More Louisiana Super Plants added to list

Henna coleus. Photo courtesy of LSU AgCenter.

Henna coleus. Photo courtesy of LSU AgCenter.

Henna coleus. Photo courtesy of LSU AgCenter.

It may be hard to believe, but the LSU AgCenter’s  Louisiana Super Plants program is now five years old. With the announcement of two new varieties for spring 2015, the program has now named 30 great landscape plants as winners for home gardeners in Louisiana.

The goal of this program has been to identify and promote exceptional plants that perform well in Louisiana. Some of these are new varieties and some are older varieties with a prior proven track record.

The LSU AgCenter and Louisiana’s nursery and landscape industry, through the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association, identified the need for a state-based program that uses university research to identify and promote exceptional plants. The LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station, partnering with the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences, leads the program.

Each Super Plant must have at least two years of rigorous evaluations and have a proven track record under north and south Louisiana growing conditions. Louisiana Super Plants must prove hardy across the state. Louisiana Super Plants must be easily produced and available for all nursery and landscape industry wholesalers and retailers to market and sell.

Louisiana Super Plants are selected a year or two in advance of a public announcement. A selection process involving LSU AgCenter horticulture faculty and members of the Louisiana nursery and landscape industry. The program results in home gardeners having an increased awareness of better performing landscape plants.

Spring 2015 Winners

Henna Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides Henna)

There is a lot of interest in coleuses these days. Just look at the amazing variety of these plants available at area nurseries. One issue with coleus varieties is finding those that are less-inclined to bloom. Coleus is grown for its colorful foliage, and the flower spikes are not generally desirable. The newest coleus for the most exceptional performance in Louisiana is ‘Henna’. The foliage of ‘Henna’ is highly fringed and sports shades of gold, chartreuse and reddish-purple on top and reddish-purple underneath. Plants reach 24-30 inches in height and do best planted in a full sun to partial sun landscape. Plant in the spring after the danger of frost has passed and plants last until first killing frost.

• Warm-season bedding plant – tender perennial

• Grows to about 24 to 30 inches tall

• Outstanding performance at the Hammond Research Station over a number of years

• Full sun to part shade

• Colorful foliage is shades of gold and chartreuse brushed with burgundy on top, burgundy underneath and deeply toothed along the edges

• Very heat tolerant

• No major pests

• Full, bushy growth habit

• Very late blooming (flowering is undesirable as it detracts from the colorful foliate)

Fireworks pennisetum (purple fountain grass)

Pennisetum is an ornamental grass commonly known as purple fountain grass. A new red-foliaged variety addition to this group of grasses is ‘Fireworks’.

Fireworks fountain grass. Photo courtesy of LSU AgCenter.

Fireworks fountain grass. Photo courtesy of LSU AgCenter.

These are annuals in north and central Louisiana but can be perennials in the warmer locations of south Louisiana. Plants need full sun and will be 4 feet tall in the landscape by fall. Planted in clumps of three to five, they can be used as a vertical focal plant in flower beds. Flower plumes start midsummer and continue until first frost.

Irrigation requirements are minimal. There are no insect and pest issues with this unique, new fountain grass.

• Warm-season bedding plant – tender perennial

• Colorful new variegated cultivar of purple fountain grass

• Hardy down to the low 20s – grow as an annual in north Louisiana and a semihardy perennial in south Louisiana

• Outstanding foliage streaked with red, creamy white and green

• 24 to 30 inches tall; 18 to 24 inches wide

• Full to part sun

• Attractive flower plumes

• Heat tolerant

• Drought tolerant once established

• No major insect or disease problems

• Low maintenance

Louisiana Super Plants are “university tested and industry approved”. The two spring 2015 winners and all the past winners make can be chosen to make great colorful warm season and cool season Louisiana landscapes. Two more Louisiana Super Plants for 2015 will be announced this fall.

Past winners

Cool season flowers

  • Amazon dianthus
  • Swan columbine
  • ‘Diamonds Blue’ delphinium
  • Redbor kale
  • Sorbet violas
  • Camelot foxglove

Warm season flowers

  • BabyWing begonias
  • Bandana lantanas
  • Butterfly pentas
  • Little Ruby alternanthera (Joseph’s coat)
  • Senorita Rosalita cleome
  • Serena angelonia
  • Luna hibiscus (rose mallow)
  • Kauai torenia (wishbone flower)
  • Mesa gaillardia*

Shrubs

  • Aphrodite althea (rose of Sharon)
  • Belinda’s Dream rose
  • Conversation Piece azalea
  • Drift roses
  • Frostproof gardenia
  • Penny Mac hydrangea
  • ShiShi Gashira camellia

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