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Hot Plants For Hot Times!

Hot Plants For Hot Times!

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

Hey campers. June 21st is the start of summer, and it is going to be a hot one. Why not take a gander at five fiery introductions from the breeding wizards at Terra Nova Nurseries. Each variety has its own link to the heat, starting with Heuchera ’Red Lightning’. Bred from Heuchera villosa, a native of the south, (ranging to the Gulf of Mexico), this large, red-veined goliath has ample heat-tolerance and handles high humidity like a pro. The plant’s red veins are placed atop a fuzzy yellow background with tall flower spikes to attract the pollinators and hummingbirds of summer.

Heuchera ‘Rio’ represents one hot and lively city. Its large leaves are a glowing amber-red, like a beacon across the garden. Heucherella 'Solar Power' is beaming, as it is one of Terra Nova’s best heucherella, with large, yellow, divided, and palm-shaped leaves with splashes of fiery red along the veins. It’s a spreader too, making an impact as a groundcover or in a container as a foil to warm colors of yellow, orange or red.

Red hot pokers? Normally somewhat tall. Terra Nova’s collection carries the Kniphofia Poco series with compact, ever-flowering habits. Kniphofia ‘Poco Red' is a new introduction, adding many spikes of warm red that look great in containers and form an unusual accent at the front of the border, rather than being lost in the background. Last but not least, Sedum ‘Hot Stuff’ provides mounds of hot-pink flowers and is a hit in the Terra Nova Nurseries Garden.

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Heuchera 'Red Lightning'

Heuchera ’Red Lightning’ sports electrifying dark red veins which spark over huge gold leaves. The plant holds its color well throughout the season. The contrasting colors are most apparent in spring and early summer, but even carries through to winter. Heuchera 'Red Lightning' is “villosa–strong” and draws one’s attention from across the garden. Outstanding as a stand-alone specimen in a pot, this plant also works well in borders and mixed containers. Heuchera ‘Red Lightning’ prefers well drained soils or being in a raised bed. This perennial is best in full to half shade exposure, and it is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9. The plant spreads to 16” wide, and its 18” white flower spikes emerge in June and July.

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Heuchera ‘Rio’

A multicolored plant named for a vibrant city, Heuchera ‘Rio’ has glowing, almost electric peach-amber leaves that change to amber, then to tan, and finally to yellow-amber. It is lovely in every season! This plant has beautiful, short maroon flower spikes with white flowers, and it is hardy in Zones 4-9. Heuchera ‘Rio’ reaches a 14”+ spread in its first year. This perennial’s flowers are 14” tall and bloom all summer to frost, from May to October. It is a large and vigorous plant that is a great garden performer and a container star. It can take full sun, but prefers either full sun in the morning or partial shade. This is a plant that can be seen from across the garden!

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Heucherella 'Solar Power'

Heucherella ‘Solar Power’, which is Terra Nova’s most vigorous heucherella, features lobed, gold-yellow-to-lime-green leaves that are splashed with deep red color. It forms a large mound of color in full sun, partial shade or full shade. This heucherella takes higher sunlight levels than any yellow heuchera or heucherella Terra Nova’s team has seen. Heucherella ‘Solar Power’ even performed fine in 90-100°F temperatures and full-sun exposure in our black groundcloth-covered trial beds! When grown in full shade it stays lime green with splatters of deep red. It’s hardy in Zones 4-9 and it reaches a 16”+ spread in its first year. It has white flower spikes in June and July that complete the picture of this beautiful hybrid.

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Kniphofia ‘Poco Red’

Kniphofia ‘Poco Red’ is a newer member of Terra Nova’s compact Poco series. It makes a great container or small garden plant. Kniphofia ‘Poco Red’ creates scads of coral-red flowers that bloom all summer and into fall. Its flowers are nectar-filled and loved by pollinators, especially hummingbirds. It is hardy in Zones 6-9, and it reaches a 14”+ spread in its first year. The warm-red flower spikes of Kniphofia ‘Poco Red’ reach a 20” height. This plant prefers a full sun location in average garden soil, and they do not perform well when planted in clay. Kniphofia ‘Poco Red’ blooms in Oregon from July through September, and it looks fab in a front-of-the-border planting and is compatible with many plants in a container.

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Sedum 'Hot Stuff'

This seedling from Sedum 'Brilliant' bloodlines forms a tight 10″ mound of foliage covered by domes of bright pink flower heads! A mass of this hardy succulent plant at Terra Nova Nurseries’ gardens has held the stage for years. Sedum ‘Hot Stuff’ is extremely durable and ages well into fall. It’s hardy in Zones 4-9, and it reaches a 12”+ spread in its first year. The pink flowerheads of Sedum ‘Hot Stuff’ top off at 14”. This plant can be used as a short cut flower, but of course Sedum ‘Hot Stuff’ is most attractive en masse encircling a contrasting evergreen. Its flowers are great as a nectar source for pollinators; they literally swarm the plant in August and September!

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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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