2023 Plants with Potential

Jason Stagg, Thiessen, Maureen

1. Artemisia x ‘Powis Castle’ – ASTERACEAE – Also known as wormwood, this foliage plant from the Aster family makes a great ornamental accent plant. ‘Powis Castle’ was introduced in 1972 from the National Trust’s Powis Castle in Wales, and was described by Dr. Allan Armitage as one of the “finest plants in cultivation.” Its highly dissected, silvery gray foliage and mounding habit complement other flowering perennials, annuals, and ornamental grasses, and add a fine texture to the landscape. It is an herbaceous perennial that stays evergreen where winters are warm, spreading by rhizomes to 3-6 feet. It thrives in zones 4 through 9 and is very drought tolerant, making it an excellent choice for water-wise landscapes. This artemisia is best planted in full sun and very well drained soil, and should be pruned in mid-spring. Silver foliage plant choices like some artemisias are not abundant for our wet climate, but Powis Castle seems to be one of the best here. This plant is easily propagated through stem cuttings.

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2. Conoclinium greggii – Gregg’s Mist Flower – ASTERACEAE – Butterflies love this ageratum plant! Previously listed as Eupatorium greggi, this plant is also commonly called Gregg’s Mist Flower. It was named for Josiah Gregg, who explored the botany of Texas, Mexico, and California, and published his findings in his “Commerce of the Prairies” manuscript in 1844. Another great perennial for zones 7a-10b, it is native to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, but seems to do just fine in a well-drained Louisiana location. It is a rhizomatous spreading wildflower reaching 12-18 inches tall and 24 inches wide, with delicate, deeply dissected palmate leaves. From the spring through fall, stems are topped with light blue clusters of puffy, pincushion-like flowers. It can be planted full sun or partial shade and is an excellent filler plant. It is easily propagated by direct-sowing seeds in the early spring or through soft/semi-hardwood cuttings taken in the summer or fall.

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3. Malvaviscus x ‘Big Momma’ – MALVACEAE – This hybrid of a native plant is another butterfly and hummingbird magnet! This selection was developed by Greg Grant at Stephen F. Austin University and introduced in 2005. This free-flowering and vigorous variety of Turk’s Cap can surpass 6 feet tall and wide. Bright red, Turkish cap-shaped flowers are twice as big as those of non-hybrid natives, and are held upright all summer long and even into early fall. This perennial shrub is easy to maintain, dying back after frost and returning reliably each spring in zones 7-10. It is moderately drought tolerant once established. It is best planted in full sun, but can tolerate some shade, and a variety of soil types. Very few pest and disease issues affect this plant, and annual pruning before the spring flush of growth is recommended. ‘Big Momma’ is easily propagated from stem cuttings.

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4. Monarda x ‘Peter’s Purple’ – LAMIACEAE – This is a hybrid of Monarda fistulosa ‘Claire Grace’ and a Mexican species, Monarda barlettii, that occurred in the garden of Texas native plant expert, Peter Loos. It is known to thrive in the heat and humidity of our climate, tolerate drier soils, and also possess mildew resistance. It reaches 3-5 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide. In the spring, stems are topped with bright lavender clusters of two-lipped flowers. The plant grows best in full sun with some afternoon shade, and rich, well-drained soils. It is a wonderful pollinator attractor and perennializes in zones 6-9, slowly spreading through rhizomes. It makes an excellent border plant or pollinator garden specimen. Propagation by stem cuttings is possible, but young plants are readily available commercially. Clump rhizome division can also be used as a propagation method.

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5. Petunia X violacea - Laura Bush Petunia – SOLANACEAE – a hardy and vigorous annual petunia native to South America. It was developed between Stephen F. Austin University’s Greg Grant and Texas Extension Specialist Jerry Parsons to tolerate the harsh Texas heat. It was utilized in a Nacogdoches town square renovation and named in honor of Texas’ first lady Laura Bush, who visited the renovation in 1998. Although it was selected for heat tolerance, we find that these petunias still perform best in spring and fall. Plants are very upright, reaching up to two feet tall. Propagation is easiest using seed, which is readily available in pink and purple shades. Flowers are trumpet-shaped and fragrant. Plants will also reseed themselves in the landscape. A hard freeze will knock these plants back, but they are hardy to zone 7 and can tolerate a range of soil types.

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7/14/2023 6:47:24 PM
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