diamond, Purple Pixie and Emerald Snow). The new dwarf crape myrtle Delta Jazz is a Southern Living release via Mississippi State University and has been impressive. Consideration needs to be given to Spring Sonata Indian hawthorn and other shrubs in this program. We also highly recommend the Princess Blush and Princess Dark Lavender verbenas.

Nicotianas are a great, flowering annual for the February-June season. We have great success with the small-growing Saratoga series and the large-growing Perfume series. Great colors and peak landscape performance in April and May. Provide shade if you attempt to extend them into summer.

Other Plants

  • Archangel Angelonia
  • Lanai Verbena
  • Pseudoranthemums
  • Durantas
  • Bombay, New Wonder and Whirlwind Scaevolas
  • Bandana Lantanas
  • Zenith Marigolds
  • Fireworks Gomphrena
  • Fireworks Pennisetum
  • Matrix Pansy (prior cool-season)
  • Sorbet Violas (prior cool-season)
  • Intensia Phlox
  • Sunrita Gaillardia
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