Plants For Even Hotter Weather

When up against wildfires, drought and water restrictions, bedding plants would seem to be part of a losing battle. In dry and fire-prone areas of the country, however, gardeners can fight back–with succulents and cacti. New options for these parts of the country are being researched, looking for varieties that are both functional and beautiful.

Cactus varieties have been evaluated on criteria including blooming, a minimal number of spines and day blooming by John Erwin of the University of Minnesota. Experiments began with cooling, photoperiod and total light treatments and 58 of the 65 varieties tested went into flower. Now follow-up work is being done on 10 to 15 of those to see which ones are best for commercial production.

But are cacti cold hardy? The ones Erwin is researching native to the cold mountaintops of Argentina are cold hardy, but research is looking at how cold hardy. And while in Portugal, Erwin reports seeing mixed containers of annuals with cacti and succulents. 

Welcome To The USA

What’s happening in the United States with succulents and cacti? The challenge for the American Southeast is humidity, but new varieties could be the answer. Trials are needed.

“There are all kinds of areas that could use this material for landscape plants, but people aren’t used to cactus that bloom a lot,” Erwin says. “It’s a surprise.”

Erwin tells me that while several companies provide liners for succulents, Altman Plants in Vista, Calif., is way ahead of other growers in the U.S. with its 120 acres devoted to succulents and 70 acres more for development in succulents. Succulents are catching on in California and the South, according to Altman Plants co-owner Ken Altman. With a hybridizer on staff, Altman selects varieties based on coloration, flower size and power, shape, growth speed and overall appearance.

A promising variety Altman is investigating with Erwin is called Rose Quartz, a vegetatively propagated hybrid cactus with bright, beautiful red blooms. Altman has recently added other landscape varieties to its mix, including 1-, 2- and 5-gallon containers.

“Some are even fire resistant and getting interest from homeowners that want to protect their houses in the next fire in California,” Altman says. “A friend has a picture of a house where the fire burned all around until it got to some large aloes that melted but stopped the fire.”

Everyone wants beautiful color in gardens, but it’s time to look for alternatives that look beautiful in drier weather. Because even if we’re not suffering drought conditions, water restrictions are sure to continue. The fire safety is a bonus. But get started now. Altman says he’s been building stock and production on landscape varieties for two and a half years. You don’t want to let the plants with the built-in branding pass you by.

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Bee on Lavender feature

March 23, 2017

Allan Armitage: Plant Consumers Don’t Talk About Varieties; They Talk About Solutions

Allan Armitage says it's time to get in touch with our true audience and market plant solutions, not plant products.

Read More
Spin Top Gaillardia Series (Dummen Orange)

March 22, 2017

New Perennials and Tender Perennials for 2018 from California Spring Trials

We asked breeders to share with us pictures and information on some of the true perennials and tender perennials that you'll see at California Spring Trials 2017. Here's a sampling of some of the varieties hitting retail shelves in 2018.

Read More
Zinnia Solmar Series (Floranova)

March 17, 2017

Phlox, Zinnias, and More for 2018 From California Spring Trials

We asked breeders to share with us pictures and information on some of the great new annuals that you'll see at California Spring Trials 2017. They didn't let you down.

Read More
Latest Stories
Bee on Lavender feature

March 23, 2017

Allan Armitage: Plant Consumers Don’t Talk About …

Allan Armitage says it's time to get in touch with our true audience and market plant solutions, not plant products.

Read More
Spin Top Gaillardia Series (Dummen Orange)

March 22, 2017

New Perennials and Tender Perennials for 2018 from Cali…

We asked breeders to share with us pictures and information on some of the true perennials and tender perennials that you'll see at California Spring Trials 2017. Here's a sampling of some of the varieties hitting retail shelves in 2018.

Read More
Zinnia Solmar Series (Floranova)

March 17, 2017

Phlox, Zinnias, and More for 2018 From California Sprin…

We asked breeders to share with us pictures and information on some of the great new annuals that you'll see at California Spring Trials 2017. They didn't let you down.

Read More
Cosmos ‘Apollo’ (Floranova)

March 14, 2017

Begonias, Dahlias, and More for 2018 from California Sp…

We asked breeders to share with us pictures and information on some of the great new annuals that you'll see at California Spring Trials 2017. They didn't let you down.

Read More
Pennisetum First Knight Feature

March 11, 2017

Now is the Time for Growers to Plan for Fall Perennial …

If you haven’t already put in your orders for the items you’ll sell this fall, it’s time to start now.

Read More
Dianthus Pink Kisses Selecta Feature

March 8, 2017

Growing Tips for Selecta’s Dianthus ‘Pink Kisses’

Kyle Peterson, Production Manager at Fessler Nursery, grew Dianthus ‘Pink Kisses’ on a trial basis and says he was pleased with its performance.

Read More
Limbo GP burgundy picotee

March 7, 2017

New Petunias and Calibrachoas for 2018 from California …

We asked breeders to share with us pictures and information on some of the great new petunias and calibrachoas that you'll see at California Spring Trials 2017. They didn't let you down.

Read More
Butterfly on a Pollinator Plant Feature

March 7, 2017

Allan Armitage: Why You Should Focus on the Functionali…

New crops are great, but Armitage says selling plants by function makes more sense.

Read More

March 5, 2017

2016 Young’s Plant Farm Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Young's Plant Farm in Auburn, AL.

Read More
kelly-norris

March 4, 2017

Kelly Norris Describes How Growers Can Help Plant the F…

The tough plant varieties unique to their regions could be the urban superstars of tomorrow.

Read More
Welby Gardens field trials

March 2, 2017

2016 Welby Gardens Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Welby Gardens in Denver, CO.

Read More
Zinnia 'Zahara XL Fire Improved'

March 1, 2017

2016 University of Minnesota Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for University of Minnesota in Morris, MN.

Read More
Geranium Combos feature

February 27, 2017

Tips for General Combination and Hanging Basket Product…

Bell Nursery’s Head Grower Tom Wheeler provides his recipe for success when growing premium combos that put on a show at retail.

Read More
Portulaca 'ColorBlast Tangerine'

February 26, 2017

2016 University of Georgia Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the University Of Georgia trial gardens in Athens, GA.

Read More
University of Wisconsin field trial gardens

February 25, 2017

2016 University of Wisconsin Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the University of Wisconsin display gardens at the West Madison Agricultural Research Station in Verona, WI.

Read More
Poinsettia 'Christmas Joy Marble'

February 20, 2017

5 New Varieties Shaking Up the Poinsettia Tradition

With poinsettias trending toward non-traditional colors, growers may find new opportunities to spread sales beyond the winter holidays. Here are five of the newest euphorbia varieties to hit the market that may play a role in redefining the future of the poinsettia market.

Read More
University of Tennessee trials overview (2015 University of Tennessee Field Trials)

February 19, 2017

2016 University of Tennessee Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the University of Tennessee Gardens in Knoxville and Jackson, TN.

Read More
Reiman Gardens field trials

February 18, 2017

2016 Iowa State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University in Ames, IA.

Read More