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Limón talinum is jewel for gardens

By Norman Winter

MSU Horticulturist
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center

Lime green is a hot, hot, hot color in the garden, and it won't be long until the new Limón talinum will help soothe the quest for this jewel color.

Celebration Apricot New Guinea impatiens are outstanding choices for spectacular orange floral displays in a summer garden.
Deep blue flowers such as this Easy Wave Blue petunia make wonderful partners for the Limón Talinum.

Botanically speaking, Limón talinum is Talinum paniculatum and is in the portulaca family. It is native to the West Indies and Central America and has common names of Fameflower and Jewels-of-Opar.

You might think you've heard of Jewels-of-Opar before, and you may be right. Your grandma may have grown the regular green version and called it Jewels-of-Opar.

On the other hand, if you are a fan of Tarzan, then there is a distinct possibility that this is where you heard the name. Edgar Rice Burroughs mentioned Opar in 1913 in his second Tarzan book, The Return of Tarzan, and then in 1916, he wrote Tarzan and the Jewels-of-Opar.

Knowing that a plant has a common name synonymous with a mythical ancient city full of riches should give you a clue that someone thought very highly of the plant.

Jewels-of-Opar has attractive, succulent-looking foliage and is quick to send up arching panicles adorned with light to hot pink star-shaped flowers. Amazingly, these flowers appear repeatedly over a long period of time.

The long panicles are perfect for cutting and using like you would Baby's Breath. Once the flowers are gone, the stems have fruit capsules that are amber-colored at first finishing off to a cinnamon red. These, too, are very attractive elements for the vase.

Most information sites list Jewels-of-Opar as perennial in zones 9-11, although I hear from gardeners and by reading botanical garden sites that they have a spring return in zone 8. If you live in a colder area, enjoy this plant like you would a vigorous Joseph's coat.

Celebration Apricot New Guinea impatiens are outstanding choices for spectacular orange floral displays in a summer garden.
Limón Talinum is a perfect filler plant in this large mixed container with Royal Tapestry alternanthera, Serena Purple angelonia and Bluetopia Blue Bacopa.

Pan American Seed introducing the new chartreuse-colored Limón should open the door for gardeners to have widespread opportunity to buy this and other selections as well. Until now, the Jewels-of-Opar has been relegated to pass-along or mail order status at best. You have to tip your hat to those real plant collector nurseries that have had them for years.

In addition to the new Limón, there are other named selections such as Kingwood Gold and Darts Gold that are gold to lime. There is also a much-admired variegated form.

The recommendation for Limón and I presume other gold to lime selections is to grow them with high shade or filtered light to maintain their incredible color. The more sunlight given, the darker green the foliage becomes. Give it too much shade, and the plant will become leggy.

Pan American Seed is promoting Limón as the perfect filler plant in large mixed containers, but don't be afraid to plant it in a cluster as an under story grouping to tall bananas or Lime Zinger elephant ears. Deep blue flowers make for a wonderful partnership.

The Jewels-of-Opar can reach 2- to 4-feet tall. It prefers sandy, well-drained locations that encourage a more compact plant. The more fertile and organic-rich the soil, the larger the plant will become.

The Limón talinum is just one reason why it is always fun to visit your garden center because you never know what new plant they will bring in next.

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Released: June 28, 2007
Contact: Norman Winter, (601) 857-2284

Editor's Note: Ideal publication dates of Southern Gardening columns are within one month of their release. Editors should examine older columns carefully for any information that could be time sensitive.

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