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Plant Names You Can Eat

Plant Names You Can Eat

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

Terra Nova Nurseries has uniquely named hundreds of plants since its inception. The company strives to evoke a visceral connection between a plant and a name. If there is a heuchera that is apple-green with extraordinarily ruffled leaves, it may be named ‘Apple Crisp’. It not only conjures up a mental image with eyes closed, but it also evokes a pleasing memory of mom’s warm, out of the oven, apple crisp. 

Today, at Terra Nova, there is an entire group responsible for naming plants. This team collaborates to review lists of potential plant names that are eventually winnowed down to a winner. While plant names alone can sell a plant, the variety must have the qualities of a winning plant that are easy for the grower and the consumer to cultivate. Without these qualities, it cannot persist in the marketplace. The following five plants are known for their unique names and attractive qualities in the garden, and they include poker plants that resemble fruity popsicles, heuchera with dessert names and a mouth-watering sedum.

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Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie’ 

It doesn’t take an affinity for cold, fruit-flavored beverages to appreciate this striking variety! Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie’ has round, bold leaves that emerge in spring, featuring colors that remind any gardener why this particular plant was given its name! Its metallic rose-pink leaves have both Heuchera villosa and Heuchera americana genetics, so heat tolerance with Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie’ is a given. For a tasty combination, pair it with a cool-blue-leaved hosta. This variety’s spread is 20”, and native pollinators love the 28” tall blooms in May. This is not a plant for full sun, but rather a full- to semi-shade situation. Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie’ gives gardeners four seasons of foliage in containers or in the garden. This British award winner is hardy to USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4-9.  

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Heuchera 'Peach Flambé'

This plant has bright peach-colored leaves that literally glow in spring, summer and fall, and they turn to a beautiful plum in winter. Its large, smooth leaves and flaming red infusions create drama in the garden. The color progression of Heuchera 'Peach Flambé' through the year provides multi-seasonal interest as a superb color companion with spring yellows, summer blues and fall oranges. Heuchera 'Peach Flambé' is a vigorous, medium-sized plant that produces white flowers in spring on stems to 16″, but stands 7” tall out of bloom. The mound will have a 14” diameter. Heuchera 'Peach Flambé' won a first-place award at the Royal Dutch Flower Bulb Association show. This winner is hardy to Zones 4-9.       

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Heucherella 'Plum Cascade' 

Revolutions happen in the plant industry. Terra Nova Nurseries has laid claim to many in horticulture and continues to do so with the first purple heucherella, Heucherella 'Plum Cascade'! This trailing plant has lobed, purple-silver leaves that can hang with up to 32” long branches in a season, making it a great choice if you are looking to create a perennial hanging basket. Small, light pink flowers appear all summer on short, 8” flower stems. This plant is suitable as a full- to semi-shade groundcover. It pairs nicely in the garden with orange impatiens or orange-foliage plants like Heuchera 'Peach Flambé'. It is very elegant with excellent vigor and is hardy to Zones 4-9.

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Kniphofia 'Pineapple Popsicle'

Slice open a fresh pineapple and you'll see the wonderful color of this blooming dynamo's flowers. Kniphofia 'Pineapple Popsicle' has compact, grassy foliage and produces massive numbers of reblooming cream to yellow spikes. A great companion with other colors in the garden, Kniphofia 'Pineapple Popsicle' works well with rounded leaf plants, such as heuchera and bergenia. Its bloom period covers the months of June through October, sometimes by flushes. Sun, even watering and feeding are essential to keep this plant blooming. Winter hardiness is sometimes a question with poker plants, but this variety did extremely well overwintering in the Chicago Botanic Garden's Trial Area. This 26” beauty is hardy in Zones 6-9.

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Sedum 'Cherry Truffle'

Asking for this author’s favorite Terra Nova sedum is often like asking for a favorite child. However, Sedum ‘Cherry Truffle’ often finds itself at the top of the list. This plant creates multiple, vigorous crowns that are 16” tall, with upright foliage painted in purple, black, green and gray. With the full summer sun, the foliage turns to a velvety, purple black. This compact grower fills a gallon pot quickly, which reflects the Terra Nova Nurseries breeding model of improving the overall habit of the genus. Warm-pink flowers top this plant in mid-July. As with most sedum, these stonecrops are hardy to Zones 4-9.

There is a reason why some of the world's largest nurseries are replacing all their old sedum with Terra Nova Nurseries’ varieties!

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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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Photos and story by Monrovia Nursery Company

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