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Gary highlights four plant winners of 2019
Our Mississippi landscapes and gardens really had a tough year in 2019.
The problems started with a bit cooler and much wetter spring season. Then, we suddenly went straight into a hotter and drier summer than we’ve seen in several years. I almost had whiplash with the transition; our garden plants also experienced a form of whiplash.
But there was good news in that I discovered plants that were a lot stronger than I initially thought. So, let me share my “tough enough” plants from 2019.
No. 1: Blue My Mind Evolvulus
Blue My Mind evolvulus is a fantastic plant with funnel-shaped individual flowers that always form near the shoot tips. Blue My Mind is a prolific bloomer.
The foliage has a downy appearance, and the 1-inch, funnel-shaped flowers are sky blue. The flowers only open for one day. They are brilliant in the morning, but they look quite spent by afternoon, especially if the planting bed is west facing and receives a high heat load each afternoon.
A location with a little afternoon shade would be welcome, but too much shade reduces total flowering. Blue My Mind needs to be planted in well-drained soil that is consistently moist.
No. 2: Lime Sizzler Firebush
Lime Sizzler firebush lives up to its name. Its foliage is a variegated mixture of chartreuse yellow and lime green that is highlighted by bright-red veins. The gorgeous, reddish-orange flowers are arranged in whorled clusters and are produced all summer and well into fall.
For the best flower production and foliage color, plant Lime sizzler in full sun for at least six hours per day. This plant will be just fine in a shadier setting, but it won’t have the showy color development.
No. 3: Sangria Ornamental Peppers
The pretty, ornamental pepper variety Sangria holds its slender fruit pointing upward boastfully as if getting ready for a party. Fruit comes in almost unbelievable numbers and resembles confetti. Young peppers emerge greenish yellow, and then march through a wonderful parade of colors -- orange, lilac, purple and finally a glorious, crimson red.
No. 4: Cherokee Sunset Rudbeckia
This 2002 All-America Selection is a fantastic choice that consists of a blend of warm, autumnal colors of yellow, orange and mahogany bronze.
The flowers of Cherokee Sunset are big: 3 to 4 inches in diameter. They are a mix of singles and doubles, especially when grown in full sun. These plants reach about 24 inches tall, and the sturdy stems hold the large flowers without staking. Cherokee Sunset is a good choice for cutting for use in fall, indoor arrangements.
I like to reflect during the winter months on what worked for me in the garden, as well as what I saw that worked around the state. There will always be plants that disappoint for some reason; that’s just part of gardening.
But you can count on these plants to be fantastic performers in your garden. I know I will plant them again in 2020.