Low-Moisture, Heat-Tolerant Plants

'Bloomtastic! Purple Splendor' buddleia from Hines

Pretty isn’t enough for perennials and shrubs anymore. They also need to be drought tolerant and heat resistant and produce abundant, fragrant flowers over a long bloom time. Oh, and it’d be great if they attracted butterflies, bees or other beneficial wildlife, too.

It’s a tall order, but perennial and shrub breeders are rising to the challenge with new plants that meet the heightened expectations of consumers.

Jimmy Turner, senior director of gardens for the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society, trials hundreds of new varieties every year and is one of the first to see industry trends. He says heat tolerance and low water are the big requirements now, and there’s also been a huge amount of breeding lately around scented plants, as well as plants that attract wildlife.

“[Consumers want to know that] this is a food source for such-and-such butterfly, or this is a host for such-and-such beneficial insect,” Turner says. “Ten years ago nobody would have ever mentioned ‘this plant attracts bees,’ because you didn’t want anyone to think it did. Now, all of a sudden, having bees in your backyard is a badge of honor.”

Many breeders are working with some tried and true older favorites such as hollyhock and hibiscus.

“They’re taking an old staple that we all know we can’t kill and saying, ‘Let’s see what we can do to improve it,’” Turner says.

He cites the hibiscus Summerific series from Walters Gardens as one example.

“It flowers from the bottom up – not just at the top of the stems,” he says. “There is a flower at every node.”

Turner likes ‘Berrylicious,’ with its huge 8- to 9-inch diameter mauve lavender flowers with a deep red eye. He also likes ‘Jazzberry Jam,’ with bright magenta, slightly ruffled flowers.

Another old favorite Turner likes “that we’re all sort of gaga over right now” is chaenomeles ‘Double Take,’ a double-flowered thornless cultivar bred by Spring Meadow Nursery. He is also enthusiastic about two new oakleaf hydrangeas, ‘Munchkin’ and ‘Ruby Slippers,’ out of the Tennessee State University Otis Floyd Nursery Crop Research Center.

“For us, oakleaf hydrangeas have always been 8 to 9 feet tall. These are in the 3 to 4 foot range – tight, compact. The flowers start out white, then turn into this beautiful rosy, reddish pink,” Turner says.

The Most Popular Perennials

Asked if there is one genus that stands out above all others in popularity, Turner answers without hesitation.

“In the perennial world right now it’s echinaceas,” he says. “I think we have more than 500 varieties of echinaceas right now.”

Some of his favorites that are doing well in trials are ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ (PanAmerican Seed), a multicolor blend of orange, yellow and red, and Terra Nova’s new Secret series.

“They’ve got a new yellow called ‘Leilani,’ which has huge yellow, hand-sized – and I’ve got big hands – flowers on it,” he says. “‘Southern Belle’ from Plants Nouveau is another stunner. [It’s] absolutely gorgeous. It’s kind of a bicolor pink – just sexy.”

Hellebores are right behind echinaceas in new breeding.

“There’s a few hundred of them coming out of Germany from a company named Heuger,” Turner says. “Skagit [Gardens] is the American grower and tester. They’ve got some wonderful new stuff there.”

One new series, the Gold Collection, features more bronzy foliage with silver marbling, bigger flowers and more heat tolerance and vigor. Another standout (though not in the Gold Collection) is ‘Penny’s Pink.’

“It’s a beautiful, deep rosy purple-pink with a cup-shaped flower. It makes jillions of them,” Turner says.

Dianthus is also getting a lot of attention from breeders, and Turner says one that has performed especially well in his trials is dianthus ‘Early Bird’ in the Scent series from PlantHaven.

“It’s compact, heavy blooming and has great flower production. They made it through the hottest summer on record this year in Texas, so I think they could grow anywhere. They’re super hardy too,” he says.

Buddleias & Bloomtastic

Joe Gray, senior vice president of Hines Nurseries, has two brand-new buddleias that also meet consumer demand for low-moisture, heat-tolerant, fragrant, wildlife-attracting plants. Buddleia ‘Lavender Veil’ is only 18 to 24 inches tall, making it a versatile plant even for those with small gardens. And unlike most buddleias, it flowers all over the shrub, not just at the top.

“It’s extremely fragrant and just

keeps blooming,” Gray says. “Even though it’s a woody shrub, it is acting more like a perennial.”

‘Lavender Veil’ may have another use, too. “When I’ve showed the plants to people coming into Hines, half of them have said, ‘That would be a good hanging basket.’ It’s in their thought process already, so I’m sure consumers would think that too,” he says.

Buddleia ‘Purple Splendor’ is slightly larger at 3 feet but it is still quite compact, Gray says.

“It’s full to the base and has really deep purple flowers. It blooms all summer, with lots of fragrance. It’s a manageable plant you can use in a foundation planting.”

Hines also has new introductions in its Bloomtastic program, which includes only plants with fantastic, long-lasting blooms and ease of care.

“We as an industry make it complicated for the consumer,” Gray says. “We really need to take that out and make it as fun an experience as possible. Bloomtastic is fun, simple and these plants are going to perform.”

One of Gray’s favorites is crinum ‘Purple Dream,’ which combines black-purple foliage with a striking pink flower.

“It’s a fantastic plant,” he says, adding that it looks like a cordyline, but with a beautiful flower. “In addition to that, it’ll grow in almost standing water – it will take dry soil too, so it’s a very tolerant plant – and it’s very difficult to kill. It makes a great patio plant in a big container. We’re psyched about that.”

Bougainvillea ‘Bambino’ and its even smaller counterpart ‘Babybino’ are also new to the Bloomtastic line. The Bambinos reach 4 to 5 feet tall. They have a compact habit and come in eight different colors. The Babybinos are even smaller.

“They are perfect for the deck or patio,” Gray says. “[And] the Babybinos can be used in mixed planter and windowboxes – they’re so diminutive and small.”

What’s New At Walters?

Walters Gardens also has some unique new perennials, some of which are being introduced via its new partnership with Proven Winners.

Hemerocallis ‘Primal Scream’ is one such perennial. It’s not just another daylily. Winner of the 2003 Stout Medal (the highest honor a daylily can receive), it has huge 7 ½- to 8 ½-inch diameter tangerine-orange flowers with a green throat.

In rudbeckias, a new introduction threatens to turn ‘Goldsturm’s long dominance of the rudbeckia market on its head. Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Little Goldstar’ is more compact and just over 12 inches tall.

“The flowers are closely spaced and held just above the foliage,” says Susan Martin, director of marketing communications for Walters Gardens. “It looks fantastic in containers at retail and in the garden. Since this variety is produced by tissue culture, the plants will be much more uniform than the seed-grown ‘Goldsturm,’ resulting in fewer losses for growers.”

Ligularia ‘Bottle Rocket’ also features a compact habit – one not usually seen in ligularias.

“This sport of ‘Little Rocket’ was discovered right here at Walters Gardens,” Martin says. “Unlike older ligularias, this one is a perfectly proportioned plant with its mustard yellow flowers held just at the top of the foliage.”

About six inches shorter than its parent, ‘Bottle Rocket’ is also more robust, with thicker leaves that stand up to the heat.

Martin is also excited about alstromeria ‘Inca Ice.’

“We’ve watched this plant growing in our shade trials for a few years and have been impressed every year with its vigor and capacity to produce loads of flowers over a long period,” she says.

The flowers have alternating petals of apricot pink and creamy yellow with brown speckling, and she has seen 20 or more on one stem.

“Although the plants in the Inca Collection were bred specifically for

garden use rather than the floral industry, the stems are still plenty long enough for cutting,” Martin says.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Low-Moisture, Heat-Tolerant Plants

More From Varieties...
Feature image The 2015 Perennial Plant Of The Year, Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo.’

August 27, 2015

The Perennial Plant Association’s Regional Symposium Will Be This October In Dallas

The Perennial Plant Association plans to hold its Regional Symposium October 5 in Dallas, Texas, in conjunction with the All-America Selections/Home Garden Seed Association's Summer/Fall Summit held October 5 to 8.

Read More
september_grow_rodale institute

August 25, 2015

Hospitals Are Getting Into The Organic Food Business

Growers investing in the organic food movement could serve a growing new area with vegetable transplants and starts, as well as produce, as hospitals begin to prescribe healthy diets and nutrition, and even go so far as to grow their own food. As part of a new phenomenon among progressive hospitals, health professionals are beginning to realize that without health and nutrition, programs and techniques may be done in vain or worse — obsolete. As more patients seeking a healthy diet turn to nutritionists, who recommend sugar-free, alkaline diets to prevent disease and aid in recovery, hospitals recognizing this trend are taking action. St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa., recently contracted with the nearby Rodale Institute to manage an organic farm, established in 2014. The hospital, part of a six-campus network, aims to provide excellent healthcare, part of which includes educating patients about the benefits of a plant-based, organic diet. […]

Read More

August 21, 2015

Proven Winners Announces Roadshow Events For 2015

Proven Winner's Roadshow Events, held across North America, provide growers and retailers with the opportunity to learn how to grow Proven Winner's newest varieties and receive information about industry trends.

Read More
Latest Stories
LuckyLotsAbelia_featured

August 18, 2015

Farwest Show New Varieties Showcase Will Spotlight 2016…

Featuring a spectrum of new market introductions, the 2015 Farwest Show, August 27-29 in Portland, Ore., will display 49 plants in the New Varieties Showcase, a mainstay favorite every year on the show floor. Seventeen companies from all corners of North America, the Netherlands and Canada have submitted material that covers the best and brightest of perennials, shrubs, conifers, shade and flowering trees and edibles being introduced for 2016. This year’s entries will display the prized characteristics that growers and retailers are seeking— new features, improved performance in production environments and landscape, compact sizes, enhanced disease resistance, performance in urban settings and drought tolerance. In particular for garden retail benefit, consumer appeal for this year’s showcase is excellent with choices for spectacular foliage, blooms, seasonal interest and overall wow factor. Check out the slideshow for a sampling of the new varieties. Plants are creatively displayed in retail fashion and well tagged with full descriptions, compliments of showcase […]

Read More
Cayman

August 17, 2015

21 New Blooming Potted Plants For Trouble-Free Greenhou…

Blooming potted plants brighten up almost any occasion. With new colors and an abundance of blooms, these 21 new introductions add a unique, finishing touch to even the most diversified crop mix. Here are 21 new varieties available in 2015 that will hit retail in 2016.

Read More

August 4, 2015

New 2015 California Spring Trial Edibles For The Patio …

If you are looking to capitalize on the foodie trend and spread your risk beyond Spring sales, new vegetables showcased at 2015 California Spring Trials offer plenty of opportunities to focus on unique, flavorful vegetables and edible plants that also hold ornamental value. Here are a few of new varieties Editor Laura Drotleff and Group Editor Carol Miller discovered at Spring Trials that will help diversify your crop mix.

Read More
llan Armitage Syngenta Starcluster

July 30, 2015

Allan Armitage: Let’s Talk About Starflowers. Why Is Pe…

It is good to talk about production techniques, performance results and then to see how our friends garden. Diversity of plant material has always been a strength in American garden centers, and we should never run out of plants to get people excited. However, perhaps people are tired of Petunias or Callas or Geraniums, but we will never run out of options to put in front of them. One plant that is often overlooked is Pentas, a fabulous summer crop for late spring sales. These are heat-tolerant plants, and growing them below 65°F in the greenhouse results in significant delay. Fertility should be at least 150ppm nitrogen, but avoid ammonia in the fertilizer. Plants are best grown at a somewhat higher pH than usual, between 6.4 to 6.8. For best presentation, pinch out the center bud. Side flowers will bloom together, and plants will walk off the shelf. Garden centers […]

Read More
Bunching onion warrior

July 27, 2015

All-America Selections Introduces First AAS Winners For…

All-America Selections announced another group of edible AAS Winners for home gardeners, gourmet gardeners, farm-to-table growers, market growers and anyone interested in a unique, delicious addition to their vegetable assortment. These three winners are the first for the 2016 Garden Season. Additional winners will be announced this fall and winter as the 2015 trials conclude and the breeders meet specified criteria. The first group of AAS Winners for 2016 includes: Bunching Onion ‘Warrior’ (Regional Winner) Mizuna ‘Red Kingdom’ F1 (National Winner) Radish ‘Sweet Baby’ F1 (Regional Winner) All-America Selections has had bulb onions as award winners in the past, but ‘Warrior’ is the first bunching (or green) onion. Similarly, there have been green mustard AAS Winners, but never a red Mizuna (or Japanese Mustard). ‘Sweet Baby’ radish joins nine other radishes that are previous AAS Winners adding a violet colored beauty to an assortment of radishes that range from white […]

Read More
Coleus-Campfire-BallFloraPlant

July 21, 2015

Costa Farms Trial Garden Update: 2015 Late-Season Top-P…

The Costa Farms team announced its late-season top performers in the 2015 Season Premier Trial Garden in Miami, Fla. Its research and development team has been working to grow and evaluate hundreds of varieties and have published their findings here. The plants you’ll find in the link have thrived in Miami’s late-spring conditions. Every spring, the research and development team trials 500 varieties of annuals, perennials and tropical plants from plant breeders around the world. All of the varieties were tested in the 2-acre trial garden. Varieties are assessed for abundance of bloom, crop uniformity and overall performance, which includes factors such as clean foliage, little to no pest damage and the plants’ overall habits and appearances. About 70 varieties scored as top performers during the evaluation period, which lasted from week five to week 19. Transplanting into the trial garden occurred at week 51, and plants were grown in 6-inch pots to finished […]

Read More
Cornell_annual-bed

July 20, 2015

Cornell Floriculture Field Day To Take Place August 11

Cornell’s Floriculture Field Day will be Tuesday August 11 at the Cornell campus in Ithaca, N.Y. An alumni event will be held the evening prior. More information and online registration for both events is available online. Here is some of what will be happening during Cornell’s Floriculture Field Day: 1. New Cornell Alumni and Friends reception. Come to Ithaca, N.Y an evening early for the 2015 alumni and friends event at the Cornell Plantations visitor center. The event, which will be Aug. 10, 5:30-7 p.m., will feature appetizers, New York wine and jazz. It will take place at the Nevin Welcome Center. 2. Armitage and Konjoian kick off the morning program. During the morning program at the Cornell Veterinary School, Allan Armitage, professor emeritus, University of Georgia, will talk about some of his favorite annuals, perennials and veggies for the landscape. Peter Konjoian, of Konjoian’s Floriculture Education Services, will inspire you to […]

Read More
Dragon’s-Breath-Celosia_featured

July 15, 2015

Greenhouse Grower Honors 2015 Medal Of Excellence Breed…

Greenhouse Grower announced its Medal of Excellence winners at the Evening of Excellence, held Monday, July 13 at Cultivate’15  in Columbus, Ohio. The Readers’ Choice Award was presented to Terra Nova Nurseries for Leucanthemum ‘Luna,’ the Industry’s Choice Award went to Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ from Sakata Seed and the Editor’s Choice Award was given to Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ from EuroAmerican Propagators Read on to learn more about the varieties that were finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice, Industry’s Choice and Readers’ Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ […]

Read More
Pleasant View Gardens Open House

July 8, 2015

This Summer’s Can’t Miss Tours And Events

July and August are packed with events, from greenhouse tours and seminars, to the new Summer Vegetable Trials in California. Check out the list of events for dates and times, as well as information on how to plan your visit. Bailey Nurseries Bailey Nurseries will hold its Minnesota Expo 2015, a jam-packed event showcasing its farm and plants, on July 30, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in St. Paul, Minn. In addition to farm tours, participants can enjoy new varieties, hot picks and merchandising displays, as well as attend various seminars throughout the day. A continental breakfast and lunch will be served during the event. Visit the Bailey Nurseries website for the complete schedule and to register online, or contact Sue Gundersen at sue.gundersen@baileynursery.com or 651-768-3372 for more information. Ball Seed Field Day & Landscape Day Ball Seed’s Field Day & Landscape Day will take place July 31, at 8 a.m. in West […]

Read More

July 8, 2015

The Kientzler Group Is Honored For Industry Achievement

Kientzler is one of the world’s most prolific and innovative breeding powerhouses. It has built on its rich history by providing new and exciting genetics to the floriculture industry, with the creation of the market for New Guinea Impatiens with its Paradise and Pure Beauty series, as well as bringing Scaevola, Bracteantha, Sutera and other plant genetics to the marketplace, introduced in the U.S. through the Proven Winners network. Through its Innovaplant facilities in Costa Rica, Kientzler has also become well-known for establishing high standards for quality and cleanliness, and providing a dependable supply of young plants to growers in the U.S. for more than 20 years. With the company’s new business direction starting this past winter, providing its own genetics directly to the U.S. market, 2015 is a great year to honor Kientzler’s past accomplishments and celebrate its new horizons.     Building On A Legacy Of Greatness Kientzler […]

Read More
Medal of Excellence Award

July 6, 2015

Get To Know The 9 Variety Finalists For Editor’s …

Greenhouse Grower‘s Evening Of Excellence reception is rapidly approaching. Here, you can learn more about the varieties that are finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice and Industry’s Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ (Kieft Seed) Vinca Valiant Series (PanAmerican Seed)     Join us Monday, July 13 in Ballroom 2 at the Columbus Convention Center to find out which varieties will receive the coveted awards. The reception begins at 5:15 p.m. and the ceremony […]

Read More

June 24, 2015

Perennial Container Combos And New Intros Shine At 2015…

Despite a rainy start to the day, more than 300 perennial enthusiasts showed up at 2015 Darwin Perennials Day to see the latest perennial introductions first-hand and connect with some of the best suppliers in the business.

Read More
2015 Readers' Choice

June 24, 2015

The 2015 Readers’ Choice Finalists Up Close And P…

You’ve narrowed the Readers’ Choice Finalists down to top picks in the Annuals, Perennials and Best of the Rest categories. Now it’s time to pick the overall winner. Here’s a closer look at the three finalists to help you make your choice. Then join us during Cultivate'15 at Greenhouse Grower's prestigious Medal of Excellence reception on Monday, July 13, where we will reveal the winner.

Read More
WavePetunias-GrowIt_contest_featured

June 18, 2015

Wave Petunias Sponsors Photo Contest Through GrowIt! Ga…

The gardening season is heating up and the Wave Petunias Team wants to see the #WildestWave. The popular plant brand has joined forces with the GrowIt! Garden Socially app to host a two week contest in June that encourages Wave Fans to share and rate photos of their favorite Wave Petunias. The grand prize is a $100 gift card to the garden center of the winner’s choosing. “We are excited to work with GrowIt! and see our Wave Petunias tagged in cities from coast to coast,” says Claire Watson, brand manager for Wave. “Seeing gardeners’ creative photography, awarding a winner, and learning what each region likes about Wave Petunias will be extremely useful as we further promote our ‘Wow ’em With Wave’ ad campaign this season.” Gardeners can place an entry into the contest by downloading GrowIt!, filling out a profile, and uploading photos of Wave Petunias. Placing the tag #WildestWave in the photo’s comments section […]

Read More
Kaleidoscope Abelia (Plant Haven International)

June 17, 2015

PlantHaven International Launches National Campaign To …

PlantHaven International has partnered with BlueSkye Creative to initiate a national consumer ad campaign that carries across radio, video, print and social media to increase sales of Abelia Kaleidoscope.

Read More

June 17, 2015

Green Leaf Plants Plans Two Open House Events June 25-2…

Green Leaf Plants will hold two open house events this summer to give the public a chance to view trial gardens, take guided tours and learn about new varieties and programs. Both events will be held at Green Leaf Plant's facility in Lancaster, Pa. The event in July will coincide with Penn State University Extension Trials in nearby Manheim.

Read More
Suntory_EuroAmerican Propagators_CAST2015

June 17, 2015

ePlantSource Welcomes EuroAmerican to list of Partners

ePlantSource recently announced a new partnership with EuroAmerican. A complete assortment from EuroAmerican is now available on ePlantSource.com and varieties are available for sale now to customers for the 2015-2016 season. In addition to the innovative varieties included in EuroAmerican’s “Growing Opportunities — 365 Days a Year” program, Savvy Succulents, the Sunny Collection, the Senetti Collection and offerings from breeders such as Suntory and Ball Ornamentals, ePlantSource customers will also gain access to the well known Proven Winners assortment and combination containers. “During the recent California Spring Trials, I had the opportunity to sit down with John Rader at the impressive display in Ventura from EuroAmerican and I couldn’t be happier to now offer the complete EuroAmerican assortment to our customers,” says Gary Falkenstein, president/CEO of ePlantSource. “EuroAmerican is a visionary company and we are proud that they have chosen to work with ePlantSource for the coming seasons.” Catalog listings, […]

Read More
Pleasant View Gardens Open House

June 14, 2015

Pleasant View Gardens And D.S. Cole Growers Open House …

D.S. Cole Growers and Pleasant View Gardens, both a short distance away from each other in Loudon, N.H., have set July 30 as the date for their open house events. Attendance is free, but registration is required.

Read More