‘Luisa’ Turnera Holds Great Potential

'Luisa' Turnera Holds Great Potential

Turnera diffusa is a widespread and variable species found throughout the tropical Americas. Commonly known as “damiana,” Turnera diffusa has figured extensively in folk medicine and is particularly noted for its aphrodisiacal properties for which there is scientific support.

In 2005, we conducted a plant exploration in Puerto Rico for species with ornamental potential. In the coastal mogotes (limestone hills) of southern Peñuelas Municipality, we encountered a population of T. diffusa. The population was striking for its small, densely hairy gray-green leaves that we perceived as more attractive than typical of the species elsewhere across its broad range. One individual in the population appeared particularly compact.

Cuttings of this individual were collected and placed at a mist propagation facility at the USDA-ARS Tropical Agricultural Research Station (TARS) in Mayaguez. Once rooted, these were shipped to the National Germplasm Repository at the Subtropical Horticulture Research Station (SHRS) in Miami, where we have propagated and evaluated the plant for the past five years. It has proven to be a dependable, problem-free ornamental with great potential as a perennial in warm climates or for annual use in the temperate zone. We have given this cultivar the name ‘Luisa’ in honor of the author Tomás Ayala-Silva’s late mother, who was an enthusiastic admirer of Puerto Rico’s native flora.

Rooting ‘Luisa’

‘Luisa’ is a multi-stemmed, densely branched evergreen sub-shrub growing to about 2.5 feet tall. The small evergreen leaves are grayish green and aromatic when crushed. The small (1/2-inch) yellow flowers are borne singly in the axils of the more terminal leaves, and though lasting only a single day, are quickly replaced by new flowers the next day.

‘Luisa’ is readily propagated from softwood cuttings throughout the year. We have found that cuttings from actively growing plants treated with a five-second basal end dip in 1,000 ppm indolebutyric acid in 50 percent EtOH root within four to six weeks when placed under intermittent mist.

We have successfully grown the cultivar in five-parts-aged pine bark: four coconut coir dust, one coarse sand (by volume). Rooted cuttings in cell packs are placed directly into 6-inch containers. The plants grow rapidly and will be saleable in 6-inch containers in six to eight months after rooted cuttings are potted. In smaller containers (4 inch), they are ready in four to six months. Trial blocks were situated in the ground at the USDA-ARS National Germplasm Repository in Miami from plants established in 6-inch containers in October 2005, April 2007 and again in March 2009 in crushed limestone and sand-fill soil similar to urban residential lots in much of South Florida. Soil was amended with three inches of 10-year-old aged compost from vegetative solid waste, incorporated into the top six inches of the site substrate.

In The Landscape

In the landscape, ‘Luisa’ should be situated in full sun and on well-drained soils. It is tolerant of alkalinity to a pH of at least 8.5 and grows equally well in slightly acidic substrates (pH 6.5). After establishment, the plant is drought tolerant, requiring supplementary irrigation only during prolonged periods of no precipitation.

Nutritional requirements appear low. We have fertilized field plantings only once annually with no apparent nutritional deficiencies observed. Once each year the plants can be cut back to half their height. No pest or disease problems have been observed in five years of cultivation history in Miami. Fruit set has never occurred at our location, so the threat of weediness appears minimal in contrast to T. subulata and T. ulmifolia, which have naturalized in many subtropical and tropical areas. The rapid rate of growth, ease of propagation and long flowering season suggest ‘Luisa’ could be marketed as an annual beyond its expected hardiness range, which we estimate to be USDA 9B-11 (USDA, 1990). Flowering occurs for most of the year in South Florida, ceasing production only in the coldest months of winter.

‘Luisa’ can be used as an edging, groundcover, bedding plant or as a container plant. Although the flowers are small, they are produced in great profusion and contrast well with the gray-green foliage, creating a conspicuous presentation in the landscape. The dwarf growth habit and small leaves and flowers are markedly different from the coarse, rangy habit of the large-flowered T. ulmifolia and T. subulata.

Small quantities of ‘Luisa’ are available for research and further evaluation purposes by request through the USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System as accession PI 659752.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “‘Luisa’ Turnera Holds Great Potential

More From Varieties...
National Garden Bureau California Vegetable Summer Trials

May 26, 2016

California Summer Vegetable Trials In August Will Cover A Wide Range Of Crops

The National Garden Bureau is once again organizing summer vegetables trials this August in California, giving attendees the opportunity to visit with several breeding companies.

Read More
Eason 2017 Perennials Guide

May 25, 2016

Eason Horticultural Resources Releases New Perennials Guide And Spring Trials Report

The two guides are available in digital and print versions and offer information from several breeders.

Read More
Echinacea ‘Butterfly Rainbow Marcella’

May 25, 2016

15 New Perennials For Bees, Butterflies, And Other Pollinators

These 15 new perennials, available for retail in 2016 and 2017, will produce colorful flowers and foliage year after year, providing habitat and food for bees, butterflies, birds, moths, and other pollinators.

Read More
Latest Stories
National Garden Bureau California Vegetable Summer Trials

May 26, 2016

California Summer Vegetable Trials In August Will Cover…

The National Garden Bureau is once again organizing summer vegetables trials this August in California, giving attendees the opportunity to visit with several breeding companies.

Read More
Eason 2017 Perennials Guide

May 25, 2016

Eason Horticultural Resources Releases New Perennials G…

The two guides are available in digital and print versions and offer information from several breeders.

Read More
Echinacea ‘Butterfly Rainbow Marcella’

May 25, 2016

15 New Perennials For Bees, Butterflies, And Other Poll…

These 15 new perennials, available for retail in 2016 and 2017, will produce colorful flowers and foliage year after year, providing habitat and food for bees, butterflies, birds, moths, and other pollinators.

Read More
P.Allen Smith Cut Flowers

May 25, 2016

Sakata Seed America And P. Allen Smith Extend Partnersh…

Sakata is taking its partnership with plantsman P. Allen Smith a step further to create the P. Allen Smith Home Grown Cut Flowers Collection, a selection of premium cut flower seed hand-picked by Smith and bred exclusively by Sakata.

Read More
Coleus Fancy Feathers Pink (Terra Nova Nurseries)

May 23, 2016

Take A Sneak Peek at Terra Nova Nurseries’ New Coleus F…

A brand-new collection of Terra Nova Nurseries coleus varieties called the Fancy Feathers Series is now available to growers for online orders. The series produces narrow, feather-like leaves and offers a mounded habit.

Read More
Rotary Botanical Gardens, Wisconsin

May 16, 2016

All-America Selections Summer Summit In Madison, WI, Wi…

Registration is now open for the 2016 Summer Summit, which takes place in August and features a focus on the locally grown movement.

Read More

May 10, 2016

13 New Native Plants And Nativars For Going Green [Slid…

Native plants are becoming a bigger part of living green, as consumers become more aware of the role regional native plants play in promoting biodiversity in the garden, in urban landscapes, and in habitat restoration. Here are 13 new native plants breeders are offering to consider for your product mix.

Read More
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Ginger Love’ (Aris Greenleaf Plants)

May 10, 2016

12 New Ornamental Grasses For Low Maintenance Garden Ap…

Nothing says low maintenance like ornamental grasses. They add texture, movement, and all-season color to the garden. Check out 12 new ornamental grasses and grass-like varieties for growing in your greenhouse or the garden.

Read More
Blueberry ‘BrazelBerries Perpetua’ (Fall Creek Farm & Nursery)

May 9, 2016

Why Star Roses And Plants Is Buying The BrazelBerries P…

The purchase includes the brand, variety portfolio, and grower network, and allows Star Roses to capitalize on increased berry consumption among consumers.

Read More
Wave Petunias Team

May 3, 2016

Hot Pink Wave-Rave Van Making Its Way To The Big Apple …

Imagine driving down the road, minding your own business, when you’re passed by two smiling, waving, happy women driving a hot-pink van that’s adorned with petunia and pansy flowers. That’s not something you see every day, but motorists in the Midwest and Northeast may catch a glimpse of the Wave-Rave van this week as Ball Horticultural Co.’s Claire Watson, Product Marketing Manager, and Katie Rotella, Marketing Communications Manager, make their way to a media tour and plant giveaway in New York City. Watson and Rotella visited Cleveland’s WOIO Channel 19 news on Tuesday morning to tell consumers about Wave Petunias and Wave Pansies, and remind them to visit their local garden centers to purchase gifts for Mother’s Day this weekend. Check out this clip on Periscope. After the morning news, the ladies stopped by to visit the Greenhouse Grower staff at Meister Media Worldwide in Willoughby, OH. Next stop: Chelsea Garden Center in Brooklyn, NY, where […]

Read More
National Garden Bureau CAST 2016 Bloggers

May 3, 2016

5 Things Gardens Bloggers And Writers Learned At Califo…

For the second year in a row, the National Garden Bureau hosted five popular garden bloggers and writers on a trip to California Spring Trials. Here’s what each of them had to say about their experience.

Read More
Chick Charms

April 29, 2016

Kelly Norris: Why The Plant Collector Market Is Set To …

In his latest column for Greenhouse Grower magazine, Kelly Norris says there are more plant collectors out there than we think, which opens the way for the gift plant market to explode.

Read More
Pennisetum Fireworks

April 28, 2016

Why Ornamental Grasses Are Great For People In Condos A…

Allan Armitage says breeders need to do a better job of making growers, brokers, and garden centers aware of better ornamental grass cultivars for the increasingly shrinking garden space.

Read More
Andropogon gerardii Blackhawks (Intrinsic Perennial Gardens)

April 27, 2016

Know Your Market When Choosing Ornamental Grasses

Growers have no shortage of choices in the ornamental grass market. Narrowing down the selection comes down to finding the right plant for the right purpose.

Read More
Bee on Bidens

April 25, 2016

Breeders Go The Distance To Bring New Plant Varieties T…

Breeders are meeting the demand for new varieties that perform and sell well by extending trialing to engage the grower community, using advanced technology, and encouraging international collaboration.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

April 20, 2016

Growers And Breeders Are Always Looking For A Better To…

While edibles become more diverse, there's one goal that hard-core gardeners and urban foodscapers share.

Read More
Syngenta Pentas

April 20, 2016

Syngenta Flowers Opens Its Perennial Genetics To The Ma…

California Spring Trials 2016 visitors to Syngenta Flowers found the breeder company and its employees happy and excited for the future, in the wake of the announcement of its acquisition by ChemChina. Now Syngenta Flowers is ready to move forward with its breeding efforts in geraniums, pentas, and other crops, and it is opening its perennials offerings to the whole supply chain for a better chance to get those plants to retail.     Syngenta Wants To Revolutionize Geranium Breeding The big news in this year’s trial, says Karl Trellinger, Technical Services Representative at Syngenta, is the change in Syngenta’s breeding efforts in geraniums and pentas. The Calliope geranium series, long considered a premium line in the market, is getting a makeover. Growers have told the breeder that they love the colors available in the Calliope series, but the plants are just too vigorous for smaller containers and combinations. As […]

Read More
Petunia Vista Bubblegum (Proven Winners)

April 20, 2016

Proven Winners Funds Gardening “It Couple,” Names Plant…

Since 1992, Proven Winners has been changing the gardening game, and it’s not stopping now. With new plants, improved series, and interesting retail customers, the brand aims to make planning easier for growers, and make gardening easier and more fun for consumers. At its new 2016 California Spring Trials location at Kirigin Cellars in Gilroy, Proven Winners had the space and a beautiful setting to lay all of its offerings out, from new and improved varieties in annuals, perennials, and shrubs, to marketing and retail programs. Check out the slideshow below for highlights.   Proven Winners Is Flexing Its Marketing Muscle One of the ways Proven Winners is working toward better use of its products and gardening in general, is by supporting the gardening authorities that gardeners of all ages trust on social media. Director of Marketing Marshall Dirks says while searching for influential gardeners, he came across a young […]

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]