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Two New Deciduous Shrubs & Three New Annual Flowers For Your Garden
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale

email: art@artdrysdale.com

Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at http://www.artdrysdale.com


March 1, 2015







Above, two shots of Buddleia Lo & Behold ‘Pink Micro Chip`; and two shots of `Red Rover` Cornus (Cornus oblique). Below, two shots of Superbells `Strawberry Punch` (Calibrachoa hybrid); two shots of Cuphea hybrid `Vermillionaire` or large firecracker plant; and finally a single shot of Caladium hortulanum `Artful Fire and Ice` or Angel Wings.
All shots courtesy Proven Winners.










 



 

More on new plants this week! And, this week, I’ll only be looking at and writing about the introductions from Proven Winners.

I’ll start with a shrub—one from a series I’ve written about in the past—the Lo & Behold series which includes ‘Blue Chip’ ‘Lilac Chip’ and ‘Purple Haze’. This new one is called ‘Pink Micro Chip’. A whole new color for the Lo & Behold series, 'Pink Micro Chip' is a small plant with an abundance of unique, tiny blooms giving this butterfly bush the look of a Salvia but with the sweetness of a Buddleia. This little charmer will be available in better garden centres spring 2015.

This plant needs good drainage and is useful in a whole number of ways in the garden, including containers. It is best in well-drained soils. Pruning is generally not needed, but it may be shaped in spring. Apply a controlled release fertilizer in spring.

Folks anticipating planting this new smaller Buddleia should remember one of the prime reasons for planting any Buddleia is their ability to attract butterflies to the garden.

My second subject for this week is also a shrub—a dogwood, Cornus oblique `Red Rover`. It is a colourful, environmentally-friendly native plant, adaptable to moist or even damp soils. Trim to shape after flowering. Apply a controlled-release fertilizer in spring.

This plant has exceptional fall foliage as the photo here shows and is the hallmark of this com-pact new selection of our native silky dogwood. The clean green foliage contrasts nicely with white flowers, and blue fall fruit adds to its autumn appeal. Winter brings bright red stems to the landscape.

The flowers are a valuable resource for our pollinator populations, and the fall fruit is an excel-lent resource for songbirds. This is an outstanding plant for moist to damp sites: use it in rain gardens. The compact size is ideal for residential landscapes.

This plant may not be available in better garden centers until spring 2016.

Now it is time for annual flowers new for most of us, also from Proven Winners. I'll start with a new Superbells called `Strawberry Punch`(Calibrachoa hybrid).

When planting Calibrachoa I usually give the plants a slight trim, using pruning shears. While not a necessary step, it will increase branching and may help your plants look even fuller.

Calibrachoa are usually easiest to grow in containers because if the roots are kept too wet can lead to root rot diseases. In containers, allow the top of the soil to dry before watering again. If your plant is wilting even though the soil is still damp you likely have a root rot problem. Calibrachoa can be fantastic in-ground plants, but only if they are planted in well-drained soil. Raised beds would be a good choice for planting Calibrachoa in the landscape. In the ground they shouldn't need much additional water unless conditions are very dry. Proper watering is key to growing good Calibrachoa.

The plants are low-maintenance with no deadheading needed. They will do best if fertilized on a regular basis. Calibrachoa can be sensitive to both high and low pH. If your plants have been growing for a while and then begin to look a bit tired and not so good there are several things to try. If the foliage is yellow there are two possible causes. If you haven't been fertilizing regularly they could simply be hungry and in need of fertilizer. Feed them using a well-balanced (look for something with a ratio near 20-10-20) water soluble fertilizer. If you have been fertilizing regularly with a well-balanced fertilizer and the foliage is still turning yellow it is probably be-cause the pH range in your soil has gotten a bit high or low.

The most common impact of this is that Iron can no longer be taken up by the plant, even if it is available in the soil. The common form of Iron used in fertilizer is sensitive to pH changes. If you think pH is your problem you can either try to lower (or raise) the pH or you can simply apply Chelated Iron, which is available at a wider pH range and should help your plants turn green again. You may also be able to find Iron in a foliar spray which can also help your plant turn nice and green again. Stop by your favourite garden centre and they should be able to help you choose a product to use.

As the season goes on the plants can sometimes just start to look open and not as good. This can happen even if they are being watered and fertilized correctly. Fortunately this is very simple to fix. Grab a sharp pair of pruning shears and give the plants an all-over trim. This will cause them to branch out more and should stimulate new growth and flowering, especially if you fertilize right after trimming them back. Just like your hair looks a lot better after a trim, your plants often will too.

You will sacrifice flowers for a few days, but the plants should come back flowering more than ever shortly. I will usually give my Superbells a trim back in late July or early August. Should your plants have a few unruly stems that are longer than everything else or sticking out oddly, you can trim these stems back at any time. Calibrachoa are very forgiving when it comes to trimming.

An application of fertilizer or compost on garden beds and regular fertilization of plants in pots will help ensure the best possible performance.

My next plant is a very old favourite of mine that we used to call Cuphea ignea. This one is Cuphea hybrid `Vermillionaire`™, or large firecracker plant. Vermillionaire™, like all Cuphea is a heat lover and will do best in warm gardens with bright light. Always keep this plant in full sun for best flowering and to avoid it stretching in the shade.

Keep moist throughout the growing season, regular fertilizing will keep it full and constantly flowering. Once established Vermillionaire™ does not require a lot of water, but water regularly until it has grown a bit. This plant is a perennial in USDA zones 8 and higher, but should be considered an annual in colder climates including all of Canada. It is also a great hummingbird attractor! They love this plant, one of their preferred plants in most gardens.

Keep moist throughout the growing season, regular fertilizing will keep it full and constantly flowering. Once established Vermillionaire™ does not require a lot of water, but water regularly until it has grown a bit.

This plant is a perennial in USDA zones 8 and higher, but should be considered an annual in colder climates. Vermillionaire™, like all Cuphea is a heat lover and will do best in warm gardens with bright light. Always keep this plant in full sun for best flowering and too avoid it stretching in the shade.

Great hummingbird attractor! They love this plant, one of their preferred plants in most gar-dens.

Finally this week a popular tuber ideal for shade. Caladium hortulanum `Artful Fire and Ice`, also called Angel Wings.

Caladiums can be a very nice windowsill or sunroom plant and for much of the United States and certainly in Canada this might be the best use for the Artful™ series. Since they are tropical they need to have warmth and humidity, try always to keep the temperatures above 18oC (65oF) for best growth and leaf size, and a pebble tray or frequent misting can help to keep humidity up around your plants. If you live in a northern climate, be careful not to plant too early in spring as temperatures below 50F will chill and stunt plants, normal indoor temperatures should be fine and winter heaters usually dry things out a bit too much. So this can be a good guide for when to grow the Artful™ series, when you turn the heat off for the summer.

Plant tubers pointed end facing upwards, so the tuber is about 5 cm (2”) below the soil level, the roots form on the top of the tuber, so you need to plant them deep enough that roots have room to grow, but not too deep because it delays new leaves and weakens the plant. If your plants are already growing in pots when you purchase them, plant them about a centimetre (½”) deeper when you transplant them to make sure the tubers have room to keep growing.

Artful™ Caladiums do not need a lot of fertilizer, about ¼ of what most folks feed their flowering annuals, as too much fertilizer can burn the leaves especially the white portions of the leaves. So just fertilize with ¼ the strength what you normally do for your flowers and apply weekly or every other week.

Keep plants in a sunny to partly sunny location and avoid burning hot southern exposures especially at higher altitudes.

Next week, more new plants!

   

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