Plant Preview


Welcome to Plant Preview, a blog dedicated to helping gardeners learn about gardening techniques and preview new plant cultivars. Read about new plants here first and hear how your "comrades in compost" are making use of new plant introductions in their gardens and landscapes. Blog author Geri Laufer is a life-long dirt gardener, degreed horticulturist, author and former County Extension Agent. Plant Preview is copyrighted by Geri Laufer.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Winter Solstice is a Balmy Planting Day in Atlanta


Although it is late December and the shortest day of the year, we are having an incredibly balmy day in #Atlanta. I was delighted to spend 3 hours outside this morning under a light mist (or perhaps it was inside a low-flying cloud), planting Japanese irises along the sometimes-wet dry creek bed, star magnolia in a prime spot, forsythia near the road, plus camellia, hardy ageratum, Chinese sacred lily, Italian arum and 2 huge native azaleas. O, the anticipation of spring.

Everything is green and still growing; in fact the hardy ginger already is sending up spring sprouts. Ferns are thriving, Amarcrinum and Crinum still green, lots of fall-blooming crocus still photosynthesizing. Herbs that I planted almost a week ago look great as they begin to make contact with the rich brown soil. 108 Helleborus x orientalis that I grew from seed  and put out as quarts this fall are each beginning to offer a new leaf. Left over from summer, I still have late roses, Encore azaleas, pink daisy mums and yellow ones in bloom, as well as camellias blooming for the first time.

After awhile even my and hair face felt a little green and mossy. So satisfying to breathe the good, rich earth smells and suck in the endorphins. What a lucky gardener I am, to live in Zone 7B.



  

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Solstice 3 Ways: Science, Plant Photoperiodism & Lore


SCIENCE
June 21 is a significant day for Planet Earth and its relationship with the sun. The Earth spins on its axis, an imaginary line going through the globe between the north and south poles, with each complete revolution taking 24 hours. However, the Earth’s axis is tilted 23.5 degrees off the plane of its revolution around the sun, and so for several months of the year, one half of the earth receives more direct rays of the sun than the other half. The four seasons are a result of this tilt.

The Summer Solstice is the date when the rays of the sun directly strike one of the two tropical latitude lines. Astronomers in the northern hemisphere calculate that the summer solstice occurs when the sun reaches the Tropic of Cancer thus causing the northern hemisphere to experience the longest day and the shortest night of the year, June 21, 2011 at 1:16 p.m. EDT (17:16 UTC). Similarly, astrologers know this as the date on which the sun enters the sign of Cancer in the starry heavens.  Simultaneously it heralds the longest night of winter in the southern hemisphere. And far north of the Equator in the Artic Circle, there are 24 hours of daylight on June 21.

PLANT PHOTOPERIODISM

Plants respond to day length in direct ways. Photoperiodism is the term used to discuss plant responses to day length or more accurately, night length.  “Long day plants” (like clover, foxgloves and garden pinks) bloom as the days get longer and when the nights are short. 

After Midsummer, these plants stop blooming and other plants (like goldenrod and chrysanthemum) begin to bloom. These are called “short day plants” because they are triggered to flower as the days grow shorter (after the Summer Solstice) during late summer and fall. Well-known as a Christmas flower, the poinsettia develops its showy bracts as the year approaches the Winter Solstice, while the day length is decreasing and there are a long, unbroken periods of darkness each night.

Still other plants are “day neutral plants” because they are less responsive to the length of the dark period. Spring and Fall Equinoxes are the midway point of the solar year. (See also http://plantpreview.blogspot.com/2010/12/winter-solstice-full-moon-lunar-eclipse.html )

HISTORY & LORE

Awed by the power of the sun, for centuries civilizations have celebrated the Summer Solstice, also known as Midsummer, St. John’s feast day, or Litha. Although modern usage suggests that ‘summer begins’ at the summer solstice, the old folk calendar placed the beginning of summer on May Day (May 1) and the end of summer on Lammas (August 1). This more reasonably placed the summer solstice midway between the two, marking midsummer as the peak of old sun god’s strength.

The traditional Celtic Midsummer was celebrated on the fixed date of June 24, which coincides with the Christian feast of John the Baptist and his flower, St. John’s wort.  Faery lore held that Midsummer night was a time of magic, when pixies and evil spirits went abroad. To thwart them, people wore protective garlands of herbs and flowers. One of the most powerful of them was a plant called 'chase-devil', also known as St. John’s Wort, and is still used by modern herbalists as a mood stabilizer.

Other flower-based customs included decking the house (especially over the front door) with birch, fennel, St. John’s wort, orpin, and white lilies. Five plants were thought to have special magical properties on this night: rue, roses, St. John’s wort, vervain, and trefoil. St. John’s wort was picked by young maidens in the hopes of finding her true love.

St. John’s connection to the wilderness (from whence “the voice cried out”) was often emphasized by the rustic nature of his shrines, and by his alternate name, “the Oak King”. Perhaps the archetypal ‘Green Man’, or ‘wild man of the wood’, whose face appears through the leafy masks that adorn early Church architecture, was based on St. John.

Celts and Slavs celebrated the eve of the first day of summer with dancing and bonfires representing the sun's energy (Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, June 23), staying up all night to welcome the dawn
Couples would leap through the flames, believing their crops would grow as high as they were able to jump. Chinese marked the day by honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light, in Spain it’s called the “Night of the Verbena (Vervain)”, while the Druids celebrated the day as the "wedding of Heaven and Earth", resulting in the present day belief of lucky June weddings. The Midsummer full moon was known as the "Honey Moon" for the mead made from fermented honey that was part of wedding ceremonies performed at the Summer Solstice.

Thanks to Mike Nichols at twpt.com and  Chiff.com for background, to Chuck Tague for the photo of St. John's wort via wqed.org, rhe Green Man is from The Glouster Cathedral's South Porch Facade, c.1455 and to Wikipedia for the bonfire photo 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Patented Tiny Gold Barberry Grows Knee-High to a Grasshopper

Tiny Gold Adds color to G-Scale Model Rail Road Gardens, Rock Gardens, Containers & Borders

Tiny Gold Barberry (PP17084) is a truly diminutive woody shrub. Itty bitty gold leaves cover the cupcake-sized shrub 10 months of the year until winter. The small leaves attain best color in full sun, although this dwarf shrub also will grow in partial sun with a chartreuse leaf color. Brown twigs have deep grooves and a zig-zag appearance, with a sharp spine at each leaf node. Tiny Gold Barberry grows slowly to attain a mature spread of 12 to 15 inches with a maximum of 15 to 18 inches in height.  

Insignificant pale yellow flowers bloom in late spring or early summer but do not set viable seed. Northern gardeners will be happy to learn that Tiny Gold Barberru is non-flowering, therefore the plant does not set viable seed and invasiveness is a non-issue with this cultivar. 

Extremely adaptable, Tiny Gold grows in USDA Zones 5 to 9 in a wide range of soil types and exhibits average water needs, preferring well-drained soils; do not overwater. In the landscape, Tiny Gold is grown for its foliage color and pocket size.

Some landscape uses for Tiny Gold Barberry include mixed perennial borders, smaller more detailed gardens, miniature landscapes, G-scale model train landscapes and inclusion in containers for color. 

Statistics Chart for Tiny Gold Barberry (PP17084) (Berberis thunbergii 'Tiny Gold')
Plant Category:
 Dwarf deciduous woody shrub grown for its leaf color and tiny size
Mature Height:
6 – 18 inches

Mature Spread:
12 – 15 inches
Mature Form:
True dwarf, rounded shrub
Branching:
Brown branches deeply grooved, somewhat zig-zag in form and bearing a single sharp spine at each leaf node.  
Growth Rate:
Moderate, low maintenance, durable, no serious pests, resistant to rust
Sun Exposure:
Full sun for best leaf color, will grow in partial shade
Soil Type:
Widely adaptable, Loam, Sand or Clay
Soil Moisture:
Well-drained; adaptable to drought when established
Roots:
Wiry and yellow in color
Flower:
Pale yellow in spring
Berries:
Does not set viable seed, therefore not invasive, A patented plant will not come true from seed.
Summer Leaf Color:
Bright, cheerful yellow to chartreuse
Fall Color:
Lovely red-orange fall color, becoming deciduous in early winter  ?
pH Level:
6.1  - 7.8
Hardiness Zones:
5 - 8
Heredity:
 Michal Andrusiv in the Czech Republic Registered in 2005


                                                                                                                       
When performance counts, use Garden Debut® great new plants. 
 
#     #     #




Thursday, June 2, 2011

Full of ADMIRATION for this Blazing Barberry

                                    
 A showstopper with a blaze of red foliage set off by golden leaf margins, Admiration Barberry (PP16921) holds its vibrant color throughout the season.  Initially new leaves are a flaming coral-red with bright golden edges, and by late summer the oval leaves mature to a purple-red contrasted with the yellow rims. Plant Admiration in full sun to produce the best color when vivid foliage colors are desired.

Although a dwarf, this low-maintenance shrub is very strong and bushy with a compact rounding growth habit. Admiration Barberry reaches only 12-15 inches tall in 4 years, (ultimately 2 feet x 2 feet, untrimmed). Any trimming is best done in early spring. A true dwarf that will not outgrow the site, Admiration Barberry (Berberis thunbergii 'Admiration') is a low maintenance shrub that is hardy to USDA Zone 5.

Landscape designers often select shrubs that contribute accent colors to the landscape and red foliage plants are one of the most popular additions. Admiration Barberry creates a spectacular display of stunning color in a garden border, is ideal for banks and slopes as well as for large containers.  Use additional plants that compliment red shrubs to set off this barberry.

Admiration Barberry tolerates a wide variety of  soil conditions and withstands dry periods, although during establishment it does need a moderate amount of water.  Northeastern gardeners will be happy to learn that Admiration is non-flowering, therefore the plant does not set viable seed and invasiveness is a non-issue with this cultivar.

Statistics Chart for Admiration Barberry, PP16921, Berberis thunbergii 'Admiration'
Plant Category:
Deciduous woody shrub
Mature Height:
 12 inches after 4 years; a true dwarf ultimately reaching only 2’ x 2’
Mature Spread:
 15 inches
Mature Form:
Compact, bushy woody ornamental shrub  with a compact, rounded growth habit
Branching:
Remarkably dense, compact, multi-branched dwarf ornamental
Foliage:
Outstanding color form, new growth is coral red with golden leaf margins, maturing to wine red leaves with golden yellow rims
Growth Rate:
Vigorous
Sun Exposure:
Sun for outstanding leaf color
Soil Type:
 Sand, loam or clay,
Soil Moisture:
Well-drained soils; drought resistant once established
Flower Color:
 It’s a bonus that this cultivar is non-flowering and does not set seed; thus eliminating any misgivings about invasive spread in the Northeast
Landscape Value:
Brilliant accent color contrasts with green of typical landscapes
Season:
Deciduous; drops leaves in late fall, November
pH Level:
5 – 7 ?
4 – 8
Heredity:
U.S., Hybridized by Andrusiv; Year of Registration or Introduction: 2005 Greenleaf Nursery Selection, Park Hill, OK  ?
                                                                                                                       
When performance counts, use Garden Debut® great new plants    
#     #     #
           


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pillars of Landscape Color & Grace: Golden Rocket & Orange Rocket Barberry

 Unique Columnar Shrubs with Brilliant Color are the Shape of Things to Come!

Two great new Barberry hybrids are rocketing onto the landscape scene.  Garden Debut® is pleased to announce two outstanding introductions from breeder Michal Andrusiv in the Czech Republic being grown for Plant Haven, Inc.:  Golden Rocket and Orange Rocket Barberries. Both Golden Rocket and Orange Rocket may be used as either a specimen or border plant.  Their bright unique colors work well in most landscapes, plus they have tight upright habits in contrast to other similar plants. These two barberries are rocketing to fame after extensive trials throughout the U.S. demonstrated that they perform exceptionally well in U.S.D.A. Climate Zones 4 through 9. As with all new barberries, the varieties were held in quarantine for wheat rust testing at the USDA Cereal Disease Laboratory in Minnesota for more than 2 years and both are certified rust resistant.

Golden Rocket Barberry (PP#18626) This rocket-shaped barberry ascends in a unique narrow upright or tight columnar habit, ultimately reaching 5 feet tall by only 2 feet wide. Bright golden yellow foliage with contrasting coral colored stems in summer provides a golden specimen plant for the landscape, or adds height when placed in the mixed border, while the foliage turns to orange-red in autumn and is deciduous in early winter. Pale yellow, insignificant flowers in spring are attractive to pollinators and are followed by bright red berries in fall, without viable seed set.  

Orange Rocket Barberry (PP#18411) Soaring to even greater heights at the Oregon Association of Nurserymen’s Far West Show, Orange Rocket Barberry was awarded Best Shrub for 2010.  Orange Rocket has a tight missile-shaped habit, ultimately reaching 6 – 8 feet in height but only 2 feet in width in ten years. Plants have vibrant coral-orange new foliage that matures to mid-green. In early summer, pale yellow flowers are followed by small, crimson red berries that do not set viable seed. By autumn, the foliage is bright orange-red; for best foliage color, grow in full sun.

For more information on Yellow Rocket Barberry (PP18626) or Orange Rocket Barberry (PP18411) and other superior plant introductions brought to gardeners by Garden Debut®, visit GardenDebut.com. To set-up an interview contact Jim Thompson toll-free at 877-663-5053 or jim_thompson@greenleafnursery.com.
                              
Statistics Chart Yellow Rocket Barberry (PP18626) (Berberis thunbergii 'Yellow Rocket'),   Orange Rocket Barberry (PP18411), (Berberis thunbergii 'Orange Rocket')
Plant Category:
 Deciduous Woody shrubs
Mature Height:
Golden Rocket to 5 feet tall
Orange Rocket to 8 feet tall 
Mature Spread:
Both cultivars are only 2 feet in width even after 10 years
Mature Form:
Upright, compact, columnar, deciduous shrubs befitting their name
Branching:
Brown branches, deeply grooved, somewhat zig-zag in form and bearing a single sharp spine at each leaf node. 
Growth Rate:
Moderate, low maintenance, durable, no serious pests, rust resistant
Sun Exposure:
Full sun for best leaf color, will grow in partial shade
Soil Type:
Widely adaptable, Loam, Sand or Clay
Soil Moisture:
Well-drained; adaptable to drought when established
Roots:
Wide-ranging
Flower:
Pale yellow insignificant flowers, attractive to pollinators
Berries:
Crimson berries without viable seed set, therefore not invasive
Summer Leaf Color:
Golden Rocket:  Day-Glo Golden Yellow maturing to chartreuse green
Orange Rocket: Flaming coral-red with torch-like fall color
Fall Color:
Lovely red-orange fall color, becoming deciduous in early winter
pH Level:
5.5 – 7.5
Hardiness Zones:
4 – 9, includes nearly all of the continental U.S.
Landscape Impact:
Colorful columns of color in the landscape, provides a vertical element in mixed borders or as specimen plants for interest  
Heredity:
Lifetime Breeder Michal Andresiv in the Czech Republic through Plant Haven, Inc.
                                                                                                                       
When performance counts, use Garden Debut®’s great new plants. 
 
#     #     #

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Marvelous Montego Melon™ Daylily Never Stops Blooming


Continuous blooms from spring through fall add value to the landscape.

The desirable, soft butter-yellow color of Garden Debut®’s new introduction Montego Melon™ Daylily is superior to previous long-blooming daylilies because it represents advances in both color selection and disease resistance, along with an incredibly long bloom season. Plants in the Enjoy 24/7™ “the no work plant collection” share outstanding characteristics that appeal to gardeners, homeowners, landscape designers and contractors.

Bright, cheerful Montego Melon™ Daylily flowers are a clear yellow to cream melon color with an apple-green center that act as a magnet for the eye across a green landscape. Delightfully wide petals are sculptured or pleated with heavy substance, and recurve to form a very round flower. Large, looping ruffles extend into the throat area. Throughout the year, branched flower scapes produce dozens of flower buds, enhancing the display.

Montego Melon™ Daylily is a 2011 introduction in the Tetraploid series Enjoy 24/7™ “the no work plant collection” from Garden Debut® that features shorter plants with large, brightly-colored flowers. Flowering begins six to eight weeks earlier than standard daylilies and flowers develop even during cooler weather and cold nights, a big plus for retailers whose customers will be captivated by the colorful display on their springtime shopping trips. Branched scapes are loaded with buds that begin blooming eight weeks earlier than standard daylilies and continue blooming until hard frost ends the growing season.

What’s more, Montego Melon™ Daylily is resistant to Daylily Rust, the scourge of previous long-blooming daylilies. Short, grassy foliage, clean shedding of old blooms, prolonged reblooming that extends the season, and rapid increases of divisions add up to a finer and more saleable daylily. Compact plants with short flower scapes and foliage of this daylily eliminate blow-over in garden centers common to taller daylilies sold in gallon pots,     

The culmination of seven years of targeted plant modification by renowned daylily breeder and author Dr. Ted Petit of Le Petit Jardin, McIntosh, Fla., Garden Debut® is pleased to provide the green industry with superior plants through this new partnership. Montego Melon™ Daylily is available in summer 2011. The series is named for the luscious, soft dawns and tropical island colors of the Beach Boys’ classic song, Kokomo, and future introductions in this daylily collection will continue with enjoyable names derived from this hit recording.

Montego Melon™ Daylily, Hemerocallis ‘SPd 06-13’ PPAF
(Hybrid 2011 introduction of the Enjoy 24/7™ “the no work plant collection”)
Plant Category:
 Perennial
Mature Height:
18 inches, shorter plants won’t blow over in gallon pots
Mature Spread:
12 inches
Mature Form:
 Grass-like foliage, short mounds (like cushion mums)
Growth Rate:
Vigorous; rapid increase in landscape or garden quickly forming large plants
Disease Resistance:
 Very Rust resistant, “No Work Plant Collection”
Sun Exposure:
 Full sun to partial shade
Soil Moisture:
 Wide range, tolerant of dry to damp soils
Soil Type:
 Loam, Sand, Clay, tolerant of all soil types 
pH Level:
 Wide range, tolerant of soil reaction
Flower Genetics:
 Tetraploid. More flowers with heavier substance, yet the series are shorter with narrow leaves that will not blow over in gallon nursery pots.
Intensity:
Light-colored butter cream yellow blooms
Flower Color:
Bright, cheerful Montego Melon™ Daylily flowers are a clear yellow to cream melon color with an apple-green center. The wide petals are sculpted with heavy substance, and recurve to form a very round flower. Large, looping ruffles extend into the throat area. Delightfully wide, overlapping, yellow melon petals recurve, creating a round flower form
Flower Size:
 4 inches
Bloom Time:
 Continuous bloom spring through summer.
 Starts blooming 6 to 8 weeks earlier than standard commercial varieties, blooms during spring retail rush. Branched flower scapes have dozens of flower buds, enhancing the display.
Weather:
 Flowers even in cool weather and cold nights
Repeat bloomer:
 Outstanding re-bloomer or continual-bloomer with multitudes of buds and flowers on well- branched scapes
Self-cleaning:
 Clean shedding of old blooms
Season:
 Flowers extremely early (with Azaleas and Redbud) and throughout  summer and fall, until hard frost
Landscape Value:
 Improved garden mainstay; popular perennial now blooms earlier, fits into retail racks and has greater landscape application
Zones:
 5 – 9
Heredity:
 U.S., Dr. Ted Petit, McIntosh, FL
                                                           
                        When performance counts, use Garden Debut®'s great new plants
#     #     #

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Luminous Key Largo Moon™ Daylily Blooms Non-Stop


Continuous blooms from spring through fall add value to the landscape.

Light-years ahead of previous long-blooming daylilies, Garden Debut®’s new introduction Key Largo Moon™ Daylily "the no work plant collection" delivers brilliant flower color, long blooming season and disease resistance.  Enjoy 24/7™ plants share outstanding characteristics that appeal to gardeners, homeowners, landscape designers and contractors.

Flowers of Key Largo Moon™ Daylily are a gleaming golden yellow with a deep green throat and petals with heavy substance recurve to form a symmetrical, round flower.  The incandescent, medium-sized blooms of Key Largo Moon™ capture attention from across the garden.  The petals are heavily ruffled with a combination of tight crimped ruffling to large, looping ruffles along petal edges.

This shimmering moonlit daylily is one of the Garden Debut® Tetraploid daylilies in the Enjoy 24/7™ “the no work plant collection” that features three seasons of continuous bloom on short plants with large, brightly-colored flowers. Plants in the series are each named for the luscious, soft pink dawns and tropical island colors evoked by the Beach Boys’ classic song, Kokomo.

Key Largo Moon™ Daylily is a 2011 introduction from Garden Debut® that features flowering that begins six- to eight- weeks earlier than standard daylilies and flowers that develop despite cold spring nights, a big plus for retailers whose customers will be captivated by the colorful display on their springtime trips to local garden centers. Compact plants with short flower scapes and foliage eliminate blow-over in garden centers common to taller daylilies sold in gallon pots.
Blooming continues throughout the summer and fall until cut down by hard frost (as late as Thanksgiving in U.S.D.A. Zone 7). What’s more, Key Largo Moon™ Daylily is resistant to daylily rust that blights older daylily varieties. Short, grassy foliage, clean shedding of old blooms, prolonged reblooming that extends the season, and rapid increase of clumps add up to high customer demand.    
The culmination of seven years of targeted plant modification by renowned daylily breeder and author Dr. Ted Petit of Le Petit Jardin, McIntosh, Fla., Garden Debut® is pleased to provide the green industry with superior plants through this new partnership. Key Largo Moon™ Daylily is available in early 2012. Additional introductions in this daylily collection will continue with enjoyable names derived from the Beach Boys hit, Kokomo, and the flowers will evoke a tropical feel of freedom and fun.  


Key Largo Moon™ Daylily, Hemerocallis ‘SPd 06-14’ PPAF one of Enjoy 24/7™ “the no work plant collection”
Plant Category:
 Perennial
Mature Height:
18 inches, shorter plants won’t blow over in gallon pots
Mature Spread:
12 inches
Mature Form:
 Grass-like foliage, short mounds (like cushion mums)
Growth Rate:
Vigorous; rapid increase in landscape or garden quickly forming large plants
Disease Resistance:
 Very rust resistant, “No Work Plant Collection”
Sun Exposure:
 Full sun to partial shade
Soil Moisture:
 Wide range, tolerant of dry to damp soils
Soil Type:
 Loam, Sand, Clay, tolerant of all soil types 
pH Level:
 Wide range, tolerant of soil reaction
Flower Genetics:
 Tetraploid. More flowers with heavier substance, yet the series are shorter with narrow leaves that will not blow over in gallon nursery pots.
Intensity:
 Brightly colored, rich, golden-yellow blooms
Flower Color:
Key Largo Moon™ Daylily flowers are a brilliant golden-yellow color. The flowers have a deep green throat and petals with heavy substance petals recurve to form a symmetrical, round flower.  The medium sized blooms of Key Largo Moon™ are a luminous gold and grab attention from across the garden.  The petals are also heavily ruffled with a combination of tight crimped ruffling to large, looping ruffles.
Flower Size:
 4 inches
Bloom Time:
 Continuous bloom spring through summer.
 Starts blooming 6 to 8 weeks earlier than standard commercial varieties, blooms during spring retail rush.
Weather:
 Flowers even in cool weather and cold nights
Repeat bloomer:
 Good re-bloomer with multitude of flowers on well- branched scapes
Self-cleaning:
 Clean shedding of old blooms
Season:
 Flowers extremely early (with Azaleas and Redbud) and throughout  summer
Landscape Value:
 Improved of garden mainstay; popular perennial now fits into retail racks and has greater landscape application
Zones: 
 5 – 9
Heredity:
 U.S., Dr. Ted Petit, McIntosh, FL
                                                           
                        When performance counts, use Garden Debut®'s great new plants