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A Superstar and Some Hot Companions

A Superstar and Some Hot Companions

By Dan Heims, president, Terra Nova Nurseries
Photographs courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries

Imagine entering into a competition of hundreds of comparable plants, and your entry shines above all others. The following plant is that winner: the perennial superstar, Echinacea ‘Fragrant Angel’. 

Mt. Cuba Center, in Hockessin, Delaware, does some of the best perennial plant trials in the horticultural world, testing single genera like heuchera or echinacea for a minimum of three years. Data is collected on survivability, attractiveness, bloom time, and pollinator visits. Echinacea ‘Fragrant Angel’, along with the Echinacea KISMET series, rocked the house in most categories, making the breeders at Terra Nova quite proud! Along with Terra Nova’s Echinacea ‘Fragrant Angel’, another favorite for late-summer color is Echinacea ‘Hot Lava’, with its large petals of molten orange. Agastache ‘Kudos Coral’ is a representative of the beloved Terra Nova Kudos line of hyssops, which routinely outperform other varieties in the marketplace in a shade of coral not seen elsewhere. Not to mention, the pollinators love it!

On the red-hot poker front, Terra Nova has introduced a new, stock addition to the field with Kniphofia POCO 'Sunset'. Recognized by its short, bi-colored spikes of orange and yellow glowing with sunset tones, Kniphofia POCO ‘Sunset’ makes for a great container plant. It can be a sturdy filler for mixed containers and for a reblooming front of the border plant as well. To cool off, pair this plant in the garden with another plant with blue and purple tones. To do this, gardeners will find nothing beats Veronica VENTURE Blue, selling madly in English garden centers, and now finding a market in the United States. Terra Nova’s massed plantings of this speedwell are so dense they won’t even let a weed sprout between them.

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Agastache ‘Kudos Coral’

Amazingly free flowering and easy to grow, Agastache ‘Kudos Coral' has an impeccable habit and long lasting, glowing color. The plant’s warm, coral-colored plumes are dense with a sweet honey-mint scent. They are real standouts in mixed containers or as a border plant. With a hardiness range of U.S.D.A. Hardiness Zones 5-10, this rare-colored form can be enjoyed by anyone. The flowers are edible and can add a real blast of color to a salad. Reaching 24” tall by the end of its season, Agastache ‘Kudos Coral’ creates a perfect dense form that is suitable for the center of the border, or it can make a smash impact when planted in large groups.

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Echinacea ‘Fragrant Angel’

Echinacea ‘Fragrant Angel’ has large, fragrant flowers layered with overlapping horizontal white petals and huge yellow cones. This plant is hardly ancient history, as this was rated as “the best white echinacea in our trials, and the best pollinator over all the echinacea,” in a recent evaluation by Mt. Cuba. Appropriate for Zones 4-9, it can be enjoyed anywhere in America. The petals are held at a beautiful horizontal angle and look amazing with native grasses like Schizachyrium and Pennisetum. The plant has a spread of 20” and tops out at 30”. Huge blooms emerge in early July, stretching all the way to October in a sunny location.

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Echinacea ‘Hot Lava’

This plant has wide petals of deep orange-red that tint to a deeper red at the base of its magma-orange cone. Suitable for Zones 4-9, it is versatile across the country. The extra petals of Echinacea ‘Hot Lava’ give the flowers a fuller look, and its strong stems make the plant a natural for cut flowers. This is one of Terra Nova Nurseries’ largest echinacea, with a spread of 24” and a flower height of 36”. This lends a striking vertical element in the mixed border or prairie garden. This plant’s blooms come out from July to October and blend beautifully with grasses that pick up the warm tones of the flowers.

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Kniphofia POCO ‘Sunset’

This hot gem will delight gardeners with its short habit, multiple crowns and short flower spikes in the first season. The flowers of Kniphofia POCO ‘Sunset’ are bi-colored in red-orange, and the plants have a long bloom time with repeat blooming from July through October in Canby, Oregon. Working well in Zones 6-9, this small powerhouse delivers a punch to the front of the border and does well in containers as an atypical component. In most gardens, the foliage tops out at 16” and the flowers are just shy of 2’ in height. The foliage is strong and not floppy, so it is attractive even when not in bloom or resting between flushes.

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Veronica VENTURE Blue

This beauty stands out from other veronica in three main ways: Its great garden performance, intermediate plant size and mildew resistant foliage. In addition, it has lovely purple-blue flowers in narrow spikes, excellent branching, a dense compact spreading habit, and excellent vigor. Proper for Zones 4-9, it produces a foliage mound to 11” and then sends the dark blue spires to 22” in height. In Oregon, this plant blooms from May to August. These are excellent companion plants with echinacea, as the cool blue from Veronica VENTURE Blue combines well with pink or white flowered forms, and it provides a cool contrast to plants like Echinacea ‘Hot Lava.’

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Dan Heims is an award-winning author who lectures throughout the world. He was recently honored by The American Horticultural Society with the Luther Burbank Breeding Award, as well as the Perennial Plant Association’s Award of Merit, and the Royal Horticultural Society’s Reginald Cory Cup for advancements in breeding.

You may contact Dan at [email protected].

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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Article and photos courtesy of Gardener’s Supply

Blossom end rot is a common garden physiological disorder caused by lack of calcium within the plant. A soil test is suggested and a PH of at least 6.5-7.0 is suggested. To learn more click here for an informative article.

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