New plants featured at landscape event

Cheyenne Spirit echinacea. Photo courtesy of LSU AgCenter.

Cheyenne Spirit echinacea. Photo courtesy of LSU AgCenter.

By Rick Bogren, LSU AgCenter

BATON ROUGE, La. – New plants are heading for the marketplace to grace home gardens and commercial landscapes.

Landscape and nursery professionals heard from representatives of plant development and marketing companies at the Louisiana Plant Materials Conference on Dec. 3 at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden.

“With the economy now, anything you grow will sell,” said Buddy Lee with PDSI in Loxley, Alabama.

Lee presented information on new plants, including some from the Southern Living Plant Collection, which has more than 30 growers across the South.

“Daylilies are coming back,” Lee said. “There’s a growing demand for these plants.”

Joy of Living series daylilies are repeat bloomers that come in several colors, he said.

More new plants are being propagated by tissue culture rather than by cuttings, Lee said. Cuttings limit production, while tissue culture allows larger production with greater efficiency.

Ruby Slippers oakleaf hydrangea is popular, and Lee predicts production of new varieties with different leaf colors.

Fuseables combine multiple seeds for several flower species in a single pellet, said Michele André with Ball Seed in Jefferson, Louisiana. The seeds are selected and tested to assure they will be compatible when planted together in a single pot or container.

André presented information about new plants from her company for 2015. She mentioned Glitz euphorbia as the first that can be grown from seed and the Divine series of New Guinea impatiens, which are resistant to downy mildew.

Breeders look for bigger flowers and tolerances to different stresses, André said. “Different growers prefer different varieties.”

Violas are gaining preference over pansies because violas are more vigorous, while pansies with larger flowers are more susceptible to losing their blooms because of changing weather.

“Plants make people feel good, and you can eat them,” André said.

Patio vegetables are new varieties with smaller-sized fruits that can be grown in pots on patios and decks, André said, pointing to lettuce and baby eggplants as examples.

Another new vegetable on the horizon is heirloom marriage tomatoes, she said. They are first generation hybrids created by crossing two varieties of heirloom tomatoes to gain hybrid vigor and the best traits of the two parents.

Jack O’Donnell, southeast regional sales director for Bailey Nurseries, provided information on new plants from his company.

He said Cheyenne Spirit Echinacea, the First Edition brand distylium and new gardenias from Bailey Nurseries are particularly adaptable for Louisiana.

LSU AgCenter horticulturists are continually monitoring and evaluating new plants to see if they’re adapted to Louisiana growing conditions, said AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill.

The Louisiana Super Plants program selects outstanding shrubs, cool-season bedding plants, warm-season bedding plants, trees and other landscape plants that have been “university tested and industry approved” for Louisiana home and commercial uses.

Most of the plants are evaluated in trials at the AgCenter Hammond Research Station. “Go to Hammond once a month for a year, and you’ll see what’s growing and blooming in every season,” Gill said.

AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings said the number of crape myrtle varieties on the market is growing, and many of them are more like shrubs than like trees.

“We have many planted at Hammond, and we’re going to be adding more,” Owings said.

 

 

 

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