LSU AgCenter Horticulturist
(09/11/20) October is all about pink in support of breast cancer awareness. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Men also can get breast cancer. In 2020, hundreds of thousands of cases will be reported.
Are you asking yourself, what does this have to do with gardening and why are we talking about it in September? Here’s what I’m thinking: our landscapes are an extension of our homes and a statement to those around us.
Why not honor breast cancer patients and survivors by going pink in your flower beds and getting a head start this month? You can show your support and bring awareness to this devastating disease. It’s not just public landscapes, hospitals and cancer centers that can make an impact. So can you.
Luckily, when it comes to pink, we have many options to choose from. If you are not keen on flowers in general, you can use plants with pink foliage. I think many of us have some shade of pink in the landscape, whether it be a very delicate, light pink or a vibrant, hot pink. Go with what you like.
If you don’t want to make the long commitment, plant in small containers or try planting annuals that can be changed out in the summertime. Many Louisiana Super Plant selections have shades of pink to choose from.
Both Amazon and Jolt dianthus are excellent Louisiana Super Plant selections for fall that come in an array of pink colors. Amazon comes in Amazon Rose Magic and Amazon Neon Cherry, and Jolt comes in various shades of pink with Cherry, Pink and Pink Magic. Ranging from delicate pink to hot pink, both can make quite a statement.
They both also have excellent dark green foliage, perform best in full to part sun and are great for attracting butterflies in late fall and early spring. They make great cut flowers that you can share with friends or family members fighting the disease and to help celebrate survivors.
Do you want to go all in and show your support? Try a real impactful choice — another Louisiana Super Plant with bright, prolific, pink flowers called Supertunia Vista Bubblegum. This mighty petunia is known for its long-lasting flower bloom in the landscape. It has a mounding, spreading habit that can grow up to 3 feet in all directions, with a height of 16 to 24 inches. It prefers full sun to produce the maximum amount of blooms.
If you want something more permanent, try shrubs. Three fall-blooming Louisiana Super Plants with pink flowers are Conversation Piece azalea, Aphrodite althea (rose of Sharon) and Luna hibiscus. All three make excellent shrubs for sunny areas in the lawn and will bloom in the fall, year after year.
Dream roses and Belinda’s Dream roses are both Louisiana Super Plant selections that have pink blooms that are open in the fall. The Belinda’s Dream can be another superb cut flower choice to share with family and friends.
Penny Mac hydrangea is another Louisiana Super Plant. It’s a repeat-blooming hydrangea that can produce large flower clusters of pink or blue beginning in late spring and will continue to bloom on new growth into the summer and fall. To influence flower color, you can treat the soil around the bushes with lime and superphosphate in March and again in October each year. Your soil should be a pH of 7-8.5 to help achieve the pink color. It may take years for the shift to pink to occur if your plant typically blooms blue.
Many warm-season flowers planted in late spring and during the summer are still blooming and going strong in October. Some Louisiana Super Plants that come in shades of pink are Lucky Star and Butterfly pentas, Intenz Classic celosia, Baby Wing begonias, Senorita Rosalita cleome, Sunpatiens, Bandana lantanas and Kauai torenia. Nearly every Louisiana Super Plant selection comes in some shade of pink.
Other cool-season flowers displaying various shades of pink include pansies, violas, dianthus, snapdragons, garden mums, calendula, ornamental kale and cabbage. Perennial flowers like gaillardia, verbena, Mexican petunias, cupheas, guara, salvias, coneflowers and rudbeckias can also be found in various shades of pink. They establish well when planted in fall and will perform better next year if they’re planted now.
One plant that really gives back to help breast cancer research is called the Invincibelle Spirit II hydrangea II. One dollar from each Invincibelle Spirit II sold is donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Although it’s difficult to find in Louisiana, some nurseries may carry this hydrangea. Plants can also be purchased online. More than $1 million has been donated from sales of this plant.
Whether it’s delicate pink, hot pink or any shade in between, show your support for breast cancer awareness this October with plants.
Jolt dianthus. Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter
Bandana lantana. Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter
Star pentas. Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter
Supertunia Vista Bubblegum. Photo by Gary Bachman/Mississippi State University