GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2023 show17
GardenSMART Newsletter Signup
 
Visit our Sponsors! encore azalea Dramm
Visit our Sponsors and win.
Past Shows:

GardenSMART Episode

Show #17/7204. Beautiful, Practical Breeding Advancements In Plants

Summary of Show

Breeding - A Very Long Game
Since Natalie is someone who works in the world of plant breeding Eric would like to talk a little bit about where and how plants have changed and developed in the last 20 years. There have been a lot of incredible discoveries and innovations. Natalie would you walk us through where plants were several generations ago and then where we are today. Natalie thinks when it comes to breeding especially when it comes to breeding shrubs, it really is A VERY LONG GAME. Because when one talks about 10 years ago breeders had to be thinking about what do they want be introducing now, today.
For More Information Click here

Dwarf Cultivars
Natalie thinks a lot of what gardeners are looking for these days, what people really want and what's trendy are DWARF CULTIVARS. People like cultivars that are nice and small and of course they want cultivars that are going to flower more often. Flowering is really important to people, and why shouldn't it be? They want flowers that are bigger, flowers that are more saturated and basically plants that are going to bloom more dependably in the garden. Eric agrees, plus a lot of these breeding programs are looking at just producing plants that are lower maintenance, which helps move us away from a dependence on chemicals.
For More Information Click here

How The Breeding Process Works
Eric would like for Natalie to address that issue further. For those who have never had the fun of being part of a breeding program please talk about HOW THAT PROCESS WORKS. Let's say a breeder has an idea. They want to cross Hydrangea macrophylla with serrata. How would they go about doing that? And then walk through the process of, okay we've crossed these plants, then how do they select a cultivar and have that cultivar ready for the market. In Natalie’s case they work with breeders from all over the country, actually breeders from all over the world. And that’s important because lot of that actual breeding and crossing does happen in Europe, but it can happen in South or North Carolina, even right at the nursery where Natalie works because they have on-site breeders. Breeders will take the pollen from one plant and cross it with another plant then put it in a petri dish and grow it to a point Natalie’s group can re- root all of those cuttings and then grow hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of cuttings.
For More Information Click here

Hydrangeas
Natalie shows us an example, these little guys happen to be the smallest panicled HYDRANGEAS on the market right now. Last year, they introduced firelight tidbit. It's kind of a baby version of firelight hydrangea. Firelight is another big limelight-size hydrangea. What was really great about it was it had these really deep, burgundy blooms in the fall. They have a natural color change and this particular one turns a really deep, dark burgundy. People really loved that. So, they thought, "Let's make a smaller version that people can put in a container," and they came up with firelight tidbit, which is only going to grow to around three feet tall and wide. One can put it in a larger size container, but it's a nice compact hydrangea that blooms from top to bottom and still produces a nice panicle bloom.
For More Information Click here

Azaleas
Eric would like for Natalie to talk about AZALEAS. When we think of all the innovations that have occurred across so many different plants, azaleas are one that has benefitted enormously from modern breeding efforts, not only in form, but also in flower. Natalie shows us a great example of a super compact, multi-season blooming azaleas. It is the perfectomundo series. It has a large collection of colors. But some of the newest colors are epic pink, epic coral, and pink carpet. And what she loves about them is they're nice and small, like, the epic series and rather than referring to them as dwarf they call them compact.
For More Information Click here

Foliage-Crepe Myrtle
Eric would say perhaps one one of his favorite aspects of the new breeding that's happening is in the realm of foliage because FOLIAGE is the part of the plant that we get to enjoy for most of the time. Natalie has some wonderful examples and Eric would like for her to walk us through some of her favorites. She starts out with the beautiful dark black foliage on a CREPE MYRTLE. It is from the center stage series of crepe myrtle and she loves this deep, dark foliage. Another thing they breed for when creating something with a dark purple foliage is to make sure that it's resistant to powdery mildew. Because a lot of times, when you get this beautiful dark purple foliage powdery mildew is a common malady that will beset those plants. So, this is also resistant to powdery mildew which means foliage stays deep and dark all season long.
For More Information Click here

Waxwing
Eric would like to talk about the next plant. Probably most people are not familiar with. It looks almost like a plastic plant. It has incredible variegation and a wonderful range of foliage. WAXWING is the name of the series, and they're called coprosma, the common name is mirror bush. And the reason that a lot of people might not have seen them is they are a warm-weather plant. They are know, in zone 9, 10, 11. They like to be in southern Florida or deep into Texas, even into areas of California where they get a lot of warm weather.
For More Information Click here

Blueberry
Another really interesting selection Natalie has for us was bred just for its foliage. It is a new BLUEBERRY cultivar. We typically don't think of blueberries as having been specifically bred for that trait. Eric would like for Natalie to tell us about this plant. Natalie agrees, we don't think of blueberries as an ornamental plant, they're a food plant. But they introduced skydew gold because it has chartreuse foliage that, in the fall, like all blueberries starts to turn red and maroon.
For More Information Click here

Weigela
Another category of plants that we can’t miss when we're talking about foliage is WEIGELA. It's really incredible what breeders have been able to do with weigela foliage. And it's not just one thing. There are weigelas with the dark purple foliage like wine and roses or spilled wine weigela. And there are weigelas like the My Monet series with green foliage with a white outer margin or My Monet purple. It almost has a purple tinge to the foliage. And there are new ones that have just come out. For example midnight sun has copper foliage, it almost looks like copper orange and it's very small. It's the size of a coleus with the look of a coleus, but it's a woody ornamental.
For More Information Click here

Fothergilla
Natalie also has two other really neat examples with excellent blue-green foliage. The new FOTHERGILLA canisiperus is a wonderful gymnosperm that Eric thinks belongs in most gardens. Natalie loves the blue-green foliage as well. She's crazy about it. There are lots of shrubs that can bring that color story into a garden, and fothergilla's a great example. Not only does it have that blue-green color most of the season, but then it turns coppery and orange and different bright fall colors as well.
For More Information Click here

LINKS:

Spring Meadow Nursery
Spring Meadow Nursery

Natalie Carmolli
All Your Hydrangea Questions Answered - Proven Winners ColorChoice

Containers
Collections | Michael Carr Designs

Plant List

Show #17/7204. Beautiful, Practical Breeding Advancements In Plants

Transcript of Show

Have you ever wondered how to plant your garden so it will provide beautiful, dynamic interest all year long? In this episode GardenSMART will show you how with a little bit of thought and planning. Natalie Carmolli joins us as we explore a host of new plants that help in the process. Natalie's rooted in horticulture, having worked in her family's floral business until college, now an avid gardener and writer, Natalie delights in sharing her expertise and enthusiasm about the art of gardening. For this episode Natalie shows us a great collection of plants to consider for extending the season in any garden.

Eric welcomes Natalie - thanks so much for joining us. Welcome to the show. Natalie reciprocates she's happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Eric gets right to work. In this episode we're talking about the amazing and wild world of plant breeding, a topic very near and dear to his heart. The first seven years of his career he worked as a plant propagator and plant breeder and has always been fascinated with the plant process of going from an idea, which oftentimes seems like something impossible, like we want this plant that blooms one time a year to a plant that will then bloom all year long. Many might say "That's not possible" but then, with a lot of meticulous attention to detail, oftentimes those ideas actually can become a reality.

Since Natalie is someone who works in the world of plant breeding Eric would like to talk a little bit about where and how plants have changed and developed in the last 20 years. There have been a lot of incredible discoveries and innovations. Natalie would you walk us through where plants were several generations ago and then where we are today. Natalie thinks when it comes to breeding especially when it comes to breeding shrubs, it really is A VERY LONG GAME. Because when one talks about 10 years ago breeders had to be thinking about what do they want be introducing now, today. So, breeders had to look at where there were gaps in the market and look at what would be useful for gardeners that they don't already have within a certain species of plant and then start working on introducing new plants. They had to predict what would be helpful today. It’s not like an annual, where you can grow it from seed very quickly. They have to grow them from a small shrub, then trial them and then test them for up to 10 years to make sure they're going to be appropriate for a garden setting.

Natalie thinks a lot of what gardeners are looking for these days, what people really want and what's trendy are DWARF CULTIVARS. People like cultivars that are nice and small and of course they want cultivars that are going to flower more often. Flowering is really important to people, and why shouldn't it be? They want flowers that are bigger, flowers that are more saturated and basically plants that are going to bloom more dependably in the garden. Eric agrees, plus a lot of these breeding programs are looking at just producing plants that are lower maintenance, which helps move us away from a dependence on chemicals. He thinks of roses in particular. It can be such a headache to keep our roses looking good. Now through intelligent breeding programs we can have roses that are pretty carefree. Natalie agrees, roses today are resistant to blackspot and powdery mildew, plus azaleas are now lace-bug resistant. All of the maladies that would typically befall conventional varieties of certain shrubs, breeders are working on breeding programs to produce plants that will take those problems away, or at least lessen them.

Eric would like for Natalie to address that issue further. For those who have never had the fun of being part of a breeding program please talk about HOW THAT PROCESS WORKS. Let's say a breeder has an idea. They want to cross Hydrangea macrophylla with serrata. How would they go about doing that? And then walk through the process of, okay we've crossed these plants, then how do they select a cultivar and have that cultivar ready for the market. In Natalie’s case they work with breeders from all over the country, actually breeders from all over the world. And that’s important because lot of that actual breeding and crossing does happen in Europe, but it can happen in South or North Carolina, even right at the nursery where Natalie works because they have on-site breeders. Breeders will take the pollen from one plant and cross it with another plant then put it in a petri dish and grow it to a point Natalie’s group can re- root all of those cuttings and then grow hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of cuttings. Whether the breeder has come up with the cross or a new variety they will then bring it to Natalie’s group. They have to grow hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of samples of those new plants in controlled conditions. If they have, say, a new rose they will grow hundreds of samples first in a greenhouse situation, then they will put them in really harsh conditions. They will want to have a lot of containers that are crowded together very tightly. They will overhead water them, which roses don't like, then keep them in the same container for two to three years. The ones that fail or the ones that stop blooming or that the foliage doesn't look good they throw away. And they throw away hundreds and hundreds of plants. They grow hundreds of plants to get to the one plant that is going to perform spectacularly well in your garden. A lot of people would say, "Well, I would take that plant. I would take that plant that you're gonna throw away." You might. But you wouldn't pay good money for it. And that's what's important, when somebody invests their money in a garden plant they're also investing in breeding that's going to give them a plant that will perform exceptionally well. Even better than its generic counterpart that they could have bought 10 or 20 years ago.

One thing Natalie is definitely seeing in the American garden in the last 20 years is that people are gardening smaller and smaller spaces. Not all of us are lucky enough to have a 50-acre garden. And most wouldn't even have time to manage it if they did. So, for many folks, their garden is a little courtyard or a patio or a little postage-stamp front or backyard, so they're working with the limitations of space. Therefore the way that breeders are responding to that is by breeding plants that are designed for those smaller spaces.

Natalie shows us an example, these little guys happen to be the smallest panicled HYDRANGEAS on the market right now. Last year, they introduced firelight tidbit. It's kind of a baby version of firelight hydrangea. Firelight is another big limelight-size hydrangea. What was really great about it was it had these really deep, burgundy blooms in the fall. They have a natural color change and this particular one turns a really deep, dark burgundy. People really loved that. So, they thought, "Let's make a smaller version that people can put in a container," and they came up with firelight tidbit, which is only going to grow to around three feet tall and wide. One can put it in a larger size container, but it's a nice compact hydrangea that blooms from top to bottom and still produces a nice panicle bloom. So, next they thought "Oh, gosh we've got firelight tidbit, let's go one better,” and they came up with one that's even smaller. It is called tiny quickfire, and the thing she loves about it, it has these really unique blooms with cup-shaped florets, a nice, dense, rounded panicle and deep, dark blue-green foliage. They had the smallest hydrangea, then did themselves one better and produced an even tinier one. They both do different things and that's what's interesting they're not bred just to be tiny. They're also bred to serve other purposes in the garden. Eric would like to talk about fairytale bride. It's structurally, a very different-looking hydrangea. He loves the texture. Natalie says it’s a cascading hydrangea and they call it fairytrail bride because the branches are very draping. They’re made to plant in a container so that the branches can cascade down a container or even from the top of a rock wall. It was bred in Japan by a breeder they work with who introduced supertunia vista bubblegum, a petunia. This was the winner of the plant of the year at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2018. What makes it special is it sets flower buds at every leaf node. Every leaf node has a bouquet of white, kind of speckled-edge flowers. So, it has these long, trailing stems of long, white, blooming hydrangea flowers and it's really, really quite stunning.

Eric would like for Natalie to talk about AZALEAS. When we think of all the innovations that have occurred across so many different plants, azaleas are one that has benefitted enormously from modern breeding efforts, not only in form, but also in flower. Natalie shows us a great example of a super compact, multi-season blooming azaleas. It is the perfectomundo series. It has a large collection of colors. But some of the newest colors are epic pink, epic coral, and pink carpet. And what she loves about them is they're nice and small, like, the epic series and rather than referring to them as dwarf they call them compact. They're not going to be five, six feet tall, instead will stay around the four-foot range. One could put them in as a low hedge even utilize them as a foundation plant. Then they have pink carpet, which because of the name carpet, tells one it's a really low-growing plant. This little azalea will only get to be about one-and-a-half feet, two feet tall and two-and-a-half feet wide. It will be wider than it is tall. These are bred to bloom twice a year, not just in the spring, so one gets get a nice, rounded plant full of blooms in the spring, and then again in the fall. Eric is excited, with all of this work we're seeing incredible versatility, even inside of a given genus or species. Plants that will work beautifully in almost any site in our gardens. One may need something that's going to be more sprawly, something that's going to be evergreen, tight and upright. Breeders have been thinking about that for decades, now there's definitely a plant for you.

Eric would say perhaps one of his favorite aspects of the new breeding that's happening is in the realm of foliage because FOLIAGE is the part of the plant that we get to enjoy for most of the time. Natalie has some wonderful examples and Eric would like for her to walk us through some of her favorites. She starts out with the beautiful dark black foliage on a CREPE MYRTLE. It is from the center stage series of crepe myrtle and she loves this deep, dark foliage. Another thing they breed for when creating something with a dark purple foliage is to make sure that it's resistant to powdery mildew. Because a lot of times, when you get this beautiful dark purple foliage powdery mildew is a common malady that will beset those plants. So, this is also resistant to powdery mildew which means foliage stays deep and dark all season long. And it has bright, bright blasts of color with flowers in the middle of the season. Eric loves the juxtaposition of the dark foliage with the almost neon chartreuse murraya. He has this plant in his garden and loves it. It can be seen from half a mile away. Double play candycorn has foliage that when it emerges in the spring is candy apple red, then a chartreuse color in the middle of the season, then in the fall it starts to turn orange. It does so many things in the garden. Because the foliage is so interesting one almost forgets that it also has a purple flower.

Eric would like to talk about the next plant. Probably most people are not familiar with. It looks almost like a plastic plant. It has incredible variegation and a wonderful range of foliage. WAXWING is the name of the series, and they're called coprosma, the common name is mirror bush. And the reason that a lot of people might not have seen them is they are a warm-weather plant. They are know, in zone 9, 10, 11. They like to be in southern Florida or deep into Texas, even into areas of California where they get a lot of warm weather. Those gardeners can enjoy this super shiny foliage and they come in different colors: orange, lime and gold. They are bred specifically for their foliage appeal. And appealing, they definitely are. But even if you live in a more northern climate think of this plant as a perfect container companion, just treat it like an annual. It's well worth the effort, it's beautiful. Natalie lives in Michigan and her local garden center might not carry it, but one can buy it online. Natalie says to think of it as a container plant. People will walk by your containers and go, "I've never seen that before. That is the coolest container I've ever seen!” And even though it's a shrub, one can treat it like an annual and use it in a container. Eric agrees, no doubt.

Another really interesting selection Natalie has for us was bred just for its foliage. It is a new BLUEBERRY cultivar. We typically don't think of blueberries as having been specifically bred for that trait. Eric would like for Natalie to tell us about this plant. Natalie agrees, we don't think of blueberries as an ornamental plant, they're a food plant. But they introduced skydew gold because it has chartreuse foliage that, in the fall, like all blueberries starts to turn red and maroon. It does produce fruit if it has a pollinator nearby by because most fruiting shrubs are male or female and they do need a pollinator. But, this was bred it for the foliage. Bright chartreuse foliage in the spring and throughout the summer, then red and burgundy going into the fall.

Another category of plants that we can’t miss when we're talking about foliage is WEIGELA. It's really incredible what breeders have been able to do with weigela foliage. And it's not just one thing. There are weigelas with the dark purple foliage like wine and roses or spilled wine weigela. And there are weigelas like the My Monet series with green foliage with a white outer margin or My Monet purple. It almost has a purple tinge to the foliage. And there are new ones that have just come out. For example midnight sun has copper foliage, it almost looks like copper orange and it's very small. It's the size of a coleus with the look of a coleus, but it's a woody ornamental. So, you can pop it in that place in your garden where you want that orange or that copper look. It’s going to come back seasonally. And then there is another new weigela that was actually a sport they found. A lot of these, they do specific breeding to get a specific characteristic. But vinyo verde they found as a sport on another weigela. When one finds a sport, you're finding a piece of another plant that's done something unusual. And because of that, you want to work with that to breed it into a plant and that is what was done with vinyo verde weigela. It has a green leaf with a black margin. They've never seen it before. Breeders were able to create a whole plant that did that reliably. So, that's the newest variegated weigela, green with a black margin. Eric loves the purple foliage and the chartreuse foliage and what it brings to the garden from a standpoint of diversity. He also likes the blue-green foliages and how they really break up a lot of what's going on in the garden.

Natalie also has two other really neat examples with excellent blue-green foliage. The new FOTHERGILLA canisiperus is a wonderful gymnosperm that Eric thinks belongs in most gardens. Natalie loves the blue-green foliage as well. She's crazy about it. There are lots of shrubs that can bring that color story into a garden, and fothergilla's a great example. Not only does it have that blue-green color most of the season, but then it turns coppery and orange and different bright fall colors as well. The legend of the small is also a nice compact size of fothergilla. It produces blue foliage on a smaller size so it fits in more people's gardens and landscapes. And another is pinpoint blue and gold False cypress chamaecyparis. It is a tall, narrow and columnar looking shrub that certainly fits the bill. Then there is pinpoint blue, which is an all-blue foliage canisiperus, as well as pinpoint blue and gold, which has blue in the center, then the tips are kind of a gold green color. It provides a couple of great colors in one spot in the garden.

Eric agrees, it's amazing. And, with all these plants we've talked about they really are just the tip of the iceberg. Every year, there are so many exciting, amazing plants that are being released to the market. Eric hopes our viewers are able to see just how much time, how much passion, how much intentionality goes into these plants. There is a lot of thoughtfulness that goes into whatever the parent plants are, then 10-15 years later actually arriving at something different, something magnificent like the plants we’ve discussed today, it's a labor of love. And then very rewarding to know, your efforts have been rewarded handsomely with these amazing new selections.

Eric loves exploring new plants. It's like finding a new color to paint with, and it adds so much excitement to the garden. He thanks Natalie for spending the day with us. This has been wonderful. Natalie thanks Eric and GardenSMART for having her out here in this beautiful setting and being able to show off these outstanding new plants.

LINKS:

Spring Meadow Nursery
Spring Meadow Nursery

Natalie Carmolli
All Your Hydrangea Questions Answered - Proven Winners ColorChoice

Containers
Collections | Michael Carr Designs

Plant List

Top


   
 
FEATURED ARTICLE
GardenSMART Featured Article

Photos and story by Monrovia Nursery Company

Lavender is the on-trend plant for gardeners this year. Click here for an article that details a top-tier selection of lavender that ensures success.

  Click here to sign up for our monthly NEWSLETTER packed with great articles and helpful tips for your home, garden and pets!  
   
   
 
   
   
Copyright © 1998-2012 GSPC. All Rights Reserved.