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Outstanding Plants Will Arrive in 1999
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
The New Year looks very promising from the standpoint of new plants for the gardener. The All-America Selections committee has recognized 12 winners for 1999. These winners also represent several countries like Germany, Japan, Taiwan and China.
One of the winners is a marigold called Bolero. It is in the Bonanza series that has performed real well at the Truck Crops Experiment in Crystal Springs. Bolero is named after the twirling, stamping Spanish dance, and is distinct because of its irregular bicolor design.
Bonanza Bolero blooms are golden yellow flecked with mahogany red markings in a variable pattern. The flowers are fully double, and it blooms all season. The flowers are borne on plants that reach about 12 inches tall with a width close to 24 inches.
Bolero is drought tolerant and performs well under adverse growing conditions. It requires a moderately fertile soil and good drainage.
Two other All America Selections for 1999 are zinnias in the Profusion series, orange and cherry. This is the first time that two zinnias have received the coveted award.
These are All America Selections Gold Medal winners and are worthy of the award. Profusion orange and cherry are winners because of proven disease tolerances noted at all test sites in North America. I saw these plants at the test at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga.
These zinnias do not succumb to powdery mildew and bacterial leaf spot as do some late season zinnias. Flowers are borne on 18-inch tall plants and reach a height of about 20 inches. They are also mounded in shape giving good color on all sides of the plant making them very suitable for rock gardens. Plant in well-prepared, well-drained beds about 16 inches apart. For a really show-stopping display, mass about a dozen of the Profusion orange with blue ageratums.
The Profusion cherry works exceptionally well with the New Gold lantana and variegated grasses like the zebra or one that is fairly new to the market called carex, or Japanese sedge. Look for transplants at your garden center this spring, and keep in mind that these also are easy to grow from seed.
One other exciting plant is Flamenco, a red hot poker type plant. All-America rarely gives awards a perennial, and that is what Flamenco is in zones 5 through 9. Flamenco produces long 30-inch flower spikes, great for cutting and using in the vase. The flowers are a combination of light yellow, golden yellow, orange and red on the same flowers. The cut flowers can last from seven to 10 days in arrangements. Space plants to the back or middle of the border in full sun about 24 inches apart. All-America Selections say you can start your own seedling indoors in January for July blooming, but you may opt to buy transplants at the garden center instead.
Now is a good time to plans and catch up on reading about these hot new plants. As the soil and temperatures allow, start improving those tight clays as well.