Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on March 15, 2007. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Search for these top plants in '07
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
It looks like spring has arrived early and based on the crowded parking lots at local garden centers and the area garden and patio shows, everyone is ready to get out and dig in the dirt again.
Since people keep asking for my predictions for 2007's hottest plants, I want to share the names of some that have me fired up.
Some of you may remember plants called chicken gizzards that our grandparents grew. Well, they are hotter than ever. They made a little bit of a revival last year but should really come out smoking this season. Look for Iresine varieties like Blazin Rose and Bloodleaf.
Both will offer incredible color for any kind of garden. I prefer the tropical look, but they work well in the cottage garden, too. They don't like full afternoon sun so give them some protection. They will look like they are glowing during those moments when light hits them.
In addition to Blazin Rose and Bloodleaf, look also for yellow- and green-variegated selections and the shorter Purple Lady that has a more spreading habit.
Will the gardener ever tire of coleus? I once thought so, but new varieties, riotous colors and the ease at which we can grow them makes this plant a winner in anyone's book. Can you imagine a more versatile plant?
They look as tropical as their Southeast African home when you combine them with bananas or elephant ears for an incredible display. There also are sun-loving varieties that partner exceedingly well with them including the daisy-like flowers of rudbeckias, rugged lantanas or even ornamental grasses. Phlox…How would you like to have a phlox that starts blooming in the early spring and lasts until fall frosts? This seems pretty far-fetched, but I have witnessed it with my own eyes the last two years.
Visitors to the June trials at the Truck Crops Experiment Station in Crystal Springs were mesmerized by the mounding floral display of the four colors. Then in October, when thousands visited the Fall Flower and Garden fest, there they were still blooming.
The Intensia series is brought to us by Proven Winners and was among the top two or three plants in trials across the country. In our trials, it bloomed from spring until frost. Buy it this spring, and you will be the envy of the neighborhood.
When you think of angelonias in 2007, put an asterisk by the name Serena. Growers will appreciate that this is the first seed-propagated variety of angelonia. What you'll like, however, is the almost non-stop blooming of the 12-inch tall, compact, tough-as-nails flower.
The plants will spread to around 14 inches, so plant to space about 8 inches apart. You will also want to make note that the Mississippi Plant Selections Committee has chosen the Serena angelonia as a 2007 Mississippi Medallion award winner.
Serena angelonias are available in several colors: lavender, lavender-pink, purple, white and a mix. Since they are so heat- and drought-tolerant, you will want to plant them in mass with other rock solid performers like melampodium, lantana or rudbeckias. Their spiky texture is most welcome in the garden world dominated by round flowers.
As I write this feature, I notice that the spell check on my computer is underlining Angelonia, not recognizing it as a word. Many of you are doing much the same in that you haven't given angelonia (also called summer snapdragon) a try. This year do it, and make Serena the one you try first.
This is just a tiny sampling of the great new plants you will find this spring. Many of these will be available at the 10th annual Jackson Garden and Patio Show that begins today at 10 a.m. and is open until 6 p.m. at the Mississippi Trade Mart. Saturday this show is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admissions is $6 for adults, children 10 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.