If you are looking for something different, something spectacular, something your neighbors might not have blooming in their garden, look for plants with Bloomtastic!™ and Patio Tropics™ labels. Hines Nursery develops and introduces the unusual and the overlooked to gardeners who enjoy something a little different. This wholesale nursery might not be a household word but chances are you have grown one of their plant introductions since, for the past ninety years, they launch more plants per year than any other nursery.
In 2010, I found an unusual specimen, a Desert Rose (Adenium), and used it in a container. I loved it for its structural appearance and its ancient look. It looks a little like the swollen trees of the African savanna, the Baobab (Adansonia) tree, but in miniature. It has a loose clutch of branches with a few leaves at its top and a thick trunk with a swollen base. It loves hot, humid summers and will bloom non-stop with large clusters of pink flowers at the branch tips. You can find Adenium Kissable Pink™ under the Patio Tropics™ label. Incidentally, Hines adeniums are all double flowering.
Joe Gray is the Senior Vice President of Hines Nursery and a knowledgeable plantsman. My desert rose (Adenium) did not survive its winter indoors. Joe had this advice for overwintering adeniums. “It is a perfect summer plant,” he said. “What will kill the Adenium is wet cold. When you go into the very low fifties or mid forties at night, bring the adeniums inside. You can put them on a windowsill; you can (even) put them in a closet. Don’t water them. Leave them alone.
Joe continued, “The leaves will start to drop. The swollen cadex base will even shrivel up a little bit. Let it go dormant. When spring comes, you put it outside in full sun, you start to water it, and it will rehydrate, grow, and bloom.”
It is a very durable plant, according to Joe, and for care outside, Joe suggests, “You can water it in summer like any other plant, let it dry out a little, thoroughly water it, and it doesn’t matter when it’s warm and sunny. But watering it when it’s cold and wet, it will die.”
Another spectacular bloomer in the Patio Tropics™ line is the Bahama Bay hibiscus. These small shrubs are well suited to containers and to gardeners in colder climates who long for tropical color. “They have a large range of flower colors, even bicolor flowers, with very large blossoms,” Joe remarked, “It’s all about the flowers.” He also advises, “If your low temperatures will get down to, say 40, then your Bahama Bay will suffer damage to the cambium.” Best to move it indoors before the cold arrives in earnest. I loved the huge blooms of sunset yellow and red on my Bahama Bay hibiscus. Look for them this spring in garden centers nationwide.
Butterfly bushes (Buddleia) are bloom machines and butterfly magnets as long as you keep the dead flowers trimmed. Trouble with these bushes is that they get so big and gangly with flowers at the tips, several feet up in the air, it is hard to reach them to prune, making them labor intensive. Too, all those beautiful butterflies and hummingbirds stay up top, where you cannot readily enjoy the color and movement they add to the garden.
New, low-growing buddleias are now available from Hines research. “We are very excited about the buddleias Lavender Veil and Purple Splendor,” Joe said. You can grow Lavender Veil in hanging baskets, so that the large extremely fragrant panicle flowers cascade over the sides, “attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, and it will continue to bloom through the summertime. You can also use it in the flower border with its huge flowers and low habit.” Joe continues, “Purple Splendor will get about three feet tall, again very fragrant, and has really clean dark green foliage. They will bring a lot of butterflies to your garden as well as great scent.”
With these new compact plants, the flowers are down where you are. If you are a busy gardener (and who isn’t) you will love these neat and easy to maintain small shrubs you can grow like perennials in your border or cascading from your containers.
Every year, I challenge myself as a gardener to grow something I've never grown before and this year was no exception. As a professional garden writer, I was privileged to be given several exciting new varieties to trial. Additionally, in my travels this year, I had the chance to evaluate many more new plants in trial gardens across the country. The following new annuals, which will be new at retail in Spring 2017, received top ratings in my book.
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