Richard Bogren | 7/6/2017 4:59:54 PM
(07/06/17) HAMMOND, La. — The LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station inaugurated a new program two years ago to introduce unfamiliar, non-patented plant material to wholesale and retail nurseries and landscape professionals in Louisiana. It’s called Plants with Potential.
“Plant species or varieties selected for the program currently have limited or no distribution or use in the state, but evidence suggests they have excellent landscape performance potential in ourchallenging climate,” said AgCenter horticulturist Jason Stagg.
Small to medium-size nursery growers could benefit from learning about and obtaining these stock plants for evaluation of growth characteristics or customer interest, Stagg said. Nurseries may be able to broaden their product lines, and landscapers could diversify their plant material palettes to grow their respective business.
Using non-patented plant material free from propagation restrictions can present a significant cost savings and lower the cost of offering these new selections. “These plants have good potential for being sold at Master Gardener events and at local farmers markets,” he said.
The Hammond Research Station benefits from relationships with an extensive network of plant professionals, said AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings.
“This allows for discovery and acquisition of underutilized plants that may already be performing well in our challenging climate conditions,” Owings said. “This program is designed only to increase awareness and distribution of such plants.”
The station is actively engaged with many industry partners and is a trusted source of reliable landscape performance information for ornamentals, he said. The 2017 Plants with Potential were introduced at the spring industry day and open house held at the Hammond Research Station in May.
The Plants with Potential announced in 2017 are as follows:
— Variegated Ganges primrose (variegated bellflower, Chinese violet). With brightly variegated foliage, this annual ground cover features attractive lavender blooms. Plants reach 12 inches tall with a spread of 2-3 feet grown in full sun to part shade.
— Philippine violet. This tropical for sunny landscapes typically returns as an annual in south Louisiana. Plants will be 3 feet tall by fall. This selection is a late-summer or fall bloomer and has 2-inch-wide white flowers with lavender stripes.
— Grandpa’s Pumpkin Patch. A lantana from Texas horticulturist Greg Grant, it has been a vigorously growing, 4-to-5-foot-tall perennial in Hammond the past five years. Flowers are a blend of yellow and dark orange.
— Bell pepper basil. Yes, a basil named bell pepper, and the foliage of this plant tastes like bell peppers. An attractive ornamental with tiny purple flowers spring through fall, plants reach only 12-18 inches tall and attract pollinators.
— Rebel Child salvia. Another introduction from Texan Greg Grant, this perennial is a 30-to-36-inch-tall grower, it has blue flowers midspring through fall. And it’s another great pollinator plant for full sun.
— Dwarf light blue porterweed. A native of Florida, this is a great butterfly plant. The compact size 24-30 inches tall makes it more suitable for smaller landscapes and containers planted in full sun. Although porterweed will sometimes be perennial, it should be treated as an annual in the Louisiana landscape.
— Turnera. Commonly called buttercup, this selection is an annual and is the white-flowering form with golden centers. Flowering begins mid- to late spring, and plants will reliably flower through fall until first frost. Plants reach 18-24 inches tall by fall and grow well in full sun to partial shade. Another good pollinator plant for the landscape.
This is the third year the AgCenter has selected Plants with Potential. Selections for prior years include:
2015 — Kapioloni Bronze copper plant, Masaica copper plant, Mary Helen begonia, a creeping form of buttercup (Turnera), Nova pentas, Silke’s Dream salvia, Belle Starr Gold lantana, Florida Dwarf Rose purslane and Barbara Rogers begonia.
2016 — Red velvet plant, Orange Peel cestrum, Carlos Smith verbena, Snowflurry verbena, red iresine (chicken gizzard plant) and Pink Remembrance pentas.
The LSU AgCenter is actively distributing these plants to industry partners and Master Gardener groups. Plants with Potential will result in new plants for Louisiana landscapes being sold in the next few years, Stagg said.
Grandma’s Pumpkin Patch lantana provides summer color, butterfly attraction and perennial hardiness. Photo by Allen Owings/LSU AgCenter
The growth habit and delicate, light blue flowers of dwarf porterweed are attractive in the landscape. Photo by Jason Stagg/LSU AgCenter