First posted on 01-11-2010
Cold weather is a great time to scope out hot ornamentals for the spring garden. For 2010, white-flowered muhly grass and a pink hydrangea are likely to catch the attention of Arkansas gardeners, said Dr. Jim Robbins, extension horticulture specialist-ornamentals for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
“Invincibelle Spirit will likely make a huge splash in spring 2010,” he said. “This is the first reportedly pink-flowered, smooth hydrangea.”
Smooth hydrangea, which is native to the Smoky Mountains, is typically white-flowered. This hydrangea requires shade and constant moisture to look its best.
“The second most exciting new plant for me is a white-flowered muhly grass,” Robbins said. Muhly grass, which is native to a large portion of the United States, typically has striking spikelets of pink flowers in the fall.
“Since the source of the white-flowered form is central Florida, its cold hardiness needs to be evaluated for Arkansas,” he said.
Among other ornamentals to consider for 2010 are two popular plants in smaller sizes.
“From our Statewide Plant Evaluation Program, I am impressed with two cultivars of the ever-popular Chinese fringeflower,” he said.
One issue with fringeflowers is that they are large shrubs or small trees.
“However, Purple Pixie and Purple Diamond are clearly smaller in size and yet retain that beautiful dark purple foliage color,” Robbins said.
Another garden favorite also has a down-sized version.
“Although still early in the evaluation process, we are impressed with the genetic dwarf crapemyrtle from the University of Georgia breeding program called Cherry Dazzle,” he said.
While traveling the region to visit bedding trails, “the plant that impressed me the most in 2009 was ‘Fireworks’ globeflower,” Robbins said. “Even in late October this plant still looked spectacular.”
He did have one warning for gardeners: “This is not a low annual. Since this annual gets 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide, you should place it at the back of a color bed.”
For more information about gardening, visit http://www.uaex.edu or contact your county extension office.
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