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Exciting new plants are coming in 2007
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Something magical happens after Jan. 1. There is a spirit of optimism among gardeners. We know winter is still here, but spring is coming. As weather permits, it is time to get the garden ready and make plans for this year's plantings.
There are many new plants to try in 2007. Many of them have names we have never heard and which cannot be found in any reference book.
For example, consider the plant called Melongolly Blue scoparia. Scoparia isn't in any of the reference books in my office. Still, we planted it last year at Mississippi State University's Truck Crops Experiment Station at Crystal Springs in mid-April. As September approached, it was still blooming profusely with hundreds of tiny blue flowers after enduring months of extreme heat.
Most of the country will grow Melongolly Blue as an annual; it is drought tolerant and grows 18 to 24 inches tall. It has been a top performer from Texas to Ohio to Florida and has been doing wonderfully in Mississippi. It is related to the snapdragon.
If you think the name scoparia is a strange name, consider Flambe Orange or Flambe Yellow chrysocephalum. Chrysoephalum in the Aster family is also a no-show in my reference books. This plant has received an excellent rating in states from Minnesota to New York to the Deep South. It has been a rugged performer in our trials.
Chrysoephalum has scores of tiny button orange or yellow flowers produced nonstop from April through October. They reach about 12 to 18 inches tall, thriving in full sun. They are drought tolerant and don't want to be over-watered. The plant is cold hardy in zones 8-10.
But not all of the great new plants for 2007 have strange names. The Wave petunias will be popular again, and this year my favorite will be the Easy Wave Coral Reef. The color coral has never been one of my favorites, but this one is different. It is a rich, saturated color.
You'll love it mass planted as a stand-alone petunia or combined in what is known as Easy Wave Beachcomber mix. This is one of the prettiest mixes I have ever seen, and is produced by incorporating the Easy Wave Coral, Shell Pink and Blue. Remember Easy Waves are spreading but more mounding than the petunias that are just called Waves.
The key to happiness with these and other flowers this season will be to provide them a good home to live in. This comes from incorporating organic matter into the soil for good drainage and aeration. It also makes for easy root growth and plant establishment.
I am excited about all of the new plants coming our way this spring. You'll find many of them debuting at this year's garden and patio shows. The 2007 shows are Feb. 23-25 in the Gulf Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi, March 16-18 in the Mississippi Trade Mart in Jackson and March 30-April 1 at the Forest County Multipurpose Center in Hattiesburg.