Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Plants .... some Disappointments

Just like any other industry, the horticultural people have to come up with “new and improved” plants each year to peak the interest of gardeners. Unfortunately, when you are buying wholesale like me, this means purchasing at least 25 plants, rather than try just one out. But I want my customers to have a chance to grow something new, and of course I am excited to try new cultivars as well.

Last year I offered ‘splish splash’ perennial geraniums for the first time in quart pots. The photograph was irresistible.

I immediately had problems with mildew. The plants in the ground did OK at first and bloomed nicely this second year, but for a very short period, and again - the mildew has set in. And the blooms never lived up to the photograph. This may be a perennial that does well in warmer zones. I have read that it does rebloom if cut back to the ground after the first bloom. It is certainly unattractive right now!

I haven’t decided if I should give it more of a chance or send the plants to the compost pile.

‘Double Decker’ echinacea (cone flower) is another plant that got a lot of hoopla and even turned up on the front pages of a few catalogues. I encouraged customers to try it, as did I. I have yet to see anything resembling the following.

My blooms the second year are all single pedaled and nothing to write home about.

The standard echinacea purpurea is a great plant without any hybridizing.

Another plant that got a lot of hype was ‘big red’ begonia - a cross between fibrous begonia and angel wing begonia. Park seed catalogue called it “...the quickest-blooming, largest, most vigorous begonia the world has ever seen!” (Sounds like a circus barker.) And for this honor they charged $4.95 for 15 seeds.

It was supposed to do well in the sun or shade. Here’s a photo used to promote the new plant.

I put some in the front of one garden and they struggled along in the sum with the leaves turning dark and not a lot of growth going on despite lots of rain and good growing temperatures.

They did better in a window box that’s in part shade, but I won’t be offering this one again.

These are all minor disappointments, I'm already thinking about new plants to try next year.

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