Breaking News Bar
posted: 3/6/2014 1:01 AM

Horticulturist picks the best new plant varieties

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • For grasses, try Panicum Cape Breeze.

      For grasses, try Panicum Cape Breeze.
    Photo Courtesy of Allan Armitage

  • Phlox Paniculata Peacock White resists mildew.

      Phlox Paniculata Peacock White resists mildew.
    Photo Courtesy of Allan Armitage

  • For a fragrant annual, check out Helioptropium Scentopia Dark Blue.

      For a fragrant annual, check out Helioptropium Scentopia Dark Blue.
    Photo Courtesy of Allan Armitage

  • University of Georgia horticulturist Allan Armitage picks his favorite new plant varieties for the season. "You've got to have these fun things," he said.

      University of Georgia horticulturist Allan Armitage picks his favorite new plant varieties for the season. "You've got to have these fun things," he said.
    Photo Courtesy of Allan Armitage

  • Bed of Nails (Solanum quitoense) has been around but every garden needs a surprise. This perennial comes with thorny foliage.

      Bed of Nails (Solanum quitoense) has been around but every garden needs a surprise. This perennial comes with thorny foliage.
    Photo Courtesy of Allan Armitage

  • The Eyeball Plant (formal name: Acmella oleracea) is the only annual that looks back at you, Armitage said.

      The Eyeball Plant (formal name: Acmella oleracea) is the only annual that looks back at you, Armitage said.
    Photo Courtesy of Allan Armitage

 
 

If there was a pretty flower that could weather a rowdy party, it's a gomphrena.

Or so says Allan Armitage.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

"If you're a landscaper that is doing work with student dorms, beer cans and girls falling out of windows -- gomphrena, it works," Armitage said with a grin. "They're tough old birds."

For a professor of horticulture, Armitage sure can deliver the one-liners. His real mission, though, is to examine new plant varieties at the University of Georgia test gardens.

This year's crop grows stronger, faster. And many of them are ideal for hanging baskets or patio-side containers.

"The garden of tomorrow is the deck," Armitage said.

He recently walked through the top performers at the "iLandscape Show" in Schaumburg, just in time for green thumbs to start planning their spring gardens.

Here are some of his favorites:

Annuals

• Mildew? What mildew? Impatiens have long dominated the shade scene. But an air- and soil-borne disease -- downy mildew -- has ravaged the staple. The New Guinea series resists the illness, Armitage promises. Another perk? It tolerates sun.

• The "tough old birds": So you want a no-fuss type. Try a gomphrena called Las Vegas Pink, a hearty annual with round blossoms. Not much bothers a geranium hybrid, Caliente Orange, either.

• Stop and smell: Heliotropes always demand a whiff. Scentopia Dark Blue blooms are even more fragrant.

• Hot, hot, hot: These plants like it warm, like 95-degrees-in-July warm. And they give your garden the tropical look -- still all the rage, Armitage says. Check out the eye-catching foliage of Black Coral, a colocasia with blue veins.

• The crazies: Some of these have been around, but they're hard to find. And every garden needs a surprise. So take a chance on Eyeball Plant (formal name: Acmella oleracea). It's the only plant -- sprouting with round yellow buds and red centers -- that looks back at you, Armitage said. Or try Bed of Nails (Solanum quitoense), dotted with purple thorns on green leaves. "You've got to have these fun things," Armitage said.

Perennials

• No more deer, please: Hellebores are known for turning off the animal. Pink Frost blossoms with rose hues, while Champion displays large white flowers. They also flourish in containers.

• Big hair: New grasses hitting the market -- Panicum Cape Breeze -- feel like long tresses. "It's something you want to put your face into," Armitage said.

• Showstoppers: Phlox also is mildew resistant. For the cute factor, Peacock White gives pristine, compact flowers.

• Short stature: Whirling butterflies, native to the southwest, are a good bet for stifling summers. The best dwarf variety? Karalee Petite Pink, Armitage said. When they do stop flowering, give them a good trim.

• Autumn accents: Yes, fall seems far away. But gardeners must be prepared. Many of the coral bells hold their color as temperatures cool. Armitage recommends Buttered Rum or Georgia Peach.

To find rare varieties, sift through Armitage's handy smartphone app, where users also can look up retailers and gardening tips. It's available by searching for "Armitage" in the Apple Store or Google Play for Androids.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here