Calendar

September 2010
S M T W T F S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930EC

High grades for a coleus and hardy sunflower in the Indiana garden

Alligator Tears coleus takes the heat.  © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Alligator Tears coleus takes the heat. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Summer is nearly over so it’s time to grade some of the new plants I’ve been trialing this season. Here are two that get an A:

ColorBlaze Alligator Tears coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) has a perfectly mounded shape in a container. Here it is mid-September and this Proven Winners intro has just started to sprout the familiar blue flower spikes of coleus.

This annual has narrow, green and creamy yellow leaves that are pointed and heavily scalloped. A single Alligator Tears completely filled an 18-inch diameter container, overwhelming the Supertunia Citrus petunia companion, which disappeared. The deer resistant plant measures about 22 inches wide and 30 inches tall.

Heat tolerant and easy, two pots of Alligator Tears are against a stone wall and an asphalt driveway in full sun from late morning until early afternoon. This coleus also will do well in shade. Because the pots are large, they were watered about every two or three days during really hot spells.

Like most coleus, Alligator Tears is right at home as a houseplant in a bright window.

‘Sunshine Daydream,’ a perennial sunflower, has bloomed all summer in the Indiana Garden. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

‘Sunshine Daydream,’ a perennial sunflower, has bloomed all summer in the Indiana Garden. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

‘Sunshine Daydream’ is a perennial sunflower (Helianthus x multiflorus) that really shines in the flower garden with very little work. At 5 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide, it should be planted in the middle of the border. Mine has been blooming all summer with only lax deadheading on my part. The foliage is clean of any insect or disease damage.

The dense, double, almost dahlia like flowers are about 2 inches across. ‘Sunshine Daydream’ has thrived without supplemental water all summer. The flowers I cut lasted several days in indoor arrangements. This is a cultivar of a native perennial and does best in full sun and average soil. Cut back to the ground in fall when the plant looks bad. It is marketed by Plants Nouveau.