Along The Horticulture Path
Jerry W. Weise, GCSC, Inc. Horticulture Chairman
Horticultural trivia (and not so trivial information) reported at the GCSC, Inc. State Convention on April 26, 2013.
Research in plant DNA frequently causes botanists to re-classify a plant’s genus. Coleus has been re-named. The genus is now Plectranthus so Flower Show schedules and entry cards should read Plectranthus scutellarioides. The common name continues to be coleus, which may appear in schedules or on entry cards in addition to the genus, species and cultivar. For example: Plectranthus scutellarioides ‘Bronze Pagoda’ (coleus).
Lady GaGa now has a fern named for her. Don’t you love researchers with a sense of humor? They found one part of the fern’s genome sequence was GaGa! As our former GCSC President Maida Dantzler quipped, it is easier to say than guanine adenine guanine adenine!
Dolly Parton has gotten into the act. Collaborating with her uncle Bill Owens, country music singer/songwriter, she has immortalized the comeback of the chestnut tree. The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was nearly wiped out in the 1900’s by a fungal blight from Asia. Thanks to the long years of breeding efforts by the American Chestnut Foundation (ACF), fungal resistant trees have been created. This valuable source of lumber and forage for wildlife and humans was and is important to the Smoky Mountains area and throughout Appalachia. The recently released song “Oh, Chestnut Tree” spreads awareness of the near extinction of this magnificient forest giant and its comeback. For a free download of the song and to learn more about ACF, go to www.acf.org
Happy New Year; New for 2013; New Cars; New Aps; New Plant introductions; Southeastern Flower Show “What’s Old is New Again” March 15-17 in Atlanta; Chelsea Flower Show turns 100—the Grande Dame of them all –March 21-25 in London; Breath of Spring Flower Show “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” March 1-3 at Cypress Gardens, SC; The Philadelphia Flower Show March 2-10 . . .! Local and global events beckon and entice.
This winter season is also a time of evaluation. Did you try some of the new plant varieties offered in 2012? How did they fare in your microclimate? If annuals, would you plant them again this season? How have your established plantings survived the multiple years of drought? Remember to mulch, mulch, mulch for moisture conservation. First though remove any fallen blossoms (especially camellias) and any old mulch that could harbor pests/diseases. Also now is a good time to treat citrus trees and other shrubs with horticultural oil. Read and follow your chosen product’s instructions for effective and safe application. Leaves, fronds and limbs infested with scales, white flies, other pests can be removed mechanically by pruning. Do not add these trimmings to your compost pile. It probably will not heat up enough to destroy these pests. Rather, put out for trash pick-up.
New plant introductions that survived in test gardens last year despite heat and drought should be worthy of a try this year. Many have brightly colored foliage and/or blooms.
Doubleclick Bicolor Pink Cosmos This is a new color in a series of fully doubleflowered cosmos. Deadhead for summer long bloom in full sun. Look for seed packets.
Lemon Slice calibrachoa (hybrid) is a yellow and white star pattern member of the SuperbellsR tribe. Good container ‘spiller’ that trails to 24 inches with spring and fall bloom.
Santa CruzTM Sunset Begonia (Begonia boliviensis) is a good hanging basket plant 12 to 16 inches tall. The bright orange-red flowers hang gracefully and will cha-cha-cha you south of the border.
Shrubs and Vines for small spaces
Lo and BeholdR ‘Lilac Chip’ is a Buddleia hybrid that is seedless so non-invasive. This small shrub grows 18-24 inches tall with repeat blooms in a light lavender. A small butterfly bush for a small butterfly garden.
Purple PixieR is a groundcover loropetalum less than 18 inches tall (Loropetalum chinense ‘Peack’). Has dark purple leaves and would make a good container plant. Grow for foliage, flowers sparsely.
BambinoTM Sophia bougainvillea, a hybrid, is a dwarf vine growing only 4-5 feet high and wide. Good container plant. Has variegated foliage with flowers that begin orange and age to purplish-pink. Tropical. Zones 10-11.
SunsparklerR Sedum ‘Blue Pearl’ is a dark blue touted to have non-fading color and pink blooms. It looks like a great contrast to the silver-grey of Ghost Plant (Eschevieria paraguayense). (Don’t you love browsing all the plant/seed catalogs in January?)
Salvia ‘Amistad’ is dark purple flowered. Grows 3-4 feet tall and to 3 feet wide. Handles heat and drought well. Zones 9-11.
An orange-peach leaved coral bells plant will set your shade garden aglow. Heuchera ‘Paprika’ grows about 8 inches tall and spreads to 16 inches. Zones 4-9.
For the butterfly garden or sunny border try the new seed-propagated cone flower mixture. This AAS winner for 2013, Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ has flowers in shades from purple, yellow, red, and cream to white.
Just a small sample to whet your appetite! Happy gardening!