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Bastrop Daily Enterprise - Bastrop, LA
  • Green Space: 2014 will be a long-lasting, colorful season

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  • The new year should be intriguing for gardeners. A lot of the things we’ve taken for granted, such as plants that bloom once a season and die, are on the great compost heap of history. Here’s a look at what to expect:
    Hybrid highway
    Plant hybridization is on a continuous-bloom fast track. The 2014 hybrids are flower machines blooming non-stop from the beginning to the end of the season.
    This differs from the re-blooming hybrids of the past that go through more than one flowering cycle, from blooming to die off to re-blooming in one season. Continuous varieties never stop until killer frost.
    These bloomers end the chore of pinching off dead flowers. Older varieties need this to force production of new flowers. Once plants go to seed, they figure their life cycle is finished.
    Put these on your list
    The best blooming examples are the Knockout rose shrub, Celosia Fresh Look — that stay as bright in the late fall as they were in June — and Petunia Opera Supreme — with the same characteristics. Unlike common petunias, you never pull off the spent blooms. This makes them perfect for hanging baskets. Plant ‘em and forget ‘em.
    Groundcovers, too
    Vinca is a popular ground cover hereabouts, but the flowers are uninspired and short-lived. We plant it primarily for foliage, and it will do the job for decades.
    That changes with the new Vinca Pacifica. It offers strikingly beautiful, bi-color flowers that survive the heat and drought. These guys bloom all summer and into mid-fall, converting green ground covers into carpets of constant color.
    Perennial fun
    No perennial so far blooms from spring to fall, but the long-bloomer trend is happening here too.
    Purple coneflower is a drought survivor with an exceptional blooming period. The birds cannot wait for the seeds in fall.
    Butterfly bush will create a long-lasting blast of color lasting into fall. The winter will kill them back, but they return reliably, if well mulched.
    Perennial hibiscus creates almost unending blooms on six-foot plants. Look for the Disco Belle mini hybrid that produces nine-inch flowers covering plants only three feet tall.
    Other candidates
    Evolution is the first constant bloomer of salvia. Its lavender flower spikes last from early summer to the hard frost.
    Dianthus hereabouts is considered an annual bedding plant. Its flowers are delicate, very susceptible to heat and drought damage. Dianthus Supra Purple stays in continuous bloom all summer no matter what. Don’t pull them after the frost. Mulch with ground leaves and chances are good they will over winter and bloom the following spring.
    Sayonara
    This is the last Green Space until the planting season begins. May your 2014 gardens be of long-lasting color and your plants green with envy.
    Page 2 of 2 - Reach Jim at 330-580-8324. On Twitter: @jhillibishREP.

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