By Molly Day
All the Dirt on Gardening
The 2013 garden year is ending and the new plants for 2014 are being announced by plant propagators and growers. There are some real beauties in all categories — here is a sampling.
Sweet Spot Decorator roses are compact new varieties that mature at only 16 to 24 inches tall and wide. They are cold hardy to zone 5, bloom all summer, and have been bred for disease resistance and drought tolerance. Four colors will be released in 2014: Sweet Spot yellow, ruby, peach and calypso. You can get a sneak peek at www.tesselaar.com/plants/sweet-spot-roses/.
SuperCal the all-weather petunia is being introduced by Sakata. SuperCal petunias come in 11 colors for trailing in baskets or upright for flower beds. This new hybrid survives heat and light frost, as well as heavy rain. The plant breeder Sakata Seeds set up www.supercalpetunia .com where you can see it in pots and flower beds.
Double Take geraniums, new from Selecta, have double flowers in red, pink, scarlet, white and pink-plus-white, which is a pink variety with a red center. The plants mature at 1 foot tall and wide.
Itsaul Plants in Georgia introduced four new plants that will grow well here. Euphorbia Shorty matures to an 18-inch-tall mound with blue-green foliage and red growing tips. The flowers are yellow. Cold hardy to zone 5, prefers full-sun to afternoon shade in well-drained soil or rock gardens.
Echinacea Solar Flare or Solar Flare Sky Coneflower is a magenta-red coneflower that blooms from mid-summer to mid-fall. Easy-care, reliable coneflowers grow to 2 feet tall, at least 1 foot wide and are perennial in zones 4-9. Gardeners think most often of purple coneflowers, but other colors include: raspberry tart, double scoop orangeberry, tangerine dream, etc., all with the same preference for sun and heat.
The new Coreopsis Cruzin’ series includes plant names such as Main Street (deep rose flowers), Broad Street (red), Sunset Strip (yellow and orange), Electric Avenue (cream), and Route 66 (yellow with a red center). They are cold hardy to zone 5, bloom all summer in the sun, and mature at 2-feet tall and wide.
Stokesia Colorwheel, or Stokes aster, is a perennial aster for zones 5 to 9. It is compact, growing only 18 inches tall and wide. Asters fill the gap in our late summer gardens after the summertime flowers fade. In full-sun the flowers on colorwheel bloom white and fade to lavender, in continuous bloom. They appreciate regular garden watering and well-drained soil. Stokesia Purple Parasol has deeper purple flowers.
Hiemalis or Rieger begonias are tender perennials for shady places in the garden. They are only cold-hardy in zones 13-14 and heat tolerant in heat zones 12-13, maturing over the season at around 1 foot tall and wide. Their parent plants are South American tuberous begonias so they have double flowers in white, yellow, red, orange or pink. Their leaves are glossy, dark to medium green. They prefer moist soil with regular fertilizer. Amstel begonia colors include names like Batik (orange), Clara (white), Dark Britt (orange), Julie (yellow-rose), Netja Dark (pink), Polly (rose-white) and Veronica (cherry red).
The Verbena Lanai series won Best in Class at garden trials for their ability to bloom through drought, humidity, heat and light frost. The flowers are fragrant and self-cleaning so there is no need to snip off the faded blossoms. They are used as groundcover and in containers to add color wherever you want butterflies and skippers to come. Their scented leaves make them deer resistant. Color choices range from red to white with several multi-colored ones in the Twister series, including Twister Pink, Vintage Rose, Purple, Red and Candy Cane. Sygenta Flowers was the plant breeder of these hybrids so you can see them all at www.syngentaflowers.com.