HAMMOND, La. – Since the debut of a landscape horticulture research and extension program at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station eight years ago, we’ve continually expanded the gardens that support research. One of the largest programs evaluates new annual warm-season bedding plants and perennial flowers in the sun garden and shade garden.
Most gardeners realize many new plants are introduced to the marketplace each year. Some perform well in south Louisiana heat and humidity, and some don’t. Evaluations at the trial gardens help nursery growers, commercial landscapers, retail garden center owners and employees, Master Gardeners and home gardeners by providing information on the best-performing of these new plants.
Some of these plants may eventually become Louisiana Super Plants.
Improved dwarf and mounding habits are current goals in lantana breeding. A new dwarf lantana is the lavender-flowering addition to the Lucky series (Lucky Lavender) from Ball FloraPlant. The Ally Klaire lantana from Coach's Cedar Creek Farms in Lucedale, Mississippi, is one of the newest red lantanas on the market and is redder than others.
We are also trialing another new Mississippi lantana release – the Star Landing variety with orangey and yellow overtone blooms. Both Ally Klaire and Star Landing are smaller-growing, mounding varieties. All these lantanas have performed well this year and are AgCenter recommended.
A summer trial is not complete without new vincas. Some of us call this popular plant periwinkle. New varieties for 2015 introduction are Titan Lilac Improved, Titan Romance Mix and Jams ’N Jellies Blueberry. All of these have performed well in south Louisiana during the 2014 trial season. Vinca requires full sun, acidic soil, spring planting and minimum irrigation to perform best in the landscape.
Caladiums that are new and have been showing very good landscape performance in AgCenter trials include Heart’s Delight, Moonlight, Florida Red Ruffles, Florida Sweetheart, White Cap, White Wonder, Lance Whorton, Sangria and Scarlet Flame. Caladiums continue to evolve with increased compactness and more sun tolerance.
Every gardener loves salvia, and two exciting new salvias for 2015 are cousins to the popular Wendy’s Wish variety. Ember’s Wish has bright coral flowers, and Love and Wishes has dark purple, wine-colored flowers. Blooms do not fade. Both of these are outstanding in the trial gardens. These two new varieties are part of the Southern Living Plant Collection.
Among of the most nationally anticipated new bedding plants for 2015 are the Bounce and Big Bounce hybrid impatiens. These debuted at spring trials in 2014. Bounce is compact and Big Bounce is vigorous. These new impatiens and hybrids and are resistant to the impatiens downy milder problems that have plagued landscape plantings the last three years.
Big Bounce is available in cherry, red, violet, white and lavender flowers. Bounce is available in cherry, lilac, pink flame, white and violet flowers. Anticipate 30-inch height on Big Bounce and 18-inch height on Bounce. Bounce impatiens will be for mass merchandisers, and the Big Bounce series will be for independent garden center retailers. This plant developed by Selecta is being positioned for a large promotional campaign next spring.
A new Mexican petunia (Ruellia simplex) has been developed by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Services at the University of Florida. These are the Mayan series, which includes Mayan Purple, Mayan White and the new Mayan Pink. Old varieties of this popular plant readily re-seed and escape cultivation in the home landscape. These plants produce sterile seed and will stay contained in the garden. Growth habit of the plants is upright. The white and purple grow 36-40 inches tall, and the pink matures at half that size. Plants have excellent heat tolerance. These are perennial in Louisiana.
Coleus continues to impress. New varieties that have performed best in 2014 are Golden Dreams and Ruby Dreams from EuroAmerican Propagators along with Marquee Box Office Bronze, Marquee Blonde Bombshell and Marquee Red Carpet from Burpee Home Gardens. Golden Dreams and Ruby Dreams are both sun-loving coleus. The Marquee series is promoted for sun and shade. Plants have performed best in shade in our south Louisiana trials. All five are very slow to flower.
We have only briefly mentioned some the great new warm-season annuals and perennials. Along with these, you may want to consider the new Sombrero Adobe Orange and Double Scoop Mandarin purple coneflowers from Darwin Perennials, the dwarf Cannova series canna from Ball Ingenuity, Kong Lime Sprite coleus, Arrabonna Red celosia and two new Zahara zinnias (raspberry and yellow improved) from PanAmerican Seed, four colors in the new Rio Grande purslane, Bondi White and Bondi Blue scaevola (fan flowers), and Coleosaurus coleus from Ball FloraPlant. All are unique and offer something new for gardeners.
You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on . You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.