17 September 2009

Proven Winners that Are Just That Here in NE Oklahoma

When the first intentional plant breeding took place in 1716, Thomas Fairchild, who performed the pollination experiment with a feather, had to hide his activity from his fellows in the scientific community.

At that time, any scientist who claimed that he took an action that changed nature would have been shunned for contradicting the belief that only God could make a flower. When Fairchild presented his new plant to the Royal Society he presented it as a natural hybrid, created by the two plants being grown nearby each other. ("The Brother Gardeners" www.andreawulf.com)

Since that time, so many new hybrids have been invented and released into the marketplace and into our gardens that we have come to expect continuous improvement.

Making hybrid plants gives gardeners new colors, improved disease resistance, taller and shorter versions of old favorites, and stronger plants.

Proven Winners (www.provenwinners.com), a consortium of plant propagators, sends trial plants to garden writers from time to time. If you shop in garden centers, you have seen or bought their Diamond Frost Euphorbia, Fiber Optic Grass, Angelonia, Purple Fountain Grass, Super Bells, etc.

Garden writers get to try a small selection of the next year’s introductions and report back to the company how well they did in our planting zone.

We treat the new introductions as well (or as poorly) as the rest of our plants. If we are too busy, if it is blistering hot, or if the rains come day after day, the trial plants are tested along with the rest of our garden.

A few of them disappoint and most are successful. The 2010 plant introductions you can look for next year that thrived in my Muskogee garden follow.

Flirtation Orange Diascia had nonstop, sweet, small flowers that flourished at first and fainted during the hottest part of the summer. Now that temperatures have cooled, it is back in full bloom. Cold hardy to 10-F.

The two new potato vines with uniquely shaped leaves are Illusion Emerald Lace Ipomoea batatas (bright green) and Illusion Midnight Lace Ipomoea batatas (deep purple). They like to be moist, look terrific in containers, and are more compact in their growth habit than previous potato vines.

Snow Princess Lobularia was a real winner. It looks like Sweet Alyssum but since it is a sterile hybrid, it just keeps growing instead of making seeds and failing mid-season.

Spirit Cleome hassleriana Senorita Rosalita is thornless. If you usually grow Cleome or spider flower for it’s strikingly tall and large back of the border advantages, you will appreciate having a thornless variety available for next year. The flowers are lavender-pink and scentless.

Sugar Tip Hibiscus syriacus, a Rose of Sharon shrub I received in a quart pot last year, was slow to start last year and became a star this year. It has variegated cream-blue-green leaves and soft pink double flowers.

Award winning Blue Chiffon Hibiscus syriacus, Rose of Sharon, came this year in a one-quart pot and already flowered with blue, anemone-like blooms. If you like blue flowers and have a place for a flowering shrub, look for this one.

Two new Hydrangea arborescens varieties arrived last week.

Incrediball is a new mophead with 12-inch flower heads that emerge lime green, change to white, then to green. This new variety has stronger stems to prevent the flower heads from flopping.

Invincibelle Spirit is the first pink mophead Hydrangea. It blooms until frost from buds made on this year’s growth.

Butterfly Bush Miss Ruby has fuscia pink clusters of flowers on a compact shrub.

One of their new purple-blue flowers for 2010 includes Nierembergia Augusta Blue Skies Cupflower. Loves the heat. Not cold hardy here.

This week, I'll be posting more information and photos of these success stories so you can see what they look like.



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